WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: SDOT releases inspection reports, including ‘could lead to collapse in the near future’ warning

(West Seattle Bridge cracks, from sdotblog.seattle.gov)

Two weeks after the sudden safety shutdown of the West Seattle Bridge, SDOT has just gone public with inspection reports chronicling the history of the bridge’s cracks, which as previously explained, were first noticed in 2013. The 14 reports are linked on the project website, and in a new SDOT Blog post which says in part:

… What we believe the reports show is our careful, proactive monitoring effort that put into place the systems necessary to make sure we could act quickly to preserve life and safety. Additionally, they show that during our frequent inspections of the West Seattle Bridge over the past several years, there was no indication that the bridge was unsafe for ordinary use or that preventative maintenance plans would impact normal use of the bridge until very, very recently.

Documents shared with the public today include:

Initial crack memo in 2013, special inspection memo in 2013, and technical assessment memo in 2014 from consultant indicated some cracking that should continue to be monitored

Inspection reports from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and late 2019 show monitoring of cracks and recommendations from each year

Memo from consultant in 2019 suggested sealing cracks with epoxy and further monitoring of cracks

Memo from consultant on 2/21/20 suggested the bridge should be reduced to two lanes each way and repairs initiated before end of year 2020

Memo from consultant on 3/20/20 that indicates a further review of 2019 inspection report data suggests immediate closure …

We’ve just begun reading the reports – starting with the most-recent one (March 20th, three days before the bridge was closed), which says in part:

Since our initial recommendation, our biggest concern has become the extent and rate of
cracking near the quarter points of the main span could lead to collapse in the near future if
strengthening is not implemented quickly.

The 2013 details on the cracks is also of note, carrying the observation, “The cracking does influence long term durability …” We’ll add more highlights later..

Meantime, no update yet on the timeline for determining what short-term repairs are needed before long-term repairs can be done, but we’ve asked for one.

118 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: SDOT releases inspection reports, including 'could lead to collapse in the near future' warning"

  • Kristina April 7, 2020 (2:45 pm)

    HOLY CRAP!Sorry, I want to be more eloquent than that, but those are the first words that flew through my mind upon reading this. Collapse? I can’t even fathom how scary that is – first, because we were all driving over it just a few weeks ago; second, because of the traffic and businesses below the bridge; and third, because this makes me wonder if they will have to replace rather than repair…and that would likely take years.

  • Chris April 7, 2020 (2:48 pm)

    I’m a 30 year resident of the north end of West Seattle.  I like seeing more people move to the area which creates crowds and adds vibrance.  Not so great during COVID-19 but a good thing under normal circumstances. It also encourages more businesses to come to our neck of the woods.  But I do think city leaders need to stop current building of apartments and condos, or at least delay renting and selling them, until after the West Seattle Bridge is fixed and able to support the traffic from a growing population.  We are just way too cut off in this area without a viable high volume bridge to get us to I-5 and downtown Seattle, and adding more people is not sustainable without it.

    • J April 7, 2020 (4:13 pm)

      Yes perhaps, since we do not have a hospital.  This is a more dangerous place to live without quick access to pill hill.

      • ACG April 7, 2020 (5:31 pm)

        Highline Hospital in Burien is the best bet I think for emergencies as far as accessibility. Not far at all if you are in south West Seattle, a little more of a drive from north West Seattle, but you’d avoid the risk of sitting stuck in traffic trying to make it over to pill hill. Doesn’t help if you are heading to an appointment with a specific provider over there, but we just had to head to Highline for an emergency health issue and had no issue taking 35th to Roxbury to 16th/Ambaum to get there. We were happy with the service we got- our first time there. 

        • Bill April 7, 2020 (7:17 pm)

          Probably be a different experience when almost all of West Seattle is using 35th and Roxbury

          • 1994 April 7, 2020 (8:50 pm)

            SDOT should consider making Delridge, all of 35th, and Roxbury 2 travel lanes in each direction until the high bridge is repaired or replaced. Then they can re- road-diet back.

  • Chris April 7, 2020 (2:55 pm)

    City leaders clearly understood that something was wrong and had potential to be a bigger problem.  I don’t understand why they wouldn’t use that time to create a contingency plan in case we ever got the point of having to make emergency repairs, or a complete rebuild as a worse case scenario.  

