WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Search starts for tolling-and-more study consultant; ‘Reconnect’ survey deadline

(WSB photo, earlier this week)

As stabilization work continues on the four-months-closed West Seattle Bridge, two notes today:

TOLLING-AND-MORE CONSULTANT SOUGHT: The city has launched another consultant search in relation to the bridge closure and repair-or-replace process. It’s for an up to $2 million contract to carry out a “traffic and revenue” analysis that would look at, among other things, how much money tolling could raise toward the funding that’ll be needed. Accompanying the announcement is an SDOT Blog post that explains in part:

We have not decided to enact tolling. Instead, this study provides a starting point for discussions about whether tolling makes sense as one of the ways to pay for the West Seattle Bridge Program. Most important, it could serve as a critical precursor to securing federal funding.

The plan to seek a consultant for this study was previewed during a meeting of the bridge project Community Task Force earlier this month.

‘RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE’ DEADLINE: Final reminder – the Reconnect West Seattle mobility survey closes today, as do the “prioritization” lists of potential projects in four areas affected by detour traffic. The main survey is here; the neighborhood-prioritization surveys are here (Highland Park/Riverview/South Delridge/Roxhill), here (South Park), here (Georgetown), and here (SODO).

55 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Search starts for tolling-and-more study consultant; 'Reconnect' survey deadline"

  • DRC July 31, 2020 (1:02 pm)

      Could use some Cameras

  • skeeter July 31, 2020 (1:03 pm)

    This will be a fascinating study.  A complete waste of time and money – but fascinating.  The only way a toll would make sense is if
    all 4 bridges in/out of West Seattle had a toll.  Otherwise you’d just have people shifting
    routes to save money on tolls.  I don’t
    see tolling all bridges as a popular proposal. 
    There, I just saved the city $2M.

    By the way – there are hundreds and hundreds of cars
    illegally using the lower Spokane St. Bridge every day.  The other day I biked across and counted 37
    cars illegally using the swing bridge just during the 2 or 3 minutes I was pedaling
    over the Duwamish.  At this point busses
    are getting backed up in traffic.  We
    could have this bridge paid for if we just started ticketing violations.     

    • Jon Wright July 31, 2020 (7:17 pm)

      That same scenario already exists crossing Lake Washington. You can take 520 and pay a toll or divert to I90 for free. Based on the amount of traffic that was on 520, plenty of people were choosing to pay the toll. SR99 is another example. You could pay the toll or drive on the city streets. I seem to recall WADOT saying less people were diverting than they anticipated. If the West Seattle bridge ends up saving time, plenty of people would pay the toll (if there was a toll). I am not thrilled at the prospect of paying a toll. But if that’s what it takes to get the damn bridge fixed and keep it maintained, I will pay a toll!

    • Native August 1, 2020 (6:50 pm)

      Good points .WSB will know the answer to two questions you suggest. First, how much has seattle spent on “consultants “ for the bridge? I read 5.5 million so far ?Second I think they are putting ticketing cameras next on the lower bridge soon? 

      • WSB August 1, 2020 (11:46 pm)

        The projection for low-bridge enforcement to start is September.

  • payattention July 31, 2020 (1:03 pm)

    I take it tolling would be put on any new bridge that get’s built???

    • WSB July 31, 2020 (3:01 pm)

      FWIW a lot of people who never used the bridge helped pay for it … more than a third was federal funding.

  • chris July 31, 2020 (1:09 pm)

    ummm…..we paid taxes for a 75 year bridge and didn’t get close to that.  Shouldn’t we get no tolls for the difference of this applied to the new one?   Is the city going to hold whoever built the bridge (if they are still around) accountable rather than the users who already paid for it?

  • Lispector July 31, 2020 (1:14 pm)

    I’ll was thinking I’d gladly pay a toll so I don’t have to sit in bumper to bumper traffic on Marginal anymore, but then I remember all the days sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the WS bridge in the morning…

  • Nigel July 31, 2020 (1:25 pm)

    So is the city going to TOLL all bridges that the city built and maintains, or only the West Seattle bridge? If the city is going to toll all of their bridges to funds service and maintenance of all bridges I think that is fair, but if the city is only going to toll the West Seattle bridge I think that is not fair, particularly since my West Seattle taxes are already going to fund other neighborhoods’ bridges.

  • Igor Duckman July 31, 2020 (2:04 pm)

    This is great news. We should start tolling the West Seattle Bridge even before it’s repaired – think how much affordable housing could be built with the money. Decimating the police budget and turning the West Seattle Precinct into affordable housing is just not enough. The City Council is not aggressive as they should be and Amazon should be taxed until they’re finally run out of town and the property values return to the level of 50 years ago or Detroit, whatever comes first. That way the bridge problem will be solved by default.

