West Seattle, Washington
The first full calendar month of the outbreak in King County is concluding. Here’s our nightly roundup:
NO NEW KING COUNTY/STATE CASE NUMBERS: Neither King County nor the state had new case numbers today. The former explains:
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is experiencing technical difficulties with their COVID-19 data, which is delaying the Public Health data report of new cases and deaths for 3/31/20. Public Health expects to update again on 4/1/20.
QUARANTINE UPDATE: The county’s daily update did note, “20 people are currently staying in King County isolation and quarantine facilities.” The one in Top Hat, east of White Center, has not opened yet but was projected to be ready in “early April.” We noted a few days ago that the additional modular housing had been moved onto the area where an old office building was demolished. We’ll get an update on its status tomorrow during the weekly phone-conference community meeting with county reps.
SOME PARKING ENFORCEMENT SUSPENDED, BUT NOT ALL: We had sent the mayor’s office a question last week, to date unanswered, on behalf of a reader who thought ticketing people in a 2-hour zone east of a mostly shuttered business district was a bit harsh, considering everyone is under orders to stay home. This provides something of an answer: The city reiterated today that while it’s changed some parking policies because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still enforcing most parking rules.
COMMUNITY CLEANUPS CANCELED: The city says you should still keep watch on the area outside your home, but it’s calling off Adopt-A-Street, Spring Clean, etc., TFN.
CONFUSED ABOUT THOSE FEDERAL PAYMENTS? Are you getting one? How will you get it? The IRS has a FAQ page.
LOTS OF SCAMS, TOO: We mentioned again in West Seattle Crime Watch today that scammers continue their evildoing. Here’s yet another page with numerous warnings to heed.
AND PRICE-GOUGING: State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sent letters to five online retailers telling them to stop or else, and expects he’ll be sending moe.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Just got this from Stewart L. – seen from Harbor Avenue SW:
GOT INFO? email@example.com or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
(West Seattle Bridge cracks, from sdotblog.seattle.gov)
As reported here last week, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold had questions for SDOT after the sudden bridge closure was announced – a surprise to the council as well as to everyone who uses the bridge. Tonight she has published an update including answers from SDOT. You can read her update in its entirety here (including a recap of Monday’s briefing, which we covered here). Below, the questions (in bold) and SDOT answers that are part of her update:
SDOT Answers to Council Questions
SDOT has answered some of the questions sent by my office and the City Council. Here’s a link to responses from SDOT so far. Below are highlights:
Has SDOT received word from the Coast Guard about flexibility re: times the bridge can remain open w/o or with limited closures?
The Coast Guard has broadcasted a notice to non-commercial vessels with a request to time transit and requests for openings during non-peak commute times. We are making a deviation request for am/pm peak close periods that, if they are not objected to by local mariners, can last for 180 days. Additionally, we can request an official rule change for a close period, but that is a 6-month process and subject to any objection from the local maritime community.
Can SDOT allow vehicle traffic on the lower bridge overnight? I have heard from more than one person whose work shift begins at 3 a.m., when traffic is lighter.
We understand the inconvenience the closure of the High Bridge poses to the West Seattle community. In light of the current public health emergency, our top priority is emergency access to hospitals and protecting the supply chain, so we are reserving access to emergency vehicles, freight, and transit, and working with our partners at SPD, SFD, the Port, and Metro to determine the extent of the access limitations. Detour signs are posted and SPD officers are stationed at either end of the Low Bridge to direct GP traffic away from the bridge. We are monitoring traffic on the Low Bridge 24-hours a day from our Transportation Operations Center. As new traffic patterns develop, we may be able to adjust access.
I have heard from several COVID-19 first responders (firefighter, ER nurse) who must leave the peninsula for work, and from an immunology researcher at UW working on COVID-19. Could the lower bridge be opened for them?
We acknowledge it is critical for doctors, nurses, researchers and first responders to get to their jobs. At the same time, we must reserve access to the Low Bridge to emergency vehicle transporting critically ill patients. Many people who live and work in West Seattle serve many kinds of essential functions – we need to maintain equity for all of them. The Low Bridge is currently open to essential workers who get to work by taking transit, walking, and biking. It’s also open to essential workers who need access to Harbor Island and T-5 and people using emergency vehicles and transporting freight as part of their jobs. For essential workers who are driving private vehicles, they are directed to the 1st Ave S Bridge.
Please explain SDOT’s procedures for providing information the Council regarding ongoing inspections for potential significant problems that could lead to closure of major roadways or structures.
SDOT regularly conducts inspections of bridges in keeping with Federal requirements. These inspections are programmatic in nature, and generally identify preventative maintenance and repair actions, while also tracking the evolution of the bridge structure over time. The load rating project for the West Seattle High-Pass Bridge started in 2019 indicated that the cracking problem was more serious than originally reported in the consultant study we commissioned in 2014 after cracking at post-tensioning anchorage points was first discovered in 2013. We performed an in-depth analysis through the consultant doing the load rating work. As part of this analysis we needed more accurate mapping of the cracked bridge sections near the anchorage points so we inspected the bridge via Under Bridge Inspection Truck (UBIT), interior inspections of the box girders at the anchorage points and additional exterior inspections in October and December of 2019 and again in March of 2020. As the analysis was coming to a conclusion in March 2020 it indicated that there was a serious load carrying capacity issue with the bridge, we simultaneously noticed that the rate of cracking was increasing at a concerning rate just within the month of March 2020. This rate of increase was unexpected compared to previous months and gave us reason to close the bridge for safety.
