West Seattle Bridge seems fixable so far, Community Task Force told, and other headlines from meeting #2

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“We know we CAN fix the bridge – the question is, SHOULD we.”

That revelation from SDOT‘s top bridge engineer was a big piece of news that emerged at the second meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force this afternoon.

Also, in response to a CTF member’s question, SDOT said the city and state are working on a disaster declaration in relation to the bridge closure.

Before we get to our summary of the meeting, held online/by phone – the task-force roster is here; co-chairs are Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and Greg Nickels, former Seattle mayor and longtime Admiral resident. We recorded video which we’ll add when it’s ready (added 9:14 pm – here it is:)

Here’s the slide deck:

First presenter was Matt Donahue, SDOT’s interim director of roadway structures (bridges and more), with a ‘state of the bridge” update.

He noted that the structural monitoring has been up and running for a few weeks now. It’s tied into an alert system in case any particular “bridge behavior” exceeds certain thresholds that would trigger the Emergency Response Plan. They’ve been continuing “near daily” in-person inspections, focused on the south girder wall of southmost girder, but are now pulling that back to every two weeks because the instrumentation has everything else handled. “The bridge does still continue to show hairline cracking every week.”

In Q&A, he went into detail on the four kinds of instrumentation and what kind of data they provide – it’s not as simple as, say, if crack X gets to length X, alarm bells go off. Stabilization contractor Kraemer North America is now doing active work, assembling steel lifting frames in a yard near the bridge, to prepare for stabilization work. The Technical Advisory Panel has met twice and is consuming a “massive amount of information.”

Donahue recapped the recently unveiled pathways to decision-making on repair or replacement – either repair with a new bridge (or alternative, it was clarified – a tunnel is still an option too) down the road, or replacement with a “50-75 year life span,” the former number if some parts of the existing structure are reused.

County Councilmember Joe McDermott restated his concern that – since it’s clear the bridge must be replaced, whether immediately or in a decade – that the potential repair planning not delay replacement planning.

That’s when Donahue mentioned – almost in passing – this:

“We know we can fix the bridge – the question is, should we – so what we’re doing with (consultant) WSP is a cost-benefit analysis” that is expected to be ready in the fall, Donahue said.

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked for clarification on that. Donahue said that was a result of early feedback – ground-penetrating radar investigation showed “no systemic problem with post-tensioning strands” in early results from studies, so that’s what led to the preliminary conclusion that there’s nothing major that would prepare repairs – again, feasibility is now the issue. (In a followup conversation with SDOT as we finished this report, it was stressed to us that is NOT a final verdict – it’s a technical observation for “this moment in time” and a “fixable or not” final pronouncement is still some weeks away.)

Shortly afterward, SDOT’s Heather Marx picked up the second major topic of the meeting: Doing something about traffic. She laid out what an SDOT spokesperson told us pre-meeting was a “framework” for “Reconnect West Seattle,” the initiative first identified at last week’s Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council (WSB coverage here). This again takes on the challenge of figuring out how to get people to and from the peninsula now that the major route is out of commission.

She also promised that more Water Taxi and bus service WILL be available, but driving-wise, funneling more cars through the south area “has real impact on people” who live there. The city is concerned about the fact that South Park and Georgetown already have health and economic disparities as a result of environmental injustices, not even counting the traffic that already has increased dramatically (as one slide showed). “We need to think very carefully from an equity perspective about what it means to send that many more vehicles through those communities,” Marx said.

She showed all the mode options and suggestions of how they could be reshuffled, and warned “no one thing is going to solve the problem for us.” Solving the problem of moving everyone in and out has to be done without

80+ percent of people were using cars to get to/from the peninsula previously. The city proposes reducing that to “a more favorable mode split” with driving representing 35 percent. But that – or something else – would be the result of a process that includes community input, including parallel processes with plans for four neighborhoods, as previously mentioned.

In Q&A, Erin Goodman reminded SDOT to look at impacts on SODO, too, which is next stop on people’s northbound trips, beyond South Park and Georgetown. It too will have a traffic-mitigation plan, assured Marx.

Another question: Could bike-share bicycles be used (since right now the services have all pulled out) if they are available? Marx said she’d look into that.

Deb Barker brought up her (previously reported here) contention that the bridge closure should be declared a state/local emergency and asked if that would . That’s when Marx said they are “right now working on an emergency declaration” at state and local levels, but that it doesn’t qualify as a federal emergency.

Seattle Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck asked how the corridor can get “significantly more transit service.” Marx noted that Metro is having serious money issues as well as having to keep distancing going, but the city is working with them on increasing service. And Nickels obsrved that health concerns will keep a lot of people from riding, at least for a while.

Danielle Friedman from the Department of Neghborhoods wnt over something we’ve covered previously – the upcoming neighborhood-survey process to prioritize some projects that ca be built for lss than $100,000 and within 12 months. The projects on the lists primarily come from previous suggestons, she said.

Barker voiced concern about timing – is there any way for that process to move quicker, because the current timeline suggests “it’s going to take a lot of time before anything gets done.” Friedman acknowledged that trying to make sure things get done “equitably” adds time and invited suggestions.
Dan Austin asked to get the lists faster than currently suggested, and SDOT said that could happen. Marx said they’d go out “shortly”; asked for specifics, Friedman said, “hopefully in the next few weeks.” Marx said they would try to speed that up.

Greg Ramirez of the Georgetown Community Council pointed out that Michigan Street isn’t shown as an official part of the detour route but is being used as one (largely to get from 1st Avenue S. Bridge to I-5) anyway.

The meeting began with almost half an hour of operational discussion, including a few introductions from CTF members who couldn’t attend or speak last week. “While it’s a journey, it’s a journey with unknown turns right now,” observed one of them, Commissioner Steinbrueck. The group’s suggested “working agreement” also was presented by López. The first point mentioned “confidentiality” and Councilmember Herbold observed that didn’t seem appropriate as these are open public meetings, as well as being covered by media; the list will be distilled before being finalized.

NEXT MEETING: Now set for noon next Wednesday, June 24th. We’ll publish the link as soon as it’s available. Low-bridge policies will be among the topics.

156 Replies to "West Seattle Bridge seems fixable so far, Community Task Force told, and other headlines from meeting #2"

  • sna June 17, 2020 (3:42 pm)

    I’m still curious how they came up with the estimate that a repaired structure would only last 10 years.  They made that claim very early on without much data. 

    • Chemist June 17, 2020 (5:01 pm)

      The repair lifetime has been previously stated as based on similar sorts of lifetime extensions for similar repairs (carbon fiber wrap probably, as that was what consultants were suggesting as the next step beyond crack filling epoxy).  It’s probably one of the design concepts the consultants shared with the city, mentioned in this memo.  A lifetime estimate would likely have been offered as part of that.

      In summary, the process to repair the bridge needs to start now in order to complete repairs as
      soon as possible. It is our opinion that the work should be completed this calendar year. We
      have design concepts in mind that have been presented to the City
      . We need to begin the process
      of deciding which of those repair concepts the City would like to investigate further and
      subsequently implement. Once a repair concept has been selected, it should be possible to
      design and implement the repair in a reasonably short period of time. 

  • DavidS June 17, 2020 (3:46 pm)

    Heather Marx: Take the bus.KCMetro: Don’t take the bus unless absolutely required.The bus is not an answer during Covid19.

    • Tsurly June 17, 2020 (4:30 pm)

      Correct, bicycles are.

      • ARPigeonPoint June 17, 2020 (9:49 pm)


      • FrustratedInWestSeattle June 17, 2020 (10:25 pm)

        Right. Just Stop. The bike is not an answer for a lot of people. 

        • Tsurly June 18, 2020 (6:44 am)

          I will stop when people face the reality that we are in and consider other options.

          • Rick June 19, 2020 (8:25 pm)

            Ya got the laws of man and the laws of nature and physics. Guess which ones win? Every single time. Stay  safe

        • Go gull June 18, 2020 (7:21 am)

          Just because it isn’t a solution for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t a solution for others.

