West Seattle, Washington
The bridge is huge news – but there’s still a pandemic going on. So, here’s our roundup of local COVID-19 news:
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From the county’s data dashboard:
*4,697 people have tested positive, up 77 from yesterday
*312 people have died, up 9 from yesterday
One week ago, those numbers were 3,688 and 244.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them, county by county, on the state Department of Health page,.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: More than 2 million cases. See how that breaks out, nation by nation, here.
GOVERNOR’S UPDATE: Gov. Inslee talked this afternoon about the state of the pandemic response in Washington, charts and all – “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said, despite some promising trends, and he wouldn’t say whether the stay-home order really might end on May 4th as currently scheduled. The availability and rate of testing remains a big hurdle, he warned. See the video here.
FARMERS’ MARKETS REOPENING – BUT NOT WS: The Neighborhood Farmers’ Market Alliance announced today that the U-District and Ballard markets will be open this Saturday, with “modifications” explained here. However, West Seattle and Capitol Hill remain closed. Neither the NFMA statement nor this Seattle Times report explain why; we are following up. (To recap, all markets were closed by a mayoral order calling them “permitted gatherings,” though the governor’s subsequent stay-home order called them “essential.”)
‘CHECK ON YOUR CAR’: Recent West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports have been heavy on auto theft – and SPD says it’s a citywide trend, with this category of crime up 24 percent in the past month. Because of the stay-home order, some victims might not even know their car’s gone – like the owner of one car taken in Ballard and found last week in West Seattle, as noted today on SPD Blotter.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT AFTER LAST NIGHT’S ROUNDUP: Junction Plaza Park’s evergreen will remain lit in blue, in honor of health-care heroes, until the pandemic is past.
MORE NEIGHBOR-TO-NEIGHBOR KINDNESS: Mike sent the photo:
We found this wonderful dancer in our parking-strip vegetable garden. What a treat. We do not know who placed it there, but it is awesome. More evidence of people doing small things to make others smile, without needing to be acknowledged for it.
GOT INFO? Email us at email@example.com or phone us, text or voice, at 206-293-6302 – thank you!
3:30 PM: That slide is the headline from a briefing the mayor and transportation leaders are about to begin.
A short time ago, we and other reporters got a pre-briefing presentation with SDOT leadership so we can present the key points concurrent with the announcement.
The key points: The high-rise West Seattle Bridge, closed for safety concerns 23 days ago, may not be fixable – SDOT “does not yet know” if it is feasible “technically or financially.” If they can fix it, it might last another 10 years, but that still means replacement would be needed a lot sooner than the original 75-year projection. Even if it’s fixable, it won’t be back in use any sooner than 2022.
And here’s the current timeline:
Just to get the bridge shored up so it would be able to be repaired will cost up to $33 million. Where that money will come from, they don’t know yet. Here’s a breakout.
Those are three key slides – here’s the full slide deck from the pre-briefing:
(Added: You can view it in PDF here.)
The first thing they have to do is stabilize a problem separate from, but worsening, the cracking: The locked bearing on Pier 18. We mentioned this in our coverage of Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Alex Pedersen getting an under-the-bridge briefing yesterday. So that has to be fixed first because “the bearings are compressed and bulging, creating additional strain on the whole bridge.”
Could the bridge fail even now, with traffic having been removed? Possibly. They are installing real-time monitoring and developing scenarios for what would be done if that seemed imminent.
Then, the shoring/stabilization of the cracked area. Then – figuring out if it could be fixed so that traffic would be able to use the bridge. Again: “It may not be possible – could be state of the bridge, could be what it would take to fix it.”
A Technical Advisory Panel will be established with experts “in bridge design, construction, working in the water, geotechnical engineering for bridge structures, and marine/maritime expertise” to help inform this work.
And yes, they are working on traffic plans, including having the signal at the Chelan/Spokane/Delridge/West Marginal 5-way “connected to citywide system for remote monitoring adjustment.” The intersection will be repaved. SDOT also will “Stripe, sign, and smooth alternative routes.” They promise they are trying to think about “every creative solution we can.” Says director Sam Zimbabwe, a West Seattle resident: “We want to thank the West Seattle community… this is a big deal and we’re working hard …this is going to be a community conversation.”
From here, we will add notes from the official news conference (which we are also recording so we can add the video afterward).
3:45 PM: We’re still waiting for the news conference to start so here are a few more notes from the pre-briefing:
*As mentioned a few weeks ago, the low bridge needs some work. Some of that will happen soon, including replacement of the pedestrian gate. Look for info shortly on how that will affect traffic.
