WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Low-bridge work this weekend; 5-way intersection work likely next weekend; council briefing Monday; more


Four West Seattle Bridge-related notes this afternoon:

LOW-BRIDGE WORK THIS WEEKEND: SDOT has mentioned some maintenance ahead for the low bridge. We asked for details:

This weekend, we plan to replace the Spokane Street Pedestrian Gate, which has not been operating properly and causing some unintended vehicle-traffic interruptions. We are also going to be testing the live-load capacity on the bridge. This work will require us to intermittently close portions of the bridge for brief intervals (under 10 minutes) over the weekend. We do not expect this to be more disruptive than a typical bridge opening for maritime traffic, and many of the brief closures will be to the sidewalk or a single lane at a time (in which case a police officer will alternate traffic in the remaining lane).

Added: Just after we published this, Joseph Laubach sent a photo of low-bridge testing already under way:

5-WAY INTERSECTION WORK AHEAD: Also mentioned in this past Wednesday’s announcement, some work ahead to improve the suddenly more-critical-than-ever 5-way intersection at Spokane/Chelan/Delridge/West Marginal, so we asked for the timeline on that:

We recently upgraded the signals at this intersection so that we can remotely monitor and make real-time adjustments from our Traffic Operations Center in response to changing circumstances. We plan to continue making improvements to this location in the coming weeks, including more significant signal upgrades that will likely include bus prioritization. We are also planning to do road work to improve the pavement condition at this intersection. If weather allows, both sets of work will likely occur over the weekend of April 24 – 26 and will have traffic impacts. We are working to finalize the details and will let you know more soon.

COUNCIL BRIEFING: As for the high bridge itself, the next public discussion is Monday morning, as we first reported early Tuesday. That’s at 9:30 am Monday (April 20th), live via Seattle Channel (cable 21 or online). The slide deck is now online (PDF); it’s almost identical to the one included in our Wednesday report, except for an extra graphic explaining “lateral bearing,” addition of the likely 5-way intersection paving date mentioned above, and addition of a slide about transit.

COUNCILMEMBER HERBOLD’S UPDATE: Just as we finished writing this, Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s weekly update appeared online. Along with a recap of recent developments, she includes a summary of constituent suggestions, plus information on “what SDOT has done in recent weeks to adjust signals and monitor traffic.”

94 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Low-bridge work this weekend; 5-way intersection work likely next weekend; council briefing Monday; more"

  • Mj April 17, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    The operational change that would help the most is removing the EB to NB and WB to SB left turns and run the EB and WB traffic concurrently.  WB left turns can easily u turn under the bridge to the west and large trucks at Avalon

    • K April 18, 2020 (9:34 am)

      Why not have a Vashon to Downtown Washington State Car Ferry to alleviate a lot of the traffic from Fauntleroy  to get to I-5 and downtown…. just a thought!

      • drM April 18, 2020 (12:22 pm)

        Suggested this a while ago. Add Southworth to that route as well.

      • Phosur April 18, 2020 (12:49 pm)

        This and a car ferry from Fauntleroy Ferry to downtown would help enormously! 

        • WSJ April 18, 2020 (4:15 pm)

          Not sure “enormously” fits, a single Issaquah-class boat only holds about 120 cars. Drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed. 

          • Ice April 18, 2020 (5:30 pm)

            Yes, and many of these cars are going toward Burien anyways and not downtown anyways. Transit from Vashon to downtown is already pretty good. I am not sure that the giant logistical mess of rerouting boats to downtown would justify the supposed benefit to traffic that the 300 or so cars per hour at rush hour it would save. 300 per hour is likely highly inflated too.

          • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:28 pm)

            The Jumbo Mark II class holds about 200 cars, but it’s still way too small relative to the average number of vehicles that were crossing the West Seattle Bridge, and they’re already assigned to existing routes.

          • Morgan April 19, 2020 (9:28 am)

            I still like the idea of a return of the mosquito fleet from Fauntleroy. Water taxi instead of car ferries….living in Morgan junction I’d use it…and no parking to worry about. More pleasurable then bus and would pay more for that.d

      • Bill Rudd April 21, 2020 (4:55 am)

        this is till an interesting idea. any batch of 100 cars that wanted to go to seattle through fauntelroy aren’t taking the bridge.Its a traffic caterpillar off the board and if they can handle a couple of rush hour routes I sense its impact could be significant. 