          Bike advocate folks aren’t suggesting this to be funny or to irritate you. We understand this will be a workable solution for some, and know it could work for many more than realize it, we have personal experience that informs us, and we are trying to be helpful.

          Tune it out if it doesn’t work for you.

          Hopefully it will be an option for others and that will be less cars on the road. The more the better. So maybe you pro car folks should start advocating for this too, instead of fighting it.

        • AreYouSerious? June 18, 2020 (9:03 am)

          Right?! Bikes aren’t an answer for MOST people! How out of touch are these “leaders”?

      • HappyCamper June 18, 2020 (6:50 am)

        Ditto.If one has enough time, not many activities outside of work, not raising kids, showers at work, not working multiple jobs, is healthy and relatively young, ok with being wet and cold, willing to accept the risk of injury, blah blah blah it’s great. I did it for a while before changing jobs and the new job being too far away I stopped.Most people do not have a typical day that is conducive to commuting by bike.

        • James June 18, 2020 (10:09 am)

          I hear what you are saying. I do have to point out that electric bikes eliminate many of your listed negatives. Let me know if you would like more discussion. Cheers

          • Toph June 18, 2020 (11:03 am)

            Thank you for this – it’s nice to see someone in the cycling crowd make an approachable offer of discussion. 

          • S - in West Seattle June 18, 2020 (1:59 pm)

            Yeah, like an electric bike is within peoples budget. Electric bikes are expensive. 

          • KM June 18, 2020 (3:18 pm)

            Ebikes can be pricey. But not as pricey as a car. Bikes are how our household affords to stay a one-car household. Much cheaper than owning 2 cars!

          • AdmiralBridge June 18, 2020 (2:17 pm)

            I’ll bite; how do you transport a disabled at-risk adult safely on an e-bike?  In the rain? With a dog?  I’ll wait.  In the interim, can I introduce you to all the reckless drivers for which having some good sheet metal between you and them is a nice safety feature?

          • This June 18, 2020 (4:50 pm)

            Dog powered recumbent bike, a good rain coat, and an umbrella? ;)

  • Mj June 17, 2020 (3:48 pm)

    SDoT indicates the bridge is fixable, presuming this is true getting it fixed ASAP needs to be the priority.  Fixing the bridge is most likely the quickest solution.  

    Wow is Heather that far out of touch with reality to ascertain going from a 80/20 car other split to 35/65.  Presuming SIGNIFICANTLY enhanced bus service getting to a 50/50 split might be doable.  This service means providing all day service throughout WS that hopefully can attract the majority of people going to downtown Seattle leaving space for those that work on the eastside or other places some room to drive.

    • SH June 17, 2020 (4:20 pm)

      She doesn’t seem like she fully comprehend the reality.  There are a lot of words coming out to her mouth yet not much making sense and the lack of details and dates is astonishing. 

      • AdmiralBridge June 18, 2020 (2:20 pm)

        I had hopes that she – being from West Seattle – would have more of an empathetic, advocacy position, but she is nothing more than a PR flak for SDOT; completely void of substantive contribution.  If SDOT is serious about addressing the issues, one of the things that comes to mind first is credibility and she is not overcoming Kubly and the history.  A change here would be more than welcome as a signal that they’re taking this seriously as opposed to just saying things to distract.

    • David June 17, 2020 (4:52 pm)

      Amen. It’s reminiscent of retail corporations which demand employees upsell X (which makes them money, but isn’t desirable to the consumer) – then get upset when sales of X don’t meet their unrealistic targets – then punish employees for not being able to sell X.
      If you want mass transit to work, then make it desirable rather than punishing people for not using it. Fix the gaping flaws.
      Don’t get butthurt when no one wants to replace a 45-minute drive with a 30-minute bus ride, a 15-minute train ride, and another 30-minute bus ride. Don’t decide “Screw them, we’ll refuse to replace the bridge and let’s see how they like an hour commute” – and refuse to shore up the detour routes in time (I pity Holden residents when we hit Phase 2), because The Plan says they shouldn’t have to – then disclaim responsibility when people get angry at the entirely preventable charlie-foxtrot.

    • Peter June 17, 2020 (6:27 pm)

      The fact is there is no possible way to move the former number of cars. Attacking public employees for acknowledging reality won’t change that. 

      • David June 18, 2020 (6:11 pm)

        “Reality” is “We have an awful situation. We can make small changes X Y or Z to make things better in the meantime. Or we can plan on impossible goal A, refuse to do X Y or Z because A will take care of it, then say it’s not our fault when A doesn’t happen.”
        “Reality” is not “If you point out that someone’s actions are ‘out of touch with reality’, that’s ‘Attacking’ them.” Even a good person can misguidedly insist on only aiming at an impossible goal.
        X: Shore up the detour routes that can’t handle even a fraction of the capacity they’re about to get hit with – this could have been started 3 months ago.
        Y: Prioritize the WSB, instead of the Lander St bridge that (even before WSB was closed) was already guaranteed to take at least 9 months beyond the original schedule of 2 years.
        Z: Allow a controlled increase in utilization of the lower bridge. (For instance, create seven colors of stickers for West Seattle residents and let people use the lower bridge if they have that day’s color.)
        And I’m sure there are plenty of better ideas, if they were willing to listen to the community.

      • SH June 18, 2020 (7:05 pm)

        We all understand we won’t be able to move the same amount of cars, that’s not why people think Merx is useless. It’s been over 3 months and she has yet some up with a concrete plan of traffic mitigation.  Quite frankly I do t give a damn if she like the pie charts. I want some real answers and dates. How much more time does the city need. Quarter of a year should be plenty to provide a detail tariff mitigation plan and start implementing it. 

        • Tsurly June 19, 2020 (11:16 am)

          You want to know the only real way to mitigate traffic? Drive less

    • FrustratedInWestSeattle June 17, 2020 (10:27 pm)

      If a bridge only lasts ten years with a repair then its foolish to waste any time on that and just get on with rebuilding because this just means another worse shut down in ten years when its time to replace it anyways. Why waste the money on that just tear it down and replace. I like the alternative tunnel idea that has been floating around and that has a life expectancy of double a bridge. I wonder if that can be done concurrently with bridge removal?

      • Admiral guy June 18, 2020 (7:39 am)

        So you would spend 6 years without a bridge or tunnel? Or do you want to get a bridge for 10 years by 2022 and allow the city to plan and build a structure that will support the growth of our community. As stated it will take 8 months to just fix the pier. So it’s not a waste of money. 

        • Vic June 18, 2020 (10:09 am)

          I wonder how long it would take to replace in 10 years when the time comes around again? I personally would rather wait 6 years now (if we’re definitely waiting 2 anyway) for use of a replaced bridge, than have a repaired one back in 2 years, only to have to revert to no bridge for 4-6 years (just a random guess) again in 10 years. I get that maybe during that time the city could better plan an idea of how to expedite the replacement of the bridge, so there’s positives and negatives to everything of course.

          • admiral guy June 18, 2020 (2:02 pm)

            Why do you assume, they will shut down the current bridge to build a new one? That would only happen if they build it on the same area. One would assumed they repair it to allow us to have some way to connect with the rest of the city and build the new one while we use the old one. It’s common sense! Not everyone can be like you Vic. We all have jobs and family and friends and doctors to visit. The current detour has a huge impact to everyone I know in West Seattle. 

        • Vic June 18, 2020 (2:41 pm)

          “Not everyone can be like you, Vic.” Huh? I work, help take care of my grandparents in N Seattle and Tacoma, and have at least monthly Dr. visits in Capitol Hill so I’m not sure what you are getting at here. We’re in the same boat so I’m not sure why you sound resentful, Neighbor, as I wasn’t attempting to refute anything you said.

          Of course it has had an impact, I never said otherwise. Do you see where at the end of my comment I said there were benefits to the repair path as well? All I said was I’d rather wait a bit longer now than risk it being out again in the nearish future. My assumption that the bridge would be closed to traffic again for the eventual replacement was guided by information from previous bridge-related posts on this very blog.