    • Jon Wright April 7, 2020 (5:35 pm)

      What were you expecting as part of this “contingency plan”? A spare bridge?

      • CMT April 7, 2020 (5:47 pm)

        Jon Wright – I do think this has been mishandled but that made me laugh out loud.

        • Chris April 7, 2020 (9:32 pm)

          That makes me laugh out loud. 

      • Chris April 7, 2020 (9:26 pm)

        Yes that might of been when the options Have you seen the cracks under the bridge. There is no way this closing was such a big surprise to engineers. If not a new bridge they had plenty of time to work on some other solutions way before this happened.

      • Andrea Tracy April 8, 2020 (5:36 am)


    • Christoffer April 15, 2020 (7:30 pm)

      Who builds a bridge for $185-million that lasts 35 years? This bridge was supposed to last 75 years! Where’s the contractor? Where’s the engineers responsible?Who accepted the.initial design and WHAT WAS WRONG with it?I remember West Seattle voted to not leave Seattle because the city promised not to rebuild or build a cheaper bridge than the most expensive one.submitted by contractors. That bridge was a “condition” for west seattle to not exit the city & create.their own. That agreement now seems.broken!

  • Lee April 7, 2020 (3:15 pm)

    When there is another press conference, I would really like to understand how safe it is for buses and emergency vehicles to use the low bridge in light of this. Also, private vehicles following the rules must drive under the bridge to reach W Marginal Way. Given how quickly this situation is developing, I want to understand from a civil engineer’s perspective what the immediate risks of collapse look like.

  • neighbor April 7, 2020 (3:19 pm)

    If there’s a silver lining it’s this… I’m probably not the only person who now has no interest at all in driving the low bridge directly under it. I will happily take the long way to not be under that!

    • Wsresident April 7, 2020 (10:18 pm)


    • Wsresident April 7, 2020 (10:19 pm)


  • dsa April 7, 2020 (3:31 pm)

    Okay look at the above photo, those cracks extend through to the inside of the girder.  I do not understand why they thought it could be glued back together.  I have seen girders epoxy glued, but they were damaged under very  different circumstances.  I did not read all the references, but an early one, the HDR March 2014 has this, or had this as a cure:  “…If it is determined that the cracks are active, consideration should be given to addition of additional post-tensioning. This would be the most expensive approach; but a permanent remedy for the cracking. …”

    • Joe April 7, 2020 (5:50 pm)

      The epoxy is to prevent water from seeping in, not to reinforce or strengthen anything. 

    • dsa April 7, 2020 (9:20 pm)

      Joe, this is copied straight from HDR’s professional Technical Assessment Report of March 2014:  “…5.1Epoxy Grouting Epoxy grout can be used to seal open cracks and restore most of the tensile capacity. Sealing the cracks is essential to protection of the reinforcing from corrosion….”  And that minimal attempt is what SDOT has been doing for the last six years despite the fact the cracks continued to get worse.

  • Also John April 7, 2020 (3:41 pm)

    Time to buy stock in electric bikes.  This will easily exceed one year of closure.

    • Two Wheels April 7, 2020 (11:37 pm)

      Electric bikes, the Libertarian dream

      • Katie April 8, 2020 (11:34 am)

        No, that would be coal-powered bikes.

        • Chuck April 8, 2020 (5:29 pm)

          Just what Trump wants to hear

  • WSEA April 7, 2020 (3:44 pm)

    Do they plan on routing more bus options to and from the water taxi on both sides?   I’ve been running to work at times (work in SLU) but dont think I can run it every day.  I feel bad for my friends that work on the eastside.   I can’t image how they will get to work in May or June or when the lock down ends. 

    • West Seattle since 1979 April 8, 2020 (11:54 am)

      Once people are back to work, it’d be nice if we could  get expanded ferry service and larger buses to and from the ferry.

      • Colby April 8, 2020 (3:25 pm)

        The bus only lane may have contributed to degrading the bridge. Must be nice have the privilege to get your own lane. Must be a privilege to have a lifestyle that allows you to work and live without the DIRE NEED of a working car and bridge in WS. Those offering bikes and buses as a solution are privileged to be able to use that solution. They have NO CARE OR CONCERN for those of us who REQUIRE a working bridge. I have lost all respect for the bus and bike advocates and see no reason why they should get their own lanes anymore. 

