West Seattle, Washington
Many days, this roundup is mostly a recap. Tonight, some new news too, so read all the way through:
WEST SEATTLE’S CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES: Yes, as some commenters pointed out, this only counts those who have been tested. But so far, that remains the only benchmark we have. So, with that in mind, the newly launched King County data dashboard shows 51 confirmed cases – out of 555 people who have test results – in the five zip codes that comprise West Seattle (98146 also goes beyond city limits).
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: Today’s Seattle-King County Public Health news release has a slogan (“Stand Together, Stay Apart”) as well as the numbers:
Public Health—Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/24/20.
1,359 confirmed positive cases (up 82 from yesterday)
100 confirmed deaths (up 6 from yesterday)
Important note: With the launch of the new data dashboard … Public Health will no longer be listing individual deaths by age and gender in our News Release. Detailed information about demographics of those who died from COVID-19 is available on the dashboard. Be sure to click the button to filter by “positive results only” to see age and gender of deaths.
One week ago, the King County numbers were 562 confirmed cases, 56 deaths.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: 2,580 confirmed cases, 132 deaths; other state stats here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them – nation by nation – here.
NEW SHELTERS, INCLUDING ONE IN WEST SEATTLE: Also from King County this afternoon – this announcement of what they’re doing to reduce crowding in shelters. They’re adding temporary shelter spaces at five more sites, including the city’s Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle), where there will be room for 50 people. We’ll be following up tomorrow to find out how people will get there/be referred there.
SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS REACHES DEAL WITH TEACHERS’ UNION: SPS announced that the district “and the Seattle Education Association have collaboratively developed a Memorandum of Agreement to address work issues that have emerged as a result of school closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.” As part of the deal:
• Educators will deliver educational services to our students to the greatest degree reasonably possible. This will include considering how to satisfy graduation requirements and ensure equity in the delivery of services.
• This may also include identifying solutions for online or paper-packet supplemental learning materials, portfolio-based assessments, or providing “office hours” for students.
• Educators will be asked to provide graduating seniors the content they need to meet their graduation requirements and to support their post-secondary transition.
• School make-up shall be limited to those days required by law. Additional information will be provided once the extent of the school closure is clear.
• Evaluations will still be completed. Specific guidance on evaluations will come in a separate, and more detailed memo from HR.
Read the entire announcement here (PDF).
WHERE NOT TO PARK AT PARKS: We got the closures clarified today, with some potential good news if you’re looking to go boating.
REMINDER – ‘STAY HOME’ ORDER NOW IN EFFECT: Still not sure exactly what’s allowed and what’s not? Read it here in PDF, or below:
It’s in effect through April 6th – but the governor can decide to extend it.
GOT INFO? email@example.com or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
New information from SDOT tonight about the cracks that closed the high-level West Seattle Bridge – and what’s being done, about them and about mobility while the bridge is closed.
It’s been two days since the sudden, shocking news of the shutdown. We have been requesting an interview with any available SDOT official; mobility director Heather Marx, a West Seattleite, was made available by phone a short time ago. They also have provided some imagery – above, where the cracks are – on both sides of the crest – and a look at them.
WHY SO SUDDEN: They’ve been watching cracks since 2013, but Marx says, every bridge they monitor has cracks, and they’re nothing to “panic” over. They were checked every year. Then in 2019, they noticed some growth, so they checked three times. In December, a lttle more growth, so they checked again this month. They checked the cracks on March 4th, March 6th, March 23rd, and that last check – this past Monday – showed such “exponential” growth that, Marx said, they realized “we really don’t have a choice – we have to shut it down, and we have to shut it down NOW.”
The previous inspections had led to some caulking, Marx added – you might occasionally have noticed the bucket truck that hangs over the side of the bridge, with workers in it, doing that work. But this time, it was such “shockingly rapid deterioration” that closing the bridge was the only choice.
Why weren’t elected officials already in the loop? Marx said that just last week, SDOT was working on a briefing in which they would tell city leaders that the cracking problem would require traffic reduction on the bridge – and then the “acceleration” required the closure.
WHAT WILL BE DONE TO FIX IT? Right now they are working with consultants WSP to determine what kind of “immediate shoring” can be done “to be sure it doesn’t fall on the low bridge.” Whether that will mean they can reopen the bridge to some traffic, too soon to say. Then they will work on a design-build contract for whatever needs to be done long-term to save the bridge. Not fixing it is NOT an option, she reiterated, for those who are worried. It’s the busiest roadway in the city – 100,000 vehicles a day, 14,000 transit riders. “There’s no way we’re not going to fix it.” But it will be out of commission for weeks at the very least. Marx reiterated that 80 percent of the load on the bridge – a unique structure, in many ways – is its own weight. No idea yet how much the repairs will cost, short term and long term.
WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP PEOPLE GET AROUND IN THE MEANTIME? A temporary signal will be installed at Highland Park Way and Holden. This is not something that can be done overnight but Marx says it’ll be done soon enough to make a difference. Marx says they will still get to the rest of the Highland Park Way Safety Project but this is suddenly an emergency since so many more people will be using that intersection. Other plans such as Metro and Water Taxi changes are still under discussion.
WHAT ABOUT THE LOW BRIDGE? While police are being stationed at both ends during peak periods, Marx says the bridge will not have checkpoints – they want people to voluntarily reserve it for freight, emergency vehicles, and transit. For those who have asked, freight does NOT include package deliveries – they would like that traffic to use other routes.
More questions remain for more interviews, especially more technical insight into the cracking problem itself; SDOT is also planning an online update tonight, which we’ll link and excerpt when available. Again – no timeline for how long the closure will last, but it’ll be at least a matter of weeks, not days.
ADDED 8:06 PM: In a new online update, Councilmember Lisa Herbold mentions the SDOT briefing at City Council – mentioned during the original announcement/media briefing on Monday – is expected next Monday at 9:30 am. You should be able to watch via Seattle Channel.
ADDED MIDNIGHT: SDOT’s promised post hasn’t shown up yet, but we did find that the “West Seattle Bridge Safety Project” now has its own page on the SDOT website.
3:27 PM THURSDAY: SDOT’s promised post is up, with a bit more information on the pre-closure timeline.
Until today, we only knew about COVID-19 cases in West Seattle because they were announced by an institution. Now, King County has just launched a dashboard with data available by zip code. So here’s what it says for the five zip codes in West Seattle:
98106 – 11 positive tests, 117 people who “have test results,” 0 deaths
98116 – 10 positive tests, 136 test results, 0 deaths
98126 – 12 positive tests, 131 test results, 1 death “due to illness”
98136 – 6 positive tests, 76 test results, 1 death “due to illness”
98146 – 12 positive tests, 95 test results, 0 deaths
(Note that 98146 also stretches southward beyond the city limits.)
The 98126 death is likely the one previously reported here, at Bridge Park (where families have just been told today of a fourth case), but we have no details on the 98136 death. The language in the dashboard notes that deaths are among people with a positive test result who died “due to illness,” without saying outright that COVID-19 is what killed them, so keep that in mind. Again, here’s the dashboard if you want to explore the rest of the city/county yourself.
4:19 PM: Thanks to William for the photo. A big fire call is blocking traffic in the Highland Park Way/West Marginal Way SW vicinity – that burning motor home is apparently what’s at the heart of it. Avoid the area.
5:10 PM: SFD is clearing the scene.
ADDED: We went by after the fire was out. The burned motor home was in the former encampment parking lot at the intersection.
Though the city’s announcement Tuesday of closed parking lots at parks only mentioned eight “destination parks” including Lincoln Park and Alki (which doesn’t have a standalone lot), readers noticed others closed off – like Seacrest (above) and Don Armeni Boat Ramp (below).
(Tuesday photo by David Hutchinson)
We followed up today via the city’s Emergency Operations Center, which is fielding all media questIons related to the COVID-19 response. The reply: “Only the lots of the eight parks mentioned in the news release will be closed to help reduce crowds. . At Alki, the lots at Seacrest (take-out at Marination Ma Kai and dropoff at Water Taxi is still accessible) and Don Aremni (we are looking to reopen a portion to keep the boat launch operating) were closed to have the same result at this park.”
2:38 PM: Police and fire are arriving at what was dispatched as a flipped-vehicle crash at 35th/Trenton. Avoid the area.
2:49 PM: Actually a vehicle-on-side crash, and it’s closer to Henderson. 35th is closed between Tremton and Henderson until this is cleared. Police tell us the driver got out of the vehicle and is not seriously hurt. At least one parked vehicle was damaged.
Two West Seattle Crime Watch items today:
BUSINESS BURGLARY: That boarded-up window at the gas station minimart north of Lincoln Park is because of an overnight burglary. The police report says cigarettes and lighters were taken.
MYSTERY MOWER, BUDDHA: Both dumped, likely stolen, abandoned by Riverview Playfield:
Thanks to Kay and Craig for the reports/photos.
Thanks to Bretnie for the tip – orcas, northbound, off Blake Island!
From the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which is headquartered at Alki’s landmark Log House Museum:
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is requesting your help to document history as it unfolds.
