VIDEO: West Seatttle Bridge briefing @ Seattle City Council; Herbold announces ‘electronic town hall’ Wednesday

(Added 2:27 pm: Archived video of meeting)

9:33 AM: Five days after announcing the West Seattle Bridge will be out of service until at least 2022 (WSB coverage here), SDOT is briefing the City Council on the situation during councilmembers’ weekly Monday morning “briefing meeting,” which has just begun. You can click into the live Seattle Channel feed above. Here’s the slide deck they’re using – almost identical to the one from Wednesday.

9:38 AM: The briefing is introduced by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold. She reiterates her concern about “staying laser focused on the need to maximize mobility for West Seattle residents.”

She announces an “electronic town hall” for District 1 this Wednesday 4/22 5-6:30 pm.

9:44 PM: SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe starts the presentation, and says Heather Marx will follow him to talk about traffic mitigation. Both are West Seattle residents. He promises that this is a priority for all levels of city government, up to the mayor.

He reiterates that cracks in the bridge have continued to grow since it was closed four weeks ago but at a slower rate and they do not believe the bridge is in danger of collapse but they are preparing “contingency plans” in case that changes. They are installing real-time monitoring now and inspecting the bridge in person daily. He says they will be ready for a “worst-case scenario.” They’re working with “local stakeholders” including the port as they prepare for that. (Note added: An SDOT Blog post from last Friaay night has a bit more on this.)

9:52 AM: Councilmember Herbold notes that SDOT “sent a message” over the weekend saying that they could remove traffic from the low bridge if the high bridge is found to be unstable. She says she hopes SFD Station 36, under the bridge, is involved in planning too. Zimbabwe says yes, they are working with SFD on a plan.

He continues the short version of last Wednesday’s presentation, reiterating that they don’t know if repairing the bridge is technically or financially feasible, and that even if it is, its maximum life is 10 more years (it should have had ~40 more). He also reiterates that the bridge has to be stabilized/shored, no matter what. He’s also explaining the Pier 18 bearing “release of tension” that has to happen too. While they’re doing that and shoring work, he says, they’ll be able to determine the bridge’s future – whether it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later – and that should be clearer by spring.

Herbold says she’s been contacted by more than a few constituents (editor’s note -this has happened in our comment threads too) who have said (paraphrasing) “never mind worrying about repairs, just get on with planning a replacement.” Zimbabwe says that would have “a lot of different budget implications” from the current work toward getting traffic back onto the bridge sooner. He reiterates that stabilization is vital now no matter what. “This is a very complicated bridge,” he summarizes, noting (again, a reiteration from last week) that they’re bringing in an expert Technical Advisory Panel.

10:12 AM: Before turning it over to Marx to talk about traffic, Herbold asks about the advisers’ role. As he said in response to a question we asked Wednesday, Zimbabwe said they haven’t yet started to assemble the panel, which he says will be more of a “sounding board” than a “recommending” group.

Marx – who has been serving as SDOT’s downtown-mobility director – first recaps the low-bridge restrictions and some other work that’s been done so far, including the Highland Park Way/Holden signal installation, and 5-way signal work (as we reported last Friday, they’ll be repaving the 5-way next weekend, and Marx warns that means “limited access”). She also notes the current detour routes “cannot support the level of traffic we had before the stay-home order.”

Herbold asks about traffic volumes on the low bridge since enforcement began. Around 8,000 vehicles a day, says Marx. “When there isn’t enforcement, the violations of (the restriction)” are major. Marx asks West Seattleites to please not use the low-level bridge so emergency access is always possible. Herbold recaps that she continues to advocate for some alternate time-period access, but can’t make that happen unless people stop using the low-level bridge, period. Council President Lorena González, also a West Seattleite, echoes that, as does yet another WS resident, the other citywide rep, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who makes a request that Herbold has, about health-care and human-services providers getting an exception.

Marx says they’re working “closely right now” with essential businesses near the low bridge but says it’s difficult to designate who’s most essential “because we have actual limitations of how much traffic (the low bridge) can handle.” Mosqueda mentions reports of police officers pulling over people and asking for some kind of “essential worker permit” (this has come up in our comments too); Marx says that applies only to a “placard” available to “a tiny” number of ILWU workers at Terminal 5″ (as mentioned here). And she notes that overall, SDOT is working with Metro (no new details – the briefing is already over the allotted time).

Zimbabwe concludes with the budget slide shown last week – saying it’s “very early” – with a $33 million estimate through shoring, including associated costs (“accelerated maintenance” of the low bridge among them). What actual repair, if feasible, might cost – not included.

10:33 AM: Briefing over, council meeting is on to members’ weekly updates. We’ll replace the video window with the archived video when it’s available later today.

WHAT’S NEXT: As mentioned above, Councilmember Herbold is organizing an “electronic town hall” for 5-6:30 pm this Wednesday. That same night, SDOT is due at the online meeting of HPAC at 7 pm.

ADDED 2:27 PM: Archived video of the meeting is now atop this story.

195 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seatttle Bridge briefing @ Seattle City Council; Herbold announces 'electronic town hall' Wednesday"

  • WSresident April 20, 2020 (9:53 am)

    This “presentation” is a joke. Sam need to get to the point and stop wasting time giving history and links to website. We’ve still learned nothing new. At least Lisa Herbold has finally asked a question to get him on track to share something useful. So far this is all CYA content and padding. 

    • WSJ April 20, 2020 (10:26 am)

      Here’s a thought: there’s nothing new to share because they don’t have any new info to share. But whiners like you need a constant flow of information and “transparency” so you fee like something is happening. So we get the same info over and over, which you then complain about. It’s like the kid in the back seat asking “are we there yet?” Except the kid is a cranky boomer who thinks they have some insight on a topic they know nothing about.

      • WSB April 20, 2020 (10:30 am)

        This was not billed as a “new” briefing, to be clear.

      • Can Read April 20, 2020 (11:07 am)

        I like to read how many people can ask them same question in different ways.  The same questions that there are no answers to.  Or the same question that has an answer in the blog article but people are too lazy to read.  So the blog has to give an answer in the comments, like cliff notes for adults.

      • sna April 20, 2020 (12:48 pm)

        I do wonder, given the technical panel of experts hasn’t been assembled, nor any significant repair design work been started (by their own words), why they’re confident enough to publicly proclaim that a repair could only extend the life of the bridge by 10 years.  I just strikes me as odd that they’re willing to make that fairly declarative statement when they’re being so tempered with pretty much everything else.

        • Go gull April 20, 2020 (2:15 pm)

          That’s a good question.  It has sounded like a best estimate to me.  Maybe when experts last assessed the bridge, that was the estimate they provided?  This seems like a good question to follow up with. How have they arrived at the 10 year remaining viability estimate?

          • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (3:10 pm)

            I believe the 10-year estimate is just a generalization of what you can expect from repairing this particular type of bridge. It’s based on past experience with similar bridges.

      • WSResident April 21, 2020 (10:33 am)

        WSJ: “But whiners like you need a constant flow of information and “transparency” so you fee like something is happening. So we get the same info over and over, which you then complain about.”You prefer opacity and being told the same info over and over again?  I am totally fine if nothing is physically being done to the bridge by SDOT because they clearly need time to figure out the right next steps, prepare options and present those CLEARLY and TRANSPARENTLY to the council and the residents of the city.Having meetings that are time limited and where the presenter starts out rehashing the same info just wastes everyones time and is not productive.  So the topic is productive and useful dissemination of information for this presentation, until Lisa did ask some clarifying questions, was not achieving.Save your childish attempts at name calling for another forum.

  • chemist April 20, 2020 (9:57 am)

    They installed pairs of real-time sensors back in 2013 and had to do a repair to one of them in 2019, per the inspection reports previously posted by SDOT, but have they ever shared readouts from those crack monitors (even prior to adding more of them)?  I recall something about being able to see seasonal fluctuation, but should we think of these crack monitors less about monitoring small crack growth and more about something meant to provide a few hours or days of notice before cracks give way to a bridge collapse failure?

  • anonyme April 20, 2020 (10:04 am)

    Could the pile driving at Terminal 5 have contributed to the bridge cracking?

    • WSB April 20, 2020 (10:32 am)

      That was already addressed in an earlier story. Short answer:No.

    • Rumbles April 20, 2020 (10:52 am)

      You are kidding, right?!

      • Little One April 20, 2020 (3:52 pm)

        The cracks are an issue with the superstructure (the top bridge part you would drive on). If pile driving was related, there’d be issues on parts that connect the bridge to the ground.

  • Frog April 20, 2020 (10:13 am)

    One thing they always manage not to address:  was there any connection between the growing cracks in the center span and the stuck bearing at pier 18 which requires “release of tension”?  Was the stuck bearing something that should have been (or was) noticed in routine inspections, and should have been fixed a long time ago?  They have gone to great lengths to pass off the cracks as something unpredictable, about which they couldn’t have known or done anything prior to sudden closure of the bridge.  But then it seemed like fixing the stuck bearing popped up suddenly out of nowhere in the repair agenda as being urgent to keep the bridge from collapsing.  What’s with that, all you engineers in the audience?

