(WSB photo: South Park Bridge just before its June 2014 opening)
The West Seattle Bridge closure isn’t just a West Seattle problem. That point’s been made far and wide already, but you probably haven’t heard it yet from this viewpoint – that of your neighbors in South Park, whose bridge (just six years old) is now one of two main alternatives for crossing the Duwamish River. The already-increased traffic has led to this letter to the city from a coalition of South Park community organizations, which we’re publishing with permission:
Dear Mayor Durkan, Councilmember Herbold & Director Zimbabwe,
The community of South Park is extremely concerned about the long term or permanent closure of the West Seattle Bridge and the potential for the lower Spokane St. bridge to also be shut down. We recognize that this closure will impact neighborhoods across West Seattle and within the Duwamish Valley. Our neighborhood is being promoted as a detour for the 100,000 drivers seeking an alternate route. During this time of reduced traffic, we are already seeing an increase in vehicle traffic, speeding and neighborhood cut-throughs. Residents of South Park have extremely poor health outcomes when compared to other neighborhoods. Our neighbors and children have high rates of asthma which has proven to reduce our life expectancy. Years of increased traffic will only perpetuate this inequity. We live in a valley that naturally traps pollution. Everything must be done to prevent additional pollution from coming here. Historically, our community has been disenfranchised and underserved by City and County services. We must have a voice in developing solutions to this long-term problem.
Our community members have raised the following concerns:
● Speeding and increased traffic in the neighborhood (Cloverdale, 14th & Dallas Ave S.)
○ Concerns about the safety of children crossing Cloverdale to get to school, the library, the community center etc.
○ Concerns about vehicles “whipping” onto Dallas Ave S. after crossing the bridge endangering pedestrians and cyclists (Dallas leads to the Duwamish Trail – a safe cycling route to downtown).
○ The increasing traffic back-up at the intersection of 5th & Cloverdale
● Increased pollution due to the increase in traffic
● The need to mitigate the impact on the already slow and often delayed 132 & 60 bus service
We would like to put forth the following recommendations:
● Transfer car trips from the West Seattle Bridge to transit, bike and walking trips to reduce pollution.
● Increase access to bus service. If West Seattle buses are rerouted to the First Ave or South Park bridges, some portion need to stop in South Park to provide us with better, faster bus service if we are to bear the brunt of the impacts of additional buses here. We also recommend the use of electric busses to reduce pollution.
● Safe pedestrian crossings
○ Lights for crossing at 10 or 12th & Cloverdale.
■ High-density new construction coming online in 2020 will bring even more neighbors to this area.
○ A light or highly visible crosswalk where Dallas Ave S. and the bridge meet to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
○ A light or four-way stop on Dallas Ave S. near RAM Mounts at Thistle/Dallas/12th streets. Traffic cutting through the industrial area from Marginal Way has led to cars speeding down a residential street that already has a dangerous 4-way stop. We appreciate the Your Voice Your Choice intervention at this intersection, but it will not be enough to prevent accidents with increased traffic.
○ Crossing guards at 8th & 7th & Cloverdale for school children.
○ Improvements at 14th & Henderson.
● Improved Bike Connections
○ Protected bike lanes on the 1st Ave to downtown corridor are especially essential if the low bridge closure were to cut off access from the Duwamish Trail to downtown. A protected crossing across East Marginal from (and to) the First Ave Bridge is immediately needed for this bike route. More people will be biking and this connection is crucial.
○ Continue the funding, planning, and development of the Georgetown – South Park trail project
● Detours should keep traffic on major thoroughfares
○ Police should do consistent traffic stops to address speeding
We look forward to collaborating with SDOT and our West Seattle and Duwamish Valley community to develop solutions to this crisis.
South Park Neighborhood Association – Aley Thompson & Robin Schwartz
Concord Elementary Parent Teacher Association – Robin Schwartz & Gladis Clemente
Concord Elementary School – Miguel Sansalone & Cesar Roman
Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition – Paulina Lopez
Duwamish Rowing Club – Mike Merta
Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition – Maria Ramirez, Robin Schwartz & Analia Bertoni
Duwamish Valley Safe Streets – Jesse Moore & Peaches Thomas
Duwamish Valley Youth Corps – Carmen Martinez
Duwamish Valley Port Community Action Team – Bunthay Cheam, Edwin Hermandez, Maggie Angel Cano & Hannah Kett
ECOSS – Cluny McCaffrey
Seattle Neighborhood Group – Jake Hellenkamp & Dennis Diaz
Somali Parents Education Board – Muna Hussein
South Park Area Redevelopment Committee – Meredith Hall, Bill Pease & Aley Thompson
South Park Arts – Jen Nye, Wendy Woldenberg & Bill Pease
South Park Merchants Association – Rocio Arriaga
South Park Senior Center – Dagmar Cronn & Dat Giap
Villa Comunitaria – Analia Bertoni
Side note: The South Park Bridge is owned and operated by King County, though most of the rest of South Park is part of the city of Seattle.