  • SH June 17, 2020 (3:52 pm)

    Thank you WSB for the recap.  I was on a call and quite frankly got more frustrated than anything.  There is so much talk and little action among all these people.  We all know the closure of the high bridge will impact everyone and we wont see a simple solution overnight, but the bridge has been closed for 3 months and we still are without any concrete plans/ solutions.  SDOT needs to do more to drive the traffic mitigation efforts and the solutions should have been already clearly defined and agreed upon with other city/county agencies.  It seems they are still “discussing and planning and seeking community inputs”.  I say ENOUGH, there are only so many viable options lets get 1 or 2 implemented ASAP.   Since the bridge seems to be able to be REPAIRED, there shouldnt even be a discussion about cost/benefit.  WE NEED A BRIDGE TO OPEN ASAP. They can start the replacement process at the same time.  The residents of WS cant wait until 2026 for a new high capacity bridge.  THIS IS JUST UNACCEPTABLE.  The residents need to voice the concern and hold these people accountable.  If the city cant handle this project lets hire someone who can. 

    • Neighbor June 17, 2020 (4:26 pm)

      I respectfully disagree and believe the cost/benefit discussion is absolutely necessary. It is unrealistic to assume that we won’t be the ones paying for repairs and replacement, likely in the form of significant tax increases and possibly tolls on top of that. I for one would like to know that a cost/benefit analysis was done before I get hit with bills I had no choice in incurring.

    • Hank L June 17, 2020 (5:03 pm)

      I will never comprehend why some people think that yelling things like  UNACCEPTABLE loudly enough will sweep away all engineering concerns and magically make bridges appear overnight.

      • Really June 17, 2020 (6:36 pm)

        It works for politics, why wouldn’t it work for bridges? 

    • Peter June 17, 2020 (6:31 pm)

      Keep in mind that is is not this group doing the actual work of repairing/replacing the bridge. Getting mad at them for inaction is pointless because that’s not their role in this. 

    • Chelsea June 17, 2020 (9:29 pm)

      In full agreement.

    • Kmadhure June 17, 2020 (9:44 pm)

      I completely agree, this is unacceptable. I’m saying it in lower case but just as serious… We basically hear the same information over and over-nothings off the table and we are working around the clock. We need some real action. Two of our neighbors (next door and directly across the street) put their homes up on the market because one has to get to queen Anne for work and the other even further north. They have families and cannot be spending insane amounts of time commuting. Bike riding, water taxis and buses do not help them. We have heard murmurs from other neighbors in the same situation saying they might be forced to sell. This goes beyond people only traveling to downtown. At this point not only do we have to worry about our commutes I fear we have to worry about the value of our homes… 

      • Joe Z June 17, 2020 (9:58 pm)

        Is the detour really all that bad? I haven’t had any issues with it. 

        • Carole June 17, 2020 (10:49 pm)

          1.5 hrs to Polyclinic Madison by car north of Junction area.  By bus requires 3 busses: one to Junction, one via C to downtown 3rd Ave. Then a couple block walk to bus uphill to Polyclinic. Same scenario to Polyclinic Broadway.  With reduced bus schedules need to incorporate additional wait for connections at transfer points.  Anybody’s guess on total time and whether you get to appt on time.

          • Vic June 18, 2020 (10:12 am)

            I’m wondering what time of day are you traveling? I got from Morgan Junction to Capitol Hill Kaiser Permanente campus in 45 minutes yesterday, left at 8:15, made it there by 9:00. I keep hearing tales of horrific detours (I really feel for you!) but it has not been my experience. I took the detour through Georgetown and to I-5 N.

          • KM June 18, 2020 (3:20 pm)

            My experience on nearly the same route give or take a half mile through the neighborhood matches Vic’s.

        • Smittytheclown June 18, 2020 (1:12 pm)

          Consistently 30 minutes from SB I-5 at the old exit to get to   50th and Charlestown.  Used to take 5 from that spot.  This, during quarantine!  Yikes! 

      • Tsurly June 18, 2020 (6:56 am)

        I’ve been looking at all the homes for sale as I run and bike all over West Seattle keeping myself in tip-top bridge failure commuting shape. From what I can see, a lot of the homes for sale are selling quickly. West Seattle is a very desirable place to live, and will continue to be, despite the bridge being out.

    • Steve June 18, 2020 (7:31 am)

      SH is absolutely correct.  SDOT dithered while the cracks grew and grew.  If they wanted to explore options and cost-benefits they had plenty of time then.  Now they need to commit themselves to reopening the bridge as fast as possible.  We can all deal with the drive-around and mitigation in the meantime but SDOT, the City of Seattle and the state of Washington need to commit themselves to minimizing the downtime. 

  • Drew June 17, 2020 (4:07 pm)

    Thanks for the reporting.  If they know the bridge is fixable, let’s get on with it.  That should be the priority.  The pricetag on a replacement span is going to be eye-watering, and where will the money come from?  In the end, this is just a city-owned bridge.

    • WSB June 17, 2020 (5:08 pm)

      Supposedly SDOT will clarify further in THEIR upcoming recap.
      But the clarification I got in the post-meeting conversation was:
      The early word is that it looks fixable.
      But the feasibility is, what would it take to fix, and how long would that fix last?
      The 10-year figure is that they would want a fix to make the bridge usable for that long.

      • Fairmont June 18, 2020 (10:39 pm)

        At this point if we can get a repair by 2022 (when the epidemic just about ends) and a new bridge by 2028 and light rail in 2030 (perhaps with the new bridge) then I actually don’t know if I care about price. How much would a temporary increase in taxes really be to cover the repair and replace. Perhaps it’s time to put our money where our mouths are if we want these solutions. It may not be our fault but if money fixes it then so be it. I’d rather pay to be happy then live unhappy with this commute.Or you wait until 2026 or later for a new bridge with nothing for a minimum of six whole years. Heck toll the repaired bridge to cover that cost, id pay vs taking the detour any day.

  • Dunno June 17, 2020 (4:16 pm)

    Great news for now anyway…The sooner the better for those who have to go north!  

  • Gxnx June 17, 2020 (4:58 pm)

    How many more meetings does it take to get this fixed??Fix itRebuiltDon’t do anythingYou got 3 choices.

  • JVP June 17, 2020 (5:41 pm)

    Any cost benefit analysis needs to include the value of our time. Fix it if at all possible, and do it soon.For literally the first time since I heard the name, I agree with Deb Barker. Declare emergency YESTERDAY.  It really is the final sign of the apocalypse (agreeing with DB). 

    • wscommuter June 17, 2020 (8:41 pm)

      Assuming the engineering judgment is that the bridge could be fixed, the cost/benefit would likely need to center on whether or not the replacement bridge that would have to be built 7-8 years from now could be done next to the existing bridge so that no further closure is required once the repairs are completed.  In the configuration we have for the existing I-5-to-Fauntleroy corridor, the key is whether construction can occur with simultaneous normal driving on the repaired existing bridge.  If that could be done, repair makes sense if it gets us open and driving normally in a couple of years.  

      • Jenny June 18, 2020 (9:29 am)

        The cost benefit analysis will be ready in the fall???

    • Chelsea June 17, 2020 (9:31 pm)

      Agree! Cost benefit analysis should absolutely include our time. 100%.

  • Bugsy June 17, 2020 (5:44 pm)

    Yes, let’s do the cost/benefit analysis on the 10 year repair of the bridge, but let’s acknowledge that there are many costs to NOT having a bridge for 4-6 years that go way beyond the cost of A) repair now + rebuild in 10 years   VS. B) rebuild only.  If we don’t have a bridge for 4-6 years, many, many independent West Seattle businesses will close. The 100,000 of us who live here will lose thousands of hours of our lives stuck in traffic, with mental & physical health impacts. We may not be able to make job changes or send our kids to the best schools for them because of the traffic. The economic & psychological impacts of not having a decent way off this peninsula for 4-6 years are tremendous.  If the bridge is fixable, it needs to be fixed. WS is the biggest neighborhood in Seattle. The residents of this neighborhood need to feel like this issue matters to the broader city, and to our elected officials. Tax us, put in tolls, spread the costs around, whatever. But if there is an option to fix the bridge for 10 years while planning for & securing funding for a replacement, then we MUST do that.  Going without a bridge for 4-6 years is not an option if there is ANY alternative whatsoever. Where is the sense of urgency & the acknowledgement of how unbelievably harmful it will be for those of us that live here, and ever leave, to have no bridge for 4-6 years? It’s only been 3 months and it’s already awful & getting worse!  Fix it if it can be fixed!!!    