    • Boop April 20, 2020 (10:53 am)

      Every time I hear someone talk about the “release of tension” it makes me laugh!

      • Mike April 20, 2020 (2:16 pm)

        That is how a doctor at basic military training described sex: it’s just tension tension release.  Who knew the doctor was also a bridge structural engineer?  Also with the so-called leader ship in Seattle it’s just one and incompetent failure after another.  

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (12:43 pm)

      I recommend reading all the reports, and you’ll see when that bearing was noted, and the recommendation at the time.

      • Frog April 20, 2020 (4:02 pm)

        The inspection reports are very cryptic and difficult to interpret.  Summarized in layman’s terms, they seem to say roughly this:  “Everything on the bridge is falling apart.  Continue to observe.”  Specifically related to pier 18, the reports include the following, every year:  “At Pier 18 the lateral restrainers have extruded the PTFE sliding surface.  Continue to observe.” and “At Pier 18 the South pot bearing for the box girder is leaking oil. Continue to observe.”  Now suddenly the post-closure plan says “To slow cracking, unlocking Pier 18 lateral bearing is the top priority for repair”  So what are we supposed to make of this?  Blame it all on the consultant because they always said everything is broken up there but continue to observe?   Or was the consultant just telling SDOT what they wanted to hear?  (N.B. if you are a consultant and want to keep your gig, telling the client what he wants to hear is a good idea most of the time.)  None of the inspection reports contain the terms “lock” or “lateral
        bearing” so does that mean the consultant missed something?  Extruding the PTFE sliding surface seems related to being locked.  So how come it wasn’t urgent for years but now is suddenly a top priority to keep the bridge from collapsing?  I read the reports, and I don’t see much, except to me it all sounds like the long-term SDOT approach to this bridge has been “continue to observe until it has to be closed.” 

        • BBILL April 20, 2020 (11:43 pm)

          “Continue to observe” was the advice, which SDOT followed, through various changes, staff and council. As far as timing, why now, WSP recently hired to complete the load testing early, long before the deadline. As part of the work, they discovered the cracks were expanding at an unexpected rate. Why did the bridge cracking accelerate recently? Fair question. I’m thankful the accelerated cracking was discovered sooner, rather than after a catastrophic failure.

  • Joe April 20, 2020 (10:22 am)

    I get that they need to shore some things up regardless of whether they tear it down right away or not. But just include that in part of the tear down costs, like every other tear down!

    • WSJ April 20, 2020 (10:36 am)

      It would be premature and wasteful to plan for and include a projected cost for something they don’t even know if they need to do, and have no design for how to accomplish. 

      • Joe April 20, 2020 (11:51 am)

        Glad to hear they don’t need to tear down the bridge. It won’t be wasteful to add light rail to a bridge that will have 20 more years of life.

        • WSB April 20, 2020 (11:53 am)

          No one has said they don’t need to tear it down. If it’s deemed unfixable, they’d have to.

          • Joe April 20, 2020 (12:11 pm)

            My original comment was in response to SZ saying that tearing it down would have different implications than the current work, and that stabilization needs to happen whether they tear it down or not. I was trying to point out that this was not a logical follow-on: stabilization would be part of a budget of either the tear down or not-tear down project. Im sorry for making WSJ “so tired” from correcting mistakes on the internet.

          • China Cat April 20, 2020 (5:12 pm)

            I sent an email to Jenny, Lisa, Lorena & Teresa concerning closing/prohibiting any large vessel or sailboat travel upstream of the lower bridge. I wrote that yes the Duwamish waterway is US navigable waters, though that can be changed with the help of our US Senators and Reps. Only allow flat barges with small tugs above the bridge. 40-50 years ago the waterway was an important component of moving freight, no longer. We have trucks and trains that can do it all.  No longer reason to have such a high span bridge. Time to change the subject, build a new low 4-6 lane bridge over the Duwamish, no need for the type we currently have. 

          • Rumbles April 20, 2020 (7:09 pm)

            @China Cat  Nice of you to make your sweeping decision that no one else gets to use the river.  Unfortunately, you are being completely unrealistic.  

          • WSJ April 20, 2020 (9:43 pm)

            Ironically your suggestion would make bridge replacements much more expensive and take longer. The viaduct approaches to the span are still likely in fine shape, and a replacement would most likely not replace anything except the 3 spans at the highest point. Replacing more of the viaduct would add major scope and time. A new span might lower things a little bit, but not so much that it would make the river unnavigable.

          • Klaptain April 21, 2020 (8:43 am)

            China Cat,the amount of water-borne commerce that comes in and goes out of the river between Spokane Street and 1st ave South is staggering, daily and even more staggering during the summer months. Also, large ships that bring large amounts of cement powder and gypsum that supply our construction projects can only transit the river at high water. Unfortunately, high water is not controlled by humans and does, unfortunately happen during rush hour. 

        • West Seattle since 1979 April 20, 2020 (12:04 pm)

          It’s my understanding that light rail would have its own bridge, and that was the plan even before this happened.

          • Joe April 20, 2020 (12:12 pm)

            Didn’t know that thanks. Wouldn’t it require some relationship that could be enhanced with a new bridge design? Could be much better no?

          • WSJ April 20, 2020 (1:12 pm)

            Take a look at the light rail bridge near Mercer Slough in Bellevue over I90, or the high sections near the airport, Its concrete box girder, very similar to the WSB, just more modern technique. Because the need for two rail lines is  more narrow than a road bridge, it’s not nearly as large. 

      • AdmiralBridge April 20, 2020 (12:25 pm)

        Folks; they’ve said “if” they can repair the bridge, that buys us 10 more years.  So – current course and speed let’s say 4 years to repair a bridge to get 10.  Meanwhile, at this pace, you need to start now with the design of replacement, so why not refocus the attention on accelerating the new bridge?And a request to all our “neighbors” that somehow equate this to “whining”.  This affects lives, livelihood and property values in a very material way.  Spare the righteous indignation that somehow we’re not entitled to a functioning government that, say, replaced the I-35 bridge in 18 months or repaired the Santa Monica Freeway (3 bridges) in 6.  You have no idea how bad this will be with restrictions lifted, and I hope for every one of the 86,000 residents that none of us “stroke out” while waiting to access a hospital stuck on admiral hill because people feel entitled to use the lower bridge.Today was a complete gloss over by people that are not prepared to handle this situation, and it shows.  We deserve better.

        • BBILL April 20, 2020 (12:48 pm)

          “Spare the righteous indignation that somehow we’re not entitled to a
          functioning government that, say, replaced the I-35 bridge in 18 months
          or repaired the Santa Monica Freeway (3 bridges) in 6.” There are a few differences, such as the I-35 bridge was in the Mississippi, so it needed to get cleaned out right away. Also there was no “shoring” needed when the bridge was already in the river. The complications of demolition were not present. This is just the beginning of a long series of differences between the current status of the West Seattle Bridge and the conditions that the I-35 bridge was replaced.

          • WSJ April 20, 2020 (2:13 pm)

            The other big difference is an interstate (fed) highway comes with automatic big $$$ from DC. Not so much for a city road like the wsb. Despite our own sense of how important we are… we’re still just a city neighborhood. 

        • KT April 20, 2020 (1:29 pm)

          Well said.

    • sna April 20, 2020 (1:44 pm)

      To me, Sam Z sounded non committal as to needing the shoring (or as much shoring) should they tear it down.  

      • Go gull April 20, 2020 (2:24 pm)

        It sounded to me that this is a fluid situation, and that the plan and course of action may need to change, as more is understood as they take next steps, and if conditions with the bridge change.

  • BC April 20, 2020 (10:23 am)

    Sam Zimbabwe continues to underwhelm.  Stop talking about spending money to stabilize the bridge deck.  Talk about cost and timeline to remove the failing portions of the bridge deck.  Can the mayor and councilmember Herbold please take a more active hand in refocusing and/or replacing Zimbabwe ?

    • WSB April 20, 2020 (10:32 am)

      It’s been made clear that stabilization is needed now just to keep the thing from falling apart, whether it’s fixable or not. The question isn’t stabilization vs. replacement, it’s repair vs. replacement.

      • sna April 20, 2020 (10:47 am)

        They’re going to need a couple of bridge demolition experts on the technical panel, because that cantilever style doesn’t appear easy to just remove. It depends on being balanced.  Not to mention the complexities of having another bridge so close below it. 

  • Pawky April 20, 2020 (10:35 am)

    Has there been any discussion on re-calibration of the Roxbury signals through White Center to relieve an already existing bottleneck?

    • Parent April 20, 2020 (12:57 pm)

      Yes, this. 

    • winter April 20, 2020 (3:46 pm)

      God yes. I have had to drive this recently twice to get to my clinic, mid-day, and it’s just a crawl either way, with buses stopped for ages in the right lane or people parking, and maybe four to five cars making it through each light cycle from 17th to 14th. Parking should not be allowed on Roxbury in that stretch, not until this is over. (Then after crawling to get on 509, of course the bridge goes up. Traffic was backed up all the way to Myers Way. I can’t see how this is sustainable when people start commuting again. But who is actually responsible for the city line?) I don’t believe they are really looking at addressing these things at all, because they don’t have to deal with it.