The closure of the bridge, while abrupt, followed SDOT’s commitment to transparency and timely communication with the Mayor, City Council and the public on all issues that will or are quite likely to negatively impact their constituents. What led to the short window of time between alerting the Council and the public and the closure of the bridge on March 23 was the rapid acceleration of cracking within an extremely short period of time.
Please provide a timeline of SDOT’s inspections of the West Seattle Bridge that lead to this decision.
We regularly inspect our bridges. The events of the past few days is a notable example of why those efforts are critical and why we take this responsibility so seriously. During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our bridge inspectors discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We’ve inspected the bridge every year since then; twice as frequently as required by federal guidelines. Since then, we’ve closely monitored and managed the cracks. In 2014, we installed real-time data collection equipment to aid in these efforts, which allowed us to remotely monitor the width of existing cracks on the bridge. At this time, we also began conducting more frequent inspections and implementing best-practice maintenance and repairs. Those annual inspections did not indicate a need for repairs that would significantly disrupt standard use of the bridge. During a 2019 assessment of the bridge’s ability to carry heavy loads, our structural engineering consultant mapped the cracks in the bridge and discovered that they had grown since the previous year’s inspection. We and our engineering consultant continued to closely monitor these cracks and carry out critical maintenance by injecting epoxy into them to protect the steel reinforcements. In late February 2020, our engineering consultant recommended that the rate of deterioration made it necessary to consider traffic restrictions to ensure public safety. As we came to the same conclusion late last week, while we were drafting a lane-reduction plan and preparing to initiate conversations with City leaders and the community, our structural engineering consultant notified us that they had conducted new analysis raising larger concerns. We conducted several observations over the next few days and on Monday, March 23, we found significant new cracking. This confirmed that cracking had rapidly accelerated to the point where there was no other option but to immediately close the bridge.
(in response to a question about 2013, 2016 and 2019 changes to federal bridge load rating standards):
Federal guidelines require that bridges in the National Highway System be inspected every two years (see National Bridge Inspection Standards in 23 CFR 650C). During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our structural engineers discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We have been closely monitoring these cracks since then, installing real-time data collection equipment in 2014 allowing us to remotely monitor the bridge condition, and began conducting more frequent follow up inspections in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
In an unrelated process, the FHWA issued new requirements in 2013 that DOTs reevaluate all bridge load ratings by 2022 due to the growing use of heavier trucks for specific kinds of emergency response and construction vehicles. This required SDOT to re-evaluate the maximum vehicle weight that 69 bridges could safely support. We began these load rating revaluations in 2015 and started the West Seattle Bridge reevaluation in mid-2019, according to our planned schedule.
Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).
Each year Roadway Structures updates their Project Rating Criteria List based on the previous years’ bridge condition data and rating factors that prioritize local concerns including equity and transportation system impact. The 2019 Project Rating Criteria for SDOT’s bridge inventory is being updated and will be ready the week of 3/30.
Can traffic signals at the 5-way intersection at West Marginal Way, Spokane Street, Delridge Way be adjusted to better serve new traffic patterns? One constituent said they had to wait through 5 light cycles to get to Spokane Street from West Marginal during the afternoon with relatively light traffic.
We know the 5-way intersection has been a challenge even prior to the High Bridge closure. The current intersection design is intended to maintain all potential movements and separates each leg to remove potential conflicts. With increased demand on the intersection as a result of the High Bridge closure, SDOT will re-evaluate the intersection to see whether any design or operational changes can help address congestion while maintaining safe operations.
This signal is on our high priority emergency list to be upgraded so that the signal system is interconnected to our central system. This will allow for us to adjust signal timing actively based on new traffic patterns. These upgrades also include improved detection to better facilitate new priority movements. This work will be prioritized after our work on Highland Park Way & Holden and our target is to complete it within the next 2-3 weeks.
What was the original design vehicle and what would we use today?
The bridge was originally designed for a design live load commercial vehicle designated as HS-20 (like a large commercial tractor-trailer truck but slightly less axel load than an articulated bus). Since the bridge was brought online in 1984, the size and loading of commercial vehicles have continued to increase as indicated by the much larger HL-93 design loading that is used to design new bridges today. Note that HL-93 loading is not a specific commercial vehicle type, but rather a requirement to choose the worst load combination presented by combining either an HS-20 or Heavy Tandem Trailer with a distributed lane load. The ‘93’ refers to the year that this loading type was adopted as the governing load combination for bridge load rating calculations. This load combination captures the loading of the larger articulated buses that are in use today.
Looking at the full Q&A document linked above, this one is of particular note:
The November 2018 Move Levy Workplan (i.e. levy “re-set”) noted 16 bridges scheduled for seismic improvements from 2019 to 2024; the 2020-2025 SDOT CIP “Bridge Seismic – Phase III” item noted the 16 bridges. Why was the West Seattle Bridge not included in the 16 bridges?
