VIDEO: Repair or replace? What West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force members told the mayor, and what’s next

(Archived stream of Community Task Force meeting starts 5 minutes in)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

No date yet for Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s decision on the seven-months-closed West Seattle Bridge‘s future, but she has much to consider after spending about an hour listening to Community Task Force members’ opinions.

There was no clear consensus – some are supporting repair (the fastest option), some are supporting replacement, but even those in the latter camp acknowledged that it’s conditional on whether the newly revealed “rapid span replacement” possibility really could be delivered in the relatively lightning-fast time frame that consulting firm WSP suggested.

Wednesday afternoon’s discussion started with a technical Q&A that included more clarification about the feasibility of repairs. Here’s how it all went, and what’s next:

First – note that unlike previous reports, you won’t see highlights from a slide deck, because for this all-discussion, no-presentation meeting, there wasn’t one. “A little less Power-Pointing and a little more talking” is how SDOT communications director Michael Harold characterized the meeting at its start.

Actually, a lot more talking. The Community Task Force’s early meetings had almost no time for discussion, and that’s gradually changed.

As always, the CTF co-chairs – Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition executive director Paulina López and former mayor Greg Nickels – set the stage. As López noted, it’s “a critical time right now” for the decisionmaking process.

TECHNICAL Q&A: Before the mayor joined the meeting, the CTF had ~20 minutes for Q&A with Technical Advisory Panel co-chair Barbara Moffat as well as SDOT’s interim roadways structure director Matt Donahue, program manager Greg Izzo, and bridge-project leader Heather Marx.

Nickels asked Moffat what the TAP has to say about the “rapid replacement” superstructure replacement discussed during the last meeting (WSB coverage here). “It’s an exciting concept,” Moffat said. “Obviously it is not fully designed yet … what we can say (is) that it should be considered a subset of what you’re seeing as Alternative 4 in the (recently released Cost-Benefit Analysis),” which is what the Task Force was told last week too. Main point, it’s not an entirely new option – it’s a subset of the CBA’s Alternative 4, “superstructure replacement.” Is it feasible? “There are definitely challenges,” but any option has risks, “nothing the TAP has seen that would (suggest it’s) not possible at this time … Very nice-looking structure and we do believe it’s something that should be looked at further” if replacement is the choice and a Type/Size/ Location study ensues. She cautioned that it’s too soon to say if the suggestion of a two-year delivery timetable is realistic.

CTF member Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) asked about page 59 in the CBA, which you can see here:

Higuera said that section suggested that immediate closures are considered more impactful than future closures (say, a post-repair replacement shutdown) because among other things, light rail would theoretically be available. “I didn’t get the impression the CBA had fully captured the cost to (residents, businesses, etc.).” In other words, the CBA suggests minimizing closure time.

Izzo said the total lifecycle costs helped bring the repair alternative impact closer to the superstructure-replacement option. Moffat added that “it’s critical for us to recognize” that speed of returning traffic to the bridge is not the only factor under consideration. “While (time) is a very important attribute, it’s not the only (important) one.”

Higuera responded by reminding them that “there’s a lot at stake” economically that the CBA doesn’t address.

West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s CTF rep Dan Austin asked Moffat why the TAP rated repair higher. “We looked at it more technically” than consultant WSP, she replied. “From a technical perspective, it’s repairable,” so it rated highest for them. “The CBA showed that (repair) is higher in the value index … followed very closely by Alternative 4 [superstructure replacement] … they are both feasible.”

West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s Deb Barker said she concurred with Higuera and also pointed to CBA page 24, which suggested more study of economic impacts on marginalized communities. “It’s not like a smoking gun, but maybe that whole idea is more like a smoking car that needs to get our attention.” Barker also said she’d like to hear more about the reality of Sound Transit light rail’s availability after 2030, as ST itself hasn’t completed its rescheduling decisions. She also asked about the origins of the repair choice meaning the bridge would have to be replaced in the 2060s. Izzo said, “That’s based on the (estimated) life cycle of the bridge.” Is that realistic? Moffat said the TAP believes the 40-year projection is realistic – the rest of the bridge is in pretty good shape.

West Seattle Bridge NOW‘s Jen Temple observed that it’s hard to compare something with more information available – repair – with something like the superstructure replacement that requires a lot more investigation. Moffat said any new bridge design would require more work, and she reiterated that it’s a “good concept” that should indeed be investigated further IF replacement is the chosen pathway. It does not appear to have any “fatal flaws,” she added.