    • AlanA June 18, 2020 (1:18 pm)

      Absolutely agree with this. Do the people who say the current detour isn’t bad realize we are still on lockdown?  Even if they put a (reasonable) toll on the repaired bridge it would be better than waiting 4-6 years. Also, who came up with the idea that a repair could only last 10 years

  • Mj June 17, 2020 (5:46 pm)

    Tsurly – bikes comprise about 1% of the work trips, per data I saw on the news.  During awesome weather the maximum # of bikes I see crossing the low level bridge is around 2000 on a weekend day, most are pleasure rides.   Bikes ARE not the solution, they certainly can play a bit part, but during the winter even less!

    • Tsurly June 18, 2020 (7:08 am)

      You are right Mj, people will melt if they ride a bike while it is raining. Best to just cower inside.

      • Vic June 18, 2020 (10:15 am)

        LOL Tsurly, my mom used to say that to me when I was a kid and telling me to get out and do yard chores when it was raining. “You won’t melt!” I mean she’s right. This Washingtonian isn’t scared of rain.

        • TSurly June 18, 2020 (12:25 pm)

          To second that, my grandfather always told me there is no such thing as bad weather, just a bad choice in clothing and a bad attitude! 

  • Don Brubeck June 17, 2020 (5:51 pm)

    10% target for bike mode share is a big increase. It is doable, if the City takes  a few low-cost actions to make it safe for new bike commuters to ride to the bridges.  April 28, over two months ago, West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and Cascade Bicycle Club sent recommendations to SDOT to make biking an effective part of the solution. It’s an obvious way to reduce taffic, air pollution and other impacts on Highland Park, Riverview, South Park and Georgetown.  Still waiting for SDOT and SDON to respond.  

    • StupidinSeattle June 17, 2020 (6:25 pm)

      SDOT ignored the cracking in obvious stress load points on the bridge for 6 years and did nothing about it, not even a contingency plan.   They have spent the last 3 months staring at the bridge and still have no repair plans.  They want their consultant to spend the next 3 months doing a cost- benefit analysis, and they think that 50% of the car traffic will convert to another mode.  Anyone else seeing a pattern of incompetence here?

      • KBear June 17, 2020 (9:24 pm)

        StupidInSeattle, ALL concrete structures have cracks. The fact that SDOT knew about the cracks for years is not evidence of ineptitude or coverup. And they didn’t “do nothing”. They determined that the cracks were not a threat to the structure, but then they monitored the cracks until they grew larger and became a cause of concern.

        • Steve June 18, 2020 (7:35 am)

          KBEAR – Go walk under the bridge and take a look at the cracks and the cracking pattern.  Add to this the knowledge that the crack zones are just outside the post-tensioned section in the middle.  There is no way they should have let the cracking get this  far without exploring options other than ordering crates of epoxy. 

        • Will June 18, 2020 (9:19 am)

          StupidinSeattle is right.  This is pure incompetence.  The cracks were not looked at carefully and they didn’t even notice a stuck bearing year after year. Are you kidding? Do you know how many bearings they needed to inspect?  Not many.  Please please stop enabling sdot’s incompetence. 

    • wscommuter June 17, 2020 (8:50 pm)

      I’m a bike commuter … and the idea of that we’ll get from 1% bike commuters  to 10%  is delusional.  I understand lots of bike people and anti-car people love to hope this could happen.  But it won’t.  It just won’t.  For a gazillion reasons: convenience, ability, distance, weather, logistics, children, and on and on.  I’m sure a few more folks will bike than did previously, which is cool.  But any impact on traffic needs will be a negligible drop in the bucket.  

      • Don Brubeck June 17, 2020 (9:52 pm)

        The bike commute number is around 4% for us, not 1%.   Lots of cities do 10% or more with hills and with rainy and snowy weather.

        • Joe Z June 17, 2020 (10:11 pm)

          I would bike everywhere in Seattle if the bike network looked like our road network. I biked to Georgetown the other day and I spent about a mile on bumpy, narrow sidewalks because there is no N-S bike route south of Spokane St despite there being about 25 car lanes running N-S when you add up I-5, Airport Way, 4th, 1st, and SR-99. That’s right, a dozen car lanes in each direction and not a single bike lane. Plus bikes have to wait for the trains in SODO while cars fly past above on the viaduct. So yes, there’s no way biking will ever reach 10% because the bike network in this city is an EMBARRASSMENT compared with the average European city. And extremely dangerous to top it off.   Design the bike network like the car network and people will use it. Until then it will be a niche group of enthusiasts who are willing to risk their lives to ride anywhere other than downtown. 

      • Frustrated June 18, 2020 (10:08 am)

        I agree — I also bike to work downtown during the warmer months.   It’s not for everybody and I’m not going to put my life at risk biking in the dark rain in the winter.   Also, my bike (or the bus for that matter) is not going to enable me to get my kids to a soccer game in Woodland Park or Beacon Hill.   I think a lot of people commenting don’t have kids and have no idea how important a car is to a family.   I say fix the bridge if we can.   It will buy time to think through a comprehensive solution and who knows maybe the new bridge (or tunnel) can be built while we use the old bridge.

        • Joe Z June 18, 2020 (10:58 am)

          Remember that there are plenty of us who do not want cars and would happily get rid of them, but we are forced into owning cars and driving with everyone else because of the infrastructure. When I’m sitting in traffic with you, blocking you from getting where you need to go with your family, I’m wishing that I was on my bike. But I don’t feel safe doing so or it takes too long because I have to detour to a safer bike route rather than taking the more direct arterial streets.

          If there was a bike lane that resembled the Spokane St Viaduct I could e-bike from my house to Beacon Hill in 10 minutes. Instead, I biked to Beacon Hill a few weeks ago to pick up takeout from Homer and it took 35 minutes and would have been even longer if a train had gotten in the way. So yet another car added to the road because no alternative exists.

          It’s happening again with the Delridge Rapid Ride project–bikes are forced to follow a meandering route through side streets adding another couple minutes to what is already a slower mode of transport. So time-sensitive trips end up being in the car when they could have been on a bike. 

        • TSurly June 18, 2020 (11:35 am)

          Frustrated I have two kids (4 and 7), two dogs, a wife, a demanding career, friends, hobbies and so on, yet I mange to do all of the things. I takes some adjustment, and yes dealing with traffic when I choose to drive, but it works.

        • KM June 18, 2020 (12:46 pm)

          Some families that cannot to afford to drive, or have disabilities and cannot drive, etc. About twenty-five percent of the state’s residents don’t even have licenses–that includes seniors and kids and others who have licenses but don’t drive, all who need to get places, and should have access to get around their communities independently, without relying on a family member with a car. We must advocate for more accessible biking and transit for families. It’s not an either/or proposition, as Don noted. Owning one car could be a possibility for some parents, but two might not be possible, or maybe one parent can drive, and the other cannot. It’s not as simple as “families need cars and must drive everywhere” which is a message I keep seeing here and in general when people fight against alternative transportation (I understand this is not what you were saying). We have a lot of work to do to address our zoning and transportation issues to make our cities more accessible for all, not just families with cars. We can fix/replace the bridge AND demand equitable transportation.

          • Joe Z June 18, 2020 (2:45 pm)

            Exactly. Also, why would you live in West Seattle if you have to make frequent trips to North Seattle? I read one story in the Seattle Times where someone who lives in West Seattle drops their kid off in North Seattle, drives back downtown for work, back north in the evening to get the kid, and then home to West Seattle. What kind of masochist would subject themselves to 4 daily rush hour commutes, even when the bridge was functioning as normal. Plus there are plenty of perfectly fine schools in West Seattle. 