There is a very significant need for seismic retrofit throughout SDOT’s bridge inventory. The list of 16 bridges chosen for the current levy was based on bridge assets with the most significant seismic vulnerability and highest degree of impact if a failure under seismic loading were to occur for each region around the city. The live load capacity issues we are seeing with the WSHB are distinct from potential seismic vulnerabilities that were intended to be addressed with the Move Seattle Levy. Note that the repairs that we will need to make to return vertical live load capacity to the bridge will not necessarily address other components in the bridge that are vulnerable to lateral seismic loading.
As part of the City of Seattle’s efforts to invest in transportation infrastructure and public safety, the Move Seattle Levy is funding the replacement of the Fairview Ave N Bridge and the seismic reinforcement of 16 other bridges. The Levy is also funding replacement planning studies for 10 additional bridges to help us better understand the size of Seattle’s maintenance backlog, assess and manage roadway structure maintenance needs, and maximize future investments (for example, this includes the recently completed the Magnolia Bridge Planning Study and Ballard Bridge Planning Study currently underway).
Here are a few examples of upcoming / ongoing bridge projects funded by the Move Seattle Levy:
• Fairview Ave N Bridge Replacement Project: This South Lake Union bridge was built over 65 years ago and is the last wood-supported bridge on a major road in Seattle. The timber piles which hold up the western half of the bridge are decaying and the concrete girders which stabilize the street on the eastern half of the bridge were cracked. While safe for travel, the bridge was structurally unstable and vulnerable to earthquakes needed to be replaced. We closed this bridge in late September and construction is expected to last approximately 19 months.
• Cowen Park Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project: This Ravenna bridge was built in 1936, prior to the modernization of the seismic design code. Seismic improvements are needed to reduce the bridge’s vulnerability to earthquakes. Construction on the Cowen Park Bridge began in fall 2019 2019 and will last approximately 6 months.
• W Howe St Bridge Project – Seismic Retrofit: The bridge over 32nd Ave W in the southern portion of Magnolia was constructed in 1946 to provide access across a steep ravine. The all steel structure is tall and slender and was identified as seismically deficient. Construction began on this project in late 2019.
Our bridge-closure coverage so far is archived here.
Great views of the squall that swept through with rain and hail – in the sunshine! – earlier this evening. Above, tweeted by Kevin Freitas; below, tweeted by @WestSeaWx:
Sue Bell shared this view of the blue/gray line over Madison Middle School:
Next one is a view we caught from Alki avenue SW:
The National Weather Service says thunderstorms are possible tonight.
Though one West Seattle road project now literally looms over everything – repairing the high bridge – planning has also continued for a major project long in the works, repaving much of Delridge and more for the conversion of Metro Route 120 into RapidRide H Line. SDOT has finalized the design and provided a summary today – see it here in PDF.
In the non-COVID-19 days, there would have been a big community meeting to unveil this, but instead, we have a summary and website. The latter, by the way, links to detailed documents/maps – go here to find them. We have followup questions out – for starters, how the bridge situation might affect this, and also the timeline, since there’s a mention here of 24 months, though the H Line’s most-recent launch date is supposed to be September 2021, a year and a half from now.
Three West Seattle Crime Watch notes this afternoon:
STOLEN WHITE SUBARU: Reported by Becca:
Sadly reaching out to report that my car was stolen from our driveway last night. We live in the Gatewood neighborhood on Orchard Street. It is a 2017 white Subaru Crosstrek, WA plate BCW8406. Only thing unique is a yellow paint mark on the driver’s side mirror and expired RPZ 29 decal on the windshield.
If you see it, call 911.
BREAK-IN: Police were called to the 9400 block of 35th SW on Monday afternoon after evidence of burglary was found at a vacant, newly built home. According to the report, someone broke in by breaking a window between 8 pm Sunday and 1 pm Monday.
SCAM ALERT: Multiple WSBers have reported that scam callers are busy these days, with scams old and new. Be careful, and remind vulnerable family members not to give out their financial info. Lots of scam-alert resources out there – here’s one worth spotlighting, also containing links for reporting price-gouging and for debunking rumors.
As we’ve mentioned more than a few times, COVID-19 has led to the cancellation/postponement of many nonprofits’ fundraisers, so they’ve been working to find creative alternatives. The Lafayette Elementary PTA has taken its auction online so what was going to be “Auction Night” has turned into an auction you can access anytime.
We are having a mini online auction for some summer camps that are time-sensitive. Click here. The auction starts NOW through April 14.
Click on Online/Mobile Items (left side of the screen).
There are currently 16 items up for bid.
See something you like, click on it. At the top there will be Sign Up link.
Enter your email and you will receive a personal link.
You are all set. Let the bidding begin!
Mobile Device Instructions
Click on Bidding.
Click on Search.
Click on Online.
See something you like, click on it. At the top there will be Sign Up link.
Enter your email and you will receive a personal link.
You are all set. Let the bidding begin!
Lafayette’s PTA, like others, also has been busy coordinating assistance for students and their families.
What’s YOUR PTA/PTSA up to? Tell us your story! firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you.
The State Legislature is done for the year, and Gov. Inslee continues to sign bills. Today, one of them included high-profile legislation by 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen of West Seattle. Here’s the announcement:
Gov. Jay Inslee today signed into law comprehensive regulations on the use of facial recognition technology in Washington.