        • Derf April 8, 2020 (8:55 pm)

          Blaming this on people who take the bus and bike to work?! What an asinine thing to say.   A lot of people who take the bus do so because they can’t afford a car or want to make a lower carbon footprint.  You’re calling them privileged?  You’re probably the first person in history to call people who take public transportation, privileged.  Anyone who lives in a city should support public transportation and if you don’t go live in the sticks with all your cars.

        • Andreovic April 9, 2020 (10:58 am)

          Wat? O_o

  • Plf April 7, 2020 (3:50 pm)

    The value of our homes especially north of the junction are going to plummet be interested to see if our assessments for tax purposes will reflect that, I’m guessing not.  All I know is that they have got to figure out a plan, not take a year to figure out a plan and then a 5 years to execute 

    • LK April 7, 2020 (4:38 pm)

      I’m not sure housing values will plummet. Hopefully you’re not in a position where you need to sell in the next year though.  It will eventually get fixed and light rail plans are in the works.  That said, I’m all for some serious community action on this critical situation to apply the necessary pressure to get the repairs done ASAP.

      • West Seattle since 1979 April 8, 2020 (12:50 am)

        Light rail isn’t for another 15 or so years.  Hopefully the bridge will get fixed or replaced before that.

    • KM April 7, 2020 (6:06 pm)

      As a homeowner, the last group of people I feel sorry for is homeowners. I feel bad for our residents who rely on the bridge heavily.

      • East Coast Cynic April 7, 2020 (7:21 pm)

        I suspect a lot of homeowners rely on the bridge.  When the bridge was usable, many were probably using the bridge to drive or ride the bus to jobs that help pay the mortgage on their homes.

        • KM April 7, 2020 (8:28 pm)

          Sure, we were/are two of them! But renters also use the bridge, pay for their housing, and pay taxes. Status has nothing to do with it—that’s my point. I don’t think homeowners are a generally put upon group, and I don’t feel sorry for us more so than anyone else relying on the bridge for daily travel.

          • CMT April 8, 2020 (9:41 am)

            On the other hand, a renter can more easily move out of W Seattle and away from the bridge situation without the type of financial ramifications as a homeowner.  It’s easier to not renew a lease and find a new rental than to sell a house and buy a new one.

        • AMD April 8, 2020 (7:51 am)

          Many bus riders who use the bridge have done the low bridge re-route before, when they were doing construction around the 1st Ave on ramps.  It’s not fun (no reroute is), but not the end of the world either.  It won’t last forever.  And it will probably just take back the time we recently gained by having Columbia St open.  And thank you KM, for pointing out that everyone here is impacted based on where they live and their mode of transportation, not whether or not they own their property.  Housing prices in West Seattle haven’t gone down despite the loss of the viaduct and years of construction and reroutes, so clearly traffic isn’t a driving factor on prices.  Homeowners will be fine.

  • West Seattle is not Seattle April 7, 2020 (3:56 pm)

    Aside from the West Seattle Blog this is getting no coverage in Seattle. West Seattle needs to revive the secession movement.

    • WSB April 7, 2020 (4:14 pm)

      Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom has written a few stories. (He is a West Seattleite BTW.) Couple others covered the initial announcement. But otherwise, keep in mind, there’s a MASSIVE story out there that kind of trumps everything … UNLESS you are devoted to covering West Seattle news, which we are.

      • Mike Lindblom April 7, 2020 (5:12 pm)

        I’m studying the bridge records and drafting a story right now from the Seattle Times’ lower Alaska Junction bureau.

    • savoirfaire April 7, 2020 (4:54 pm)

      The Seattle City Council Insight blog (well worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it) has been following developments as well, though of course no one beats our beloved WSB when it comes to WS news.

    • West Seattle since 1979 April 8, 2020 (11:49 am)

      Not sure what good secession would do. People will still need to get to their jobs, since the majority of West Seattle people don’t have jobs here.

  • David April 7, 2020 (3:58 pm)

    This is crazy. So no plan was in place and they shut it down all the way up to a potential COLLAPSE?!?! I mean, they have clearly been monitoring it, but in years of monitoring, they hadn’t yet come up with any planning on a fix? On the busiest roadway in the entire city?! I’m sorry, this doesn’t even seem possible.