      • AMD April 20, 2020 (7:30 pm)

        Now THIS is something to e-mail local leaders about.  I don’t think SDoT or KC realizes that parking IS allowed there.  I got a survey regarding rechannelization of this part of Roxbury some time ago and the maps showed there wasn’t parking allowed between 17th and 15th.  ALL of my feedback was “you guy know people park here and they’re allowed to based on signage, right?  That’s what you need to fix.” Of note: even though the city/county line is down the center of Roxbury, Seattle DoT is in charge of maintenance.

        • 1994 April 20, 2020 (9:09 pm)

          Apparently Heather Marx, in charge of traffic mitigation, had nothing to say about managing traffic when people resume working except to point out what everyone already knows:  “She also notes the current detour routes “cannot support the level of traffic we had before the stay-home order.” What will SDot, WashDot and the County do to work together to help out West Seattle residents? Some residents have made suggestions on this forum and some suggestions should be considered by the transportation departments.

    • AuntHagatha April 21, 2020 (6:28 am)

      We have contacted herbold many times over the years to the problems of roxbury, not only do the lights need calibration but the potholes going up to white center from roxhill elementary are going to get worse with all the rerouted traffic.  The damage from buses around westwood are appalling and the same is now happening to roxbury up to 35th.  Roxbury/35th area has always been neglected and unpatrolled and now will pay a price for its upcoming carmageddon road damage.

  • Roms April 20, 2020 (10:38 am)

    What has SDOT done, since the closure, on actions to fix/repair the bridge? It seems none. Even the Board that SDOT has been talking about has not been set up. What are they doing which is taking so long? All they talk about is “doing,” “working on,” “planning to,” but what about did/worked/planned?

    • WSJ April 20, 2020 (10:47 am)

      I’m so, so tired of having to post this every time some neophyte crawls out from under a rock… Design and planning *is* work. The fact that you don’t understand how civil engineering works is not their fault. They’re in the process of designing and and planning a fix for the stuck bearing, which needs to happen regardless of what else goes on. This is not an ikea bookshelf or weekend patio install. 

      • Roms April 20, 2020 (11:03 am)

        They have to clearly communicate on exactly where they are in this process, which is a black hole for all: Procurement stage, contractor hired, contracts signed, work on site, etc., whatever makes sense to the *normal* people who is impacted.

        • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (11:35 am)

          SDOT’s current and near-term action items are spelled out in the slide deck linked in the article, starting with slide #6.

          • WSB April 20, 2020 (11:57 am)

            … which is the same one that topped our coverage last Wednesday:

      • WR April 20, 2020 (11:48 am)

        A little bit of visible progress as well as a transparent timeline is not too much to ask.  This is an emergency and they’ve produced nothing. 

        • neighbor April 20, 2020 (1:09 pm)

          So you’d like to watch a bunch of engineers reading the roomful of technical documents, is that the visible progress you’re looking for? Because at this point they’re probably still doing that.

        • WSJ April 20, 2020 (1:15 pm)

          Again, it only looks like nothing because you neither understand nor appreciate the engineering process. “Visible progress” is absolutely meaningless, and often comes at the expense of actual efficiency. Do you want progress, or the perception of progress for the clueless public? 

          • KM April 20, 2020 (2:59 pm)

            It might be worthwhile just to hire some people to stand around the bridge and point wearing hard hats and safety vests so people will stop complaining there’s no visible progress. Of course, then they will complain that they’re TOO MANY people standing around pointing and that they get paid too much to do so. Obviously, those complaining are the best and most efficient at their own jobs, so maybe we could have SDOT and city leadership come find a way to heckle them about their own work?

          • Roms April 20, 2020 (4:17 pm)

            Sir-WSJ-who-is-omniscient, my initial comment is not disrespectful, contrary to your own posts. You say “I try to respond to questions with the same level of respect that they were asked with. “Fire these clowns! They need to DO SOMETHING already!”” a few comments below, but truth is, unfortunately, that your comments mostly despise everybody. I do read the updates in details, yet I feel that they are poor. The slides available since last week do not have clear target dates (“fall,” “spring,” etc. are not dates – they’re 3-month periods of time). They mention for example that they are procuring a contractor to fix pier 18. Great. When is the procurement over? What’s the target date? When are they asking the contractor to be on-site? We’re all going to have to pay some hefty taxes in the future: Full transparency on what is being done is required to build trust. My apologies for not being as omniscient as you, I’m just a normal person. You know, one of those you consider to be less than nothing.

          • WSJ April 20, 2020 (6:59 pm)

            The answer to all your desire for specific dates on a project of this magnitude is the same: that’s not the way huge engineering project management works. At this phase of the project, rough estimates are all you’re going to get unless you want pages and pages of planning documentation, proposals, RFPs, Etc. You will have to wait until they know 1) what’s wrong 2) options for fixing it 3) cost of fixing. imagine asking someone building you a house say “so, when can I move in? I want a date!” Before you even finish drawing up the blueprints or buying the land. Any date they give you is meaningless, and will change. Now multiply that x100 for the bridge. But you won’t believe me, so go ahead and move forward with your lack of trust.I admit it’ hard for me not to be glib when the requests and expectations are so ridiculous and out of touch with reality.

          • Roms April 20, 2020 (8:12 pm)

            WSJ, I realize that you don’t read the comments properly (yet you blame others for not reading either, when some clearly do), and I also realize you need to have the last word. I guess that, in your world, you’re right, and the People is stupid and wrong. Good for you.Read my comment that started your trashing one more time: Do I ask when the fixed or new bridge will be ready? No. Do I ask the date when the shoring will be done? No. Do I ask for any date in the future? No. I ask what happened this past month, since there are no updates apart from, again, “we’re working on it.” Now, go read again the slides before trashing again. (I’m going to highlight a few things for you as you have very selective eyes.) What has been completedrelated to the bridge itself, and not the re-routing, since the bridge closed? Hint: The answer is on slide 6-9. Does your wisdom see anything? Second hint: When someone puts “ing” after a verb, it means it’s in progress. For example, “I am mowing the lawn” means that the lawn is not mowed. It will be at some point. When? We don’t know. Now, “I mowed the lawn” (notice the “ed”) means the lawn has been mowed. Action complete. See the difference? Use this when reading the slides, that will help you.Also: Maybe I’m a civil engineer? Who knows…

      • Barton April 20, 2020 (12:56 pm)

        “I’m so, so tired of having to post this every time some neophyte crawls out from under a rock…”  Actually, no one is requiring you to jump in with your one-sided and patronizing remarks but thank you for bearing the monumental and evidently wearying responsibility of continually pointing out the errors in others’ thoughts and perceptions.

        • Jon Wright April 20, 2020 (2:02 pm)

          I certainly am grateful! WSJ’s tireless (albeit futile) efforts to encourage critical thinking are the highlights of the bridge-related comment sections.

        • Anne April 20, 2020 (2:03 pm)

          Ha! Was thinking the same thing!  

        • WSJ April 20, 2020 (2:15 pm)

          Fair point. I just want people to be informed so they can have reasonable expectations. When the same ignorant questions stop being asked over and over, the patronizing answers will too.

        • Rumbles April 20, 2020 (2:17 pm)

          Don’t kid yourself… it is definitely wearying.  Especially when people scream about wanting all the heads of SDOT fired and they obviously haven’t taken the time to read any of the Blog’s coverage or the bridge reports.  For heaven’s sake, people keep asking about pile driving and Army floating bridges over the Duwamish.  So, while sometimes the responses from others might seem patronizing, often the questions have been answered but people don’t take the time to read them wither in the articles or the reports.

      • Little One April 20, 2020 (3:59 pm)

        Thanks for your efforts, WSJ. Your explanations are helpful to us other readers. I am sure SDOT folks are running around trying to get things going behind the scenes. Between shareholders, funding, technical scope, contracting, and internal buy off, there’s a lot to do.

        • WSJ April 20, 2020 (7:02 pm)

          Thanks. I know “it’s complicated!” sounds extremely simplistic and dismissive, but that’s the fact of the matter. And I appreciate that it sounds like a weak excuse to folks whose most complicated project involved an extra trip to Lowe’s. 

    • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (11:05 am)

      It’s taking so long because this is a very complex problem, and the planning isn’t exactly going to be finished with a snap of the fingers. SDOT is clearly focusing on the most pressing issue (shoring the bridge so it doesn’t collapse, and to make it safe to work on), rather than the more long term issues like potential repairs.

      • Rumbles April 20, 2020 (2:18 pm)

        Amen.  This isn’t patching a missing shingle off your roof.

  • scottie April 20, 2020 (10:40 am)

    Frog nailed it…were the bearings ever inspected prior?  If so they might have been caught early when they seized up and fixed before the bridge started cracking if that is determined to beat the cause. Why was the seized bearing just noticed now?

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (12:52 pm)

      I recommend reading all the reports that SDOT published. Yes, the condition of the bearing was noted.

