FOLLOWUP: Here’s how that West Seattle Bridge survey turned out

(WSB photo)

Last Monday night, we reported on City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s unofficial survey asking whether you support repairing the West Seattle Bridge or replacing it. She announced results in her newest weekly update:

On October 12 at approximately 7 p.m., I conducted an online survey asking whether people support a repair or a replacement of the West Seattle Bridge.

It’s not a scientific survey, and geographic responses aren’t representative of District 1 overall. That said, it is useful for receiving feedback from constituents at this point in time. Thank you to all who engaged.

As of 7 p.m. on October 14, approximately 7,000 people had participated and of them, 59.8% favored repair, 36% supported replacement, and 4.2% supported other.

39% of replies were from 98116, the zip code furthest north in West Seattle. Other zip codes, such as 98106 and 98126, stretch from north to south, 98126 is in the central portion, 98106 in the eastern portion. 98136 is the SW portion of West Seattle, and 98108 includes South Park. 98146 includes the very southwest portions of the city.

Zip Repair Replace % of Total Replies
98116 66.8% 29.6% 39% of total
98126 64.7% 31.39% 24% of total
98136 58.6% 37.1% 16% of total
98106 41.7% 54.6% 16% of total
98146 37.3% 60% 4% of total
98108 34% 66% 1% of total

Her weekly update also recapped the major headlines from last week’s extra meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, which we covered Wednesday afternoon – that the Cost-Benefit Analysis won’t be out until next week, so the timeline for the mayor’s decision is pushed back, and that a new “rapid replacement” option had surfaced. Both the CBA and the new option will be discussed at the next CTF meeting, noon Wednesday (October 21st) online.

46 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Here's how that West Seattle Bridge survey turned out"

  • psps October 17, 2020 (10:53 am)

    Gee, imagine that.  Those that live closer to and, thus, rely on the bridge more that the others, vote to repair it.  But I presume there will be a chorus of “oh, they’re confused” while some technicality (or fetish) alters the course of this “big decision.” Kind of like the car tabs racket.

    • Amy October 17, 2020 (11:16 am)

      And those that live in the zip code that neighborhood has become a detour route would like it fixed ASAP as well.

      • Chaz October 17, 2020 (8:27 pm)

        ^What she said. Speeding and flagrant disrespect of traffic laws has exploded on Highland Park streets since the shutdown. Ready for the angry people to GTFO.

      • Kathy October 18, 2020 (3:33 pm)

        Really? It looks like the three zipcodes containing east duwamish, South Park, White Center and Arbor Heights all favored replace, which would probably take longer. Granted, there was a lower response rate from those areas (21% combined). 

  • StuckInTraffic October 17, 2020 (11:14 am)

    This was just such a fluff ball of a survey.  Not sure what you’d actually do with this, nor what conclusions can reliably be drawn.  We’ve lost 6 months fiddling while Rome burns trying to just make a decision on what to do.  We should have proceeded with planning the replacement regardless of repair decision, and gathering funding.  Instead, we’re just somewhat more knowledgeable (but not conclusively) of what it would take to repair the bridge, and little else.  Still clearly a decision and task beyond the SDOT leadership’s capabilities and we’ve made a bunch of committees and studies and surveys….perhaps to divide accountability so wide that no one can be blamed when we’re still doing the West Marginal shuffle in 2028.

  • dcn October 17, 2020 (11:22 am)

    I voted twice, just because I was curious to see if I could. I’m sure others might have done the same. Maybe some voted 30 times. This survey was completely meaningless. I know they said it was not scientific, but if you’re going to do a survey and are genuinely wanting information from that survey, then take the time to do it right.

  • TM7302 October 17, 2020 (11:42 am)

    Yep, exactly right.  I completed the survey about 50 times…

    • Stickerbush October 18, 2020 (9:15 am)

      You don’t know that all of those votes were counted. Unless you voted from different computers at different locations it’s likely that only one vote was counted. The people at Google that create the infrastructure for surveys aren’t dummies.

      • RandomGeek October 18, 2020 (7:10 pm)

        Has nothing to do with Google employing smart people but rather the setup of an anonymous survey. It’s designed to be anonymous, so a simple incognito browser session and you can vote as much as you’d like. 