MAYOR LISTENS: Mayor Durkan joined a half-hour into the meeting. In her remarks, she said she’s getting briefings at least once a week on the bridge so mostly wanted to hear what Community Task Force members are thinking. She also said she’s been talking with state legislators. She continues to focus on three questions – how much is the chosen alternative going to cost (to build and maintain)? how long will it last? when can we get it open? “I know the impacts of (the bridge closure) cannot be overstated.”

She mentioned the federal declaration that Seattle is an “anarchist jurisdiction” could affect transportation grants, they learned earlier this month, and that’s part of why the city joined in a lawsuit challenging it.

Then, on to the listening. Community members on the CTF were given the chance to speak before the elected officials who are on the CTF.

Marci Carpenter from the Washington chapter of the National Federation for the Blind said she was leaning “repair” until the “rapid replacement” possibility surfaced. “Repair will get us open faster, but we don’t know how long the other parts of the bridge will last,” and maintenance money is a concern. So she’s now thinking replace is the best option, with the hope that the “rapid replacement” option will be doable.

Jill Mackie from Vigor said her company is a bridge fabricator as well as a marine fabricator, and a potential fabricator in the rapid-replacement option, which could generate local jobs, so they’re supporting that – or, if it proves infeasible, repairs, as speed is vital.

Diane Sosne of SEIU Healthcare 1199 said decisionmaking should be on a fast track. She also noted that this bridge “has broad implications for the entire area” beyond West Seattle – other people trying to “get in to do their jobs” as well as West Seattleites trying to “get out.” She also asked about the mayor’s timeline.

Austin said he supported job creation too but wanted to ‘save as many jobs in West Seattle” as possible – “we’re hurting on multiple fronts, we need the bridge restored as soon as possible.” As a result, he supports repair and considers the rapid replacement “a unicorn project” with unrealistic timelines. Also in terms of the cost, “$47 million to repair the bridge seems like a no-brainer to me.” His wife, a health-care worker, “is stuck in traffic three hours a day.” He concluded, “I hope we don’t all get distracted by a slick video … that’s a sales pitch to get us to buy (the “rapid span replacement”) bridge.”

Barker said she’s “a replacement fan, I’m not interested in kicking the can down the road. … I want to see more urgency … (regarding) permitting and funding.”

Highland Park neighborhood representative Colleen Desmond mentioned the dramatic traffic impacts that detours are having in her area. “The urgency for me is really about the people and how this is affecting” neighborhoods like hers, South Park, Georgetown, etc.

John Persak, from Georgetown and the maritime labor community, offered “points in favor of replacement” – the $47 million for repair, he assumed, would be local money, which means “$47 million less than we would be able to spend” on transportation maintenance elsewhere. Also: The risk – while the bridge is closed, people are coping, but repairs would mean a second shutdown somewhere down the road, maybe even three total shutdowns.

Temple said she agreed with Austin and said that WSBN is in favor of repairing – “it’s the only way to get us back to full mobility” in a realistic timeframe; the “rapid replacement” has too many question marks.

Higuera said she originally had started with seismic concerns “and then as we learned more and more about the options, I’ve come back around … (to believe) that repair is the best decision .. it buys us a lot of time to plan for a replacement … it’s hard to plan for a replacement right now with so many (involved) jurisdictions. … other alternatives have a lot of risks … I’m really concerned about what will happen to the West Seattle community if we don’t get moving again.”

Tim McConnell of West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor) said he’s been going back and forth between repair and rapid replacement, but there are so many question marks about the latter, he’s currently supporting the former. “I understand that kicking the can down the road isn’t the best option, but we need to get everybody moving” as fast as possible.

Peter Goldman, environmental/bicycling advocate, said he’s “leaning toward replacement because we have to consider the long view.” He empathizes with people going through hardship now but … “I would urge you to use whatever power you have to get Sound Transit more involved in this decision … It makes no sense to me … that we can’t coordinate on (the river) crossing .. I would urge you to convene an emergency with Sound Transit …” to collaborate and “coordinate this decision.”

Katie Garrow of MLK Labor said “nothing has persuaded me so far that repair is the best option.” As a 32-year-old homeowner who hopes to spend the rest of her life in West Seattle, “I’m in here for the long game .. I don’t want to see the bridge shut down again in my lifetime.” She’s supporting replacement.