  • D April 20, 2020 (10:50 am)

    Not trying to be cynical, but:

    Zimbabwe says that would have “a lot of different budget implications” from the current work toward getting traffic back onto the bridge sooner.

    translates to: “We’ll just repair it, because that will be the cheaper option on paper now. Can deal with what it’s going to cost to replace it in 10 years.”

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (12:55 pm)

      When measured in time and money, the best solution might be to fix the current structure, and then plan and prepare the replacement during the 10 years. Replacing the current structure will probably take 10 years, and I suspect that many people would rather have something to drive on while the replacement is being fabricated. Whatever the case, there is always the underlying issue of finance, how to pay, and when payment must be made.

      • D April 20, 2020 (6:21 pm)

        Agreed, if the replacement won’t occupy the same physical space as the current bridge. As I said, being cynical. Have enough experience with Fed/State budgets that the more expensive (albeit cheaper in the long term) option rarely wins.Who knows, maybe a brilliant engineer will come up with a solution, and the City will listen. This is a case I’d love to be wrong.

        • BBILL April 20, 2020 (11:51 pm)

          Even if a replacement will occupy the location of the current structure, much preparation work can be done offsite while the repaired structure is being used, if possible and financially feasible, of course. But the “cheaper in the long term” often is used as some sort of justification for paying much more today. Those who used this bridge for 35 years and were expecting about twice that use will suggest that paying much more today doesn’t always work out as expected.

  • vlado April 20, 2020 (10:53 am)

    The key takeaway from this conference is that one of the causes of the deterioration is a faulty bearing, causing the structure to its lose structural stability.  I’m not sure if fixing the problem now will solve the issue, but it begins explaining the failure.  A question that needs to be answered is why the problem bearing was not identified earlier.  Proper inspection and repair may have prevented this situation from happening in the first place.  

    • sna April 20, 2020 (11:07 am)

      Perhaps they’re concerned what happens when the hot summer sun hits the bridge, it starts thermal expanding, and one corner of the structure can’t flex.  

    • Go gull April 20, 2020 (12:41 pm)

      They have  identified the bearing issue as something that needs to be repaired, it’s one part of the integrity of the bridge, and it makes sense to fix that as a first step, and then move forward with shoring, etc.

      The issue with the bearing/pier 18 is not necessarily a cause of the cracking.  Who knows, maybe there is another factor that has contributed to both the cracking and the bearing issue. And maybe it was, but it doesn’t do any good to jump to assumptions and conclusions at this time.  I have faith they will be honest and transparent in the process, and reveal causes and failures learned, once more is known.

      It sounds to me that they are taking this one logical and safe step at a time, and doing their best.  Thanks for sharing all the info that is available at this time.  Let’s give these leaders a break and show some appreciation, instead of applying pressure and attacking them when they most need our support, so they can just focus on doing their best work.

      • vlado April 20, 2020 (3:33 pm)

        I agree that the bearing issue is not necessarily the cause of the bridge failure, but given the  emphasis that Sam Zimbabwe made regarding the critical need for the repair of this bearing I think that it is a smoking gun.  It makes sense, the complex structure of the bridge functions as an engineered assembly.  Take away a key structural underpinning and it is likely that the now warped structure getting subjected to the live load of traffic will get stressed in unanticipated ways that would result in the type cracking we are seeing.  I believe that SDOT is  doing its best in trying to deal with the issue now that it has revealed itself, but I also believe that a critical structural feature of the bridge may not have been properly monitored and maintained before that.  A lack of maintenance has been a feature of SDOT for some time, in large part due to insufficient budget.  

  • Let's be civil (If not civil engineers)! April 20, 2020 (11:00 am)

    Dear WSJ, please stop treating the commenters as morons, we all have different expertise, insights and concerns.  You have a lot of information to share, maybe if you do it respectfully, people will actually listen.

    • Agreed April 20, 2020 (11:29 am)

      Yes please! Though I agree with much of what WSJ has said on the practical side, their rude/snarky/chiding delivery is unnecessary. Just because someone posts a question or theory doesn’t mean they have read every post, linked article and comment on the blog. It’s ok to inform, correct or state your own opinion, but it’s just as childish and “boomer” like as the comments that they (WSJ) are complaining about. 

      • West Seattle since 1979 April 20, 2020 (12:13 pm)

        Some of the comments WSJ has responded to are in themselves rude and snarky, if not accusatory.

      • WSJ April 20, 2020 (12:52 pm)

        OK Boomer. 😏

        • Agreed April 20, 2020 (5:30 pm)

          I’m not a boomer but feel free to keep calling me one if it makes you feel any better :)

      • wscommuter April 20, 2020 (9:42 pm)

        As an aside from the thread … why the “ok boomer” comments?  I’m not a boomer, but I’m still offended by those who use age-derogatory comments as much as I would be if there were comments about race or sex or religion, etc.  When did it become okay to insult older people?  Are millennials (I’m not one of them either) so insecure that they need this?

        • ColumbiaChris April 21, 2020 (6:06 am)

          “I am opposed to people making fun of boomers so here are some generalizations about millennials.” Irony is truly dead.

          • wscommuter April 21, 2020 (10:16 am)

            Maybe I’m misinformed.  I am under the impression that the folks who use the slur “ok boomer” are millennials.  If I’m wrong, happy to be corrected.  

          • WSB April 21, 2020 (11:01 am)

            Oh, I don’t know, I’m a boomer and I’ve been tempted to use it. Meantime, our Gen Z son (or late millennial depending on whose definition you’re using) is NOT known to use it. (Or much slang at all.)

    • CAM April 20, 2020 (11:36 am)

      I’m all for civility but the commenters WSJ is responding to have not been demonstrating a lot of common sense. They just seem to want to yell and blame that it should already be fixed, call people incompetent, and say that everyone should be fired. Maybe we all need to stop piling on people who dedicate their lives to civil service and making the community a better place. Local politicians and city employees are not Satan’s spawn and the language thrown at them is pretty obnoxious. Respect is a two-way street. 

      • KM April 20, 2020 (12:32 pm)

        Well said, CAM.

      • AdmiralBridge April 20, 2020 (12:39 pm)

        How long has Sam dedicated to the improvement of Seattle? (Answer: 1.3 years) He’s a professional bureaucrat with no discernible engineering credentials (Pubic Planning, Urban Design).  All potentially useful in status quo, but no hardened experience in crisis and catastrophe planning.  Do you recall any crises (transportation related) in DC in the last five years.  I do think that a more competent organization needs to be brought in to fix this.  Other catastrophes already had significant plans in place, and all we heard this morning was we’re going to study, that study and design will be done “next spring”, and there was very little concrete action including one design aspect that will still “zero percent”.  There was no progress from what was articulated a week ago.I’m glad people feel that there lives will not be impacted by this and are content for business-as-usual, with possible November ballot initiatives, etc etc.  That is not how other state/city governments have responded.  Could criticism be tempered?  Perhaps, but the SDOT and the City of Seattle have a long history of underperformance (tracks matching train size, anyone?), and it is more than reasonable to ask for specialists to come in and fix it now.  

        • CAM April 20, 2020 (3:34 pm)

          I’m not sure what would make people happy. They are literally in the middle of a state of emergency and have taken time out on multiple occasions a week to hold open meetings to report on where things stand. Do you want them to make something up? Invent a time machine and go to the future and look at what was determined to be the problem and then come back and tell us all? They aren’t waiting to study anything. They are going to be studying and planning all throughout the next year. They aren’t ignoring anything. We aren’t being treated like some poor stepchild that nobody likes. This is going to be a multi-year process. It is going to impact everyone and just because I’m not calling for everyone to be fired doesn’t mean I’m not frustrated with how it’s affecting my life. That doesn’t make people personally or professionally responsible for something that we don’t even understand yet. It hasn’t even been a month. Take a deep breath and sit back. This is going to last a long time. 

    • West Seattle Hipster April 20, 2020 (11:55 am)

      Agreed, those types of people get tuned out and their opinions carry no weight.

    • RobinsonCrusoe April 20, 2020 (11:57 am)

      Thanks Civil, I completely agree. The anger and dismissiveness of WSJ is truly offensive. You have residents whose livelihoods, and some with medical conditions whose very lives depends on this bridge. In case you haven’t noticed, they are starting to hint at closing the lower bridge too because of the dangers presented by the high bridge. This is a devastating hit to our community, people are justifiably upset. It’s also important to keep SDOT, Herbold and others accountable for the mess and the solution moving forward. We are owed transparency, consistent communications, and some sense that this a true priority (one month and still assembling a panel of experts?) Above all, we are owed the truth. From Frog’s comment and many others, we are starting to see that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. If you want to be angry, be angry with SDOT, not the folks that they have turned into unwilling islanders. 

    • Jon Wright April 20, 2020 (12:17 pm)

      I appreciate WSJ and everyone else here who fight the never-ending battle against practitioners of “my uninformed opinion is just as valid as your facts.” Having to read ignorant, uniformed posts over and over and over offends my sensibilities more than treating people who make moronic posts as morons. P.S. The impediment to people who make ignorant, uniformed posts to learn more about the situation has more to do with Dunning-Kruger than the tone of WSJ’s posts.