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society realizes that we are living through an historic event. In an effort to document the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our community, we are collecting diary entries from residents of the Duwamish Peninsula. How has COVID-19 influenced your life and that of the community in which we live? Consider submitting an entry to help future historians understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced life in Southwest Seattle.
Visit to share your experience (here).
Or go directly to the form (here).
Though the museum is currently closed, you can explore some of its offerings online.
Anyone have masks you haven’t donated yet? New request just in:
Hello, West Seattle Neighbors,
My name is Charlie Austin and I work with the activities department here at the Kenney Home on Fauntleroy Way SW, just north of Lincoln Park.
We are in dire need of N95 masks (or any cloth Masks) for our nursing staff here at the Kenney as well as gloves and PPE and are looking to the community to see if anyone has this equipment that they would be willing to donate to us. We have been working very hard to maintain the health of our residents and so far have been completely successful in keeping COVID-19 outside our doors. But in order to continue this level of safety for those living here we need to have access to masks, in particular, which are running in short supply.
The Kenney has been a West Seattle mainstay since 1907 when the Seattle city fathers established us. Many of you know us firsthand. Your grandparents and great-grandparents may have retired here.
Please help us continue to keep them safe and healthy. If you have anything that you would be willing to donate to us, we would be ever so appreciative. Simply bring them to The Kenney, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW. We have a circle drive at that address which drives right up to our front door. I, or one of our employees will greet you there and bring the donations inside to make sure we stay C-19 free.
Thank you very much for your help in this stressful time and for helping us keep your parents and grandparents safe.
With much gratitude,
The Kenney Home
Story by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Photos courtesy of Hope Lutheran School
Like other schools in the region, West Seattle’s school buildings have been quiet since the March 12 announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee that all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties must close until April 27 in response to COVID-19.
Some schools such as Hope Lutheran School (which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary) have implemented online learning as a means of keeping students engaged during the closure. Here’s a summary from Hope principal Kristen Okabayashi:
Someday, it’ll be time to yell “play ball”! West Seattle Little League asks for your help in one simple way:
Request: Please do not play on the of Bar-S fields – both the infield and the outfield. The outfield has new seed planted and needs time to grow and the infield has been prepped for the season targeted to start May 11. There has been a lot of work by volunteers to keep these fields in great playing condition and need your help to keep them in great shape! Staying off the fields now allows for a great season of play in the future.
Bar-S s is at 64th and Admiral, just east of Alki Point.
5:26 AM: As announced Monday – the high-rise West Seattle Bridge is closed.
Here’s the camera view::
SDOT says the low bridge’s restrictions – buses, emergency responders, freight, Harbor Island workers – will start today.
You can use the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) instead – that’s also how to get to I-5.
Or, you can cross the Duwamish River via the South Park Bridge (map).
Metro routes are affected, too – check yours here (and note the new Reduced Schedule also applies). Taking the Water Taxi? Here’s the schedule (and it, like Metro, is currently free). Let us know if there’s different info that would help you navigate – text or voice 206-293-6302.
A #TurkeyTuesday full of more sightings of The West Seattle Turkey in Gatewood, where it has been since at least Friday. Today started with this video – listen closely to hear The Turkey, as well as Ben’s narration, from near the Thistle stairway:
A bit later, Tanya sent this photo from 39th/Kenyon:
Please be watchful if you’re driving – The Turkey likes to walk in the street, as seen in Dave‘s photo from 39th/Austin:
That’s also where Jessica got this picturesque view also featuring blossoms:
Susan and Jerry got a backyard visit:
And this one came in last night but we can’t resist the Napping Turkey … from Mike near 44th and Southern:
If you’re new here – readers have been reporting turkey sightings since tt first showed up (in Arbor Heights) 11 months ago.
Here are the toplines from today, 25 days after the first King County case of COVID-19 was announced:
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 positive cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/23/20.
1277 estimated positive cases (up 107 from yesterday)
94 estimated deaths (up 7 from yesterday)
No other details. To compare – one week ago, 518 cases and 46 deaths were reported.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: 2,469 cases, 123 deaths; 31,712 tested, 7 percent of them positive; other state stats here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them – nation by nation – here.
STAY-HOME ORDER TAKES EFFECT TOMORROW: What’s allowed? What’s not? Read the proclamation in its entirety here.
IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS TO CLOSE … here’s police advice.
IF YOUR BUSINESS DOES NOT NEED TO CLOSE … you do NOT need a letter proving you’re allowed to be out of your home. Some employers are apparently giving them to employees, but we confirmed with state officials that there is no such requirement. (Even the governor’s proclamation says there isn’t.)