    • Anne July 31, 2020 (2:58 pm)

      Yeah right-who the heck wants to go back 50 years &  if you really think that -I feel your disappointment. Property values will NEVER go back to what they were 50 years ago. Why not put energy into a more realistic idea? By the way-what do folks consider “ affordable housing”? Really- what monthly payment would be affordable? Lots of new builds in WS-but rents quoted -even for studios seem like a lot of money. Why do they need to “seek “a consultant re:tolling? Can’t they use whoever they consulted for other toll roads/tunnel?

      • Also John July 31, 2020 (9:16 pm)

        Anne….  I think he’s being sarcastic?!  I can’t imagine someone thinking like that.

        • Scott Collins July 31, 2020 (10:45 pm)

          anne, I don’t think he’s being sarcastic….i KNOW he’s being sarcastic 

  • Holly Wormwood July 31, 2020 (2:10 pm)

    This is how it starts. No matter what the solution, of course the City will eventually make West Seattle pay for the City’s failure, and for all the inconvenience and economic pain their failure caused West Seattle residents. If equity were truly the priority in Seattle, then the whole city would be tolled, or none of it. These patchwork tolls brilliantly turn publicly funded roads into 1st and 2nd class modes of public mobility.

    • bill July 31, 2020 (3:17 pm)

      @Holly – since tolls will be paid by the _driving_ public I fail to see why they are unfair. What is unfair is people who drive little or not at all subsidizing car owners through the portion of property and sales taxes that support roads.

      • My two cents ... July 31, 2020 (4:11 pm)

        @Bill.  Are you advocating that taxes/fees should correlate to the number of miles you drive? How will that be tracked and recorded? Any concerns over privacy issues? Do you think tolls are the same as regressive taxes? What about the money spent on bicycle paths? Should we toll those also? Should we disallow bikes from roads since they are using it without paying for it? Should we increase Metro fares since they are obviously big users of roads, bridges, etc? What about the water taxi? Raise those fares too? Why should West Seattle be subject to this and not Ballard or Magnolia? Then again there is a segment of the population east of the Cascades that don’t want their tax dollars going to the Ferry system.

      • Larry July 31, 2020 (4:23 pm)

        With that rational, people that don’t have children shouldn’t have to pay for education.Do you get where this is going? But I’m sure you think that is just TOTALLY different. Right? 

        • John July 31, 2020 (9:21 pm)

          I’ve always been pissed at the amount of money I have to spent to sent someone’s kid to school.  I believe a parent should pitch in more than those of us that care for the environment and elected decades ago to not add more people to a sinking ship 

      • zark00 July 31, 2020 (4:55 pm)

        I will contribute money for the lawsuit against the city if they try to fund the bridge with tolls.Anyone living in the city uses the city roads whether they drive or not.  That’s how things get delivered to you, how emergency services get to you, how electricity, water and sewer are routed to/from your home.  The whole I don’t drive so I’m subsidizing roads I don’t use is just a stupid statement. The amount of your taxes that go toward road maintenance doesn’t cover 10 square feet of road in front of your house.

        • Will July 31, 2020 (7:35 pm)

          I think Bill must have been kidding. There’s no way he was serious

  • quiz July 31, 2020 (3:00 pm)

    Get lost with the tolling. It’s ridiculous that they’ed even waste money studying it. 

    • Rick August 2, 2020 (11:45 am)

      Yeah, but somebody’s relative needs a 6 figure job.

  • SDOT broke the bridge July 31, 2020 (3:01 pm)

    Was talking to a former SDOT employee yesterday who worked on the initial cracks. Apparently when SDOT tried to fix the initial cracks the method they used actually caused the cracks to worsen and expand. Any chance we can get SDOT to comment on this??

  • bill July 31, 2020 (3:20 pm)

    Stupid people may divert to untolled bridges to save the two or three dollars, at a cost of 30-60 minutes extra travel time. But if your time is worth more than $2/hr you should pay the toll.

    • Onion July 31, 2020 (6:03 pm)

      The new bridge/tunnel will not be free of costs to us, no matter how you slice it. And to say it’s the city’s fault is unhelpful since we are the city. Whether you like Jenny, Lisa, or the streets department managers or not is beside the point. They inherited a problem bridge from managers and elected officials who did their best with the construction technology and constraints at the time. So having drivers pay part of the cost of our solution makes sense, especially if the solution is sound and long lasting rather than flawed and destined to fail sooner rather than later .

    • BW July 31, 2020 (7:29 pm)

      Bill did you ever sit in the West Seattle Bridge traffic before it was closed?  Whenever it’s repaired/replaced driving around to avoid the toll/log jam on the bridge, depending on your destination, would be the opposite of stupid. Perhaps you need to find away to look at the world with less negativity.

    • Will July 31, 2020 (7:37 pm)

      Bill. No one is getting your joke and people are starting to think you’re being serious. Please stop.