      • sf April 20, 2020 (12:48 pm)

        So….You’re saying that the pontoon bridges are a great idea, shoulda/coulda/woulda, blame game and our constant emailing them to remind them that this is a critical issue is time well spent and our elected leaders aren’t dealing with any other pressing issues right now so they are full steam ahead with daily, transparent briefings on each household doorstep with coverage for all learning styles. Additionally, property taxes have been reduced as that will help pay for the repair/replacement.
        (This message should be considered satire/sarcasm)

    • Jenny April 20, 2020 (12:31 pm)

      I’ve  been grateful for WSJ’s commentary, and hope this criticism doesn’t deter them from contributing in the future. This is going to be a long process, folks! Swiftboating SDOT, Zimbabwe, Herbold, etc. when we haven’t even established the whys and the hows won’t get us anywhere.

    • WSJ April 20, 2020 (12:52 pm)

      I try to respond to questions with the same level of respect that they were asked with. “Fire these clowns! They need to DO SOMETHING already!” Will get a less-than-kind comment because it’s ignorant, accusatory, and a waste of everyone’s time. But point taken, I’ll try to be more dry and sarcastic, and less overtly hostile; that’s more fun anyways. 

    • Jort April 20, 2020 (1:57 pm)

      If people are going to level tremendously baseless allegations of fraud and mismanagement, or level bizarre conspiracy theories, or proffer “solutions” that are based on armchair civil engineering with no expertise, all at the same time implying intentional negligence, then, yeah, they should expect to get a sarcastic reply. Some people are coming up with stupid and ridiculous statements, and then they have the audacity to actually call SDOT stupid and ridiculous for not meeting their “demands.” It’s one thing to have ideas, it’s another to allege intentional misdeeds.  Don’t expect a cheering section when you engage in that kind of invective. Just because you have strong feelings about it doesn’t make it true. WSJ is providing a valuable reminder service of this very fact. 

  • Wendell April 20, 2020 (11:21 am)

    Er… As a side note, I thought er, this webcast, er, was an outstanding display of, er,  poor public speaking.

  • WS Resident April 20, 2020 (11:37 am)

    Thanks for the update WSB! When Zimbabwe says they will know more in “spring” about repair/replacement did he mean this spring or not until next year? It wasn’t clear in your coverage.Stepping back, we know this has a life changing impact on all of us, and came as a huge shock. I, along with some of you on here it seems, am also not happy with the current amount of communication. In normal times this would be a front page problem. I’ve barely heard reactions from regional leaders (some of the local ones I have but no wider).In addition to ramping communication about the replacement process (seriously, who will want to drive on that bridge again?) we need an investigation into how this happened with seemingly no notice to even council members. Who knew what and when? The fact that no one has been held accountable as of yet tells me people knew. The excuse of “it happened so fast we couldn’t know!” makes no sense and tells me we need new, more rigorous people in charge of SDOT. Not an acceptable answer from people whose job this is. Voters also need this information so we can keep our elected officials accountable. 

    • AdmiralBridge April 20, 2020 (12:40 pm)

      I interpreted as next spring as the lead-in to the discussion was the shoring up that was necessary to do the evaluation, and that wouldn’t start until after design was done (which is at zero percent) and long lead material acquisition wouldn’t happen until the summer (I believe August was mentioned).

    • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (12:43 pm)

      Look, just by following this blog I can put together a fairly
      accurate timeline of events from memory (sidebar: great work WSB), so the idea that there is some
      lack of transparency is downright laughable. Unless you think Sam
      Zimbabwe had clairvoyance skills listed on his resume, I have yet to see anything that suggests there is anything to hold someone accountable for.

      • WSB April 20, 2020 (1:47 pm)

        After two weeks I am finally, finally reading the 14 reports. One of the interesting points is not part of the reports themselves but that there has been complete turnover since that initial 2013 report … SDOT director, roadway-structures director, mayor, councilmembers.

      • WS Resident April 20, 2020 (2:57 pm)

        This is a huge failure and we need to expect better. I’m not expecting anyone to be a mind reader but fixing one of the major roads in Seattle before it becomes suddenly unusable doesn’t seem like a lot to ask…it seems like their job. Be on top of the situation, sorry but the ball was dropped here.

        • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (4:26 pm)

          The bridge was not in immediate need of repair until the discovery of sudden unexpected crack growth in late March. This was an abnormal, rapidly-evolving situation by all accounts.

    • Go gull April 20, 2020 (12:52 pm)

      It’s stressful to sit in the uncertainty, but all the rest will unfold in more time. It doesn’t matter how much we want things to happen faster, it will take the time it will take.

      And, you made another good point, these are not normal times!

    • WSJ April 20, 2020 (12:57 pm)

      Would you rather have time and $ spent figuring out why this happened, who knew what etc. or spent working on a solution? Resources are finite, and there will be plenty of time to blame and fire people later. The mayor hires dept. directors, so just vote her out in a couple years and you’ll get your pound of flesh. 

      • WS Resident April 20, 2020 (2:23 pm)

        Honestly both are needed! Public trust has been damaged here along with the bridge. We need to have faith in our institutions and a failure on this level by SDOT needs to be examined – if not how can the public trust this isn’t going to happen again? To what extent this was a known problem (or should have been) and what decisions were made (or put off to me made down the road) are relevant and lead to the second part, faith we can have in their judgement on repair/replace options.

      • BBILL April 20, 2020 (2:30 pm)

        The one factor that I could not ascertain from reading the reports is whether the inspectors should have brought more attention to the Pier 18 bridge bearing. In the 2013 report it was noted to monitor, and maybe that was a reasonable determination at that time. With the benefit of history, it’s likely that was more than a ‘minor’ observation, but would an average bridge inspector come to the same conclusion, and in what year? Also there is always the balance between “needs repair today” and “continue to monitor” in terms of cost. It’s because we have the benefit of history that it would be ‘easy’ to prioritize that one observation out of so many.

  • Ze April 20, 2020 (11:43 am)

    How will they palliate the new traffic situation? What about new ferry lines connecting WS with downtown? 

    • West Seattle since 1979 April 20, 2020 (12:15 pm)

      Yes, I hope they will start addressing mitigation soon. 

      • Jort April 20, 2020 (2:00 pm)

        FYI: none of that “mitigation” involves us driving like we used to. The entire WSF ferry system averages 25,000 cars every day. The High Bridge had 100,000 cars per day. Ferries could move 200 cars every hour to downtown. That is not a mitigation, that is a waste of time and resources. 

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (1:04 pm)

      The largest of the ferries, which are already being used on other routes, hold about 200 cars, so if fully loaded, it would take about 100 ferry trips to carry 20,000 cars, about 20% of the 100,000 vehicles the West Seattle Bridge carried on average every day. There is no way to load/unload that many vehicles given the existing ferry docks, and the impact on the other routes would need to be considered. One option might be to direct some of the existing ferry traffic from Vashon/Southworth to Seattle instead of Fauntleroy. Keep in mind this would be for the convenience of the travelers to avoid the West Seattle traffic, not to alleviate the demands on the West Seattle streets, as the number of cars that the ferries can carry is small relative to the ~100,000 average daily count that the West Seattle Bridge carried.

      • Ice April 20, 2020 (4:31 pm)

        I am pretty sure this would just end up being bad for a lot of Vashon residents. Many who live on Vashon use services in Burien, so they wouldn’t have even been on the bridge in the first place. Transit from Vashon to downtown is already pretty good with the water taxi. This whole idea of rerouting the ferries makes very little sense.

        • 1994 April 20, 2020 (9:22 pm)

          Vashon residents can always use the Tacoma ferry as an option to get where they need to – maybe quicker than getting stuck in West Seattle traffic.

        • BBILL April 21, 2020 (12:11 am)

          I’m going to predict that future travel between the ferry terminal and Burien is not going to be easy, at least not as easy as it was historically. For example, one is not going to be able to easily reach 509, as that requires traveling through one of the choke points. Driving south on the surface streets will probably not be easy, as there are a lot of people who are going to switching over to that direction, instead of heading north to the West Seattle Bridge. I would not recommend ending the ferry service entirely, but adding (redirecting, if you want to view it that way) a trip to downtown might be an option. Oh, and it might be faster in time to take a ferry to downtown and drive south on 5 versus trying to navigate the congested highways in West Seattle.

    • Chelsea April 20, 2020 (5:03 pm)

      Yes this is my question as well!I have emailed Herbold about this. I hope others are as well. West Seattle will be grid lock when the stay at home orders are no longer in place.

  • Derrick April 20, 2020 (12:08 pm)

    What can we do to minimize the impact of the closure on the alternate traffic patterns? Specifically, can we re-stripe Marginal Way to allow for 2 lanes of traffic instead of the area where it briefly pinches to one lane in each direction? This could be accomplished by removing some parking, and removing the middle turn lane in that small area where there is the pinch. Further – if the entire commuting community of North Admiral has to avoid use of the low bridge to allow freight, maybe freight can avoid the 1st Street bridge since they have their own bridge to use. And again – can we PLEASE reconsider whether we must have a 24 hour restriction in place on the low bridge? Night workers and weekend workers may be able to use the bridge from 10p-6a without impacting the ability for EMS to have a safe rapid passage. Let’s look at the patterns and see if the restriction is data driven or fear driven and make an informed decision. 