    • J April 18, 2020 (4:32 pm)

      Stopping ferry traffic into West Seattle is a MUST from Vashon and Southworth. Add dedicated ferry capacity direct from Fauntleroy to Downtown – it is not a drop in the bucket and in combination with many other things it will help. 

      • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:49 pm)

        Only offering one-way service westbound would create problems for everyone returning home to West Seattle.

  • sna April 17, 2020 (6:16 pm)

    I spoke with someone who would have inside knowledge that a bridge replacement scenario under evaluation would keep the 4 piers and shown in the picture and replace the 3 spans.  This would be good news on speeding up the timeline and lowering replacement cost, but would kill the light rail combo dreams some have.  I don’t know exactly how far “in the know” this guy is, but seems like a reasonable route. 

    • China Cat April 17, 2020 (6:50 pm)

      I still have not heard anyone else discussing banning all large vessel and sailboat traffic above the lower bridge. Yes, it is US Navigable waters, though that can be changed. There is no need for any large vessel, except for a small tug and barge to use the waterway anymore.  Yes, the Duwamish River waterway was important 30-50 years ago, no longer. Boeing can ship all their freight by truck. Once large vessels and sailboats are prohibited from using the waterway above lower bridge, we can build a new lower light rail combo bridge, in 3-5 years.

      • sna April 17, 2020 (7:45 pm)

        The whole terminology of needing to “replace the west seattle bridge” is creating a false impression.  The entire west seattle bridge from 99 to Avalon is around 1.5 miles.  Most of it is totally fine, but it’s probably not strong enough for light rail.  The part of the bridge needing potential replacement is a 1,350 foot “box girder” construction over the Duwamish.   That’s what’s shown in the picture.  The parts of the bridge from 99 across Harbor Island and the parts from over West Marginal and to the west are fine.  Those don’t need replacing.  And they join the bad portion of the bridge roughly 120+ feet above the ground.  Unless you want to rebuild all 1.5 miles of the bridge and the on/off ramps that connect to it ($$$$$), you’re stuck with the current height.  And if you want to use the existing mid span piers to save time and money, you’re going to get a replacement pretty similar to what’s there now.  A combo light rail bridge sounds nice at first but quickly falls apart when you look more closely. 

        • sna April 17, 2020 (8:19 pm)

          Here’s a crude drawing of why a new bridge much lower than what’s there is probably off the table.  Green parts of the bridge are in good shape and don’t need fixing. The problem is the red part.  Unless you also want to tear out the good green parts, you will have a high bridge replacement.  Maybe a little lower, but not much.  

          • Rocky Bullwinkle April 17, 2020 (8:44 pm)

            Nicely done! :)

          • Patrick angry now April 17, 2020 (9:53 pm)

            Nice illustration SNA!

          • chemist April 17, 2020 (11:43 pm)

            I think this document pinned the box girder bottom to bridge deck at 30 ft at pier 16/17 to as thin as 12 ft at the apex.  Just cutting out the 6 degree grade and making a level bridge seems like it could easily cut 20 ft from the navigable height.  I’m not sure if there’d be much benefit to that other than not as many vehicles with slipping transmissions getting stuck.

          • Native April 17, 2020 (11:53 pm)

            Well done and well laid out! I was pleased to see Lisa take an aggressive position on the current city mayor and SDOT ignorance to problem solution. The “ live with it West Seattle” isn’t going to work and we need to be very vocal with the Mayors office .daily e mails to Durkin with illustrations like this one need to happen.she doesn’t respond but has to hear! I voted for her and regret it more each day. They have identified the problem and now spend time and money on consultants when the previous illustration seems clearer than any statements from our very poorly managed city and SDOT 

          • JH April 18, 2020 (9:45 am)

            Thanks Chemist for the PDF on the design of the bridge.  This makes it much more clear to me as an engineer just how the bridge is constructed, particularly the pre-stressing rods/cables.  So far what’s been posted by SDOT has been pretty low in details.  Anyone find any more detailed information of what’s going on inside the bridge besides just generic annotated pictures?

          • WSB April 18, 2020 (10:58 am)

            Have you already looked at the 14 inspection reports?

        • Fitz April 18, 2020 (11:51 am)

          Well…  that’s just it.  You (we) don’t know how much of that bridge is “ok.”  And “ok” might mean OK today, and for the next 5-10 years.  But that bridge was never designed to handle this amount of daily traffic.  If reliable engineers said that doing a center fix could be accomplished cheaper and be reliable for a long time, that makes sense.  