Senate Bill 6280, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen, prohibits the use of facial recognition technology for ongoing surveillance and limits its use to acquiring evidence of serious criminal offense following authorization of a search warrant.
“Right now, we have seen this technology already being used without much concern for the moral implications that are associated with it,” said Nguyen. “This bill will change that, and ensure that facial recognition isn’t being used unless there are regulatory checks and balances.”
Given reports of the technology’s bias against women, trans individuals, and people of color, SB 6280 establishes guidelines and oversight to protect against discriminatory applications.
“Now is the time to really work on this and find ways to root out the bias, so people across the country can be protected from unnecessary and intrusive surveillance,” Nguyen said.
The bill requires agencies using the technology to produce an accountability report outlining its intended use. Additionally, the use of facial recognition technology would be subject to formal review to ensure accurate representation.
“This bill begins the process of catching our laws up to where our technology is at,” said Nguyen. “I’m proud that Washington is the leader on this issue.”
This is now the third week that we’ve been updating the original West Seattle (etc.) list of restaurants and other food/beverage businesses open for takeout and/or delivery. We just updated three more listings thanks to proprietors and readers, and added one. Tens of thousands of readers have used the list, so we appreciate your help in catching changes (anything from new hours to online ordering to reopenings and closures) – email@example.com or text 206-293-6302 – thank you!
If the high-bridge closure is suddenly sending you along SW Holden to get to the 1st Avenue South Bridge, you may be noticing the century-old Highland Park Improvement Club at 12th/Holden. It’s been a community hub for a century. Even though people can’t gather there right now, HPIC’s latest newsletter brings word of several creative ways it’s connecting neighbors, including this:
THROUGH THE WINDOWPANE: Connecting People in the Community
Are you inside looking through your windowpane for a safe face, a conversation, some entertainment? Are you able to be outside looking to fill an hour a week safely in front of a windowpane? Whichever side of the window you are on Highland Park Improvement Club has a vision for you.
We are looking to identify volunteers who:
Cannot leave their homes, feel isolated and are seeking safe human interactions to talk, smile, sing and laugh with you while remaining safely inside. If you’re interested, email us at HPIC – Inside the Window (hpic1919 at gmail dot com, with that subject line).
Individuals or families who are looking for opportunities to talk, smile, sing, and laugh from a front yard or walkway. If you’re interested, email us at HPIC – Outside the Window (hpic1919 at gmail dot com, with that subject line).
Through the Windowpane will train volunteers with safe distancing procedures, ways to communicate through a window, and other fun activities to lessen isolation while providing some structure and routine to your week.
This is geared toward Highland Park – but it’s certainly something any neighborhood could replicate. Meantime, HPIC’s making plans for an online edition of what would otherwise be its monthly Corner Bar this Friday – an hour of streamed music at 8 pm – details to come.
5:35 AM: The high-rise West Seattle Bridge remains closed today, and Monday’s City Council briefing made it clear it’ll likely be closed for months.
The new Highland Park Way/Holden signal is now in operation. Meantime, the low bridge is reserved for transit, freight, emergency response, and Harbor Island access – the city hopes you’ll honor that.
The main alternative across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) – that’s also the main route to I-5.
You also can cross the river via the South Park Bridge (map).
Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed to see if a bridge is opening for marine traffic.
Metro routes are affected, too – check yours here (the new Reduced Schedule also applies, plus Sound Transit is reducing the 560 schedule). Also on a reduced schedule now: Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route. Taking the Water Taxi? Here’s the schedule (the WT, like Metro, is currently free).
Let us know what you’re seeing on your alternate commute – comment, or text (not while at the wheel!) 206-293-6302.
The governor says 90 percent of Washingtonians are heeding the “stay-home order” – but the other 10 percent need to “join the team.” So enforcement guidance is the newest announcement, topping tonight’s roundup:
DON’T IGNORE THE ORDER: We carried the live feed of Gov. Inslee‘s briefing this afternoon, which his office followed with this news release. He announced an online form for people who want to report business violations, and had law-enforcement-agency chiefs speak to how to report other suspected violations, with one caveat: Don’t call 911.
SOCIAL DISTANCING IS HELPING, SO DON’T STOP NOW: Not only didd the governor sound that theme today, so did the mayor.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From today’s Seattle-King County Public Health news release:
2330 confirmed positive cases (up 171 from yesterday)
150 confirmed deaths (up 9 from yesterday)
15 people are currently staying in King County isolation and quarantine facilities
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
PROPERTY-TAX DEADLINE EXTENSION: If you pay your taxes directly to King County, not through a mortgage company, you have until June 1st to pay the taxes that otherwise are due on April 30th.
COUNCIL SUPPORTS RENT/MORTGAGE MORATORIUM: Seattle City Councilmembers gave unanimous support today to a resolution calling on state and federal leaders to order a rent/mortgage-payment moratorium.
OPEN RESTAURANTS/BEVERAGE BUSINESSES: While we’re continuing to update our West Seattle list of who’s open for takeout/delivery (please keep updating us about changes!), the city has come up with a new map.
TONIGHT’S FINAL WORDS: Thanks to Debbie for the photo of this sighting at Hamilton Viewpoint in North Admiral:
From Rotary Club of West Seattle president Dave Nichols:
Wonder what happened to the Rotary Club of West Seattle? We’re still here, just functioning in a virtual world, like many of you. Back around the 1st of March, working with leadership, we decided to cancel our meetings for a couple of weeks, and now we have moved to a Zoom Meeting platform.
