West Seattle, Washington
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.