      • 1994 April 17, 2020 (8:58 pm)

        check with the feds – this could be a federal level decision, certainly not a city decision, state – maybe or partially.

        • Fitz April 18, 2020 (11:53 am)

          That’s wishful thinking…   this is a city bridge.  The State or Federal government have no financial stake in this project, whatever direction it goes.  The mayor can go beg for the money but if the State or Fed say “no” then get out your checkbook.

          • Eddie April 18, 2020 (5:45 pm)

            It’s a city bridge that crosses a Federally regulated waterway.

        • Eddie April 18, 2020 (6:36 pm)

          Some historical consideration about closing navigable waterways: The old I90 bridge used to open for ship traffic. Once the bridge was replaced (and the new bridge parallel) no provisions were made for it to be opened. The East channel bridge has always been a fixed (non-opening bridge), so a number (some small number) of tall boats that were kept in that corner of lake washington were given several years notice that there would no longer be an exit once the new bridge was put in place. Key difference would be that the duwamish waterway supports a number of active marine business (like Alaska Marine Lines, Delta shipyard, the cement place, etc). At the time Lake Washington bottled up the SE corner, there were none of the old marine business left on that part of the lake.

      • Trickycoolj April 17, 2020 (9:14 pm)

        Boeing isn’t shipping anything down the river. All the sites along the river banks are very well fenced off with many layers of razor wire.  The only things that come that far down the river are weird jalopy stacks of crushed car barges and some of the container barges down around the 1st ave bridge. 

        • sna April 18, 2020 (1:56 am)

          This incident was decades ago, but evidence of ships big enough to hit the high bridge is visible to anyone who stops mid span on the low bridge and looks up. 

      • 22bladed April 18, 2020 (8:32 am)

        Please consider the employers & employees that depend on the flow of marine traffic. These are jobs that feed dinner tables & the local economy.

        The cement plant. Delta Marine. 3 Marinas, Metal Recyclers. Alaska barge operations…

      • Mark47n April 18, 2020 (9:08 am)

        Bulk carriers (large ships), derrick barges, and other large vessels still traverse the Duwamish. Just because you aren’t there to see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Honestly, the people around here that can’t see beyond the end of their noses is pretty surprising.  

      • Larry Clark April 18, 2020 (11:13 am)

        Many people are not aware that a great deal of Alaska bound freight is barged from the Duwamish. These loads are stacked very high and require the lower bridge to open. There is also the occasional need to open the First South bridge. This is very important commerce for both states which  would need to move to other terminals. 

      • J April 18, 2020 (4:33 pm)

        100% agree – weekends only would be fine. Must do this and all other options.

      • HMD April 19, 2020 (8:20 pm)

        China Cat,  Had the same thought as you about restricting/closing waterway, combine w/ link bridge and make it lower, faster, cheaper, safer and triple/quadruple the remaining useful life.  Did you get an answer?

    • WestSeattleite April 18, 2020 (9:47 am)

      Why are you not taking into consideration the enourmous gaps that have developed in the off Ramp from I5 to the West seattle bridge?  enourmous gaps have developed over the years that have also caused fake glue projects to make us pretend that area is more secure.Some may not think that is a big deal but the deck has been falling apart  since two years into the bridge being fully used.I question more than what they are discussing here… don’t keep your blinders on people and let’s not try to add to this project for Sound Transit’s sake – they steal money from our entire region to make the many many directors there FAT CATS.

    • Bob Lang April 18, 2020 (4:09 pm)

      Your buddy should head this up.  Sounds so simple and logical

    • Rumbles April 18, 2020 (6:29 pm)

      Why would you try and save time and use piers constructed in the 1980’s?  What kind of earthquake standard are they constructed to?  So you build a nice new set of spans on possibly outdated piers?  The bridge has problems because stuff was done on the cheap last time.  

  • matt April 17, 2020 (6:23 pm)

    Can they also remove/fix that old piece of train tracks crossing Marginal Way next to Continental Van Lines building. Now with way more cars crossing it, it’s getting worse and you can seriously damage your suspension. Thanks!

    • WestSeattleite April 18, 2020 (9:51 am)

      find another way to travel it isn’t that bad… unless you would like to pay for this?  don’t add to the bill already needed for gaining back our basic functionality – our taxes are way too high already because of Sound Transit’s dreams and organization structure being so VERY top heavy.    

      • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:18 pm)

        What does “Sound Transit’s dreams and organization structure” have to do with that RR crossing?

    • dsa April 18, 2020 (1:06 pm)

      I believe the RR is responsible for crossings maintenance.

  • West Seattle Lurker April 17, 2020 (6:30 pm)

    I watched the stress test as I crested the low bridge on my bike this afternoon. It’s the precursor to them closing the low bridge I imagine due to the seemingly endless stream of pedestrian automobiles that continue to use it. 

    • Curtis April 17, 2020 (6:54 pm)

      Pedestrian Automobiles – like Fred Flintstone? 😋

      • Lisa April 17, 2020 (10:31 pm)

        @Curtis – bhwaaaa! Thank you for the much needed laughter!

  • Mj April 17, 2020 (7:14 pm)

    sna – I was wondering the same thing myself, the columns/piers look sound.  Maybe they can pre fab replacement bridge structure and get installed sooner rather than later.As a side I read someone indicating 140′ clearance requirement, I’ve never seen any ship or boat using the Duwamish even close to that height.  With a lower clearance maybe other options could be looked into

    • WestSeattleite April 18, 2020 (9:55 am)

      you haven’t lived in this region very long if you haven’t seen the need for 140′ clearance – or maybe your just not there when they do use it?  If you are new to West Seattle, and or aren’t 37 years old and sit at the lower bridge all day long don’t assume the design that exists wasn’t necessary.

    • mok4315 April 18, 2020 (11:00 am)

      This one came close last July. We were right behind them and didn’t think they were going to make it. Everyone on the ship’s bridge and Rich Padden was sweating bullets. Missed the high span by maybe a foot. Wouldn’t have come that close if they waited because this was high tide, but in any case I think the 140’ clearance is there for a reason.  

  • wetone April 17, 2020 (7:20 pm)

    Low bridge has other issues and working on borrowed time as many of the others such as Magnolia, Ballard… the list is long. Then add many of the overpasses in area. Seattle government has done little or cosmetic only for last 15yrs. Basically wait till failure attitude. SDOT is partially to blame, but biggest fault is city leaders. Infrastructure overall needs big work. Get ready to pay cus it’s coming ;(

    • Frog April 18, 2020 (11:36 am)

      Wait-to-fail is not so much an attitude as a policy.  City leaders prefer to spend money on costly streetcars and bike lanes, and choose not to maintain bridges.   If you elect car haters to public office, you should expect the road system to eventually fail.Lisa Herbold either backs the wait-to-fail policy, or was clueless about it.  Either way, she failed the people of West Seattle who aren’t named Jort.  It’s laughable to spin it any other way.

      • Jen April 20, 2020 (12:04 pm)

        100% this.

  • JAT April 17, 2020 (10:42 pm)

    I’m going to say: as awful as this is, kudos to Councilmember Lisa Herbold for keeping us as well informed as she has.  I know that a lot of commenters on this forum aren’t always enthusiastic about her, and I would be curious to hear what you want from a representative, but we have only had region-specific representation a very short time, and she’d done a great job at keeping us informed and advocating for our little portion of the city.

    West Seattle survived the last bridge disaster, and I’m severely disappointed in 1980s City Leadership for not building a better replacement, but at least the “new” bridge didn’t collapse while you or I were driving over it – because that’s a thing that happens, but luckily not to us.

    • 22blades April 18, 2020 (8:50 am)

      Well said…

    • Jenny April 18, 2020 (9:04 am)

      Hear, hear.

    • Free pass? April 18, 2020 (12:23 pm)

      So, she gets a free pass for being blissfully unaware of the February inspection which had the recommendation of reducing lanes? An inspection of the bridge is happening in her district and she isn’t even receiving briefings? Lots of us were during across the bridge when it was considered unsafe and recommendations were being ignored. If our local representation isn’t on top of that, then who should be? Triage afterward is pretty easy to communicate, but I would say overall communication leaves a lot to be desired. 

  • Graham April 18, 2020 (8:58 am)

    I just emailed CM Herbold to ask what steps she’ll be taking on behalf of a significant number of constituents to have the county reassess property values with the bridge closure. Her message seems to indicate that each property owner should file an appeal, which seems highly inefficient. As our representative, I think it’d be more effective for her to advocate with the county on her constituents’ behalf. At the very least, they should figure out a better solution for this unprecedented situation.