But because we are not around doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to support the community we live in. With all the people out of work, we realized the West Seattle Food Bank was going to be feeding many more people than normal, I asked the Rotary District for a $500 grant for the West Seattle Food Bank, and then I challenged our club to give what they could to help keep the WS Food Bank working. So far as individual Rotarians we have given $1.500 more to the Food Bank. As the weeks go on, we are scouring our budget to try to help other Non-Profits serving the community. Be safe, help others, and thank you to a great community.
As noted here previously, money is what the WSFB – and other nonprofits – need now most of all, not jut because of the increased need; the pandemic-driven event cancellations are happening at a time of year when many nonprofits hold their biggest annual fundraisers.
We have wrapped up concrete road paving on SW Alaska St! We anticipate opening SW Snoqualmie St in April. We anticipate completing grinding and final paving of SW Avalon Way between 35th Ave SW and Fauntleroy Way SW the week of April 6. When we pave, SW Avalon Way from 35th Ave SW to Fauntleroy Way SW will be closed to traffic from 7 PM to 7 AM. Work is weather dependent and subject to change
During grinding and nighttime paving the week of April 6, please expect:
Crews will grind the road down first to prepare the road for an even repaving. This may happen during typical day time work hours. Driveways will be temporarily impacted as equipment moves along the pavement
Paving will take place after grinding and at night. Work will cause vibrations and the smell of tar.
Paving work hours from 7 PM – 7 AM. Crews have a temporary noise variance to do night work.
Paving will take approximately one shift to complete.
Anticipate driveway access to be impacted for a minimum of 1night. We will let property owners know which night to expect this work, when confirmed, and emergency access will always be maintained.
Fresh pavement is hot, oily, and extremely sticky. Please keep off new pavement if you are walking, especially with dogs, as the oil and pavement can harm their feet and be difficult to remove from fur.
Crews will open driveways as they are safe for people walking and driving
As a reminder, for the safety of our crews and your fellow residents, please follow posted detour routes and do not disturb traffic control. We anticipate laying down final striping in April, weather depending.
What to expect this week and next week:
35th Ave SW and SW Alaska St: We have restricted left turns onto SW Alaska St from northbound 35th Ave SW. We anticipate lifting this closure in the coming weeks. Next week we will be installing push buttons for pedestrian crossings, and working on ADA curb ramps at 35th Ave SW and SW Alaska St.
Zone F (SW Alaska St from 35th Ave SW to 36th Ave SW): Next week we anticipate working at the intersection of 36th Ave SW and SW Alaska St on curb ramps and sidewalks.
More details on the final phase of work are in our in-depth progress report from late January.
Providence Mount St. Vincent has announced its first COVID-19 case. A tip pointed us to this announcement published on The Mount’s website today:
In keeping with our promise to you, we are letting you know that a resident/patient recently tested positive for COVID-19. While this individual is in good condition, we are alerting all of our residents, patients, families and community members. We remain closed to visitors and are continuing to screen everyone that enters the building. …
The announcement also includes information on who to contact with questions/concerns. As its website notes, The Mount (4831 35th SW) “is home to more than 400 adults who need some type of assistance with their daily living or are in need of 24-hour care.” It also is home to the nationally acclaimed Intergenerational Learning Center child-care center/preschool.
We interrupt the rest of the news for a quick safety alert about The West Seattle Turkey. Today, it’s been seen in The Junction … Kristina sent the photo above, after seeing it crossing usually busy SW Alaska. Earlier in the day, it was southeast of The Junction, walking in a much-safer place, up someone’s stairs:
In recent days TWST (now in its 12th month in West Seattle) has gone from Gatewood to High Point to Snake Hill to, now, The Junction. So there’s yet another reason to stay home … avoid running over The Turkey (not to mention helping your fellow humans stay safe).
2:04 PM: Click into the live feed to see and hear Gov. Inslee‘s latest briefing on the coronavirus crisis, happening right now. No hint of any major announcements to come, but for those who want to hear the latest about state action regarding the crisis as-it-happens, here you go. We’ll add toplines as it goes.
He notes it’s now been a month since the first COVID-19 case in our state. He says that everyone needs to “be on the team” to fight the virus, and they’re getting reports from people concerned about non-compliance, so he’s announcing guidance for how to report violations. He says it’s a three-step process:
-Citations and if necessary revocation of business licenses
-Referring to state Attorney General as an “absolute last resort”
If you think a business is violating the order, find a “one-stop form” at coronavirus.wa.gov. Otherwise, it’s a local decision – do NOT call 911 if you for example see a gathering that seems to be a rule violation.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson then takes the mic. Along with reinforcing what the governo said, he talks about the eviction moratorium and says they’re getting complaints that not all landlords are complying, so keep letting them know.
He’s followed by State Patrol chief John Batiste who says “as a last resort, we can arrest people,” but hopes they won’t have to.
2:18 PM: In Q&A, the governor is asked why he doesn’t just go ahead and extend the stay-home order, given the new White House guidance through April 30th. He says they look at data daily rather than making a “doctrinaire approach” – though “from the data we have today, it is highly likely” that measures will go past the current order’s April 6th end. He cites the positive-test rates from some non-urban counties as one “alarming” new factor.