    • Jort April 20, 2020 (1:24 pm)

      Guess what you can do to make traffic better on alternate routes? Literally nothing. There is no way, by the laws of geometry, to transfer the traffic that used to go over the high bridge to the alternate routes without significant delays. You could turn every single remaining street and road in West Seattle into a freeway and it still won’t change the fact that there are hard-and-fast, unchangeable bottlenecks and choke points at the remaining access points. The 1st Ave S. Bridge, already at capacity with congestion back to Burien during normal operations, is not going to suddenly expand to handle even more traffic. It’s a fixed asset: everybody will be blocked by it. There is literally nothing we can do about this, except stop driving and start taking the bus or riding a bike. Signal retiming and lane striping and all this is stuff that might make people feel like something is getting done, but the reality is that there is literally no way for this community to continue its old driving habits. Even though it grinds people and makes them angry, it is not hyperbole to state that we will no longer be able to drive the way we used to out of West Seattle, and this goes for every single car on the peninsula. It’s important to advocate for realistic mitigations, like increased transit and cycling for residents. There are literally zero solutions for cars.

      • WSB April 20, 2020 (1:41 pm)

        Heather Marx said that (in fewer words) today. Also, more telecommuting, different work hours if possible…

        • APM April 20, 2020 (3:49 pm)

          I think any car solution needs to focus on getting cars out of West Seattle. Could they build a temporary parking structure near the water taxi terminal on the downtown side? Then, folks that need to commute to the East side have the water taxi as an option. Seems cheap too (compared to fixing a bridge or adding a car ferry).

          • Ice April 20, 2020 (4:34 pm)

            Parking structures are extremely expensive, costing about 100,000 dollars per space.

          • BBILL April 20, 2020 (4:50 pm)

            “Could they build a temporary parking structure near the water taxi terminal on the downtown side?” First who do you expect to pay for “temporary” parking structure, which are not cheap? Beyond that, temporary as in spend years to build it, and then once it is built, tear it down? Again, no idea who would pay for that.

        • Chelsea April 20, 2020 (5:06 pm)

          Ferries from Fauntleroy to DT Seattle and increase water taxis, as well as shuttles and boxes where water taxis land in DT Seattle. They did this when 99 tunnel closed and this is a way bigger deal, and way longer lasting.

          • WSB April 20, 2020 (5:26 pm)

            And the SDOT point person for all that, Heather Marx, is the SDOT point person for all this.

      • Anne April 20, 2020 (2:09 pm)

        Bikes & Busses are excellent for those that can use them-but there are LOTS of folks that can’t. Not to mention riding on a bus packed with folks- before there’s a vaccine for C-19.  

        • Ice April 20, 2020 (4:39 pm)

          The fact that some people can’t bike or bus doesn’t change the reality of the situation. If you live a life where you are dependent on the West Seattle bridge, you are going to either have to creatively adapt or get ready to sit in traffic for much much longer than before. There really isn’t another way around this.

        • Bill Rudd April 21, 2020 (4:45 am)

          shoot, good point on packed mass transit. We’ve got to respect this thing still, right?maybe if it turns out you can work from home, you should keep doing it? wow, but…bike to work? If you have to bus, wear masks and try not to cough in anyone’s face on purpose.  

    • KBear April 20, 2020 (1:28 pm)

      They’re not going to add the second lane back in on West Marginal because drivers weren’t stopping for crossing pedestrians. When you’re in too much of a hurry to obey traffic laws, this is what you get. 

    • sw April 20, 2020 (1:45 pm)

      You make some good suggestions.  Thank you for contributing to the discussion rather than tilting at the “where is all the information” windmills.  However, I disagree with your view on the lower bridge.  There is simply no way to enforce variable usage of the bridge as people will always take advantage of the situation for their own selfish benefit.  Too many resources would go into trying to govern “who” and “when” rather than enforcing a single, clear policy.  Commenters on the WSB threads have already made mention of their lower bridge use under the “it’s okay if I do it” scenario.

      • Jort April 20, 2020 (2:01 pm)

        Oh, there’s a way to enforce the lower bridge, permanently, and it’s what the city is going to do here, really soon: they’re called gates, and I’ll bet you that’s where we’re headed. Gates go up for firetrucks and buses, gates go down on cars. It’s not hard to tell them apart. Prepare yourself to take another route, or get on the bus.

        • chemist April 20, 2020 (11:46 pm)

          Good thing they have some millions allocated to repairing the gates on the low bridge, because those have been getting stuck not-infrequently.

  • Andrea April 20, 2020 (12:10 pm)

    Announced they are paving the 5 way intersection this weekend at Chelan Cafe, this is good news.

  • Shepherd Siegel April 20, 2020 (12:14 pm)

    Okie doke, and for whatever hindsight is worth . . . cracks or no, anyone could have seen that this bridge is a lifeline whose loss would be almost devastating. So why was the light rail line to Northgate always prioritized over West Seattle? I won’t even bring up the monorail (oops, I guess I just did). And for whatever foresight is worth . . . would a rebuilding of the West Seattle Bridge have implications for how/where/when the WS light rail line is ultimately built?

    • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (12:37 pm)

      Light rail to West Seattle is not exactly a high priority because the population density is barely enough to justify it. Northgate is by far a more efficient use of funds in the near term, not that it matters because Northgate is in a different subarea and they are paying for their own projects while we pay for ours. And let’s keep in mind that West Seattle is scheduled to get light rail ahead of Ballard, so if anyone has a right to complain it’s them.

      • Shepherd Siegel April 20, 2020 (4:23 pm)

        Thanks, I get that, but West Seattle is the most densely populated part of Seattle, and points north do not have the vulnerability of a bridge, which we all know. They have I-5 and 99 which, for whatever their faults . . . continue to be open for travel.

        • Ice April 20, 2020 (5:07 pm)

          West Seattle may be the largest neighborhood geographically and population-wise but we are quite far from being the densest neighborhood. 

        • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (5:32 pm)

          West Seattle is not the most dense part of Seattle by any conceivable metric.

          • James Walker April 20, 2020 (8:10 pm)

            Judging by the comments here, we may be the most dense neighborhood in Seattle.   Good grief,  stop sniveling and figure out how you will adapt.   It’s not the end of the world.   

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (1:08 pm)

      I suspect paying for and building a second West Seattle Bridge was not something that taxpayers wanted–until now.

    • Jon Wright April 20, 2020 (2:11 pm)

      To answer one of your specific questions, Link to Northgate was prioritized because it is part of the light rail spine that will ultimately extend all the way to Everett. The West Seattle line terminates here so no other subsequent part of the system as currently planned depends upon it.

  • Aerial Observer April 20, 2020 (12:29 pm)

    “They have to clearly communicate on exactly where they are in this process,”

    They’ve already done that. Bullet point #2 of Slide 12 :

    “We are at 0 percent design, and each step will impact what’s feasible and how long it will take”

  • Yma April 20, 2020 (12:52 pm)

    Ok-  now let’s brainstorm solutions. More busses – we need a park & ride North Admiral & Gatewood & Southmore ferries from Alkican we recreate the mosquito fleet – or do car ferries from Fauntleroy?big companies- Amazon? Microsoft? Google? Help your folks set up a home office. Work will get done.

  • Dan April 20, 2020 (1:23 pm)

    What do you all expect from SDOT? They learned about this issue in 2013 and promptly set up an inspection schedule and installed monitors…. In other words 7 years ago they found a problem and then stood there and watched it until it was too late.  Given that this is how they’ve handled things so far I think its time to remove SDOT from having anything to do with what happens moving forward. This is not just a structural failure, its a failure in maintenance, planning, and city government who we ignorantly choose to keep in office.  

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (2:37 pm)

      Please read the reports and without using the benefit of future reports, pinpoint the spot where there was some error or omission, the time when something different should have been done, please outline what should have been done different, and why.

      • chemist April 20, 2020 (5:00 pm)

        At Pier 18 the lateral restrainers have extruded the PTFE sliding surface. Continue to observe.

        This phrase for Pier 18 and 15 appears in every inspection posted since 2013.  Lateral restraint and “extruded” teflon sliding surface sounds like what’s pictured as “bulging” in the bridge bearing now.  Extruded sounds like another term for compressed and bulging, in this case.  Today’s presentation says of bridge bearing 18 (and SDOT has to repair that stuck bearing before other work happens).- 

        • Bearings allow the bridge to be move in response to traffic, normal concrete creep and shrinkage, thermal variations  • Pier 18 bearings are compressed and bulging, creating additional pressure and affecting the whole bridge

        • BBILL April 20, 2020 (7:11 pm)

          You have and are using the benefit of history–start with what the known issue today, and then look back and suggest that one item should have been picked out of all the information in the reports. What I am asking is given the reports before 2020, how would you identify that the Pier 18 bearing would be big issue?