David Bestock of Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association echoed Goldman, “I think it’s silly not to be in coordination with Sound Transit,” so for that reason, he’s leaning toward replacement.

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold said she hears “every day from residents and businesses that are hurting … the sooner we can restore access,” the better. “Two years for a repair is shorter than other alternatives, the capital cost is (less), the council is poised to authorize $100 million in debt … the TAP’s confidence is strong that a repair will last 40 years is compelling … the council’s independent consultant also has (taken a look) and they seem to be in concurrence … on a repair.” Any replacement “would have to perform better … any option that takes six years is not viable.” Even the “rapid span replacement” has a lot of risks that she doesn’t think seem conquerable via political will. “I just don’t feel this latebreaking option gives me the confidence that this is the direction we dhould be going with.”

Seattle Port Commission president Peter Steinbrueck said it’s too soon to settle on one decision or the other. “It’s a marketing job to say we can do a rapid replacement in 3 years.” Nationwide, he said, there are tens of thousands of bridges in critical need. “If we think we can suddenly rise to the top as the #1 priority in the United States” for federal funding, think again, he said. “So let’s get sober about this.” Meantime, he said there’s a lot of discrepancy between opinions about how long a repaired bridge would last. “What matters most to businesses, residents, and the seaport, is to get capacity restored as quickly as possible.” He too raised questions about the reality of a suggested hyper-speedy environmental review process and the reality of funding for a full replacement. Plus, “we really ought to have a replacement that includes light rail.’ That would make environmental sense too.

Todd Carden of Elliott Bay Brewing said, “I am a firm believer in repairing the bridge now,” because of potential “devastating impacts” if it drags on too long. Communities impacted by detour traffic “can’t sustain this for years. … The environmental, social (costs) are huge .. it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. .. Work toward a future replacement, but get the ball rolling now.”

Mark Aytch from the Roxhill neighborhood said he would “lean strongly toward replacing the bridge … even though this seems like a curse, it’s also an opportunity” to incorporate light rail into the bridge, among other things.

Lora Radford of the West Seattle Junction Association said she had just met with her board, “12 very involved business owners” and nonprofit leaders, and from that, plus a survey of businesses, “overwhelmingly, the response is, please repair the bridge, let’s do it safely, and as quickly as possible,” then look at future replacement. “Let’s get the engine of commerce going again.”

Nickels observed, “There’s not a unanimous feeling … the overwhelming feeling (though) is that time is of the essence,” and waiting until 2026 (the potential timetable for a full replacement, or a non-“rapid” partial replacement) “really is too long.” He noted that he served on the Sound Transit West Seattle-Ballard Link Extension Stakeholder Advisory Group so is familiar with that project. “I did not favor repair when I started this process … now we’re hearing from credible sources that a (repair could last) as much as 40 years, and Sound Transit (could be) done by then, and we’d have a backup.” He says the “rapid replacement” needs a lot of vetting, as “intriguing” as it is.

López said the decision has to give equity the most weight, and also consider the human cost – including environmental justice.

Given a chance for closing comments before leaving the meeting, the mayor said she can’t give a date for her decision, but “we’re going to make it in a timeframe that we’re not going to lose time.” She said she agrees on coordinating with Sound Transit – which has all along planned to build its own bridge crossing the Duwamish for light rail – so “we will continue to push Sound Transit to see if there are some packages we could put together.” But there’s still a lot of questions about the light rail route itself (the alignment will not be finalized until environmental studies are complete in about a year and a half); Durkan said she feels its bridge needs to be “multi-modal.”

As for funding, Durkan responded to Steinbrueck’s concern, saying that while there are indeed many bridges in trouble nationwide, this is the only one of its kind that is out of service, and that would seem to confer extra urgency/importance. She said she originally felt replacement “wasn’t even on the table” because of the time frame, and because “we gotta get this thing up and going,” But the city also doesn’t want to make a mistake – it’s imperative to ensure that the decision is a lasting one, she said.

After she left, the meeting concluded with another chance for technical Q&A. Desmond asked about the approach structures. Marx said that as a reference to the rest of the bridge – such as the Spokane Street Viaduct (east of the 99 overpass) and Fauntleroy Expressway (the southwest end of the bridge), In theory, any replacement would be designed to not affect those structures. Marx also noted, “We are working with Sound Transit all the time” and warned that changes to the approach structures, adding to the project cost, would be needed if light rail were to be incorporated into this project. Moffat said that she was project manager on those approach structures, plus the 4th Avenue offramp, and those have already been retrofitted seismically – “that’s one less component to have to deal with in a seismic event. … The approaches are resilient, at this point.”