Next question: Why is the enforcement plan focusing on businesses rather than “pulling over cars”? While the governor says he doesn’t really want to have to do the latter, they still need more people to reduce their non-essential trips.
Other questions include more discussion of enforcement – don’t call 911, it’s again stressed – and the availability of test kits. They’re trying hard to find local manufacturers, the governor says, but they really need a national effort to make more tests. … He’s also asked about educational equity, and concerns about so many kids having inequitable access to education wth schools closed. He voices regret for that but says the virus must be defeated so this is “once in a lifetime” situation, and that has to take precedence.
3:05 PM: The governor’s wrapped the briefing, after an hour. The video window above should before long show the archived recording of it.
12:39 PM: We’ve seen sun, rain, and now hail today – the photo above is how the street looked outside WSB HQ a short time ago. Could be wild weather off and on all afternoon – the forecast calls for possible thunderstorms.
P.S. For contrast – a reader near Lincoln Park shared this photo from just a few hours ago:
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) March 30, 2020
ADDED 2 PM: More photos and video – thank you! First, from Stephen @ Lowman Beach:
Thanks to @mjs1980 for pointing this out via Twitter: One week after reducing service on most routes (and dropping some entirely, including West Seattle’s Route 125, and Route 37 except for one PM trip), Metro has a lookup you can use to see which trips are canceled. Just choose your route of interest here and get the list.
(Seattle Channel video from meeting- bridge briefing starts 14 minutes in)
9:33 AM: Click into the
live Seattle Channel stream above for the City Council‘s weekly “briefing” meeting, featuring an SDOT presentation on the decision a week ago to close the high-rise West Seattle Bridge after “exponential” growth in cracks they had been monitoring for seven years, and what happens next. As previewed Friday, here’s the slide deck prepared for the meeting:
(Or see it here in PDF.) If you can’t access the SC feed, you should be able to listen in at 206-684-8566. We’ll be chronicling as it happens, too.
9:46 AM: After Council President Lorena González‘s weekly update, the bridge briefing has begun. District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold opens by mentioning that there’s “universal support” for the fastest action possible, as for West Seattle this is a “second emergency” layered on the pandemic emergency. Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, notes a resolution is set for this afternoon’s meeting designating this as an urgent capital project. Then SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe starts the briefing. He’s joined by other SDOT employees – all in separate locations.
He reiterates that the bridge had been inspected previously more often than required, adding that the bridge was built to last 75 years. He says there was no indication until recent weeks/months that anything impeding the bridge’s use was going on. “All of our infrastructure ages – usually it does so in a predictable manner … with very few surprises,” although there have been exceptions such as the Argo Bridge (4th Ave. S.) and Aurora Bridge. “For reasons that we don’t yet know,” the bridge became so dangerous it had to be closed, he says. “We needed to take this action swiftly and decisively.”
SDOT’s bridge manager Matt Donahue picks up from there. He gives some background on the bridge, opened in 1984. “Reinforced concrete bridges are … made to crack,” he notes. Bridges like this are supposed to be inspected every two years. After atypical cracking was first noticed in 2013, they hired an engineering firm. 2014-2019, they inspected annually and looked at “crack width data” – the cracking “continued to grow but not at an alarming rate,” 1/1000th inch or less. Then in 2019 came the load-rating inspection required by new federal guidelines that they had until 2022 to do, but because of the cracks, they moved the load-rating inspection up to 2019. “Two things happened – we’re doing this advanced analysis …and continuing to inspect the bridge … gathering more data …” so they built two models to analyze. While gathering data for that, they saw the cracking patterns start to change. In late February, their consultant recommended going down to two lanes in each direction. They were working on a plan for that when on March 19th, the consultant said the bridge should be closed. So they analyzed that over a weekend, went up to the bridge at 9 am last Monday, and the photo shows “what they saw when we got up there.”
10:07 AM: Councilmember Herbold says there should have been public/council notice when they moved to monthly inspections. Zimbabwe counters that they didn’t think until “very very recently” that repairs would disrupt “normal traffic patterns.” CP González (also a West Seattleite) asks for further clarification on that two-lane recommendation. February 21st, responds Zimbabwe. But it didn’t seem to be something that needed to be done immediately. Nonetheless, as she noted, that was a month before this, and there was no hint to the public or council that anything was amiss. She and Herbold express disappointment. Zimbabwe says the recommendation for closure was made March 19th, and then they confirmed March 23rd that it was needed. He acknowledges there could have been some discussion in the weeks ahead but says again there was no indication “such swift action” would have been needed.
Donahue resumes his part of the briefing, pointing to the cracking growth and saying that the kind of growth he saw last Monday was the kind you see in years, not days and weeks, “completely unacceptable. … Failure happens quickly and without warning” in this type of situation. Regarding repairs: They hope to fix it while some traffic is allowed on the bridge, and they will continue to inspect the cracks, in hopes the bridge can “at least handle its own dead weight” for now.
Councilmember Tammy Morales expresses concern about whether there’s a “chance the upper bridge could collapse at any moment” – Donahue says they don’t think so.
Counclmember Pedersen “echoes” the notification concerns and saying they needed to know – even that lane closures were being planned.