      • Dan April 20, 2020 (5:26 pm)

        I cant say for certain as I am not an expert or an engineer but thru the 7 year span of time that SDOT inspected and monitored the cracking how is it that no repair plan or attempts were made?  Its like somebody finding a waste basket on fire in their house and rather than getting some water or the fire dept they just stood watching til the entire house was engulfed in flames.  

        • BBILL April 20, 2020 (11:56 pm)

          It was not akin to “finding a waste basket on fire,” which nearly everyone would agree needs immediate attention. The recommendation for the bearing was “continue to observe CTO.” The cracks need to be filled to minimize corrosion, which was performed. As soon as the “waste basket on fire” was found, the bridge was closed.

  • smittytheclown April 20, 2020 (1:33 pm)

    I get that this is complex (understatement of the day) but what gets me riled up is that the expert panel has not even been formed yet.  Feels like there is no sense of urgency at all.  There *must* be experts throughout the world who have seen/experienced something even remotely similar.  Easier said then done, I am sure. Damn this is going to be brutal.

    • CAM April 20, 2020 (1:47 pm)

      I’m sure all those experts are just sitting at home twiddling their thumbs waiting for a call to jump into action at a moment’s notice on a project that has no immediate risk to life or chance of short-term resolution and are not already busy offering their expertise on other projects around the world. 

      • BBILL April 20, 2020 (2:45 pm)

        In the middle of the COVID-19 apocalypse it is not going to make much difference if the project gets a week or two delay, or if the delay is in a month, especially since the bridge is not getting any repairs until after the necessary design work is performed, and funding is secured. The only reason that sooner might matter is if the ongoing damage, the dead load damage, can be minimized, or if after 35 years, collapse can be avoided by acting a few days sooner.

    • dsa April 20, 2020 (2:00 pm)

      I too am tired of hearing assembling the expert panel.  And then to read the panel will not give advice but be used as a sounding board, makes them seem useless.  Are they waiting for an earthquake?  A good shake could get us federal disaster funds and a  direction forward.

  • Aerial Observer April 20, 2020 (2:26 pm)

    “In other words 7 years ago they found a problem and then stood there and watched it until it was too late.”

    Hindsight is always perfect, is it not? SDOT’s in-house engineers and contracted engineering consultants *thought* they understood the issue, but then multiple cracks suddenly started propagating much more rapidly during March 2020 than in the entire 7-year period prior(!). SDOT’s engineers and consultants thus learned they never did  completely understand the mechanism(s) which have accelerated the cracking, and thus SDOT had to close the bridge before a collapse might occur.

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (3:22 pm)

      If we assume “they did not completely understand the mechanism(s),” what different could be expected? Also would an average bridge inspector have understood the situation any different?

  • Mj April 20, 2020 (2:33 pm)

    I’m so frustrated with this fiasco that ‘G’ rated words cannot begin to state my outrage.

    There have been some comments to combine Light Rail and a new bridge, great put all your eggs in one basket.

    I’m hoping they are able to replace the problem sections and use the remaking structure that is not at issue.

  • chemist April 20, 2020 (2:53 pm)

    From the Feb 21st WSP report, I’d like to see what design concepts were suggested to the city 2 months ago.  Maybe SDOT could post that presentation to the city’s WS bridge website. I understand if continued crack growth might make that a bit of a shifting target still.

    In summary, the process to repair the bridge needs to start now in order to complete repairs as soon as possible. It is our opinion that the work should be completed this calendar year. We have design concepts in mind that have been presented to the City. We need to begin the process of deciding which of those repair concepts the City would like to investigate further and subsequently implement. Once a repair concept has been selected, it should be possible to design and implement the repair in a reasonably short period of time. 

  • Hpdp April 20, 2020 (3:02 pm)

    I have been wondering about this for awhile. After crossing the low bridge east bound, do the busses and trucks have access to NB 99 via the ramp that climbs up to that road? Is the Spokane Street Viaduct usable EB from the 99 to the I-5?

    • CAM April 20, 2020 (4:31 pm)

      I saw the buses on NB 99 last week when headed the opposite direction. I have yet to encounter them when I’m travelling northbound so I don’t know where they’re getting on at. 

    • BBILL April 20, 2020 (7:48 pm)

      Some bus routes travel northbound on 99 from south of the viaduct, but yes, there is a ramp from ground level just east of Harbor Island that is located between the West Seattle Bridge to NB99 ramp (now closed) and the Spokane Street Viaduct (now open). A traveler can select either NB99 or EB the Spokane Street Viaduct. The first available exit being First.

  • APM April 20, 2020 (3:40 pm)

    Like many have said, while it is frustrating on the pace of updates on bridge status, there’s no doubt that even a straight demolition would be incredibly technically complex. Buckle up, because this is going to be a slow process.

    That being said, I do think a fair criticism of SDOT (at least from what I’ve heard) is that we haven’t heard any concrete steps on mitigation plans, other than being told that “everything is on the table” for 3 weeks.

    While I would love to take the water taxi or ride a bike or bus, I live in Admiral and my current client is in Issaquah, I don’t have a choice other than to drive when this lockdown ends, especially with a toddler in daycare in West Seattle. What are going to be the options for folks (especially those on the north end) who have to drive?

    Now, the silver lining (if any) of this terrible pandemic has been that remote working has been shown to be feasible on a large scale for certain industries. That being said, the traffic and commuting nightmare will come. I think the cheapest and easiest solution (and one that could be started on now), is to build a parking garage on the downtown side of the water taxi. That way, you can leave a car on that side.

    I guess my question more broadly is, when will we hear more details about these mitigation strategies?

    • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (4:37 pm)

      There is slide deck covering SDOT’s response to the bridge issues linked at the beginning of this blog entry, as well as other entries. That slide deck has been used in at least two SDOT public presentations by my count. It is *very* specific about what SDOT is doing both in terms of stabilizing the bridge and mitigating traffic issues. Unless you are expecting Sam Zimbabwe to go around to every house in West Seattle and explain in person, I don’t know what more we could expect to be done in terms of transparency.

      • APM April 20, 2020 (11:20 pm)

        Thanks, I looked over the slide deck, and that’s what prompted my post. There are few specifics to transit options, other than “they continue to assess Metro, etc.” and “are working on it,” along with the detour maps. Additionally, the word “ferry” does not appear in the slide deck. As many have pointed out, there is a finite amount of space on roads out of the peninsula, so doubling the amount of buses doesn’t magically make everything better. This is going to take creativity and big, bold solutions because let’s face it, I think 2022 is optimistic for that bridge reopening. No one is expecting SDOT to be knocking on their door, but people have the right to expect a basic level of service provided by the government. No one at SDOT or on the city council is responsible for shoddy build or impacts of the 2001 quake to the build, but it is absolutely fair game to judge their response.

        • BBILL April 21, 2020 (12:01 am)

          There are at least two possibilities. 1. “a big, bold solution” makes things worse. This was recently in the news with a COVID-19 treatment that Trump promoted, but it was found that the “big, bold solution” killed the people who took it. Minor detail to some who wanted to believe. Another option is 2. no “big, bold solution” exists. In this case the options and outcomes are known and may be reasonably predicted. Both of these have the underlying challenge of costs being underestimated or time to completion being underestimated, or other project management challenges. Simply put, it is very unlikely that there is a ‘cheap and easy’ fix.

          • ColumbiaChris April 21, 2020 (11:37 am)

            The biggest, boldest, and coincidentally cheapest solution would be to just not replace the bridge and disincentivize private vehicle traffic, but something tells me the people wanting big, bold, and/or cheap solutions aren’t going to go for that.

  • Pamela April 20, 2020 (3:42 pm)

    I would like to seem them re-open the road northbound over the train track that went through what is now parking and come out across from the 7-11 on Harbor Avenue where it used to go so many years ago.  (When you’d drive past the KJR tower)  We need more access points.  

  • Joe Z April 20, 2020 (4:15 pm)

    Reading through these comments is kind of nuts. I don’t know how people get so worked up over this. Bridges fail sometimes for unanticipated reasons and there’s no reason to suspect negligence in this case. Personally I’m thankful to our public servants who found the problem and got the bridge closed before there was a tragic disaster. I’m guessing the majority of West Seattleites will make some changes to their lifestyle and otherwise things will go on as usual. It won’t be too bad for anyone who works downtown, one can easily take the bus and there will be additional buses added, especially in the Admiral district. The bike/e-bike ride downtown is ridiculously easy and Rad Bikes are pretty cheap…like 1/20th the price of a new car. There are no shortages of businesses within West Seattle to support and they are going to need us more than ever going forward. Many people who have to drive farther on the regular are probably going to have to move, but honestly many of them probably shouldn’t have been living here anyway and commuting to Bellevue or Lynwood or other places that require a slog in traffic every day. It simply isn’t a sustainable way for our city to exist if people are driving hour+ commutes across town. Seattle as a whole would be better off if people could live closer to where they work. 