  • Gardner June 17, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    If the bridge can be repaired, it should be repaired. It’s been three months, during a pandemic, and the commute and the traffic are already awful.  Tensions are starting to flare on West Marginal Way.

    The cost benefit analysis goes way beyond the $$ costs of repair & rebuild in 10 years vs. just rebuild. How many local businesses will close with no bridge for 4-6 years? How many people will not be able to change jobs, go to schools or start businesses because of the traffic? Thousands of hours struck in traffic–there are financial and health implications for that.  We must find the funds (taxes, tolls, infrastructure dollars from the federal govt) to repair now if it is safe to do so. The costs for the 100,000 people who live here in WS are huge.

    We are the biggest neighborhood in Seattle and we pay taxes and do our part to keep this city & our economy up and running, yet there is no acknowledgement from our elected officials as to who enormous the impact would be to the 100,000 residents of WS to have no reasonable way off of this peninsula for 4-6 years. That would be terrible.  If it can be fixed, it must be fixed. Then we have 10 years to find funding for the rebuild.

    • Mat June 18, 2020 (8:24 am)

      Agreed, it should be repaired. The city isn’t taking in as much money as ‘normal times’ right now so it’s better to spend what we do have on repair to minimize cost right now while getting our neighborhood back to normal so it’s able to keep thriving and generate tax revenue as we transition back to normal. Total cost may be more, but I think there is a strong case that the ROI is higher too. Plus then it’d also provide the time we all know the city will need to plan for a replacement. 

  • dcn June 17, 2020 (6:41 pm)

    I was also surprised that they think they can reduce car trips to 35% from 80%. And why were people surprised that Michigan is being used as a detour route by many? Do city officials still not understand that a large number of West Seattle residents do not work downtown? This means that using 509 into the city is not a commute option for many. Neither are buses or water taxis. Bikes are also not an option for many of us. At best, I might be able to carpool (vanpool if we can get one) to reduce my impact on the road once I go back to work. And while we need to worry about the extra air pollution to communities like South Park and Georgetown, the only way to really fix that is to get the West Seattle Bridge open as soon as is feasible. 

    • TSurly June 18, 2020 (10:21 am)

      A carpool is a reasonable way to contribute to traffic reduction. Thanks for considering it, rather than just screaming a the sky that you don’t have any choice but to drive.

    • Sarah June 18, 2020 (3:14 pm)

      DCN, to clarify — it’s not that they think they can, it’s that they HAVE to reduce cars by that amount to maintain traffic flow on the peninsula.  It’s not wishful thinking, it’s a capacity analysis.  

  • Will June 17, 2020 (7:25 pm)

    Does anyone have any links to discussions on the different structural strengths for a flattened arch used when constructing the current bridge versus a standard arch where there is a center keystone which locks the structure in place? Looking at the images, it seems like most of the cracking is occurring where the arch stops and the flattened area begins, so I am curious as to the forces at work.

  • Manny June 17, 2020 (7:58 pm)

    Don Brubeck Tsurly. Thank you! You’re proof that NOBODY needs to  drive. Bikes will get you to work. They’ll take you shopping, to the Doctor on vacation EVERYWHERE. 

    • Don Brubeck June 17, 2020 (9:56 pm)

      Manny  I am not saying that.  I’m saying 10% could bike. That means 90% do something else. And the 10% who bike make it easier for the 90% to do something else. I drive, too.  Just not all trips. I drove to Southcenter yesterday and rode to Belltown today. It’s not al or nothing.

    • Tsurly June 18, 2020 (6:37 am)

      To echo what Don said, it is not all or nothing. 

    • Go gull June 18, 2020 (8:05 am)

      I don’t think bike advocates are saying biking is an option for every person in every situation.

      However, it is certainly possible for some to bike to work, to shop, go to the dr., and go on vacation. Many people do this every day. And not just young, super athletic people.

      Biking involves adaptations and lifestyle adjustments, but it is possible and many even find it more enjoyable than driving, and yes, for some, even in the rain.

    • Will June 18, 2020 (9:25 am)

      Manny you must be joking.  What if you work up at Stevens pass with skis?  Going to bike with skis there and back every day.  Use your brain. Claiming everyone can bike is for lack of a better word idiotic. 

      • TSurly June 18, 2020 (10:11 am)

        If you make the choice to live in West Seattle and drive to Stevens Pass everyday, that is on you. A 30 minute detour has far less of an impact over, say, living 2.5 hours (without traffic) away from where you work. Take your own advice and “use your brain.”

        • Will June 18, 2020 (10:46 am)

          What if you have to take kids to soccer in Magnolia?  What if you work in Seattle and have large heavy tools? You’re quite shallowly confused tsurly and need to understand the reality of the entire community. Some need a car. Got it?

          • TSurly June 18, 2020 (12:21 pm)

            Oh I get it, apparently you don’t. I have long history on this blog pushing for those that are able to use alternative modes of transportation, and clearly acknowledging that there are those that cannot. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this comment section, I have two young kids, a demanding job, a wife, two dogs, hobbies, friends, etc., and maintain a high level of functionally by relying primarily on a bicycle or running to get around, with a car a close second. I deal with car traffic just like everyone else and completely own the fact that I am directly responsible for contributing to the traffic issues we face.

          • Joe Z June 18, 2020 (2:48 pm)

            Who in their right mind would send their kids to soccer in Magnolia? Are there not enough kids in West Seattle to play soccer with?

        • admiral guy June 18, 2020 (2:09 pm)

          Tsurly. you keep referencing 30 mins in a pandemic. This pandemic won’t last forever. I’ve left West Seattle on multiple occasions, the detour definitely takes more than 30 mins unless you’re leaving super early, super late or mid-day. This is with a lot of people WFH. So, just figure this time to triple at least on a good day. So, let see what you’re opinion is then. Stop trying to make people feel bad because they have to drive long distance to work. Not everyone is as lucky as you and Vic. We need a solution that support those of us who have to drive to work. I’m all for more water taxi, carpools, and public transportations. But not everyone works in the city and have long hours. 

      • wedeler June 18, 2020 (11:59 am)

        Hey Will,  consider leaving your skis at Sevens Pass and taking the Greyhound like we did in Junior High?

  • Dan June 17, 2020 (8:11 pm)

    Are electric bikes, e-bikes if you will, allowed to use the lower bridge?

    • Shufflerunner June 17, 2020 (8:59 pm)

      Yes, but don’t tell anyone.

    • Don Brubeck June 17, 2020 (9:58 pm)

      Dan, Yes. e-bikes use the bike/pedestrian lane on the lower bridge. 

      • Maylor June 18, 2020 (8:30 am)

        A substantial increase of e-bikes on the pedestrian/pedal path will likely lead to problems for bike commuting. E-bikes are motor vehicles and their ease of use and high speed mean they are frequently going over the 15 mph speed limit for a bike path. In my experience e-bikers are usually going quite fast yet never using a bell or their voice when passing. Yes pedal powered bikers go over the limit too, and we all see bad behavior from bikers. But in my experience human powered bikes usually have some familiarity with rules of the road and bike etiquette. E-bikers seem to not come from a pedal powered bicycling background and lack etiquette. I’m sure they could learn, but I doubt it.

        • TSurly June 18, 2020 (10:38 am)

          I don’t think there is any basis for your claim that more Ebikes will likely lead to more problems. My experience, as someone who rides a bike or runs everyday, is that most people have enough of a sense of self preservation to ride in control. I’ve personally seen what appears to be a big increase in folks out riding, and a vast majority of them are following the rules (eg passing properly, riding single file, not riding at excessive speed, etc). Even in the instances when bad behavior is observed, it pales in comparison to what I see when driving MY CARS (YES TSURLY DRIVES!!!!).What I envision, when the masses start going back to work, is a stream of bikes similar to what you see after a low bridge opening. Some folks will blow by others to get ahead, but most will flow in a steady stream, maintaining a safe distance and speed.

