UPDATE: Councilmember Herbold’s Town Hall, hour 2 – West Seattle Bridge


6:44 PM: Our coverage of West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s Town Hall continues – we covered the first hour, on public safety, separately, and now it’s on to the second hour, about the West Seattle Bridge closure, in its seventh month. Really only 3/4 of an hour left, since the public-safety discussion ran long, and it’s starting with SDOT’s bridge project leader Heather Marx making a presentation. A lot of this covers ground we have covered repeatedly – including going all the way back to the March 23rd closure – so we’ll just note anything new that arises.

6:51 PM: Interesting datapoint, Marx mentions that the post-tensioning steel brackets being used as part of the stabilization were made at Vigor in the Portland area. And she reiterates that the Cost-Benefit Analysis is under way to shape the “repair or replace?” decision, which the Community Task Force will weigh in on, though if “replace” is the decision, the CBA does not include a final decision of HOW to replace it – that is the separate Type/Size/Location study. Marx says the mayor will “visit the Task Force to announce her decision and take questions.” (If that’s at a regular Task Force meeting, it wouldn’t be any sooner than October 21st, on the current schedule.)

6:58 PM: Now it’s on to Sara Zora, SDOT’s new “mobility manager” handling the Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation program that’s part of the bridge project. She touches on the low bridge and its upcoming improvements, plus the evolving access policy, and the Community Task Force subcommittee that will work on it. She also had a bit of new information on what the enforcement cameras – pole-mounted – will look like. Then she moves on to West Marginal Way (see our recent story on the 6 planned/proposed changes). She reiterates that two of those changes – bike lane and freight lane – are still pending more “stakeholder engagement.”

7:11 PM: Finally to Q&A. First question Callanan reads is about whether the immersed-tube tunnel option is getting proper evaluation, since consultant HNTB specializes in bridges. Yes, says Marx. “To say that they don’t have experience in tunneling is untrue,” she adds, saying they’ve gone to lengths to explore the ITT in every aspect, and to constantly have it suggested that they’re not is “insulting.”

Next – why the punitive approach on the low bridge? “It feels like the city doesn’t appreciate what residents are going through.” Herbold takes this on first. She reiterates that the enforcement cameras will start with only warnings through year’s end. The state legislation that authorized it was intended to keep unauthorized vehicles out of transit lanes, and that’s “the function of the lower-level bridge right now.” It’s important that people respect its limited capacity, she stresses. When ticketing starts, it’ll be $75. Then she hands it over to Marx to talk about the low bridge’s capacity: 450 an hour “before we start impacting emergency services,” as she’s said at many briefings before. “What automated enforcement allows us to do is to be more finely grained” about access – perhaps allowing medical professionals, people who need life-saving medical treatments. She says she does understand as she lives in here and has a family and transportation challenges too: “We’re all in this together … The city IS on your side … We really have to protect the low bridge for emergency services.” Herbold notes that the camera use also will allow SDOT to better examine traffic patterns on the low bridge, which could in turn lead to other policy changes for usage. “We’re all pushing SDOT to … examine these policies.”

7:19 PM: Next Q, any plan to encourage better usage of park and rides, add more, encourage more water taxi usage, etc.? “All those ideas are definitely in play at this time,” Zora replies. Is there a time frame? Callanan follows up. Next few months, says Zora. They’re taking into account all the feedback from the 15,000+ respondents to the mobility survey.

Next Q, what will they do to encourage repair-or-replace crew to work as fast as possible? Marx replies, “How many crews and the hours of work are ‘means and methods,’ and we generally leave that up to the contractor … One of the things we can do is include some pay for performance measures,” such as a financial incentive for delivering early. The question is “absolutely valid,” she affirms.