NO PARKING AT CERTAIN PARKS: Though the parks themselves are NOT off-limits, the city has closed off “destination” parks’ parking lots including Lincoln Park.
WSB readers spotted at least one lot closed that wasn’t mentioned – Don Armeni Boat Ramp.
NEED HELP, OR WANT TO HELP? Some of your West Seattle neighbors have a new website to facilitate connections.
HELPING: And so many have helped already. One local doctor shared his gratitude.
SOLO SINGALONG: Seniors at The Kenney in West Seattle took to their balconies to sing.
GOT INFO? firstname.lastname@example.org or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
That’s the traffic on West Marginal Way SW, below the now-closed high-rise West Seattle Bridge, as seen this evening from the walking/biking lane on the low bridge. While we took that photo, regular passenger-car traffic continued using the low bridge, as it did when we checked this morning, despite SDOT saying it would be off-limits to that traffic during the closure of the high bridge. SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told us tonight that the restrictions “should be in place tomorrow (signs were not posted last night due to the phasing of our work).” According to an SDOT Blog post tonight, people who work on Harbor Island have been added to the list of who can use the low bridge once the rules kick in:
SDOT also published a detour map and reiterated the main options:
All vehicles are prohibited from crossing the high-rise span of the bridge between I-5 and Fauntleroy Way SW. Motorists should use the First Ave or South Park bridges. See map above for alternative route suggestions for getting to the First Ave bridge. We’ve alerted navigation services likes Google Maps and Waze about the bridge closure and they should reroute you over the First Ave or South Park bridges.
As for the many questions raised by the out-of-the-blue announcement that the high bridge would be closed for assessment and repairs because cracks made “live-load traffic” too dangerous – no new answers today. We hope to be able to ask those questions in an interview as soon as tomorrow. We have also requested photos of the problem.
Also asking questions, District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who says she didn’t hear about the closure plan until a call from the mayor a few hours before the announcement. Here’s an excerpt from her reply to concerned constituents, as shared with us:
I have asked the SDOT Director why vehicle traffic is being limited on the lower bridge, and how soon it can be opened for traffic, given lower traffic volumes in Seattle due to COVID19 guidance and specifically to reduced traffic volumes to West Seattle via the West Seattle Bridge, in light of the Governor’s latest COVID19 Shelter in Place order. My office has requested that SDOT appeal to the Coast Guard to make fewer bridge openings of the lower level bridge to allow for more buses and cars to cross, like they did in early 2019 when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed and the SR99 tunnel was not yet open.
My office submitted a preliminary list of questions to SDOT. The Council has requested a public briefing to the Council as soon as possible. My questions are below:
Please explain the decision to not allow cars on the lower bridge (compared to when e.g. the AWV closed and before the SR99 tunnel).
Please describe what analysis SDOT will be conducting to decide when to re-open the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge, and what criteria you will be using.
Has SDOT received word from the Coast Guard about flexibility re: times the bridge can remain open w/o or with limited closures?
Please provide a timeline of SDOT’s inspections of the West Seattle Bridge that lead to this decision.
Please explain SDOT’s procedures for providing information to the Council regarding ongoing inspections for potential significant problems that could lead to closure of major roadways or structures.
Southern access points to the peninsula will see significantly increased traffic. What steps will SDOT take for safety at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden, that already have safety problems?
Below are additional questions that get into the weeds of the budget and SDOT notification to Council of the impacts of changes from the Federal government related to load ratings that have led to higher scrutiny, and now closure, of this bridge:
When SDOT completed its November, 2018 Move Levy Workplan (or levy “reset”), the work plan included 16 bridges for seismic work (section 12 of the report), including several in District 1: Delridge Way SW Bike/Ped Bridge, the north and south Admiral Way bridges, and the Andover Way SW ped bridge (and ironically the 1st Avenue South Bridge that SDOT is directing West Seattle commuters to). It did not include the West Seattle Bridge.
The 2020 SDOT Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget referenced work on the 16 projects in its listing for Bridge Seismic work. The SDOT CIP noted it was analyzing bridge loads of 69 separate bridges due to 2013 and 2016 federal requirements from the Federal Highway Administration. Today’s press release referred to new 2019 requirements.
The 2020-2025 CIP (page 188) references federal changes in 2013 and 2016 to load requirements; today’s press release says “In 2019, however, the Federal load rating for this type of bridge changed”. When did this change take place?
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?
How many other, of the 69 bridges subject to new FHA load requirements, have been triggered for enhanced inspections by bridge integrity specialists to ensure the safety of our city’s bridges
Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).
Lots of questions – so far no answers. We’ll continue pursuing.