      • TR October 20, 2020 (9:49 am)

        Sorry to disappoint but Google doesn’t set up infrastructure surveys. This is just a way to create and send out survey forms that anyone with a G Suite account can do. I’m a pentester and could easily get my vote to count twice. However, I am very much in favor of repair as this problem is having a huge impact on people’s lives over here. People who don’t live here should not get to vote. People on the city council who don’t drive to work from West Seattle should move over here and do it for a month before they vote as well. Idealism is great but reality is get on it so people can live their lives. If you want to replace do that also not instead of resolving the immediate problem.And the problem likely got worse due to that downtown tunnel that has fewer lanes than the structure it replaced and caused instability on already unstable ground. Seattle is built on tide flats. Now piers are falling apart. Don’t cause more instability. Whatever you do.

  • Frog October 17, 2020 (11:45 am)

    Well, then, that settles it.  Repair it is.  The people have spoken.  I assume they will start Monday.

    • Jade Kelly October 18, 2020 (1:26 am)

      The best. Well played sir well played

  • BBILL October 17, 2020 (12:02 pm)

    Other than desperation for an immediate fix, much like a drug addict, I
    wonder what the decision making process was for those who selected “repair.” With such limited public information, there is no way that I could prioritize repair over replace, or replace over repair.

    • Spencer October 17, 2020 (10:38 pm)

      I selected “repair” as it seemed like the most sensible option.  Why wait for a replacement when a repair would be quicker?

      • BBILL October 18, 2020 (1:06 pm)

        What happens when the (expensive) repair fails? I’m especially interested in what happens if the repair fails in a short amount of time.

        • AnxiousOnAdmiral October 19, 2020 (2:54 pm)

          It’s an equally fair question to ask about if a replacement fails, given that the current bridge is only 36 years old. Not sure why everyone seems convinced a replacement would be perfect in every way- I’m sure they thought the same thing in ’84, and yet, here we are. Have experts not suggested a minimum 15 years post-repair? Seems like good time to buy while planning a tunnel replacement.

          • BBILL October 19, 2020 (6:57 pm)

            Hopefully the data is presented that establishes the risk of a brand new structure failing early versus a repaired 35 year old structure with a 75 year life expectancy failing early again. My *guess* is that a brand new structure has a much greater chance of long life, but maybe if rehabilitated this old bridge would outlast a brand new bridge.

  • JT October 17, 2020 (12:11 pm)

    For those that voted multiple times to try to get the result YOU wanted, way to ruin democracy and make the survey more meaningless and less representative of the people.

    • Moe October 18, 2020 (8:56 am)

      If they allow you then why not? Utopia will NEVER HAPPEN

      • JT October 19, 2020 (11:12 am)

        So if there’s a loophole, exploit it or practice good ethics? If a grocery store unintentionally allows shoplifting to happen with lack security, you would shoplift?

  • Julia October 17, 2020 (12:36 pm)

    I didn’t bother responding as it was such a waste of time (mine as well as Herbold’s). Most of us have no idea which is the best answer. That’s why we employ engineers and financial analysts.

  • An actual researcher October 17, 2020 (12:43 pm)

    What on Earth? I agree. This is meaningless. I want the city to make an informed decision using hard data. Bridge Engineers and inspectors along with people who understand the city budget. Impact of these decisions should be weighed. Don’t ask me! I don’t know jack about bridges!

  • wsperson October 17, 2020 (12:57 pm)

    If they decide to repair it, will they know if the repair worked before cars start driving on it? Or is it possible that they will find out that the repair failed?

  • old timer October 17, 2020 (1:00 pm)

    I don’t know.  Repair, replace, whatever it is, I’m sure there will be a toll to pay for it.  At the same time, Sound Transit will be consuming more of the region’s scarce financial resources to build it’s own bridge, to be used exclusively for it’s light rail. How does this make any sense?

  • Sb2780 October 17, 2020 (1:24 pm)

    WSB—Do you know what is going on with SDOT and installation work at the low bridge this morning? I saw them putting up  automated speed signs. Is this part of the camera ticketing system or something else?

    • WSB October 17, 2020 (2:10 pm)

      Don’t know, will check.

  • KM October 17, 2020 (1:46 pm)

    While a useless survey, wasn’t the third option “Not Sure” rather than “Other?” I don’t recall being able to supply an “other” option.