Councilmember Herbold asks for more details on repair options. SDOT reiterates that they are working on a “design-build” process to accelerate. Donahue says they are gathering data on how the bridge is handling the stress and strain and that has to be known first. Zimbabwe says, “We’re looking for any possible way to restore any amount of traffic” but they have to be certain it would be safe. Herbold says she wasn’t suggesting a rush but just wants to be sure this is treated as an “emergency.”
Back to Donahue, who now moves on to the “low bridge” slide. Parts of it are getting weekly inspections; a load-rating project started recently for this bridge too. The pedestrian gates will be fixed next month.
10:28 AM: Adiam Emery now takes over to address the “traffic management plan.” 20,000 vehicles is the maximum the low bridge could handle, which would be stop-and-go, so to be sure emergency vehicles can get through, they’re limiting other traffic to transit and freight. She mentions the Highland Park Way signal, and “traffic-count stations” to watch the situation elsewhere. How frequently will they be monitored and what info will be shared? Herbold asks. She also asks about low-bridge access for health-care workers and first responders to get to work. Emery says 15,000 vehicles took the low bridge last Tuesday, the first full day of the closure, but they aren’t ready to reconsider the restrictions yet. She says the traffic counts are being used to tweak signal timing and other things “on a daily basis.” Zimbabwe adds that “right now we’re in an extraordinary (low) traffic period” so they know things will change. “This is not a short-term issue.” (But, it should be noted, there’s still been no hint in the briefing of HOW LONG the repairs will take.) Emery says many more strategies will be required to manage the future traffic and a task force, also involving Metro and the port, is looking at that.
Back to Donahue for repair options. First the temporary shoring “to make it safe” for a contractor to even do more repairs – “carbon fiber wrapping” coated with an epoxy shell is likely what they’ll use for starters, also more steel reinforcement. They have to be careful in the design that the repairs don’t affect bridge clearance on the waterway, which could trigger a need for Coast Guard permits, which would add more time.
Enforcing low-bridge restrictions? Herbold follows up. Zimbabwe mentions the signage. “Our general approach to enforcement of all our traffic rules is to have people follow the rules (and for us to) have as light an enforcement touch as possible,” but that could change … “if everybody tries to use the lower-level bridge, then nobody will be able to use the lower-level bridge.”
Councilmember Mosqueda asks about worker safety regarding COVID-19 exposure on repair crews. Zimbabwe says they have implemented safety plans for all their projects But working inside the bridge is a close space so that’s a challenge.
10:48 AM: Councilmember González stresses the importance of getting information out in multiple languages since West Seattle/South Park is “incredibly diverse” in terms of languages spoken. She also puts in a plug for WSB. “The West Seattle Blog is critical for anything that happens in West Seattle,” agrees Zimbabwe. He then gets to the org chart, with (another West Seattleite) Heather Marx coordinating the project, Dan Anderson as lead communicator – he’s had that role for several major local projects – among others (see the slide).
Re: next steps, Herbold asks about funding needed. Zimbabwe says “Yes, there will be budget impacts,” but they don’t know enough yet about the shoring and repair options – “we expect that’ll be over the next few weeks” – to address cost. “Beyond where we are with shoring and repair, we also recognize” they have to talk about the bridge’s future – “not our immediate priority” though.
González asks about timelines: Zimbabwe says they don’t know. “It’s not going to be a short duration and I don’t want to gve the impression this is something we can handle in the next few weeks …I think it’ll outlast the public health emergency we’re in now. … I am very reluctant to speculate on (timelines) … any range I give would likely have problems.”
On followup he says they’ll know “over the next month or so … what we need to do.” So basically – this s our interpretation – plan on months.
11:03 AM: The briefing has concluded (running twice as long as originally expected). TOPLINES:
-They don’t know what caused the cracks to worsen
-They knew a month ago that they had worsened to a point where lane reduction was advised
-They don’t know how long it’ll take even for short-term repairs – it’ll take up to a month before they know.
We’ll get the archived video up as soon as possible (we recorded the briefing too in case the Seattle Channel turnaround takes longer).
1:35 PM: Video added. Advance the Seattle Channel recording to 14 minutes in to get to the start.
5:40 AM: Today marks one week since the sudden shutdown of the high-rise West Seattle Bridge. (The City Council gets a briefing at 9:30 am today.)
And remember – the new Highland Park Way/Holden signal is now in operation!
Meantime, though we have yet to see enforcement, the low bridge is off-limits unless you’re transit, freight, emergency response, or working on Harbor Island. As of Sunday night, only a very small sign pointed this out at the eastbound entrance.
The main alternative across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) – that’s also how to get to I-5.
Or, the South Park Bridge (map).
Metro routes are affected, too – check yours here (and remember the new Reduced Schedule also applies, plus Sound Transit is reducing the 560 schedule). Also on a reduced schedule now: Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route. Taking the Water Taxi? Here’s the schedule (the WT, like Metro, is currently free).
Let us know what you’re seeing on your alternate commute – comment, or text (not while at the wheel!) 206-293-6302.
10:20 PM: Thanks to a texter for that photo. SFD is responding to what firefighters describe as a “pretty large brush fire” in the wooded area near Longfellow Creek east of Chief Sealth International High School.