    • WSJ April 7, 2020 (4:23 pm)

      There was a plan in place: reduce the number of lanes to extend the life and come up with a long-term plan for addressing the cracking in the timeframe that fit with what the engineering indicated was needed. The cracking accelerated unexpectedly. If you think every piece of infrastructure has a set of contingencies for unexpected failures arising from unknown problems, you’re watching too much TV.

      • sn6uV April 8, 2020 (7:34 am)

        A plan to make a plan is not a plan. They should have reduced the traffic to 4 lanes and notified the public of the concerns. Durkan and SDOT made a monumental error and need to be held accountable.

    • tsurly April 7, 2020 (5:04 pm)

      Cheezus its like you people don’t read any of the clear, concise reporting that the WSB puts on a platter for you. They’ve been monitoring it for a few years, and implementing remedies based on the observations. Conditions recently changed, unexpectedly (further propagation of existing cracks and formation of new cracks), and now they need to determine the cause of the changed condition and design a solution. Please read what has been stated many times over already.

      • sna April 7, 2020 (5:19 pm)

        That’s not entirely true.  The 2014 technical memo and 2019 assessment both recommended taking action to reinforce and/or stiffen the structure.  They didn’t do that. From 2014: 

      • David April 7, 2020 (5:23 pm)

        Exactly what sna said. I suggest you read closer. The memos from years back recommend taking action at that time. 2014 appears to be the earliest. You realize that was 6 years ago?

        • sna April 7, 2020 (6:49 pm)

          There’s also not a word about the West Seattle Bridge in any of the “move seattle” levy docs that I’ve found.  Which seems weird considering there were structural recommendations made. 

          • chemist April 7, 2020 (10:04 pm)

            Back in late 2013, Bertha got stuck and evaluation was still underway in 2014 (not a SDOT project, but certainly a factor in “what if we had to close the high bridge to repair” decisions).  The following year, SDOT’s seawall project was overbudget by $71 million over 2013 estimates.  The Move Seattle levy was passed in 2015 and required SDOT to create a report on conditions of bridges and structures in Seattle every year, but nobody bothered.  The first hill streetcar was supposed to open in 2015 but ended up opening in 2016 after much delay and issues with the trains.  The Broadway streetcar extension was cancelled in late 2016 and the City Center Connector streetcar project then starts being the recent case of overruns and was paused for review in early 2018.  I don’t think there’s a great time to announce you need many millions in repairs and folks were perhaps being a bit optimistic about being able to push repairs off into the future.

  • WSMom April 7, 2020 (4:04 pm)

    What is up about the Vashon Ferry traffic? There will be so much traffic trying to get out of WS is there any way that Vashon could be rerouted straight to downtown?

    • Stickerbush April 7, 2020 (4:56 pm)

      It’s not just Vashon ferries that sail in and out of Fauntleroy, there are also ferries from Southworth. Rerouting these ferries to downtown Seattle would significantly reduce capacity on these routes because the routes would be longer. That’s just one issue, another is potential capacity issues at Coleman Dock and routing more cars through downtown. Not a simple problem by any means…

    • Drew April 7, 2020 (5:08 pm)

      +1 Yes, Vashon/Southworth ferry traffic should be routed to Colman Dock once the covid-19 suspensions are lifted.  I dimly recall this happening before … might have been decades ago … perhaps when the Fauntleroy dock was under repair.

    • Stephanie April 8, 2020 (1:36 pm)

      That would be a very good idea!

  • The King April 7, 2020 (4:18 pm)


    • WSB April 7, 2020 (5:21 pm)

      Links are great but please explain what they are to lessen the chance they’ll wind up in the spam filter. This is a cool historic piece about the bridge.

  • 120rider April 7, 2020 (4:29 pm)

    once again here we inch along the low bridge because of single driver cars who I’m just sure are ALL emergency vehicles.  enforcement is a joke. 1 afternoon of writing tickets is never going to cure selfishness.

    • WSB April 7, 2020 (5:17 pm)

      Actually the police were out again this afternoon. (I asked SPD for numbers on Day 1 tickets but have to date not received a reply.)

  • flimflam April 7, 2020 (4:34 pm)

    something isn’t adding up here.