    • Fitz April 18, 2020 (11:57 am)

      You just asked a city council member if there was an efficient way for 20,000 taxpayers to reduce their city tax liability.Are you surprised that system isn’t in place???

      • WSB April 18, 2020 (12:05 pm)

        Property tax is county-assessed, not city, so contacting your County Councilmember Joe McDermott would be most efficient.

      • Question Authority April 18, 2020 (1:05 pm)

        If and when your taxes are lowered, which I doubt will happen you of course are willing to except a lower level of services right?  You know like Police, Fire, Water, Sewer, Parks, Schools and all the other funded necessities that taxes pay for!

        • alki_2008 April 18, 2020 (2:58 pm)

          When property values decrease because a service (bridge) is unavailable for an extended period of time, then property taxes should also be lowered. That’s how property taxes work..If someone  buys a house on Avalon for $600k because it’s so desirable with a short commute to their work, but now it’s going to take them twice as long to get to I-90, and their house loses its desirability at $600k and drops to $450k then why should they continue to pay property taxes at a $600k valuation?

          • Question Authority April 18, 2020 (3:58 pm)

            Why would someone live in WS and expect a trouble free commute to the East side?  That bridge didn’t just suffer from a poor design, it was over used to death.

  • Den April 18, 2020 (9:07 am)

    This is probably a dumb question but why are they not starting to fix the bridge? What is the hold up? This situation is so sad for WS folks.  The traffic situation has affected my life in so many negative ways for so many years , this is sickening.  Stop taking and get to work. 

    • WSB April 18, 2020 (10:46 am)

      Explained in previous stories. Can’t fix until stabilized, if it’s fixable at all. Stabilization work requires design & procurement.

      • sna April 18, 2020 (12:28 pm)

        Question I have is how much to they need to stabilize in the replacement scenario for demolition. 

    • 22blades April 18, 2020 (11:31 am)

      I believe they are at work installing instrumentation before taking a jackhammer to it. When I pedaled under it on the low span yesterday, there was a drone taking a look (Please don’t try this at home. The bridge is 3 miles from Boeing Field & in the traffic pattern/ approach path (read hefty fine)).

    • 22blades April 18, 2020 (11:42 am)

      Remember…Measure twice, cut once folks!!!🙂

  • Mj April 18, 2020 (12:13 pm)

    Sure Lisa is working the issue now, but where was she focussed on before?  She and the rest of the Council and Mayor were focussed and spending money on other issues. 

    Basic infrastructure maintenance took a back seat and now look at what has happened.  It’s time for basic infrastructure maintenance to be in the front seat receiving City resources first and significantly reduce spending on the items.  It’s not about more taxes its about reallocating existing taxes!

    • ChefJoe April 18, 2020 (3:16 pm)

      It would have been nice to have had 4 years of Move Seattle Levy bridges and structures reports with identified issues and funding outlined to repair things.  Seems like nobody at SDOT bothered to make them and nobody identified the reports missing as part of the levy reset.

  • dsa April 18, 2020 (2:43 pm)

    SDOT said about the low level bridge testing taking place as shown in the photo above:  “… We are also going to be testing the live-load capacity on the bridge….”  Why do this capacity testing now? is it routine? is SDOT suspicious?  is the bridge overloaded? or is SDOT using an abundance of caution?

  • alk_2008 April 18, 2020 (3:03 pm)

    I also have a question that might be dumb, but why can’t they start working on figuring out whether it’s fixable or not now. I mean, spend this time deciding if it’s fixable. Instead of stabilizing it and then determining that “nevermind, it can’t be fixed, just take it (and all the stabilization that was done) apart” – supposedly, it’s not in danger of collapsing when not being used, so determine if it’s fixable now.  This is  extremely problematic for people that need to get to 99 or I-90 for work, even now, so it’s only going to be worse when things get “back to normal”.

    • Bob Lang April 18, 2020 (3:58 pm)

      There should be two separate teams working right now.1 should be working to see if they can short up for now2 the other should be planning how to replace the three spans on the existing piers.If shoring does not possible, replacement of the 3 spans should start IMMEDIATELY.My biggest fear is they (sdot)will wait and then find out the shorimg won’t work ,And have no contingency plan.  Lack of a contingency plan is why we arer in this situation.