  • Bfrost July 31, 2020 (3:32 pm)

    The city and city council are a complete failure.  Instead of taxing large businesses to pay for the infrastructure issues they created they’re going to toll all the working stiffs.  Stay classy Seattle!

    • John July 31, 2020 (9:50 pm)

      Quite stated. Over.

  • they July 31, 2020 (3:43 pm)

    The day I heard the bridge was going to close I told a friend watch this will be about tolls and trains…and I bought and ebike the next day. I got to tell you I love riding my ebike to work everyday and every afternoon when I get home I tell my friend…I think they opened the lower bridge to all traffic today, just to find out everyday they didn’t…Hmmmmm!

  • Blang July 31, 2020 (3:55 pm)

    Where do you even begin.  1st NO2nd Magnolia, South Park, and all other Bridges aren’t tolled.  Why should W Seattle be singled out?3.  What a waste of money to study something that shouldn’t even be considered.Seattle on general has lost their governmental minds.  This place is going down hill quick.

  • wetone July 31, 2020 (5:08 pm)

    The start of tolling and tracking for ALL roads in Seattle and leading Statewide. They’ll start in WS because its easy with all newbies filling the massive apartments and micropods.  City says they don’t drive and only ride bikes. If so then its time to start requiring bikes to wear ID plates as all other main transportation has to do and is done in many states and counties already ;) I guess it really doesn’t matter, if there’s no SPD it will be a free for all anyway……. People need to start VOTING and get some common sense back in city and state…..

  • Rumbles July 31, 2020 (5:14 pm)

    I’m pretty glad I don’t have to climb the ladder off the scaffolding in the photograph!

  • Tolling is a Sound Idea July 31, 2020 (6:24 pm)

    I am copying and pasting my reply to a similar thread from WS Blog’s reporting on the possibility of tolls from July 8, 2020.  Mine is one of 57 comments.  Happy reading!  Thank you WS Blog!     https://westseattleblog.com/2020/07/video-tolls-taxes-or-paying-for-west-seattle-bridge-repair-replacement-and-other-topics-community-task-force-meeting-4/     I encourage folks that read and respond on the comment page to follow-up reactions to the possibility of tolling to some of the studies the WDOT has done.  State laws provide them authority to toll and there are very specific reasons and practices that they have to follow.  You can see all of the studies and reports at https://wstc.wa.gov/studies-surveys/ .  I believe that tolling fits the scenario for the West Seattle Bridge and probably should have been in place much earlier.  In the second part of the report on tolling commissioned by the legislature and published in 2006, the main reasons to consider tolling are: population growth; decreasing operational efficiency of the existing transportation system; declining revenue; increasing costs.  The report also suggests to use tolling when it will: contribute to a significant portion of the cost of a project that cannot be funded solely with existing sources; optimize system performance; be fairly and equitably applied; not have significant adverse impacts through diversion of traffic to other routes.  I can hear others observing that a toll could have significant adverse impacts on local neighborhoods, 1st Ave Bridge, West Marginal Way, and Georgetown as is occurring now because of the closure.  However, with greater than expected use and lower rates of diversion on the 99 tunnel and the I-520 bridge, I think a toll would help encourage use of public transport, provide needed funding for maintenance of this major city artery, and provide a means to partly fund (with additional support from federal grants or loans) the repair and replace costs. “We didn’t have to pay for it before!” some might write.  True, but that does not seem to be any more a sustainable solution for the long-term than everyone getting on a bike.

  • Todd July 31, 2020 (6:54 pm)

    No tolls. Ridiculous that the city would even think about tolling West Seattle residents.  The city would need to toll every bridge in Seattle to make this fair, as mentioned by others.  No tolls, no tolls, no tolls!

  • Jenn July 31, 2020 (7:27 pm)

    This ONLY makes sense if they toll ALL of the bridges in/out the city of Seattle.

    • sam-c August 1, 2020 (8:48 am)

      Yes, I agree.  I’ve seen so many news stories about how the Magnolia Bridge is falling apart.  Based on the City’s failure in handling the WS bridge, maybe that $ 2 million team can study that bridge too and/or just start tolling the Magnolia bridge now, and they’ll have the money to fix it when it falls apart.  While they are at it, toll the Fremont bridge, University Bridge, and the North Queen Anne Drive bridge, to name a few more… since apparently funds from ‘Bridging the Gap’ aren’t raising enough for SDOT to keep our infrastructure safe.