  • Um, No! April 7, 2020 (4:41 pm)

    Just seems like this was a CYA update.  Here is a timeline to show we are not negligent and incompetent with this situation.  Yeah, not buying it. 

  • Mj April 7, 2020 (4:49 pm)

    Metro will absolutely need to add bus service to the Admiral area, midday, evening and weekends.  The 56 and 57 will need to be operated way more hours than what was being provided before this mess occurred

  • sna April 7, 2020 (5:09 pm)

    The 2014 technical memo recommended additional post tensioning and carbon fiber wrap.  6 years later we didn’t know a thing about this. 

  • MikeC April 7, 2020 (5:32 pm)

    I am not a civil engineer, but a mechanical engineer with some familiarity with civil structures. The portion of the span where the cracks are is intended to have a bending stress — the top portion in compression and the bottom portion in tension. However its design intends the post tensioned steel to take the tensile part of the load.  Steel is great in tension. The cracks look like some portion of the load is no longer going through the steel but through the concrete. Concrete is very bad in tension. If this is the case, it looks very problematic. 

    • Juan April 7, 2020 (8:50 pm)

      My buddy who is a civil engineer jokes there are two types of concrete. Cracked and hasn’t cracked yet. If the steel has deteriorated then the fix will be much more extensive since they’ll likely have to replace it. 

  • wetone April 7, 2020 (5:41 pm)

    Maybe I missed it but did SDOT ever answer if T5 work and pile driving has anything to do with cracking on high rise along with some of the issues on lower swing bridge? I find something awful stinky about how well things were being monitored, when it goes from epoxy injections to closing bridge in less than a year ; ) I don’t see lower bridge lasting very long with all the over weight buses and heavy trucks traveling across either….

  • Mark Schletty April 7, 2020 (5:49 pm)

    Again, sorry, but looking at this article and the comments and print-out of the early report and recommendations, I simply can’t comprehend why any SDOT official who saw, or should have seen, these reports is still employed. Is there no accountability for total incompetence and malfeasance in this city. This is like catching a burglar in your home and then asking the burglar to now guard your home. No one should believe anything from the SDOT, especially after this B.S.  SDOT Blog post today, until these people have been fired and replaced with competent leadership.

    • Andy April 7, 2020 (6:29 pm)

      Total agree!! Why is SDOT allowed to lead the repair? This should be handed over to WDOT as we SDOT sat on their a** and did not nothing for 7 years. 

      • Joe April 7, 2020 (6:58 pm)

        You and Mark conveniently ignore the fact that SDOT is not one person, or group of people, and that administration and management has changed multiple times over the timeframe these reports cover. But hey, any reason to rage against government I guess. You’ll never be happy with they do, no matter who it is.

  • DG April 7, 2020 (6:33 pm)

    The incompetence of this city’s leadership continues to out itself. Let SDOT keep fiddling with bike lanes, we need the Army Corps of Engineers to fix this bridge, it’s a big boy project!!!

    • Kathy April 8, 2020 (9:04 am)

      The Corps will be involved as they have responsibility for navigation on inland waterways and infrastructure, environmental stewardship and emergency response. I for one am glad to have had SDOT put in bike lanes so I can get to my destination on an e-bike.

  • Jort April 7, 2020 (6:46 pm)

    One of my favorite genres of blog comments is the “Armchair Engineer and Political Genius” who makes demands and knows that, for every engineering problem, there’s a person to FIRE! FIRE THEM! HEADS MUST ROLL! And a CONSPIRACY IS AFOOT! FRAUD! FRAAAAUUUUDDDD!! I’m surprised this hasn’t somehow been blamed on the dastardly villain from silent films, that rascally Scott KUUUBBBBLYYYY!!!!! The comment section LOVES to viciously thrash SDOT Directors, like they’re somehow personally responsible for killing our children or something stupid.  In my opinion,  the high bridge should probably just be closed to vehicles permanently and be repurposed, after significant repairs, to handle light rail and buses only. We don’t need a six/seven lane freeway for dumb cars connecting us to downtown and eliminating easy driving access will eliminate cars, which is a good thing. In order to make things easier for West Seattle residents, every resident should receive a free e-bike and free transit pass, which is very fun and easy to use. Additionally, this would save money on the light rail expansion, which is in funding danger. This doesn’t need to be complicated unless we decide to keep perpetuating the death spiral of designing our cities around the most selfish form of transportation on the planet: cars.