          • wedeling June 18, 2020 (3:08 pm)

            E-bikes are trending highly in West Seattle.  Covid19 and the bridge are providing the ‘perfect storm’ to propel them into modifying our transportation assumptions.  They are incredibly emerging from the mode of: activists, electric power nerds (in the positive sense!)  and the commited  bicyclists, into mass acceptance.  The ability to carry two (or more) kids & groceries with-out breaking sweat is revolutionary.  But with this emerging popularity, as with all new activities,  there will be a learning curve, both for accidents and idiots.  Seattle is a long way from establishing an infrastructure and enforced regulations (appropriate helmets, please!)  for what is radical means of travel.  We live on 36th at the top of Seattle and suddenly we regularly see e-bikes zipping silently by at alarming speeds bypassing the traffic of 35th  and seemingly oblivious to the same sort of the traffic laws even bicyclists have learned to respect. Inevitably WSB will be reporting on a horrific e-bike into car T-bone, with the rider/driver ON THE RIGHT not responsible.

        • SuperAwesome June 18, 2020 (3:18 pm)

          A whole bunch of inexperienced bicyclists on that tiny overpass sounds like a super idea.  What could go wrong?

  • mnw June 17, 2020 (8:12 pm)

    I’m curious how long it would have taken to come up with traffic mitigation solutions if COVID hadn’t hit at the same time the bridge shut down. It almost seems like COVID is allowing SDOT to drag their feet. I would imagine, had this happened during normal times, the ensuing traffic nightmare during rush hour would have increased the sense of “urgency” and they would have quickly implemented solutions ie extra buses, water taxis, etc. The amount of time this is taking is frustrating to say the least. 

    • Duffy June 17, 2020 (9:46 pm)

      There is zero doubt this is the case. Wait until everything opens up even to 50%. The traffic this is going to cause will be unimaginable.

    • Jon Wright June 18, 2020 (12:39 pm)

      The other side of the coin in your hypothetical scenario is that resources (government and private sector) would have had more availability to address the bridge closure because they wouldn’t be prioritized to deal with the worldwide public health emergency.

  • groupthinkintocorner June 17, 2020 (8:53 pm)

    I find myself circling back to the question of exactly how many tall ships are going up and down the Duwamish at high tide. This issue always gets shouted down with the importance of jobs supplying people Alaska. Can we dig a little deeper? When the best solution is spend 4 years building high-span bridges that will fall down 50 years later, I wonder what it is that we are working so hard to protect.  Can the businesses servicing tall ships be incentivized to move to the empty terminal space on the other side of the bridge? 

    • WSB June 17, 2020 (10:13 pm)

      Which “empty terminal space” are you referring to? T-5 is under active redevelopment.

    • Matt June 17, 2020 (11:15 pm)

      There is no possible way to re route the duwamish barge traffic elsewhere, bulk carrier traffic.. maybe short term.These operators and the greater state of AK will be the largest proponents of any major restrictions to the waterway. If you think your inconvenienced by traffic you have no idea the impact any closures of the waterway will have on Alaska

    • Mark47n June 18, 2020 (7:04 am)

      This is exhausting to continue to point out but the city doesn’t control the Duwamish. It’s classified as a navigable waterway, federally, which means that shipping traffic cannot be impeded. The only way to change that classification is to buy out all of the industries along the river.  Just because YOU don’t see large ships upstream of the bridge doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I certainly have seen bulk carriers upstream of the bridge unloading limestone, gypsum, etc to say nothing of the barge companies, marinas, marine construction companies etc.Again, you cannot impede marine traffic on a Navigable Waterway. 

  • Kadoo June 17, 2020 (9:06 pm)

    I didn’t stick around because the meeting was zoom bombed. So frustrating. 

  • Stevie J June 17, 2020 (9:10 pm)

    The inverse of induced demand is reduced demand. When bridges and highways around the world have been demolished with no replacement, the trips just disappear. So we aren’t looking at 125,000 trips, we are more likely going to have to accommodate perhaps 45,000 trips. With that figure, the higher mode share for bikes and transit starts to make more sense. In this covid world many more office workers are able to work from home and people won’t take trips that were previously easy.

    If the free market is as great as I’ve been told, service providers and businesses will set up shop in West Seattle to serve the captive audience, then you will have even fewer reasons to leave the peninsula. It will bring us back to the more tight knit days of yore, where people didn’t choose to go to a dentist in Issaquah and a barber in Lynnwood. 

  • Duffy June 17, 2020 (9:29 pm)

    Love this gem from Seattle Times; I’m sorry, am I reading this correctly? Social injustice?SDOT officials emphasized the social injustice of pouring thousands of drivers from West Seattle through arterials in the Highland Park, Roxhill, South Park and Georgetown areas. Volumes have nearly tripled at the large intersection of Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way Southwest, leading to the First Avenue South bridge and south Seattle.

    • WSB June 17, 2020 (10:03 pm)

      As noted in our report, that part of the presentation was primarily about environmental injustice, which is a reality in the Duwamish Valley. The slide on page 12 (above, also here in PDF https://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/06172020_TaskForce_Meeting2.pdf ) is headed “A Race, Emvironmental & Social Justice Issue.”

    • sam-c June 18, 2020 (7:55 am)

      Duffy, I saw that discussion in the slide deck, and wished I could have been in the meeting to hear the more nuanced version. But just from reading the slide deck, they make it sounds like City officials didn’t really consider this bridge closure an emergency (as it should be considered), but, now that it is impacting South park and Georgetown, it is an emergency.

      • WSB June 18, 2020 (9:44 am)

        If you want to hear for yourself, the video has been in the story since last night.

  • Joseph Piccini June 17, 2020 (9:35 pm)

    I need an e bike that can go 60 miles per charge at 20 MPH or the battery can be swapped out.

  • Smittytheclown June 17, 2020 (9:44 pm)

    Great, great news on the repair.  Git r done.  Now.  

  • LivesInWS June 17, 2020 (11:05 pm)

    “driving-wise, funneling more cars through the south area “has real impact on people” who live there. ”  Well, it’s got a real impact on the people who have to drive through the south area, too. We’d really rather not drive through it.  As for the surprise about Michigan being used as a detour route, it’s the obvious route to I-5 after crossing the 1st Ave S bridge. Should have been expected that people would use it.

    • Chemist June 18, 2020 (12:53 am)

      Yeah, maybe the bridge won’t drop a bunch of commuters into the water and kill them that way, but the added emissions and gridlock through communities that already have plenty of impacts from pollution is going to shorten people’s lives.  That’s a part of why this is an emergency in the long term.And it’s still possible that the low bridge could have to be closed.

  • Meyer June 18, 2020 (6:14 am)

    Does the current bridge need to be torn down before a new bridge can be built? Or can they live side by side?

    • ARPigeonpoint June 18, 2020 (8:13 pm)

      As someone who lives a stone’s throw from the bridge in north pigeon point, I’d rather not lose my home. 

  • Meyer June 18, 2020 (6:24 am)

    They mention cost benefit analysis with the bridge repair. So I’m going to do some napkin math.

    If there were 100,000 trips on the high bridge before all this and lets say 75,000 wind up driving other routes which adds time and miles to their commute. This means each week 75,000 people will be burning approximately an extra gallon of gas (assuming a 2-3 mile detour x 5 weekdays + stop and go traffic which burns more fuel). The current price of gas is just under $3. So 75,000 x $3 = $225,000 per week. Multiply this by 52 weeks and you get 11.7 million dollars a year. Multiply that by 5 years and you get 58.5 million dollars in extra gas alone. This doesn’t even account for time and environmental impacts, let alone inconvenience. 

    This basic math makes it seem like a no brainer to fix the bridge first from a cost/benefit point of view. Heck West Seattle and Vashon residents alone could pay for it and it would probably be cheaper than the extra gas bill for their cars. The city of Seattle could chip in some money since they won’t have to continue increased bus and water taxi services once the fix is completed.

  • Bronson June 18, 2020 (7:33 am)

    I understand the desire for “equitable solutions,” but honestly, the biggest and only equitable solution is to get the bridge repaired or replaced as soon as safely possible and get the traffic out of those affected areas. There are no other equitable solutions. Metro has no money and is reducing buses. ST has no money and light rail is likely not happening to WS, and definitely not before any bridge solution is put into place (unless incorporated). Marx is living in a dream world to think we are going to go from 80% down to 35% for car traffic. 