    • sam-c August 1, 2020 (8:51 am)

      (add Jose Rizal and Montlake Bridge to my list)

  • Getting taxed out of Seattle July 31, 2020 (9:21 pm)

    Tolls are regressive taxes. Again for those in the back- TOLLS ARE REGRESSIVE TAXES.  As are most of the other fees/taxes/etc in Washington State. It would be really nice as a working stiff myself to hear our leaders actually working on fixing our painfully regressive tax structure. Instead, all I see is them working to add more taxes, and nearly all only make it worse!  Essential (largely low paid) workers will bear the brunt of the expense, as most upper paid jobs will be working from home for the foreseeable future! On top of that,  I see dozens and dozens of folks breaking the law using the low bridge every day, how about actually fining for it? Even when police are there,  it appears they aren’t fining at all. No enforcement is making the situation worse.

    • bill July 31, 2020 (11:56 pm)

      I agree the car situation on the low bridge is out of hand. When I was biking back from Costco today the traffic going eastbound onto the bridge was bumper to bumper, mostly cars, with plenty of westbound car traffic, too. An ambulance with sirens and lights running was headed eastbound. I wonder if the patient lived. Be sure to plan your medical emergencies for rush hour when the cops are present!

      • Tsurly August 1, 2020 (7:05 am)

        Nonsense, nobody can do a Costco run on a bicycle. You NEED a car for that.

  • WestSeattle July 31, 2020 (10:31 pm)

    Doesn’t seem like the West Seattle Councilmember is truly working for their constituents. 

  • FFS! July 31, 2020 (10:41 pm)

    Talk about adding insult to injury. SDOT has known about the bridge trouble since 2013 but doesn’t do anything about it until it starts to fall apart and now the City is planning to penalize the people whose lives they have upended, whose property values they have undermined, who have sentenced  small businesses to failure because of their negligence, and all the thousands of people whose commutes have tripled in time. Sign me up to help fund that lawsuit and for the protests that will preface it because this is beyond tone deaf, it’s downright retaliatory for trying to hold SDOT and the City to account. I have lost all faith in this process.

    • KBear August 1, 2020 (8:17 pm)

      FFS, this is nonsense. All concrete structures have cracks. When the cracks in the West Seattle Bridge were discovered, SDOT determined they weren’t an immediate problem and monitored them. That’s not “doing nothing”. It was not inevitable that the cracks would become a problem. Again, all concrete structures have cracks. 

  • 2Mch4txt July 31, 2020 (11:06 pm)

    Where can we show up and use our VOICE to confront these very very very poor decisions being made?

  • 1994 July 31, 2020 (11:48 pm)

    The City of Seattle has endless piles of money. Why put 2 million towards a study about tolling 1 bridge?  How about the City work on reducing property taxes for residents? Really put some work into keeping housing affordable.https://projects.seattletimes.com/2017/fyi-guy/income-distribution/

    • Matt P August 1, 2020 (12:39 am)

      It’s absolutely absurd.  Who comes up with these numbers?  $2 million is 10 people working for a year making $200k each.  How can anyone justify that number to figure out whether to toll or not.  I’d love to see a breakdown of how they arrived at that figure.

      • zark00 August 1, 2020 (1:03 pm)

        we paid over $3M for that monorail study back in the day.  Definitely worth it, not overpriced at all, some rock solid info gathered there that’s benefited the region for decades now. 

        • 1994 August 1, 2020 (8:36 pm)

          Hey – on the monorail – I was cleaning and came across the license tabs notices for the first few years they collected the special monorail tax. My license tabs increased by $87 in 2003, $111 in 2004, $79 in 2005, $50 in 2006. Yep, benefited the region for decades.

  • rpo August 1, 2020 (7:24 am)

    For everyone complaining about the possibility of tolling a new bridge, it seems all of you missed the most important sentence in Tracy’s article: “Most important, it could serve as a critical precursor to securing federal funding.” Do you want a bridge or not? Because let’s be honest, it’s not going to be built with federal funding.

    • LEL August 1, 2020 (1:27 pm)

      Tell me how it serves as a critical precursor to securing federal funding.  I’m not saying it doesn’t but tell me the how it accomplishes that.  What does the federal government need from a traffic and revenue study?

  • dsa August 1, 2020 (3:14 pm)

    Two million is too much for this study.  I think there is  advertising campaign funding budget built into this  for some purpose.

  • Gilligan August 1, 2020 (5:20 pm)

    Will all of the downstream shipping-related companies that use the Duwamish every day pay a toll???  We don’t need a 140 foot tall bridge, that only benefits the companies moving those 6-8 story shipping containers.

    • R August 2, 2020 (8:50 pm)

      This is the most logical comment on this whole ordeal. We should be starting with a low-cost, basic bridge as the replacement option to serve residents first and foremost, and compare that cost with the repair costs of the current bridge. And if shipping/transportation businesses absolutely need a giant bridge, they could contribute to the construction costs, because maybe there’s an alternate water route that they could use too and we don’t need to spend huge amounts on a new bridge and then toll everyone. Also, a $2 mil on a study to figure out that no one likes tolls is just nonsense.

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