While SDOT decides whether/how to replace the closed-since-March West Seattle Bridge, it’s also working on how to move people off/onto the peninsula in the meantime. Last night’s Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council meeting revealed that effort now has a name.
“Reconnect West Seattle” debuted as PPNC got a bridge briefing from SDOT’s project leader Heather Marx (who repeated her commitment to brief anyone any time anywhere). Some of it recapped what’s been reported to date:
Marx noted again that the big decision – is the bridge fixable or not? – is getting closer. But in the meantime, with the “stay-home order” over and gradual “reopening” under way, it’s time to shine the spotlight on traffic “mitigation.” So that’s where “Reconnect West Seattle” comes in, both as a peninsula-wide plan “with ambitious mode-split targets” and as a collection of neighborhood-specific strategies – which, as we’ve reported before, will focus on four areas:
“Community priorities are going to need to inform all those plans” – in other words, the prioritization process that we’ve also noted previously:
Your chance to weigh in should happen before long – here’s the timeline:
In subsequent discussion, Marx mentioned one other timeline point: We should hear by the end of the month about some changes in low-bridge access, as has been hinted.
Q&A: Are the cracks still growing? Yes, but “the bridge is not in imminent risk of failure.” That said, it’s not stable enough to, for example, carry emergency traffic. (Yes, vehicles are on it – the SDOT crews doing work such as inspections.)
Is the low bridge compromised? No – the recent closures were to repair and upgrade its communication technology, not for mechanical/structural problems.
Is SDOT going to take a serious look at the “immersed-tube tunnel” proposal? Yes, said Marx, the tunnel idea is “very much in play,” and n fact the Request for Qualifications for a potential bridge-replacement design team has been amended to reflect that. “We will absolutely investigate the tunnel as an option.”
So what’s next?
West Marginal Way improvements will largely be for freight, she said. The signal work is to continue expanding what can be adjusted in real time, remotely, from SDOT HQ. And the two advisory groups are beginning their work – the Technical Advisory Panel has its first meeting today, and the Community Task Force has its first meeting tomorrow.
(PPNC also got an update on Terminal 5, with Port of Seattle reps – we’ll write that up separately.)