  • Chris October 17, 2020 (2:33 pm)

    All of this is a moot point according to the post intelligencer. The PI is reporting that there is a new option with a steel bridge that could take as little as three years for replacement.

  • SlimJim October 17, 2020 (3:02 pm)

    Are any of us really surprised Herbold would be holding her finger to the wind to see which way the political wind is blowing? We’ve already seen how she has no rudder of her own. “I was for it before I was against it. But stick around, that may change again.”If there is a split among citizens over which course to take on any decision (& naturally there often is) you can’t always just “do what the voters want” but have to have a compass of your own and an ability to make a choice, tough or not.

  • JTinWS October 17, 2020 (3:15 pm)

    I voted repair because I don’t have any faith in their lifespan estimates for a replacement bridge. If the last one failed decades ahead of schedule, why won’t the replacement?

  • Rick October 17, 2020 (3:45 pm)

    I voted “repair” as I’m not sure of my lifespan.

    • Spencer October 17, 2020 (10:39 pm)


  • Mj October 17, 2020 (4:17 pm)

    The bridge is repairable, and until very recently that appeared to be the direction of the conversation. 

    The challenge of the repair option is that would likely cost the City more $’s versus a replacement that they hope to have paid for by others. 

    It’s the City’s fault for not maintaining the bridge in the first place and it’s blatantly unfair to WS residents and businesses not to repair the bridge yesterday.  The City has money it’s simply a matter of making the bridge the #1 priority.

  • Robert Goulet October 17, 2020 (9:43 pm)

    What’s the point of the survey?  Of course ppl want to end the inconvenience and hassles that come from the bridge shutdown.  Doesn’t matter if the bridge lasts 5, 10, 15 years.  It’s kicking the can down the road.  We tend to do that as a species.

    • wsalien October 18, 2020 (10:47 am)

      The point of the survey was to find out what voters want so they can pretend that they’re going to give it to them.

      • SlimJim October 18, 2020 (1:15 pm)

        Exactly. It’s basically just Herbold’s CYA attempt.

  • Swdbear October 18, 2020 (6:59 am)

    Can’t wait till yall start getting Tolled to cross a repaired bridge, or a new one… if it was I, I’d prefer to pay Toll for a new one….

    • Fix the Bridge October 18, 2020 (6:22 pm)

      Excuse me but a new bridge does the exact same thing our current bridge does. Carry cars over the river.  Spending a billion dollars to get a shiny new bridge that does the same thing our current bridge does is about the dumbest waste of money ever. 

  • Stuck in Roxbury Traffic October 18, 2020 (7:13 am)

    Repair, then they can wrap the replacement with Sound Transit work and have the time to think about this more clearly. I don’t think SDOT makes informed decisions based on the work they have done so far with the street car for one.

  • FixTheBridge October 18, 2020 (8:50 am)

    This is the dumbest exercise in dysfunctional government ever. Any normal city would fix a broken but fixable bridge and make the fix last 40 years via regular maintenance. We have a very radical agency called SDOT that wants a magical world where everyone rides a flying unicorn around and roads are replaced with fields of ambrosia. We are led by finger painting children and it is no wonder business after business is fleeing Seattle. Any adult left in the city needs to start participating and demand Jenny Durkan fix our bridge. Goodness. Come on people. There is nothing illiberal about a working bridge. 

  • Smile! October 18, 2020 (11:44 am)

    Cameras are up on the low bridge. Welcome to West Berlin. West Seattle pushed the city to install cameras that SDOT projects will generate $4,000,000 for them. So they fail to maintain a bridge then fleece our community for millions of dollars while demanding a bus fee to use the only bridge available on the north end?What an awesome quality of life. 

  • rpo October 18, 2020 (12:24 pm)

    The bridge isn’t closed because SDOT failed to do maintenance. Lits of commenters started that. It’s closed because of a design failure that led to the concrete cracking. Maintenance, or the lack thereof, had nothing to do with that. 

  • Mj October 18, 2020 (1:08 pm)

    rpo – you wrong, SDoT identified that bearing 18 was stuck in 2014 and failed to fix it, choosing to monitor the situation instead.  If they had made the fix then we would not be having this conversation.

  • Gle777 October 18, 2020 (3:42 pm)

    Tear down the bridge/build a tunnel under the water.

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