Then: Why hasn’t there been much discussion about combining with light rail? “It’s a little bit complicated,” says Marx, adding that they are continuing to talk with Sound Transit about “the advisability of combining both bridges.” (ST has always been planning its own cross-Duwamish bridge, you might recall.) There might be wisdom in having two separate structures, she says. “There are good reasons to combine the structures, good reasons to keep them separate … you can rest assured those conversations are happening on a weekly basis.” Herbold adds that if a new West Seattle structure is built, it would be ’24-’26, but ST’s timeline is years later. She says she sent a letter about including this in the draft Environmental Impact Statement that ST is working on; they said it can’t be included but there’s “potential they could add it for analysis in the final EIS.”

7:27 PM: Why couldn’t the Longhouse just get a simple crosswalk? Marx explains that they have to have a signal before they can put in a crosswalk, and that (as mentioned in the West Marginal Way presentation) it will all be fully funded by the bridge project. “The interim signal will be installed in mid-2021,” Zora notes. (As we’ve reported, and as Marx added, dealing with the railroad tracks is what will take extra time.)

7:30 PM: This is wrapping up. In closing, Herbold says her office has ‘a big backlog of emails” and she and her staff are “doing everything we can” to get answers. Callanan says unanswered questions from tonight will be forwarded to her office too.

WHAT’S NEXT: Two related meetings are coming up next Wednesday (October 7th) – the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meets at noon, and the District 1 Community Network is scheduled to have Councilmember Herbold as a guest at 7 pm. We’ll have connection information on both as they get closer.

31 Replies to "UPDATE: Councilmember Herbold's Town Hall, hour 2 - West Seattle Bridge"

  • flimflam September 30, 2020 (7:46 pm)

    Lol, so it’s hard to respond to the “backlog of emails” via the usual form letter?

  • DH September 30, 2020 (8:30 pm)

    For all those bitching about the rerouted traffic, now you understand what those living on Fauntleroy go through every day due to traffic. The speed limit is 25! Stop going >50! It’s not a freeway and stop speeding through my residence! Maybe think next time your speeding in my neighborhood. Seattle residents only think about themselves!

    • Whatever September 30, 2020 (9:06 pm)

      What did you expect when you bought your house?  Commuter road/Ferry traffic. You should be yelling at the city to build a dock for Vashon/Southworth traffic in downtown instead. 

      • DH September 30, 2020 (9:57 pm)

        ???? A speed limit of 25MPH as posted. There’s an elementary school.  That’s what o expected.  Ok, 30 or 35 I can get by with. But 50+ in a 25 next to a school? Using the center lane to pass.  Thats a complete disregard! I’ve almost been hit a dozen times in the crosswalk on a red. I didn’t expect that! Again, you care about yourself and no one else!

        • Anonymous September 30, 2020 (10:54 pm)

          DH has a good point.  People fly on that short stretch of road.  No excuse for such dangerous speeding.  Why not put speed humps throughout Fauntleroy to discourage speeders?  Speed humps and maybe roundabouts?  That would force people to abide, not cost a lot, and make things safer.

  • Question Authority September 30, 2020 (8:50 pm)

    Vigor Portland huh?  Vigor Seattle is walking distance away from the jobsite.  Only three more months till the $75.00 fines start and it couldn’t be soon enough, hopefully it doubles every violation.

    • WSB September 30, 2020 (9:10 pm)

      I don’t think they make metal brackets at Vigor Seattle. It’s a shipyard, while Vigor has several types of other fabrication facilities in the Portland area (to be very geo-specific, I believe Heather Marx said Vancouver, WA).

      • AB83 October 1, 2020 (5:18 am)

        It could have very easily been done at the vigor Seattle location also on another note she mentioned that they were 1200 pounds I counted 10 of them but there are probably more That’s 12,000 pounds staged in what seems to be a close proximity Not to mention the construction vehicles on top of the bridge can someone please explain to me if that amount of weight is allowed how could a couple of ambulances really cause more deterioration

    • TK October 2, 2020 (9:21 am)

      Did it ever cross your puny little brain that maybe, just maybe, Vigor Seattle doesn’t make the necessary brackets/items? #SMH

      • AB83 October 2, 2020 (5:23 pm)

        Did it ever cross your ignorant mind that I work there and know what we are capable of doing

  • Roms September 30, 2020 (9:38 pm)

    “The city IS on your side” Marx says. Is that a Jedi mind trick?

  • PigeonRidge September 30, 2020 (9:41 pm)

    We’re lucky to have CM Herbold. Her values are obvious, like them or not, but under that topical assessment she is a steady hand at the wheel and her quiet competence betrays her career long engagement with community and policy. 

    • K. Davis September 30, 2020 (10:10 pm)

      Are you serious?  Ms. Herbold has been an abject failure as our representative on the city council.  “Competence” is not – remotely – the word that comes to mind.  It may be unkind, but she is a hack – craven and given over to whatever the crowd yells loudest for.  We elect representatives not to do what uninformed constituents demand, but instead, to make educated and informed decisions.  Ms. Herbold has yet to remotely demonstrate that basic form of competence.  We’re stuck with her until the next election, but I’ll be looking to vote for anyone else.

      • Jon Wright September 30, 2020 (11:05 pm)

        This is just the sort of thing that lots of blog commenters were posting a year ago…and then Councilmember Herbold was handily re-elected. I understand it is frustrating when one doesn’t like their elected representative but you need to accept that Councilmember Herbold is very popular in the district. 

        • Alan Ford October 1, 2020 (8:49 am)

          It has now been nearly seven months and we still don’t even have a left turn lane on Marginal/Highland that should have been done in week 2, maybe 3. Has anyone even considered building an inexpensive temporary pedestrian/bicycle bridge and removing those lanes from the lower bridge so it could be opened for general traffic? No? If the upper bridge needs to be replaced, we’re supposed to live like this for the next 7-8 years? Well, at least we’ll finally get cheap housing here as a result of the mass exodus when that happens.

    • Anne October 1, 2020 (7:06 am)

      Are you serious?? Are you talking about a Lisa Herbold that lives in an alternate reality-because the one that lives here-well competent in no way describes this Lisa Herbold. 

  • Pete September 30, 2020 (9:58 pm)

    Did you like the detailed plans for dealing with the issues that the combination of the closure of the West Seattle high bridge and the two year Rapid Ride H construction project have created? Yeah me neither since there aren’t any. 

  • Jason September 30, 2020 (10:11 pm)

    Did I hear it will take 2 years to build a traffic signal/crosswalk? What? – I understand the railroad is involved but c’mon? If it takes two years for this group to build a sidewalk we have no hope for the bridge anytime soon!  Were is the urgency in this project? I heard they are still “considering” park and rides on the other side of the river – it’s been 6 months!  At this pace we’re in trouble for a loooong time.  Lisa – light a fire – let’s go!!

    • Jon Wright September 30, 2020 (11:00 pm)

      No, you clearly DON’T understand what the railroad being involved means. The 4th Ave S bridge over the Union Pacific rail yard has been in purgatory for years because the railroad won’t play ball. Quiet zones around Terminal 5? Contingent on the railroad’s cooperation. The railroad can pretty much do whatever it wants with impunity and so any project that involves them typically takes an exceptionally long time.

      • chemist October 1, 2020 (1:15 am)

         because the railroad won’t play ball

        One giant bureaucracy that’s used to being in charge meets another giant bureaucracy that is frequently nipped at by SDOT.  Rechannelization with increased loads, deterioration leading to weight reduction… kind of repeated itself with the WSBridge.  Feb 2019 WSB story

        Since the 1985 rechannelization to 4 lanes, we have seen increased traffic and loads (17,000 daily users in both directions) as well as a deterioration of the cantilevered ends of the span piers. While these restrictions ensure the bridge remains safe to travel on, the outer edges of the bridge cannot continue to support the loads it was carrying. In late 2017, we decided to close the northbound curb lane and restrict large trucks from using the southbound curb lane to protect the structural integrity of the bridge and ensure that it remains safe to drive on. … This project has been complicated by the fact that Union Pacific Railroad owns the right-of-way under the bridge and the permit we received from Union Pacific Railroad requires that we do not work in the Argo rail yard. Working on top of the bridge makes the repairs more complex. … Once we get started, the repairs should take anywhere from 6 to 9 months to complete and we hope to have the northbound curb lane reopened by the end of this year or early 2020.