      • Boop April 18, 2020 (6:34 pm)

        Question Bob.  How much of a benefit is saving old piers built in the 1980’s?  Are they to modern earthquake standards?  How long are they designed to last?  If they are not to standard, what will you do if in an earthquake the new bridge spans collapse?  Maybe they are to standard, I don’t know.  

        • sna April 18, 2020 (8:24 pm)

          Clearly they would only reuse the piers if they thought they had a long remaining life.  Replacing the piers would be one of the more time consuming parts — especially on the West side where they are in the water.  

          • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:15 pm)

            The piers obviously are not simply resting on top of the ground, but none are what I would call “in the water,” as in a person may stand between the piers and the river without getting wet. All the piers enter the ground at an elevation that is higher than the highest high water level.

        • Ice April 18, 2020 (9:43 pm)

          No you don’t understand, SDOT should have every man they have out there on the West Seattle Bridge wrapping the cracks in duct tape. Fix the bridge yesterday, I say. Regardless of whether or not we actually know what the problem is, the harder we try to fix it, the better it will be for us West Seattle commuters. Anything less than around the clock fixing on SDOTs part is incompetence. I am an sivil engineer.

        • Bob Lang April 19, 2020 (3:57 pm)

          Why would you repla e them if they are good for 45 more yrs.  Do you work for the company bidding the job?  Spend other peoples money much?Wow

    • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:12 pm)

      From what SDOT has suggested, the bridge must be “shored up” no matter if it’s going to be fixed or torn down. In other words, it’s $33 Million to stabilize the bridge, even if it were known today that it will be torn down.

  • Marcy April 18, 2020 (8:01 pm)

    Just read the Seattle Times article by Mike Lindbalm and Heidi Groover ‘Everything must be on the table’.One option not mentioned that would be great to see explored is to reprioritize or fast track the West Seattle light rail line. Would love to see that here sooner than 2035! Maybe it would arrive just as soon as a new bridge but at least it would soften the blow of always feeling last on Seattle’s priority list… a little bit.

    • WSB April 18, 2020 (8:10 pm)

      The plan has long been 2030, not 2035 (that’s when the section to Ballard is scheduled to be complete). However, separate from all this, I-976 is a big question mark over its status/future. – TR

  • Millie April 18, 2020 (8:18 pm)

     So, after two (2) Transportation levies (Bridging the Gap (2006) $365 million for maintenance and improvements and the $930 million Move Seattle (2115) maintenance, improvements and new construction –  we find ourselves with a major arterial from West Seattle closed due to lack of maintenance?????   And, of course, what do we hear?   No money and a two (2) plus year closure.This is “Deja Vu” again.  Having survived the traffic jams,  bridge openings, alternative routes, etc., etc., I never imagined I would once again be facing the same.   Our elected officials (City of Seattle, King County, Port of Seattle, State of Washington, and Congressional delegation) need to begin now to identify funds for a new or “greatly enhanced” current bridge.  Time is of the essence!  Residents of West Seattle need and deserve a reliable method to leave the peninsula for work, medical appointments, school……

    • BBILL April 18, 2020 (9:07 pm)

      The reason you might hear that the two (2) Transportation levies are not enough is, well, because relative to the needed maintenance they are very small. Given the size, type, nature and amount of its transportation infrastructure, I estimate that $1 Billion should be spent each year, not $930 Million divided over 9 years. In other words, the levy covers about 1/10 my person estimate of how much the city needs to property maintain its transportation infrastructure. It could very well be that $500 Million is needed to replace the West Seattle Bridge, which would mean that city would have needed to save every dollar collected–use none of the funding for maintenance–just to fix this one bridge. Unless and until maintenance is funded, it’s easy to keep suggesting that it’s the “elected officials” fault. But imagine if they levy request would have been for $9.3 Billion instead of $930 Million. Where we are today, one must ask the question, where are the funds going to come from to repair/replace the what needs to be fixed?

      • chemist April 19, 2020 (8:58 pm)

        SDOT’s annual budget is currently around $450 million/yr and I can’t recall a time voters have rejected a SDOT funding levy.

  • Keith April 18, 2020 (9:41 pm)

    Could someone explain why they don’t cut out the existing bad section of bridge and currently start refabricating a new section and slot the new one in for the old just like they did when the constructed it? It was built in sections and it doesn’t seem ridiculous to assume you could just do what they did when they were building it. 