    • Jsurly April 7, 2020 (9:00 pm)

      Wow Jort, you went there… BOLD.

      You fell short of adding more bike infrastructure/trails though… which would be necessary for the vision you have of e-bikes for all ;)

      • tsurly April 8, 2020 (10:27 am)

        Has my commentary on here spawned my very own namesake troll? I’m so happy!

        • Jsurly April 8, 2020 (11:46 am)


          not a troll!

          can we be name twins? okay fine, i’ll change it…

    • Bob Lang April 7, 2020 (10:52 pm)

      Do you work for sdot?

      • Joan April 8, 2020 (5:46 am)

        Thanks, Bob—I was thinking the same thing!!! 👍

    • Tsurly April 8, 2020 (7:06 am)

      You’ve lost even me on this one. I agree that more people should consider (and are definitely capable of) using alternative forms of transportation, I strongly disagree that the bridge should be repurposed to light rail/buses only. That just isn’t feasible.

    • Anne April 8, 2020 (8:24 am)

      Here we go-Jort & his ever present free bike to all rant. I applauded & encourage all who can & do use bikes-that’s awesome & if you can make that change -that’s awesome too-but there are thousands who for a myriad of reasons just can’t.  

    • Canton April 8, 2020 (9:09 am)

      Pinky and the brain much, your jortness?

  • Michael April 7, 2020 (6:47 pm)

    It is a little crazy-making to know that there was a giant tunnel boring machine sitting in SODO for much if that time period. Could Bertha have tunneled under the Duwamish to West Seattle?

    • Joe April 7, 2020 (8:06 pm)

      Sure, as long as we found an extra $3,000,000,000.00 in our couch cushions. 

    • sna April 7, 2020 (8:45 pm)

      Bertha had to be cut up into thousands of small pieces in order for it to fit on the city streets for removal.  There is zero chance it could have been used elsewhere.  Also, there are on ramps in place that would need to be replaced in the tunnel scenario which would be unbelievably expensive.  It’s not going to happen.

  • Railroaded April 7, 2020 (7:23 pm)

    It doesn’t look like that damage will be repairable. I am guessing that a new bridge will be necessary. At the very least, brand new spans.

  • Ray Bro April 7, 2020 (8:01 pm)


    Mark Schletty:

    Is there no accountability for total incompetence and malfeasance in this city?

    NO, no there is not.  There hasn’t been for 40 years.

  • Pilsner April 7, 2020 (9:50 pm)

    I hope a collapse wouldn’t affect the pile driving.

    • wendell April 8, 2020 (7:57 am)

      A truffle among acorns.

  • KD April 7, 2020 (10:09 pm)

    I distinctly remember in the construction of the upper bridge the work had to stop for a bit because it was found out that the cement or concrete company hired was mixing in an ash mix! Once that scandal was found out and stopped, then the rest of the construction proceeded with the correct material. Could THIS be a cause of the cracks and weakened structure?? Why isn’t anyone talking about THAT??? 

  • Mj April 7, 2020 (10:33 pm)

    1994 – Agreed 35th needs to be restriped to 5 lanes with curb lanes used for parking off peak and travel lanes during the peak time periods.  Adding capacity to Roxbury is also needed.  This route provides the best connection to the 1st Ave. S bridge.  

  • DT April 7, 2020 (11:33 pm)

    If upper bridge ends up temporarily w/ emerg vehicles, buses & freight (which I heard could be an op). Could lower bridge maybe run like the I-5 express lane; AM both lanes eastbound traffic & PM both lanes westbound traffic? Other traffic can drive around?

  • Colby April 8, 2020 (2:02 am)

    Anyone living in West Seattle with a job NOT  in West Seattle that YES, requires a car, may have to find a new job. This is beyond tragic and anyone advocating bikes as a solution is incredibly entitled. 

    • Kathy April 8, 2020 (9:10 am)

      You need to think more creatively.  Park your car in SODO and use a bike or Jump bike to get to it. Problem solved. During the virus, at least, they are easing up on street parking limits.