10:31 PM: Firefighters are accessing the scene through the Longfellow Creek P-Patch off Thistle. No structures are reported to be threatened.
10:43 PM: The nearby resident who called it in (and sent the photo and video) says it looks like firefighters have it under control.
ADDED 11:32 AM MONDAY: Regarding the cause, SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo tells WSB, “Fire investigators were not dispatched for this incident. No injuries were reported and no other people were present when our crews arrived.”
We usually stick to the local info, but there was a presidential pronouncement tonight of note, so it tops our roundup:
SOCIAL DISTANCING UNTIL APRIL 30: That’s what the White House is now recommending. That’s a guideline, not an order, so it’s up to Gov. Inslee to decide how long the statewide “stay-home order” will last, though as reported earlier this week, he has already strongly hinted he’ll extend it beyond the two-week period currently scheduled to end April 6th.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From today’s Seattle-King County Public Health news release:
Cases reported today are an approximation. Case numbers draw from a Washington State Department of Health database that is in the process of being updated. We expect to have an official count tomorrow.
Public Health—Seattle & King County is reporting the following estimated cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/28/20.
2,159 estimated positive cases (up 82 from yesterday)
141 estimated deaths (up 5 from yesterday)
13 people are currently staying in King County isolation and quarantine facilities
The King County numbers one week ago tonight were 1,040 confirmed cases/75 deaths.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
NO, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DISINFECT YOUR GROCERIES: The state Health Department published this to clear that up.
TRANSIT TOMORROW: With dropping ridership, Sound Transit extends reductions to West Seattle-serving Route 560 as of Monday. Meanwhile, Metro starts a second week of reduced service. (Have you seen the “safety strap”?)
‘PAY IT FORWARD’ POP-UP: As noted on the list, Shug’s Soda Fountain continues a pop-up at what will someday be their West Seattle “mini” location. Customers have embraced this sweet “pay it forward” deal:
View this post on Instagram
We want to say thank you to this incredible community for purchasing so many ice cream sandwiches for our healthcare heroes — we will be delivering almost TWO HUNDRED treats to local hospitals, and it’s all thanks to you. This is such a difficult time for all of us, but we will get through it together! 💓 #payitforward #ShugsSodaFountain
FINAL WORD: Seen by Lisa in Arbor Heights this week:
GOT A PHOTO? INFO? TIP? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or text/voice our hotline, 206-293-6302 – thank you!
When Seattle Public Schools closed 2+ weeks ago, district leadership said online learning was not an option because of inequity in technology access. Many taachers have been getting learning materials to their students anyway – like these we spotted recently at a Junction location, placed by an Alki Elementary teacher, for families to pick up:
The district has formalized a plan with its teachers, and it rolls out this week. While SPS families already have seen this message (sent Friday), other community members might be interested:
The district and Seattle Education Association have agreed to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This joint MOA makes clear our collective support for continuous student learning during school closures and our commitment to staff during these difficult times. This agreement came on the heels of new guidance from OSPI, that shifts learning expectations from supplemental during the statewide school closures to providing continuity of learning, in grades PreK-12 through April 24, or beyond if necessary.
While ongoing, remote learning cannot fully replace students’ experiences in schools with their teachers, administrators, and support staff, this approach will help ensure our students are prepared for the next step in their educational journey.
What can families expect?
Remote learning will take place in a multitude of ways. While instruction or lessons online will likely be an option for many students and families in the coming weeks, teachers will also suggest activities that do not require technology, consider home language (25% of our students speak more than one language), specialized services, developmental readiness, and resource access. More details will be provided in next week’s emails, and will be posted to the COVID-19 FAQ.
All instruction will be aligned to academic standards and focus on key concepts, skills, and knowledge that students need to make growth.
Are educators ready for this shift?
Many teachers have already been providing remote learning and some teachers will be trying out new techniques and technology solutions for the very first time. There will be some initial bumps, but remote instruction and supports will improve over time. Please be patient and also remember that many teachers are parents of SPS students. Everyone is balancing a lot right now.
Today, educators received guiding documents to support their planning. In addition, Microsoft Teams, an online conferencing and collaboration tool, was integrated with Schoology and over 500 teachers participated in training yesterday.
What can my child expect?
The best learning happens as a result of the close relationship between teachers and their students. Teachers know their content, learning standards, and they know most precisely where individual students need support or acceleration. Students will be supported in growing academically, with a strong focus on individualized instruction and consistent communication and feedback.
How will my child’s teacher or teachers communicate with our family?
Family engagement is always important to student learning, but even more so with schools being closed. Educators will communicate directly with families and students at least twice a week throughout the school closure period. These conversations will help ensure that parents and students understand the learning goals and expected progress. Communication will be coordinated and provided on a regular schedule.
What about students without technology access at home?
Enhanced computer access has been prioritized for high school seniors to support on-time graduation. Computers originally purchased to support elementary state assessments have been repurposed and will be deployed to high school students who need them. More information will be provided in the coming days.
How is the class of 2020 going to be supported?
A separate communication will be provided to the class of 2020 and their families. High School counselors have been asked to conduct senior “check-ins” starting on Monday as the first step in developing individualized graduation plans. Additional information about high school student and senior supports will be added to the COVID-19 FAQ.
High-school students are even trying to keep up the school spirit while apart – we saw this on Instagram: