WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: City Council Transportation Committee gets update – with new low-bridge info – as it considers first funding plan

(Added 4:46 pm: Archived meeting video)

The City Council Transportation Committee has just given unanimous approval to a funding source – intracity borrowing paid off by a bond sale – for the initial major costs of the West Seattle Bridge project. That followed an extensive briefing on what has transpired in the past almost-five months. First, here are some toplines of how that funding will work:

This money will cover program costs through the first quarter of next year – what will be needed beyond that, too soon to tell, but the just-announced design contractor should be able to come up with an estimate not long after the October repair-or-immediately-replace decision, SDOT says, while also stressing that partner funding is expected – federal, state, etc.

A final vote on the initial funding plan approved this morning (added: here’s the legislation) is set for the next full Council meeting on September 8th. This mornings discussion and vote followed a major briefing on various bridge-related matters, first official briefing for the council since shortly after the sudden shutdown of the bridge on March 23rd. First, SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe recapped what’s happened in the almost five months since safety concerns shut down the bridge, including the determination that repair is possible, while they have not yet determined whether it’s feasible.

SDOT’s WS Bridge program director Heather Marx also spoke, breaking down current work into three categories: On The Bridge, On The Ground, In The Community. The first list included yesterday’s announcement of HNTB as the contractor to design an eventual replacement (whether that needs to happen ASAP or a decade-plus down the road). She also updated the stabilization work (which Marx said will continue into “early winter”):

And the low bridge’s need for “strengthening” (“probably a 2-year project,” per Marx:

She also said in response to a question from Councilmember Lisa Herbold that no major low-bridge closures were likely because of that work.

Meantime, there was a preview of how low-bridge camera enforcement will work:

Meantime, “On The Ground” focused mostly on what detour-route improvements have been made so far:

And more are ahead, Marx noted in the Reconnect West Seattle overview – we expect to hear a lot more about that when the WS Bridge Community Task Force meets at noon today. Meantime, here are the In The Community toplines:

The committee meeting is continuing with non-bridge topics; when the meeting video is available later today, we will add it to this report.

22 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: City Council Transportation Committee gets update - with new low-bridge info - as it considers first funding plan"

  • Deb August 19, 2020 (11:51 am)

    A big Thank You to the West Seattle Blog for covering this very important City Council meeting.

  • old timer August 19, 2020 (1:10 pm)

    I see that “they” are looking to Sound Transit for funding.  Is there any possibility of combining a new Link LiteRail bridge with a new highway bridge?  Sure might make things easier and quicker for all.

    • Tsurly August 19, 2020 (2:20 pm)

      Greg Nickels spoke to that specifically; Sound Transit will provide a separate crossing for light rail.

      • Carmel August 21, 2020 (1:03 pm)

        Why??? I hate when decisions are made without any input from the tax payers!!  It’s BS! The ITT tunnel makes the most sense for everyone! Except maybe the contractors that want the bridge.  Stop wasting time and money.  PLEASE!

    • Mark August 19, 2020 (2:28 pm)

      Yes, that remains a possibility. Especially if the City determines that the existing high bridge can remain in place and active while a new bridge is constructed, the only other place to build a new bridge would be south of the existing bridge. Since that is currently the design location of the LRT guideway, a combined structure could make sense and the City and ST can both contribute financially to it.

  • Mj August 19, 2020 (1:23 pm)

    SDoT has continued to ignore the channelization improvement plan I presented for the Highland Park Way SW at West Marginal Way SW, I am an expert Traffic Engineer with over 30 years of experience. 

    The improvement makes the WB curb lane right turn only and converts the low volume WB to SB left turn pocket into a 2nd WB lane to go up the hill.  The few LT’s would be rerouted using 2nd.  This is a low cost improvement that adds significant capacity!

    • HP Way and WM Way improvements August 19, 2020 (2:50 pm)

      I agree MJ!  Please keep advocating this low-cost change that would improve traffic flow reducing travel times during some of the most congested periods.

    • CA August 19, 2020 (4:27 pm)

      I made the same exact suggestion in a recent survey

    • JaL August 19, 2020 (6:36 pm)

      Even with no planning experience what you suggest makes complete sense and something I noticed would be a great solution the first time I took that intersection. 