Uncertain about what’s allowed under Governor Inslee‘s “stay-home order” and what’s not? Read it for yourself! It was finalized and made public today. It’s here in PDF, or below:
The first two pages are mostly set-up/background – the heart of it starts with page 3. His office also has published a transcript of the Monday speech in which he announced it.
In hopes of helping connect West Seattleite who need help with those who want to help, community advocates Phil Tavel and Brendan Kolding, with help from Sarah Rodermund, have launched a new collaborative effort online. The website – westseattlecovid.recovers.org – is intended “to better connect individual volunteers and community organizations with local needs” in the coronavirus crisis. They’re using the Recovers.org platform, founded in 2012, which can connect volunteers with individuals who have specific needs, in a more-structured way, supplementing what’s already happening around the area. “It’s not an either/or,” Tavel said in the launch announcement. “It’s a both/and. We need everyone in our community to come together on this, and we are eager to provide additional tools.” Organizations can use the site too; the announcement explains, “Both needs and resources are tagged with specific labels like ‘transportation” or ‘medical supplies’ that are searchable to streamline the matching process. In addition, site administrators can help facilitate communication and recruit resources as needs emerge.” Got questions or want to help coordinate? Contact Phil Tavel at 206.949.8680 or email@example.com.
That photo of the now-closed Don Armeni Boat Ramp lot, from Stewart L., just arrived about the same time as Seattle Parks made this announcement:
In an effort to encourage social distancing and reduce the number of congregating crowds, the City of Seattle has closed parking at the eight destination parks, closed all beaches to gatherings and prohibited access to Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail near North Bend. Last week, the City and County announced that play areas and other high touch areas would be closed, and reinforced that congregating in parks is not allowed at this time.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation eight destination parks are Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery. All Seattle beaches will no longer be open for gatherings; however, will remain open for walking or general exercise. Parking lots will be closed beginning Wednesday, March 25. Understanding the Governor’s Stay at Home, Stay Healthy order, residents are encouraged to visit the 479 local neighborhood parks or to bike or walk to these destination parks, which will remain open for public use.
SPR and SPD will also continue to deploy staff to encourage social distancing at these highly frequented parks as well as locations such as Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park.
“We still want people to be able to enjoy our parks during this stressful time. But we have seen many of our parks have become too busy to allow folks to properly create social distance. Our hope is that closing parking lots will reduce crowds. If folks are not able to maintain six feet of space, we will need to close parks,” said Jesús Aguirre.
As always, Seattle Parks and Recreation asks residents to:
Use social distancing: the most effective tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing. We are asking people to abide by social distancing guidelines in Seattle Parks.
Do not access off limits equipment or areas: as of last week, Seattle and King County have closed all play areas and other high touch areas, such as picnic shelters, tables, and outdoor exercise equipment.
Do not congregate in parks: the means no pick-up games, no picnics, BBQs, parties, or bonfires.
Six feet for activities: Hiking, biking, walking are all great ways to enjoy parks right now, just remember to give a wide berth to your fellow residents.
Again, the parks/beaches are not closed – just closed to gathering, and to parking. We note that Don Armeni isn’t specifically mentioned so we’re following up.
While the weather is still good – if you are in Westwood, you can visit the puzzle/game exchange! Alison sent the photo and says it is in the 8600 block of 24th Avenue SW: “Would like to invite anyone to exchange puzzles or games.” Or if you are not in the area – you might consider one of your own.
From the WSB inbox:
Wanted to thank Michan from West Seattle Window and Doors for donating almost 1,000 masks, gowns and booties to the West Seattle Swedish clinic. Helping keep us all safe. She wanted to pass on an excellent request to please follow the stay home order.
Steve Dagg, MD, MPH
West Seattle Swedish
If you have PPE to donate, here’s one resource for finding out who needs it (no West Seattle location, listed though – any local clinics that DO need help, let us know so we can amplify the call).
In comments and email today, there arose suggestions/claims that “essential” workers will or should have a letter or “pass” to prove it’s OK for them to be moving around during the “stay-home order.” Since the governor very clearly did NOT say people would be required to show proof it’s OK for them to be out – this is NOT house arrest or martial law – we sought out an official comment on this. The governor’s office pointed us to the Department of Commerce, and we just heard back from that department’s spokesperson Penny Thomas. NO, she said, no one will need a pass or letter – that, she said, is an absolutely false rumor.
With more businesses forced to close because of the governor’s stay-home order, that Seattle Police flyer may be helpful (see it above, and here in PDF) – Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner sent it, along with another city “tip sheet.”
| 5 COMMENTS