  • Admiral guy June 18, 2020 (7:35 am)

    At this point, repair the bridge need to happen. The cost benefit analysis is a waste of time. I know some of you will say why. It’s not about money, it’s about the economic health and public health of west Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods. 6 years without a major road to connect us is ridiculous. Impacts to communities will be long lasting if we can’t get it up and running soon.SDOT and the city thinking they can get a majority of us out of our cars and onto buses and water taxi is unrealistic. People living in West Seattle works throughout the region. Especially in a pandemic, many of us won’t want to take public transportation.And these are just some issues. We need to get the bridge back and running. Plus it gives us time to build a long lasting new structure. Again, I know it may be a waste of money for some of you to repair a bridge, but think of the impacts to the communities with an extended closure. 

    • Blang June 18, 2020 (11:22 am)

      Agreed.  Just repair it now. Repairing makes the most sense. If we decide to rebuild and it now, you’re talking about multiple different levels of government that will be re-elected and have no incentive to do with the last administration signed up for.  You’re going to see if lot of passing the blame and passing the buck.  West Seattle needs a commitment to repairing the bridge now.  

  • fer christ's sake June 18, 2020 (9:07 am)

    Duhhhhh …….. Let’s study all the alternatives to repairing the existing bridge…….. then after 2 or 3 years of study……….duhhhhhhhhh…………let’s have an engineered solution to repairing the bridge…………..duhhhhhhhhhhh……..then let’s send the repairs out to bid…………..duhhhhhhhh…………………then 4 years later……………..duhhhhhhhhhh………………let’s have the repairs done…………..duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Kate K June 18, 2020 (9:39 am)

    Fix the bridge. At the same time start building the tunnel.

    • This June 18, 2020 (6:30 pm)

      Fix the bridge, then build a tunnel, then tear down/replace the old bridge, thus providing two main arteries in/out of WS, which will help in the future if one or the other is closed.

  • Meyer June 18, 2020 (9:39 am)

    They mention cost benefit analysis with the bridge repair. So I’m going to do some napkin math.If there were 100,000 trips on the high bridge before all this and lets say 75,000 wind up driving other routes which adds time and miles to their commute. This means each week 75,000 people will be burning approximately an extra gallon of gas (assuming a 2-3 mile detour x 5 weekdays + stop and go traffic which burns more fuel). The current price of gas is just under $3. So 75,000 x $3 = $225,000 per week. Multiply this by 52 weeks and you get 11.7 million dollars a year. Multiply that by 5 years and you get 58.5 million dollars in extra gas alone. This doesn’t even account for time and environmental impacts, let alone inconvenience. This basic math makes it seem like a no brainer to fix the bridge first from a cost/benefit point of view. Heck West Seattle and Vashon residents alone could pay for it and it would probably be cheaper than the extra gas bill for their cars. The city of Seattle could chip in some money since they won’t have to continue increased bus and water taxi services once the fix is completed.

    • sam-c June 18, 2020 (11:07 am)

      But, hey with all that extra fuel burn/ tank refills, the state will earn some gas tax money to help pay for the bridge.

    • Stevie J June 18, 2020 (11:36 am)

      I notice drivers only seem to care about the environment when they are inconvenienced. If drivers really cared they would hardly ever drive and would choose to live where everything they need is nearby. However this isn’t really possible for most people because it’s illegal to build apartments and small businesses in most of the city. If you care about the environment please write to your various representatives urging them to legalize apartments and small shops in all zones so everyone can drive less frequently.

  • RT June 18, 2020 (9:56 am)

    Maybe I missed it, but wasn’t low bridge policy supposed to be a topic of discussion?  At the very least, it could be open to motorcycles, and to all vehicles during off peak hours (I would suggest 10pm-6am).  That shouldn’t conflict with emergency vehicles or transit.

    • WSB June 18, 2020 (10:15 am)

      They ran out of time so there was a quick “tee-up” at the end and it supposedly will be a big topic next week. (Originally the group wasn’t meeting again until July 1st but now there’s a noon 6/24 meeting.)

  • ScubaFrog June 18, 2020 (10:38 am)

    *The fix MIGHT last 10 years, and could be ready in 22.  The new bridge would be ready by 2024 to 2026, and could last an estimated 50 to 75 years.So after the fix fails, we’ll have to wait an additional (?) amount of time for a new bridge/tunnel.  Without emergency status, there’s no money to build a bridge simultaneously.  I’m not sure how any of this will be covered frankly, certainly we’ll have to have tolls.

  • YES2WS June 18, 2020 (10:43 am)

    Purely ridiculous that motorcycles and scooters aren’t allowed. If the sole reason is room for emergency vehicles,,,, how hard is it to get past a skinny little bike? I don’t travel via motorcycle/scooter, but seems unfair for those who do.

    • TSurly June 18, 2020 (12:28 pm)

      You make a valid point, I’d support motorcycles and scooters using the low bridge.

    • Go gull June 18, 2020 (5:41 pm)

      Not opposed, but picturing scooters and motorcycles amid all the freight, busses, and emergency vehicles, wondering if it would be safe shared usage?

      • Mark47n June 19, 2020 (9:55 am)

        Because…ummm…I have to contend with all of these things when I’m on my motorcycle anywhere. oh, and when I’m on my bicycle. 

        • Go gull June 19, 2020 (12:31 pm)

          … not saying the risk is great enough to not allow this, but I could see some potential for accident risk, due to that mix of vehicles and visibility.

      • Mark47n June 19, 2020 (9:57 am)

        AAAHHHHHH!!!!!Scooters and motorcycles already share the road with all other vehicles! 

        • Go gull June 19, 2020 (12:18 pm)

          Yes but, usually open roadways have a mix of vehicles, primarily cars, along with few freight and busses. Currently the low bridge is restricted to cars, so it’s all large trucks and busses right now. Can you not see how a few small scooters and motorcycles infrequently zipping around a high volume of large trucks and busses, could be a deadly accident waiting to happen?

          Don’t answer that. I expect more ummms and ahhhhhs, even though it’s a valid concern.

  • Doomsday June 18, 2020 (11:47 am)

    It will be interesting to see the impact on the West Seattle real estate market over the next few years (for buyers AND renters).  The loss of the bridge & a significant commute time increase could make other areas much more appealing. 

    If you think the West Marginal Way / Highland Park intersection or the cluster-F intersection under the bridge is bad now, just wait until everyone goes back to work.  The appeal of living in West Seattle could suffer.

  • sje June 18, 2020 (12:33 pm)

    Has anyone heard of any discussion on the idea of establishing secure overnight parking on the east side of the bridges?  Commuters who require a car could then use shuttles, transit, bikes, feet , etc to those parking lots and complete their commute via their cars or a car share program.

  • JenT June 18, 2020 (12:39 pm)

    A few questions.

    When they say the bridge is fixable, I’ve heard that’s only one lane in each direction. Is that the case, and if so, that’s hardly “fixable.”

    Second, it’s good to see they’re talking about telework. How are they engaging with local employers for those who can work from home and could continue to do so?

    Finally, I might consider using an e-bike for the months here where it’s actually safe and dry enough to use one. Rather than a bike share program, though, which will just line the pockets of Silicon Valley companies, why not provide a subsidy to residents willing to buy an e-bike?

    • WSB June 18, 2020 (1:30 pm)

      They’ve mentioned – and it’s shown in the slide deck – they’re working with employer groups. Those connections were already established for previous commute-type programs and the Seattle Squeeze, etc.

      • JenT June 19, 2020 (7:37 am)

        Thanks, WSB.What about the point re: repair and reopening would only mean 1 lane each side? I’ve heard that a few times now and that seems like a total non-solution if true. 

        • WSB June 19, 2020 (8:56 am)

          They have said repairs might reopen it to SOME traffic but that was an early hypothetical ….