    • LK October 1, 2020 (7:31 am)

      Bingo. Looking at the time it took to build the tunnel/99 replacement as my yardstick. I had 2 friends die in the time it took to complete this project, both relatively young (under 45) and excited to see it through to completion.  Very sad to have sold my cherished West Seattle home last week and will miss my neighborhood and neighbors dearly, but the writing is on the wall with this fiasco. West Seattlites deserve way better. 

  • FixIt October 1, 2020 (5:27 am)

    Fix the bridge. Seattle is not capable of anything beyond a repair. 

  • Smittytheclown October 1, 2020 (6:42 am)

    Why can’t emergency vehicles use the high bridge?  Seems like stationing people at either end to open/closed access 24/7 is worth the valuable time to save lives?

    • wetone October 1, 2020 (3:58 pm)

                           Seattle Politics          and I believe swing bridge is wide enough for emergency vehicles to travel between east/west lanes if vehicles move to curb. If not it is very short distance vehicles would need to move for clear path.   

  • Steve October 1, 2020 (7:43 am)

    We had an emergency trip  from Alki to Swedish Hospital on Monday afternoon…it feel justified and we took the low bridge for the very first time through all of this.  I was absolutely shocked at the number of single passenger vehicles using the lower bridge trying to get back to WS at 430pm.  They should all be ticketed with the revenue going to repair the high bridge!

    • PAT October 2, 2020 (2:57 am)

      Great idea! I hope the health situation is all better now.

  • anonyme October 1, 2020 (8:14 am)

    Here is a typical interaction with Herbold’s office: after making every attempt to deal with a situation through direct channels (like SDOT) you write to Herbold asking for intervention.  One of her staff members forwards your email to the agency in question.  That’s it.  Of course, the agency replies with the same BS they’ve been giving you the runaround with all along.  Herbold’s office then forwards that message back to you.  Case closed!  Problem solved! You won’t hear a word again from her until you get an email demanding emergency funds for her campaign. Apparently, Herbold’s job consists entirely of using the ‘forward’ button in an email program.  I’m wondering: did council members take pay cuts as part of their pandemic austerity plan?

  • WSResidentsDeserveBetter October 1, 2020 (5:36 pm)

    I believe this may be the question I submitted and  I understand that the entire question could not be transcribed so here  in full because the abbreviated version has a slightly different tone:  Why is it that the City is leading with punitive measures over prioritizing traffic-easing solutions, perhaps including the low bridge, left-turn traffic signals, et.al.? The City’s priority seems to be to exploit and monetize the situation despite the fact that six months in there is no clear plan for relief. After sitting in traffic day in and day out for more than 40 additional minutes in each direction, and watching the traffic situation get worse week by week,  while more neighbors move away, I get the distinct impression that the City just doesn’t care about West Seattle residents.  

    • Seattlite October 1, 2020 (9:52 pm)

      That’s it in a nutshell…The Peninsula and its residents are being hung out to dry.

    • Canton October 1, 2020 (11:09 pm)

      Unfortunately, we get the same respect as the Magnolia bridge. It seems city leaders are more concerned with personal agendas, than actual infrastructure issues. After all, the WS bridge could take a decade to remedy. Are any of our elected officials thinking a decade from now? Naw, just personal agendas. 

      • Ryan Packer October 2, 2020 (11:40 am)

        What’s the carbon parts per million level going to be at a decade from now?    

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