*Speaking of traffic, SDOT expects the restrictions on the low bridge will last for the entire duration of the high bridge’s closure.
*We asked if they have a system set up for keeping the low bridge from opening for marine traffic if a medical emergency vehicle is headed that way. Nothing automated, but the bridge tender watches for approaching emergency vehicles.
*The scenarios – can it be fixed, what if it can’t be – are “happening in parallel.”
3:48 PM: The news conference is starting, with Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Alex Pedersen as well as reps from other agencies including Metro.
The mayor starts by acknowledging an “enormously frustrating experience for the West Seattle community” and thanking everyone “for their patience.” She says, “I will not allow any car to go over the bridge until it is safe.” The mayor reiterates that they still don’t know the cause of the cracking but the newly disclosed Pier 18 problem has to be addressed first. “We know in the long term this bridge has to be replaced,” she acknowledges. “We’re going to be looking very closely with Metro at ncreasing transit, park-n-rides, water taxi service.” She says she talked with County Executive Dow Constantine today to talk about it. She says the police and fire departments are looking at possible “additional public safety needs” while the bridge is closed. She reiterates that the low bridge will continue to be restricted and urges people not to violate those restrictions; otherwise, “you will get a ticket.”
Speaking next is SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe. He’s going through some of what was presented at the pre-briefing, including the installation of monitoring and the modeling for possible bridge-failure scenarios, though he re-states that failure is not expected. … “We know people living and working in West Seattle need reliable access across the Duwamish (River),” he repeats, recapping some of the changes they’ve made already, including the new Highland Park Way/Holden signal. “We’re working hard to get you where you need to go.”
4:05 PM: Now Councilmember Herbold speaks, calling this a “very difficult turn of events.” She also acknowledges that the disclosure that the bridge will be out of service until at least 2022 moves the conversation into a new phase, for businesses as well as residents. She notes that the Seattle Squeeze lasted 8 months, while this will be longer. She mentions the bridge visit that she and Pedersen made yesterday (which we covered). He’s speaking next (his major role in this is as Transportation Committee chair).
Pedersen calls this a “massive infrastructure project” and notes the Council will have “an important role in oversight.”
In Q&A, the mayor is asked about whether federal funding will be sought. She says she hopes so, and has already spoken to both of our area’s U.S. Senators, especially if infrastructure funding is part of coronavirus-crisis relief.
Why not just proceed to replacement planning if it’s going to take $33 million just to stabilize the bridge? Zimbabwe didn’t entirely answer that.
We asked how the “community conversation” about traffic solutions can be had, in this meeting-less time? The mayor said they’ll work with the council on “virtual town halls … We know this is critical to the community, we need to hear from you. … The ground truth is being felt by the community.” Herbold adds that her office is working in fact on a “virtual town hall” focused on bridge impacts and planning ahead.
We also asked about inter-agency discussions such as whether ferries could be rerouted downtown. Zimbabwe says that while Colman Dock has capacity, now that they know this is going to be a long closure, everything needs to be on the table.
And we asked about whether they are talking with Sound Transit, given that West Seattle light rail was going to need its own new bridge across the Duwamish River anyway. “Yes,” said the mayor, that’s one thing they’d have to look at, though they don’t want to “lose time.”
Last question – a followup on the mayor’s mention of park-and-rides, which the city has frowned on in recent years. “We’re going to have to do more of everything,” said the mayor.
4:27 PM: The event is over. We recorded video and will add that when it’s ready. Also, as we reported earlier this week, note that a briefing for the entire City Council is scheduled for next Monday (9:30 am, should be on Seattle Channel, cable 21 or online).
Many spring/early-summer events have been canceled or converted to virtual versions. Others have been rescheduled for months later than usual – from the Morgan Community Association, here’s the latest:
Last week, the Festival Planning committee decided to move the date of 2020 Morgan Junction Community Festival to September 12, 2020. The Festival has been on the third Saturday of June since it started 15 years ago. However, with Governor-mandated Stay Safe at Home rules in place through early May, we decided to play it safe and move the date.
This means that the Morgan Junction Community Festival will take place in Morgan Junction Park on September 12, 2020. It’s going to be a smaller festival with all events taking place only in the Park. Right now, we’re planning for live music and bubble artists.
But we think the Festival could also be an important time for the Morgan Community to come together – post pandemic. We’d like to make this a time to support our very special community and maybe set up pathways to give back including supporting our small businesses.
More info in the months ahead, MoCA promises.