          • ScubaFrog June 19, 2020 (11:27 am)

            Oh dear, so the repairs won’t open the bridge to 100% capacity?  Or they’re still doing research, which is completely understandable given the short timeline they’ve had to gather data in such a small window?  And thanks for mentioning that, that’s a critical piece of data for West Seattleites to consider.

          • WSB June 19, 2020 (11:33 am)

            No definitive word yet either way. But the verbiage has been fairly consistent along the way that if repairs were deemed feasible, they might just restore “some” traffic to the bridge.

  • Jonah June 18, 2020 (12:58 pm)

    Reality check. I’ve been across the low bridge. There is a narrow shoulder and full size lane each way. With car’s on the bridge emergency vehicle’s can EASILY get down the middle. If the bridge is full of busses or semi’s it would be a TIGHT squeeze for a fire truck/aid car to get through(if they could at all)

  • John Parker Woods June 18, 2020 (1:00 pm)

    This may be wishful thinking, but are there any options for replacing the bridge that don’t require tearing down the old bridge first?

  • Fiwa Jcbbb June 18, 2020 (2:15 pm)

    Here’s a fun idea that would alleviate some traffic: Let’s open the High Bridge to motorcycles and scooters only! Light and few in numbers enough to not cause collapse! Who’s with me?  :)

  • AdmiralBridge June 18, 2020 (2:28 pm)

    Am I the only one that thinks a lot of these committees and contemplation that is beyond true engineering is mostly for show?  The real issue is – particularly given Covid and CHOP – the city budget is already under stress.  Which is understandable, but what I find intolerable is – while they’re delaying and throwing footballs – the city council is dreaming up new ways to generate $500mil for other lofty goals like green upgrades, etc etc.  I hope you join me in voicing the opinion to Lisa et al that the first priority for any new funding needs to be to replace the bridge we had.  Anything else makes it clear that their priorities are in making new social headlines versus taking care of basics.

  • Peter S. June 18, 2020 (3:06 pm)

    I’ll take the approach that learning the bridge is technically “fixable” is good news.   Now I’d like to see them get on with it for the reasons many others have stated.  It’s going to be a very long time before a replacement solution is ready.  Six years sounds very optimistic, the way things work around here.  Focusing on the people who have to get out of WS for work ignores the significant number of people who also come into WS for work.  (Think teachers, grocery  workers, doctors, clinic nurses,etc.)  They are also part of our community and adversely impacted.  That clinic doctor you like so much or school teacher who motivates and inspires your child when others couldn’t, may decide that commuting to WS  is no longer worth it and request a transfer.  (Admittedly, I don’t know how difficult that is for Seattle School District employees to do.)  Or, find another clinic or school district to work for.  I’d also like to know if the city plans to do anything about the significant number of low-bridge cheaters I see whenever SPD is absent, which seems most of the time, lately.   I always, ALWAYS see multiple cars either getting on or coming off the low bridge while I’m waiting at the Chelan Cafe light.  Highly doubt they all work on Harbor Island.  On the one hand, that’s fewer cars competing with me for space on the 1st Ave So. bridge, but it’s also hugely unfair for those of us who abide by the rules.   Seems like it would be relatively easy to set up license plate cameras like they did for 520 tolling.  Work on Harbor Island?  Get a transponder through your employer.  Otherwise?  Big ticket coming your way.   Medical emergency?  Get a substantiating note from your doctor to clear the ticket later.  The proceeds could be used as a Go-Fund-Me for bridge repair :) 

  • Igrathke June 19, 2020 (12:16 am)

    Opening the lower bridge to regular traffic would help. They need to have an emergency vehicle only route leading up to the lower bridge so they could stop regular traffic to allow emergency vehicles to pass. Heck the existing bridge could be the emergency route if the experts are confident it could handle a temporary load of one or two vehicles at a time. They will more than likely have vehicles on the bridge when repairs are underway.

  • ScubaFrog June 19, 2020 (11:11 am)

    It sounds like most/everyone wants the fix.  As we know, it will fail again, then we’ll be without a bridge for another set of years.  I’m not here to chastise, but to remind that we could do 1 big harrumph now, or 2 big harrumphs.  West Seattleite’s may rue the day when the fix fails, and we have to wait x amount of years for the big rebuild.  Perhaps we should just do it now.  Hopefully the fix holds for 10 years, and we have light rail by then, that’s my big hope.  Maybe SDOT can expedite light rail to West Seattle, considering the bridge’s state?

    • sgt June 19, 2020 (11:12 pm)

      Yeah, we need to get light rail here ASAP.   It’s the only way.

  • Highpoint June 19, 2020 (11:53 am)

    Fix the bridge, explore possibilities over the next 10 years for replacement with light rail and better high volume means of moving people. We don’t have that in public transportation, and with our current city leadership on the council and mayor’s office, it will be a while before any such means is in sight. Traffic stacks up currently – what once took 10 minutes is now a 45 minute odyssey with pandemic traffic volume. Not everyone works in Seattle and not all employers are local. Telecommuting and riding a bike, razor, skateboard or scooter are not real world solutions for all.

  • wetone June 19, 2020 (12:22 pm)

     Many of these comments give me a smile. If people think bikes are the answer fine good for you, but for MOST it is not. No debating, and people commenting as to why kids need to leave WS for sports evidently have not played sports. I read people say if one lives in WS  they should either work in WS or downtown ? really ?  that would be nice, but not reality for most. Most I know living here have done so for 20yrs, many 50+yrs. Should we all be looking for new jobs/careers ? selling our homes and moving ? City government has done a terrible job at planning city’s future over last 15yrs. Most all city bridges need work. Magnolia, Ballard and many others. City has done little to fix, maintain or replace known big problems with-in infrastructure due to needed funds being spent elsewhere. Nothing wrong if you want to ride bikes, power to ya. For most it just doesn’t work and get ready for large tax/levy’s, tolls coming soon…..

  • Joe John June 20, 2020 (2:46 pm)

    This is absolutely ridiculous. The no-brainer approach would be to fix the bridge ASAP and then TOLL THE BRIDGE. This will not only pay for the repairs but help to fund the new bridge/tunnel built in parallel. This is the only sensible solution. Waiting 7 years for a bridge is unacceptable and completely unfathomable. Time to take our heads out of the sky and get our eyes set on the road ahead.

    • Peter S. June 20, 2020 (4:32 pm)

      While tolling sounds good, get ready for the argument that tolling is unfair because it adversely impacts those for whom it is perceived as an economic hardship.I can grudgingly accept the idea of paying a toll to use a fancy new freeway that is faster, as they do in many places in this country and the world.  I then have a choice – take the old road which is slower, or pay for the convenience of the new.  But, I find it offensive when an already paid-for structure such as 520 or I-405 is retrofitted for tolling.  Yes, I know it’s not quite that simplistic – 520 was significantly upgraded.  But neither were completely new and taxes are supposed to pay for maintenance and upgrades.  The WS Bridge is not a fancy new bridge at this point.  It’s a critical piece of Seattle infrastructure where maintenance (the failed bearing) was apparently either missed or neglected.  Hence the need for an expensive repair and even more expensive eventual replacement.   Ironically, tolling the WS Bridge when it was brand new and the low bridge was still an option would’ve resulted in an uproar.

  • Ouside the box June 22, 2020 (2:54 pm)




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    Having listened to the second meeting, and read the many
    comments, it seems that there are some serious mindsets that have become pretty
    unchangeable. How does one go about presenting some not even mentioned ideas to
    some open minds? There seem to be at least a couple of things that could be
    done that would lower the cost, the impact on neighborhoods, the current
    traffic problems, and the overall time of getting a new, reliable bridge built
    and in use. But how do you get ideas not already in the heads of the powers
    that be, and get them to look at possible new solutions with the attitude of “Yeah,
    that might work.” Instead of the attitude of “We didn’t think of that, so it
    won’t work.”? Just because one is not an elected official, does not mean that
    our ideas should be summarily disregarded. Who can I contact that will listen,
    and listen with an open mind? There are better ideas than what we have seen up
    to now!

Sorry, comment time is over.