    • dsa April 19, 2020 (12:01 am)

      kinda yes, but heavy so cutting out will go slow.  And reconstruction if that is what they do should or might employ newer better quicker methods providing a better bridge.  That’s just my optimistic side based on a tiny bit I read in one of the reports.

    • sna April 19, 2020 (12:07 am)

      I believe once you start “cutting out a bad section” the entire span might fall due to its weakened state. It was at 100% strength when new and is now something much less than that. 

      • Keith April 19, 2020 (10:33 am)

        Interesting thanks. If the section was supported or the section was big enough cut out I’d imagine it would not effect the overall strength given its a small section relative to the bridge with cracking. Refabricating I’m thinking wouldnt take too long given how quick they do it on the new rail line on the east side over the 90 and then just follow the original construction technique to put it back together. The original photos online show it being out together in sections and given I think I read it took 3 years to build the entire bridge a few hundred feet of something they already have the plans and design for doesn’t seem too difficult. Again maybe I’m missing something. I’d love them to call out options they ruled out and why they won’t work. I also don’t think people should accept as ok a 2yr turnaround to fix a few hundred feet on something that took a total of 3years to build a brand new bridge a mile or longer from nothing.

        • BBILL April 19, 2020 (10:54 am)

          “that took a total of 3years to build a brand new bridge a mile or longer from nothing.” I do not know what you are reading, but the history that I’ve read suggests that it took decades to get the first bridge, and until funding was secured, nothing was happening. Also if there were no current structure, and if design work was done, if all the approvals were in place, if the equipment was ready to create the prefabricated sections, then maybe 3 years, but this project is probably several years from starting the 3 year construction time–we know that the bridge needs to be “shored up,” so we know that it’s at least 2 years before any direct repair construction begins, and funding must be found. My estimate is the bridge will be closed for 60 to 120 months, or more.

  • Mj April 19, 2020 (12:43 pm)

    This whole issue is depressing.  The City’s ongoing failure to prioritize maintenance is why we are in this mess today.  It’s not about resources, the City has spent 100’s of millions on other issues at the expense of basic maintenance.  I for one want to see maintenance be funded first and any leftover money can then be used for other items.

    • BBILL April 19, 2020 (3:04 pm)

      Had a 4 lane new lower bridge been built, there are people who would have complained about how the city spent the money. A claim might have been something like, “I for one want to see maintenance be funded first and any leftover money can then be used for other items, such as a larger lower bridge.”

      • chemist April 20, 2020 (1:00 am)

        Bascule Bridge No 2 opened to traffic on Sept 20, 1930.  When it came time to replace it, funding was short ($43.7 mil available and estimates of $51+ million for swing bridge and $57.4 million for the bascule) and the city applied for a $7.2 million grant to close the gap in 1986 based on the two-lane bridge.  The Harbor Island Improvement Association and West Seattle chamber wanted the existing 4 lane bridge refurbished.  Around the same time the city was pushing for 40 mph on the high bridge and the chamber was pushing for 50 mph, but the 45 mph compromise was approve din Sept 1985.

    • dsa April 19, 2020 (5:01 pm)

      BBill, as I recall the council got sold a ‘bill of goods’ that the swing bridge had something to do with channel width clearance.  Never mind it takes forever to open and close and they did not get fed approval for financing.  That is what the local federal design engineer told me when it was completed when I told him of my disgust of it’s open close cycle.  He said they did not like the bridge design and put no money in it, but put some extra money in the approaches.

  • dsa April 19, 2020 (2:45 pm)

    It is really unbelievable.  This is the second time in my lifetime I have been cut off from the rest of Seattle.  The first time actually was not as bad.  The old little bridge actually had 4 lanes.  For some reason the city decided to replace it with a half a#$ two lane one which autos will not be able to use.  I do not remember why they thought the 4 lane bridge draw design had to be replaced.  It worked quicker on openings than this swing thing.

  • Mj April 19, 2020 (5:25 pm)

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the load tests on the low level bridge generated a need for a weight limit on it!

  • will o wisp April 19, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    RE the question on property taxes:My property taxes actually went down in 1980 after the house was re-assessed sometime after 1978 bridge accident.   It takes time for the system to react.  I did not move because I live near Alki, worked south and I could take West Marginal Way without getting involved with the bridge.  There was a street through what is now terminal 5 from Harbor Ave.  One turned onto Florida Street across from where the 7-11 is now. Depending on the time with insufficient bridge crossing, a reconfiguration should be considered.

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