We’ve been keeping a list of local restaurants and beverage businesses since the day after the governor’s March 15th order closed them all to dine-in/drink-in customers, and we’ve continued to update the list as we get word from the businesses and/or customers. The 140+ businesses on the list are mostly West Seattle, with a few in White Center and South Park (you might be going that way for the alternate bridge!). Two additions today – Ma’ono is reopening for takeout/delivery, and Uncle Eddie’s (in South Park, owned by West Seattleites) has just reopened too. Got any other update/changes/additions/etc.? firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to get them to us – thank you!
(P.S. The list is findable any time in two fixed spots on WSB – the “Spotlight Stories” box on most home-page displays, or the RESTAURANT LIST on the WSB menu across all devices.)
Though Seattle Public Schools campuses are closed, some are open part of the day for meal distribution, so school-zone speed limits will be in effect near those schools during those hours, starting today and continuing until late June. As announced by SDOT:
The bright yellow flashing lights on 20MPH signs near schools will flash between 10:45 am and 1:15 pm to show when the school zone speed limits are in effect. The lights will be flashing at 16 local schools … to remind drivers that students are present and to drive slow. Cameras issuing tickets will not be turned on. Our goal is to reduce speeds and if we continue to see increases, we will consider other speed reduction measures.
We’ve seen an uptick in driving speeds since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order has been in place.
With less cars on the roads, drivers are tempted to step on the gas. Don’t do it!
The local schools on the list are Chief Sealth International High School (2600 SW Thistle), adjacent Denny International Middle School (2601 SW Kenyon), West Seattle Elementary (6760 34th SW), and Concord International Elementary (723 S. Concord, South Park).
From Blake in The Admiral District:
This suspect broke into my car and stole a sub-woofer speaker, a Benro tripod, and other miscellaneous items. It happened last night … I just wanted to get the word out there in case someone else sees the man lurking around their property.
No police-report # yet but we’ll add it later when it’s available.
Friends and family are remembering Dave Robertson, who passed away last week at 70:
David E Robertson passed away peacefully on Thursday April 9th in Las Vegas Nevada, after a short fight with Pancreatic Cancer. Dave was born on July 16, 1949 to Earnest and Violet Robertson in Procter, Minnesota. Dave grew up in the greater Minneapolis area and enlisted into the Air Force soon after high school. After his service, Dave and Margaret (his previous wife) settled into life, raising his daughter in Minneapolis.
Throughout his life he had a few career changes, first he was a successful hair salon operator, then moved on to medical billing, telecommunications, and finally a small business owner. Dave and his former partner Paul Binder moved from Minnesota to Washington DC, then to the Pacific Northwest, where they settled in West Seattle. In 2005, their longing for getting out of the corporate office started PB&J Textiles, where Dave worked full time until his retirement October 2019.
Dave served 6 years as a Board Director for the West Seattle Senior Center, 2 years as Board President. During that time, Dave was very instrumental in navigating the Senior Center through difficult times. For those that attended a “Rainbow Bingo” at the Senior Center, Dave was famously known as the “Jello Shot Man.” On Bingo Day he would get up early to make Jello shots, then return later in the day to help out and sell those Jello shots to the attendees.
In recent years, Dave found a love playing Santa during the holidays. Dave juggled several gigs taking pictures with countless families, their children, and pets as the happy Santa.
Dave leaves behind his daughter and son in-law (CheFawn & Brian Holland) in Las Vegas; 3 grandchildren, Mya (Donato White), Nick, and Keana; 1 great-grandson, Nathan Alexander White; 2 step-grandchildren; and his beloved 2 dogs, Pete & Lillie.
At this time there will be no memorial service until after the COVID-19 virus passes.
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to email@example.com)
5:40 AM: The high-rise West Seattle Bridge is now empty for the 23rd consecutive morning. Restrictions remain for the low bridge – transit, freight, and emergency responses; SPD presence/enforcement continued Tuesday,in multiple dayparts.
For general traffic, the main route across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) – that’s also the main way to get to I-5, cutting across Georgetown.
Or use the South Park Bridge (map), which drops you onto East Marginal Way a mile south of the north end of the 1st Ave. South Bridge.
Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed to see if a bridge is opening for marine traffic.
ROAD WORK ALERT: The last stretch of Avalon paving west of 35th is done:
But crews are continuing to work on permanent striping and marking throughout the full project zone.
TRANSIT ALERTS FOR THIS WEEK:
Let us know what you’re seeing – comment, or text (not if you’re at the wheel!) 206-293-6302.