    • Delridge420 April 20, 2020 (9:47 pm)

      Can’t decide which is more annoying right now:  the  “%&*!! DO SOMETHING” takes in this thread or those convinced they are doing a public service by offering their very constructive and not at all patronizing opinions on sustainable living, as if there’s just a glut of affordable housing in all parts of the county that make living where you work (because job locations rarely change for most of us) easy to do.   

  • Bob Ortblad April 20, 2020 (4:18 pm)

    Is the Box Girder like an Egg?

  • Jort April 20, 2020 (5:00 pm)

    People are demanding “ANSWERS AND ACCOUNTABILITY NOWWWWW!!!!” I mean, that’s all well and good, and maybe that’ll help you feel better in the short term, but just a reminder: that bridge is closed for at least 18 more months, and because of that, the situation of driving your car in West Seattle is literally guaranteed to be a hellscape of waiting and congestion. There is literally nothing that SDOT, you, me, the state or a magical unicorn can do to change the fixed chokepoints of our peninsula’s geography. Cars will get endlessly stuck at the bottlenecks, like the 1st Ave S. Bridge, Highland Park Way, Myers Way S, etc. There is literally nothing we can do to prevent this, because you can not fit 100,000 pounds of flour in a 50 pound bag. Again: get as angry as you want about “not getting updates fast enough” or “the expert team isn’t put together fast enough to my liking,” but in the meantime, for the next 18 months, prepare to either sit in traffic or ride a bus. Nothing about the timeline, the design, the studies, the press conferences, the announcements — none of that will change this very basic fact about life in West Seattle until at least 2022. It is time now — immediately — to make mental adaptations about the end of your reliance on the convenience of your personal automobile. Again: there’s literally nothing you can do about it.

    • ColumbiaChris April 20, 2020 (5:35 pm)

      No fair, the magical rainbow unicorn promised me a replacement bridge by Monday.

    • Rumbles April 20, 2020 (7:34 pm)

      Jort, can you please also remind them we aren’t going to get a temporary floating bridge that blocks the Duwamish, nor did the “pile driving” cause all of this.  :)

    • Ice April 20, 2020 (7:46 pm)

      I think this is frustrating for a lot of people because they took the West Seattle Bridge for granted, and now it’s gone. Changing your lifestyle can be scary and anger inducing. Human nature is to focus your anger at something, whether or not it is the actual problem, so people focus it at SDOT. SDOT isn’t particularly at fault from my perspective, but I am not affected by the bridge closing down, so I am not sour about this whole thing. Demanding that someone get fired is quite a bit like punching a wall. It may seem like it will help in the moment, but it’s not going to do anything.

      • East Coast Cynic April 20, 2020 (9:16 pm)

        The sooner light rail is built in West Seattle, the sooner a lot of lifestyles will be capable of changing.  You’re not affected by the bridge closing and you’re not sour about it?  Shocking:/

  • Mj April 20, 2020 (6:02 pm)

    Jort – yes it is not feasible to accommodate 100,000 vehicles per day but capacity can be added to the alternative routes.  35th could be striped with 5 lanes, Roxbury made back into 4, eliminate LT ‘s at some intersections. These are a few examples.

    You may be gleeful, but remember the vast majority of us in WS are impacted significantly.  Please be mindful of those of us who need to drive to places that are not well served by transit.  

    • K. Davis April 20, 2020 (9:49 pm)

      The anti-car people are gloating right now (and yes, that’s sick in and of itself) but there’s nothing to be gained from engaging them here.  There will be moronic comments about barriers for cars and forcing everyone on a bus … but reality will be otherwise – some folks will still drive, some will switch temporarily to buses or water taxi until the bridge is fixed …  and when the bridge is fixed, we’ll be able to drive again – and we will.  The anti-car people will find that vexing, but so be it. 

      • Jort April 20, 2020 (10:37 pm)

        It’s not gloating, it’s reality. There’s literally nothing you or anybody else can do to prevent every car driver in West Seattle from being trapped in hours of gridlock. This isn’t an “anti-car people” thing. It’s a reality thing. Prepare for at least two years of gridlock or learn to ride the bus. 

    • Jort April 20, 2020 (10:34 pm)

      No, Mj, capacity can NOT be added to alternative routes. Those routes are limited by fixed, unchangeable choke points and nothing we do to the rest of West Seattle will change that. You can make the opening diameter of your funnel 50 times wider, but the exit point can’t get bigger. It’s a fixed-width bridge. Nothing on the planet is changing this. People will suffer through unbearable congestion, or they’ll take the bus and get over their bus-cooties sentiments. The pro-car people who want to use this as an excuse to undo every road diet in West Seattle don’t have science, facts, or reality on their side. The chokepoints are fixed — SDOT will not be changing the laws of physics today. 

  • Mj April 20, 2020 (8:01 pm)

    A few years back a SR – 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed when a truss was hit by a oversized truck and was replaced fairly quickly by WSDOT, what was it three months?  Yes it was an easier fix, but the timelines being bandied about for the WSB fix are obscenely long.  California fixed sections of collapsed freeways in like 9 months.  

  • cs April 20, 2020 (8:11 pm)

    I shot this photo while under the bridge on my bike (April 20). There is a huge crack across the whole span. I have a feeling after the 2001 earthquake this started. With all the folks moving to Seattle this added more pressure to the bridge. SDOT and the city knew about the problem for years. I bet 1 dollar that they said “Hey! Everyone is at home. Let’s shut down the bridge and tell them the bad news.” Sorry West Seattle friends but they need to take it down and now.

    • ScubaFrog April 20, 2020 (8:37 pm)

      Gosh…  Is that the center span?  Is that the only place where cracks are?  I wonder if they go all the way through.  Awful.

      • cs April 21, 2020 (10:10 pm)

        Yes, that’s the center span. Right in the middle. Be safe.

  • ScubaFrog April 20, 2020 (8:34 pm)

    I heard they may shut down the lower bridge IF the higher bridge poses any more of a threat.  That’s going to be a nightmare for Trauma units trying get into downtown fast.  That’s a little disconcerting, something I plan on bringing up.Also, other routes can’t withstand pre-pandemic traffic levels apparently, per the Mayor and Lisa.  Although it looks like with added ferry routes, and added WS ferry routes, this may be addressed.The cool thing is that everyone (Sam/Lisa/Mayor Durkan/Joe etc.) are working extremely hard on solutions.  I think it’s disingenuous and cheap to blame and fingerpoint.  Let’s focus on solving the problem.  A little off-topic btw, but a cool point WSB made the other re local business:  Instead of going off-peninsula for food/products, maybe the bridge issues will see an influx of on-peninsula business at local businesses.  So, potential silver linings (which may be hard to see right now).  Also the federal government’s going to be working on a stimulus for small business, so that’s also encouraging.

    • WSB April 20, 2020 (9:12 pm)

      That was discussed in today’s briefing. They’re planning for the “worst-case scenario.” Also noted in SDOT Blog’s Friday night post.

      • ScubaFrog April 20, 2020 (10:00 pm)

        Thanks WSB  :)

  • East Coast Cynic April 20, 2020 (9:09 pm)

    If this hasn’t been mentioned upstream, a dedicated Fauntleroy ferry going from the Fauntleroy terminal to downtown Seattle and back would potentially be of great benefit to working people who live in arbor heights, roxbury heights, westwood village, delridge and white center, particularly if the low bridge is ever taken out of commission for an unspecified period of time.  The water taxi is too small and too time consuming to get to for people who don’t live near it.

    • KBear April 20, 2020 (9:39 pm)

      A car ferry to downtown from Fauntleroy would not be any faster than the existing surface routes. 

      • 1994 April 20, 2020 (10:25 pm)

        I think a passenger only ferry from Fauntleroy to Downtown is the suggestion, not a car ferry. 

        • BBILL April 21, 2020 (12:18 am)

          In terms of passenger transit, if there were the ridership demand suggested, enough to fill a ferry, express bus service between Fauntleroy and downtown would probably be easier to arrange.

          • East Coast Cynic April 21, 2020 (6:24 am)

            But what happens if per chance the low bridge is taken out of service by high bridge cracking dangers or reinforcement work? Maybe even future low bridge problems will necessitate its closure? Those express buses won’t be so quick anymore.  They’ll have no choice but to squeeze through those back end bridge routes with the cars like watermelons through straws. Such transit gruel may be acceptable to some, but not all.If everything is on the table for commuter convenience, we need to be very creative about how we can efficiently move our citizens on and off the peninsula.

  • Thomas M April 21, 2020 (8:24 am)

    TUNNEL.  Start now… click…pop.  It works under Cheapeake Bay, Boston, between England and France; connects Asia to Europe at Istanbul, SR-99, S. Lake Union to Montlake… blah blah blah.  Why waste time on gyrations to fix a bridge that must be replaced anyway?  Junk it.

    • ColumbiaChris April 21, 2020 (12:16 pm)

      West Seattle is having trouble coming up with ways to pay for a tunnel for the light rail line. I’m not sure if trying to put a 6-lane highways under the river is going to work out any better.

  • Question April 21, 2020 (9:03 am)

    Is there any news on Herbold’s electronic town hall for tomorrow? I see it’s from 5-6:30 but am wondering how to watch/participate. 

Sorry, comment time is over.