      • Colby April 8, 2020 (11:58 am)

        Kathy Do you think I drive to an office? Am I a single parent who may need to drive a child around West Seattle?YOU need to stop thinking everyone has your privilege. YOU have no idea how that bridge being closed will effect others lives. NONE. I accept your apology in advance for making such a presumptive and thoughtless comment. 

    • AMD April 8, 2020 (4:15 pm)

      Colby, with all due respect this is a peninsula, not an island.  It’s a frustrating situation for sure, but we’re talking about a longer commute, not a situation that makes it impossible to get anywhere.  Saying everyone that commutes by car will lose their job because of a detour is a bit extreme.  Your commute would be increasing even if all cars were allowed to use the lower bridge.  It’s increasing by a different amount if you use the 1st Ave bridge (how much more depends on where you live.  If you’re in White Center, it’s not going to be that much longer).  I’m not sure what you expect traffic engineers to do, here.  How were you able to handle the increased commute during the viaduct demolition and other horrid traffic detours?  Side note: I wish you would think twice before referring to the modes of transportation most used by people who can’t afford cars as “entitlement.”

  • Fred April 8, 2020 (5:57 am)

    Collapse is what’s been happening.  A bridge failure starts slow, with cracks travelling for years, widening with every pounding from a bus or semi, at some point widening, ripping and falling quickly.The question I have is whether the bridge is structurally sound enough to hold up its own weight now, much less the vehicles that people drive across it. That’s one massive bridge with a very long span, and not something you can just glue back together.

  • RT April 8, 2020 (6:47 am)

    So…it doesn’t seem like there’s a contingency plan. The bridge came to an abrupt stop. So what’s next, now that they had two weeks to think about it? Thankfully, most of us are shelter in place at the moment. So they’d better be using this time effectively and efficiently to do something smart. But maybe smart isn’t an option for the city.

    • Rumbles April 8, 2020 (8:50 am)

      Contingency plan?  Yes, there is one, it is:1.  A detour over the 1st Ave South Bridge,2.  Emergency, transit and freight only over the low bridge.  Sorry if that wasn’t clear. 

  • David April 8, 2020 (7:51 am)

    I guess the good news is that if it collapses we will be able to build a road over the rubble that fills the Duwamish river as it will be permanently blocked to boat traffic. ( before anyone gets their panties in a twist this is said in jest! )

  • CDG April 8, 2020 (7:51 am)

    There is no doubt that 35th needs to be restriped to 5 lanes with curb lanes used for parking off peak and travel lanes during the peak time periods.  Roxbury also needs restriping the 4/5 lanes until the upper bridge is replaced or repaired.  Based on the article it does not look like busses and emergency vehicles can be put on it at all, unfortunately.  Even if this is “temporary”.Probably some remediation of highland park hill as well even beyond the stop light there.The restriping should be done right now while the traffic is minimal due to the stay home mandate.  I hope that our city leaders are focused on this now since it will be trafic hell once the travel restrictions are lifted.  I am encouraged that the Highland Park light was installed quickly and is working well in the relatively light travel it is seeing at the moment.  It will be overwhelmed in short order once travel restrictions are lifted.

    • 1994 April 8, 2020 (8:48 pm)

      Yes to maximizing the  arterial streets capacities by increasing the travel lanes! Some traffic will want to be heading south anyway so that will help move all traffic. My other out of the box idea is for the 1st Ave Bridge to become a reversible traffic flow bridge – like the I-5 express lanes. In the AM the 1st Ave S Bridge would only flow northbound and in the PM the flow would be southbound. WashDOT would need to implement in conjunction with SDOT to align the traffic signals and merge at the north end of the bridge. And fingers crossed the 1st Ave S or 16th Ave S bridges don’t have a malfunction! Then WS would really be stuck in a nightmare if reduced to 1 bridge.

  • Frank April 8, 2020 (8:34 am)

    The 2019 Memo says “The primary issue is to determine if the recent structural capacity assessments adequately addressed loss of shear
    capacity due to web cracks. This is the primary risk with regards to structural strength and potentially a major concern if
    the shear capacity is deficient… If this work has not
    already been done, it should be a high priority to have it done. This assessment should be a reasonably simple process
    using results from previous analytical models.”The city did not provide this analysis, so I can only assume it wasn’t done.  WTF?

