By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As we first reported last weekend, the mayor has set up a community advisory group for the West Seattle Bridge project, and it’s being formally announced today. So are details of the technical advisory group that was already in the works. We also have a general update on what’s up with the bridge, two months after it was closed.
First, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. It’ll be co-chaired by Greg Nickels, the West Seattle-residing former mayor who’s remained active in transportation advocacy, and Paulina Lopez, a longtime South Park community leader/advocate. From the announcement:
… we are launching the Task Force to ensure that the many voices and concerns of the community are not only heard, but consistently advocated for.
The group is comprised of elected officials and representatives from West Seattle businesses, neighborhood groups from the Junction to Georgetown to South Park to Highland Park to SODO, and industrial and maritime businesses and their workers.
Members will help ensure transparency, clear communication, and broad community engagement and understanding around both traffic mitigation efforts and the future path forward for the West Seattle
High-Rise Bridge as we address new data, public input, fiscal challenges, and many other important factors that will inform consideration of repair versus replace scenarios.
Here’s who else is on the Community Task Force:
Dan Austin, business owner, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce board member
· Mark Aytch, primary care provider and activist
· Deb Barker, West Seattle Transportation Coalition Board member
· David Bestock, Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, Youngstown Cultural Arts
· Ken Bowden, Nucor Steel, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board member
· Todd Carden, Elliott Bay Brewing
· Marci Carpenter, National Federation of the Blind Washington Chapter, charter member and former chair of Transit Advisory Board
· Colleen Desmond, neighborhood advocate
· Katie Garrow, Deputy Executive Secretary, Martin Luther King, Jr County Labor Council
· Peter Goldman, Washington Environmental Council Board member
· Erin Goodman, SODO Business Improvement Association
· Jolene Haas, Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center Director
· Anne Higuera, Ventana Construction, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
· Amanda Kirk, West Seattle Bridge Now
· Jill Mackie, Senior Vice-President, Vigor Shipyard
· Tim McConnell, West Seattle Runner
· John Persak, Georgetown Community Council
· Lora Radford, West Seattle Junction Business Improvement Association (BIA)
· Greg Ramirez, Georgetown Community Council
· Aley Thompson, South Park Neighborhood Association
· Bob Watters, SSA Marine, Harbor Island
· Joe Nguyen, Washington State Senator 34th Legislative District, ex officio member
· Joe Fitzgibbon, Washington State Representative 34th Legislative District, ex officio member
· Joe McDermott, King County Council Vice Chair, ex officio member
· Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Councilmember, ex officio member
· Peter Steinbrueck, Port of Seattle Commissioner, former City of Seattle Council Member, ex officio member
· Alex Pedersen, Seattle City Councilmember District 4; Chair, Transportation and Utilities Committee, alternate and ex officio member
· Thea Byrd, Legislative Assistant to Washington State Representative Eileen Cody, ex officio member
· Yazmin Mehdi, Deputy District Director for US House Representative Pramila Jayapal (7th District), ex officio member
· Rachel Smith, Deputy King County Executive, Dow Constantine’s Office, ex officio member
· Shefali Ranganathan, Deputy Mayor, City of Seattle, ex officio member
The group’s first meeting is expected to happen the week of June 8th.
Now, the latest on the Technical Advisory Panel, the plan for which was first announced in April. It’s now described as:
The TAP will be composed of independent experts with leading experience in bridge design and construction (particularly concrete construction), geotechnical engineering for bridge structures, and marine/maritime expertise. We anticipate convening the panel at key milestones in the process, including potential participation in briefings for City leadership and elected officials. To align with the urgency of the moment, the TAP will be forward-looking.
Announced members include:
• Stephen E. Dickenson, PhD, PE, D PE, New Albion Geotechnical, Inc.
• Gregg A. Freeby, PE, American Segmental Bridge Institute (ASBI)
• Reggie Holt, PE, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Bridges and Structures FHWA Headquarters, Washington DC
• Debbie D. Lehmann, PE, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Washington Division Office
• Barbara Moffat, PE, SE, Stantec
• Scott Phelan, PhD, PE, SE, David Evans and Associates, Inc
• Professor John F. Stanton, University of Washington
It’s also expected to convene in early June, according to Heather Marx, who’s leading the bridge project for SDOT. We spoke with her briefly this afternoon. The TAP is “really about how do we move forward with this project, while the Community Task Force is “more about living in the ‘now'” – how the community is being affected now.
Speaking of “now,” we asked Marx what’s happening right now. She mentioned the upcoming work on the low bridge (Friday-Sunday). Another major task at the moment – drafting neighborhood-specific traffic-mitigation plans. Once those are out in early June, Marx says, you’ll get a chance for feedback – they’ve taken countless community ideas already to other agencies (Metro, WSF, etc.).
There are smaller things, too – West Marginal Way SW will get some signage asking drivers not to block driveways, similar to reminders near the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. (And no, for everyone who’s asked, the small stretch of rechannelization near the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse on West Marginal will not be removed – “that’s a safety project, and it’s always a good time for safety,” Marx noted.
What WILL be changing – the rules for who can use the low bridge. Marx says that within a few weeks, “we expect there will be some changes,” but first they want to involve the Community Task Force in vetting how the access changes – but without hampering public-safety access, and without changing other access “inequitably – so we’re not making decisions based on one particular group,” squeaky wheels, etc. The decisions will also include data, which they’re collecting to expand their understanding of hourly traffic flow/volume.
As for the high bridge itself – “many things are happening simultaneously”: Stabilization contractor Kraemer North America is “mobilizing” to get ready for “structural strengthening” including the Pier 18 bearing problem and “crack arrest” work. They’re prepared to proceed with that, but she stresses that a thorough understanding of the bridge’s “structural health” is vital first. Overall, Marx says, the data that’s coming in will help them “identify the state of the bridge and what kind of repairs we can safely perform.”