  • N August 19, 2020 (2:08 pm)

    Two interesting items – No fines, only warnings through the end of 2020 for those that choose to cut in line and take the lower bridge rather than drive around. The camera/citation system they are putting in place will have additional locations in the city rolled out in 2021.  Does this mean other restricted access roads / red light cameras / School Zones or some other type??

  • skeeter August 19, 2020 (3:14 pm)

    Automated enforcement on the lower bridge.  Am I understanding this correctly?  Only warnings from now until December 31, 2020?  So a person can illegally drive over the lower bridge every day for the next 4.5 months and simply get warnings every day??? 

    • WSB August 19, 2020 (3:41 pm)

      I don’t know if the tickets officers have been issuing were warnings or real. This info is re: the cameras.

    • ~Hockeywitch~ August 19, 2020 (9:20 pm)

      Which means with just getting a warning from the camera…more people will
      be poaching the lower bridge, because there won’t be any repercussions
      other than a slap on the hand and a “Don’t do it again” warning… Start
      the fines as soon as the cameras go in… WE ALL KNOW we AREN’T SUPPOSED
      to use the lower bridge… no warning needed…

  • Mj August 19, 2020 (3:32 pm)

    HP Way  –  I am chagrined with SDoT, apparently adding capacity is something they have no interest in doing?  What I have proposed is very cost effective and with the WSB closed it would seem adding capacity on alternative routes should be a high priority item. 

    Oh my bad, SDoT believes 1,000 people would commute to work in the AM peak by bike and 500 would walk that solves the issue!  These values are not realistic and need to be revised to better reflect reality, winter weather is a big deterrent. In the real world adding capacity needs to be a part of the mitigation plan, apparently SDoT staff have been drinking too much kool aid.

    • 1994 August 19, 2020 (9:55 pm)

      Yes, too much kool aid. Check out the other Bridge posting on WSBlog this evening. The Mobility Action Plan survey claims 6000 people said they would consider biking. So, “With so many suggesting they’d bike more often with increased bike facilities, Colin Drake said three projects are proceeding immediately:”

  • payattention August 19, 2020 (3:38 pm)

    2 issues. N is correct. A fine with no other consequences is it. Our wealthy neighbors can cross at will and call it the cost of convenience. The other problem I noticed is that they’ve put “weight restrictions” on the semi’s. Who’s going to monitor that-my guess:NOBODY.  You’d be shocked with the number of overweight trailers on the road.

  • CarDriver August 19, 2020 (4:22 pm)

    WSB. Will SPD’s traffic unit guarding of the bridge end with the camera’s? Or will they simply  add to enforcement?  

    • WSB August 19, 2020 (4:42 pm)

      Don’t know for sure but can’t imagine they would be redundant about it once the camera system is in place.

  • CarDriver August 19, 2020 (4:56 pm)

    Skeeter;WSB. I drive through there daily. SPD hasn’t written ticket’s for a long time. When they 1st started they did but have transitioned to standing in the lane and turning car’s away, no attempt  at ticketing. What will be interesting is who SDOT give’s a camera pass to. Watching SPD in action they had a VERY broad definition of “freight” vehicles they would let pass. Can’t wait to see who get’s the green light from SDOT  

  • CarDriver August 19, 2020 (7:04 pm)

    SDOT say’s there’s a weight limit on the low bridge.  No word on how they’re verifying that. My truck driver friend’s say overweight trucks are FAR more common than you know. The truck drivers picking up and dropping off containers at the port aren’t going to go out of their way unless they’re forced to. 

  • GatewoodHillMan August 19, 2020 (9:41 pm)

    The Highland Park Way SW at West Marginal Way SW suggestion(s) above are spot on.  As the Nike ads say “Just Do It!”.

  • AML August 20, 2020 (8:45 am)

    How about the recent change of the speed limits on 35th  and W. Marginal.  It is ridiculous to have to go at a snails pace on both of those.  The decrease of the speed limits are ridiculous!  Especially- if those are new routes to get out of WS. 

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