    • chemist April 8, 2020 (10:36 am)

      That January 2019 memo?  Yeah.  I read that and was thinking they should have started planning for repair then.  The timeline makes it look like they didn’t really respond to that memo with any urgency and waited until August 2019 to do some crack patching and increased the inspections to monthly.  Maybe there’s some internal communications around that time around what could be done, realistically?

  • Bob Lang April 8, 2020 (11:28 am)

    They need to start building some new center spans yesterday.

  • EH April 8, 2020 (11:53 am)

    Has there been any talks of a temporary bridge? Some sort of quickly assembled de-constructable bridge just south of the Low Bridge? It’d probably have to be tall enough to avoid opening for the waterway, that could help traffic if we go down the replacement path which appears to be where they’re heading…

  • Colby April 8, 2020 (12:07 pm)

    Dear Bike and Bus Only People – The entitlement inherent in your position is truly insensitive. You have NO IDEA how lucky you are to afford a lifestyle that allows you to bike everywhere. I highly doubt you are a full time single parent. I highly doubt you have to rush home or pay extra in child care. I highly doubt you have a job that requires you to drive from Everett to Tacoma to Issaquah and all points in between on a given day. I find it entitled, selfish and insensitive to assume everyone has your carefree lifestyle that does not require you to take care of anyone but yourself. Count me in to remove all bike lanes…now. 

    • tsurly April 8, 2020 (1:17 pm)

      If we are perceived as entitled, then that makes you ignorant. With the  exception of Jort, those of us who push for more people to bike or bus direct it at those who are truly able do so, and state as much. You should welcome that push, because getting more people out of cars reduces the burden on EVERYONE who uses the public right-of-way, be it cars, bikes, buses, street cars, whatever. No reasonable person expects the disabled, those who have to carry significant amounts of goods/equipment, or those who have to drive all over Puget Sound in a day, to take the bus or bike. Advocate for removing all bike lanes if you want, but it will just force us to take the lane of traffic, which we are allowed by law to do.

    • Jsurly April 8, 2020 (1:52 pm)


      Encouraging more people who are able to bike or take transit to consider it is not a bad thing just because there are exceptions and it doesn’t work for everyone.  

      It is well understood that these options do not work for absolutely everyone in every situation.  However, there are many more people who could be utilizing these options who currently are not.

      These suggestions are not directed at you personally, and if it’s not a reasonable option for your particular situation, just tune it out.  There are others who may take these suggestions under consideration and it may benefit them and also benefit traffic flow for the rest of you who have to drive.

      Also, generalizing cyclists an entitled bunch over motorists, is hilarious.

      • newnative April 8, 2020 (2:11 pm)

        I don’t understand how being too poor to own a car or have children qualifies someone as “entitled”, “carefree” or “selfish”. It wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t afford bus fare. 

  • Paula April 8, 2020 (12:40 pm)

    Tear it down. Start over and include rails for lightrail. 

  • Huck April 8, 2020 (3:30 pm)

    It will be a challenge for everyone to adapt and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of creative options if the repairs are going to take a long time.  This is a great opportunity for Lisa Herbold to be a leader and pull us all together for a united effort to make it work for everyone.  For us old time West Seattleites I remember Mayor Nickels being one of the more visible leaders.  I use to see him on the bus, walking around the neighborhood and at restaurants.  He was very visible and approachable.  Regardless of whatever anyone thought of his leadership, I really liked the fact that he was out and about with us.  I have never seen Lisa in the public and now would be the time for her to start showing up more frequently to make sure everyone is doing okay.   

    • WSB April 8, 2020 (4:07 pm)

      This isn’t a fair time to judge anyone’s visibility, leader or not – they too are observing the “stay-home order” – I have covered phone meetings in which she’s participated (in the past week, that included the D1 Community Network) and that’s as much “showing up” as you’re going to get right now. Previously – maybe you’re a new reader? – we have shown/photographed her at many West Seattle events, from community meetings to festivals. – TR

  • Thomas M April 9, 2020 (8:07 am)

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record:  TUNNEL.  (click, pop).

  • Bob Joe April 9, 2020 (9:19 am)

    Seems like a great opportunity to move the timeline up on the lightrail! Make it happen!!!

  • Jonathan April 18, 2020 (4:46 pm)

    Perhaps the bridge is structurally sound enough to allow motorcycles only to utilize it?

Sorry, comment time is over.