When would repairs be completed? SDOT says the current projected timeline is “mid-2022.”

Meantime, Marx took issue with the “unicorn” notion about the “rapid replacement.” “Replacing bridges rapidly is a thing that gets done – look at Minnesota, Genoa.” But she acknowledged that the idea of a fast environmental-impact study did indeed carry risks.

Moffat interjected that the “rapid span replacement” concept addresses some of the technical concerns the TAP had with “how is this going to work?” regarding a superstructure replacement. “It is far beyond what we originally had considered.”

Temple said that regarding Marx’s mention of the Genoa and Minnesota bridges, “one of the reasons rapid replacement feels like a unicorn is that we heard very early on that we aren’t Genoa, we aren’t Minnesota.” Marx said, “Early on, the question was, ‘why can’t we just do that?’ They had, like, federal money flowing in the next day. We don’t. It’s still going to require us to put the money together, it’s going to require … political will and community will.”

Toward the idea of fast permitting, Izzo added, “Our goal with rapid-span replacement is to avoid in-water work … which is often a complication with permitting.”

WHAT’S NEXT: The co-chairs are gathering members’ written comments for the mayor by week’s end. Her decision might happen before the CTF’s next scheduled meeting November 18th. Or, might not.

ADDED THURSDAY EVENING: Though the meeting did not include an update on current bridge work, the mayor mentioned in passing that the stabilization work had encountered a few challenges in recent days. No one asked a followup question about that, so we asked SDOT post-meeting to explain, and also asked for the newest timetable for the release of that stuck Pier 18 bearing. The reply:

Contractors are completing final adjustments and checks before cementing the temporary steel restrainer bracket into place at Pier 18. This bracket will help stabilize the bridge during the release of the restrained bearing at Pier 18. Last week, our contractor encountered some minor challenges while threading steel strands through ducts, which we have to complete before we can begin the Pier 18 release. This issue was resolved with only minor schedule impacts, putting us in a good place to begin the actual bearing release work next week.

38 Replies to "VIDEO: Repair or replace? What West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force members told the mayor, and what's next"

  • Kyle October 29, 2020 (12:54 pm)

    Thanks WSB for the detailed notes! I’m just curious, but when was it decided the Mayor makes this decision? Does SDOT have a process on when an infrastructure failure is big enough the mayor must make the repair decision? Also, it’s been 7 months…I hope they decide on this ’emergency’ soon for goodness sake.

  • Joe Z October 29, 2020 (1:21 pm)

    In my opinion it is inappropriate to do a replacement without conducting a full EIS. The environmental impacts of extending the bridge lifespan beyond the original 75 years need to be addressed. It would be better to repair the bridge and get it open ASAP, and then take the proper time and due diligence to replace the bridge. The EIS process should be equivalent to what is being done for light rail.

    Additionally, a 3-4 year closure for replacement will also be easier to stomach in the 2030s or beyond when we are connected to the regional light rail network. Right now that alternative isn’t available.

    • sw October 29, 2020 (1:50 pm)

      Joe Z for the win. This is the best scenario. 

    • DRC October 29, 2020 (3:15 pm)

        Light Rail is a Person mover NOT a Car mover

      • RPa October 29, 2020 (3:53 pm)

        Person moving should be the priority in a growing urban area, not car moving.

      • Joe Z October 29, 2020 (6:18 pm)

        Cars are Person movers

    • Rik October 29, 2020 (6:01 pm)

      If the WSB is repaired,  where do you think they will build the light rail track? I worry that if they only repair the bridge, the light rail project will gut bumped out to be done when the WSB is ultimately replaced. There is also no guarantee how long a repair will last.I live in WS and the bridge being out is the WORST but I want the light rail. The best choice is to replace and partner with SoundTransit on a joint project. ST needs to be encouraged, or told, to make WS the next line to be completed. ST has money. Seattle is always so short sided when it comes to transportation projects, it’s laughable. Let’s not make the same mistakes with the WSB and design a joint light rail project to get this done right! I’ll wait. :-) 

      • GA October 30, 2020 (6:58 pm)

        Rik, the repair option with a projected (by experts) 40 year life is not the slightest bit short-sighted. Ripping something out the minute it needs a repair is. Repair makes so much more sense. Get us moving! 

    • my two cents ... October 29, 2020 (7:15 pm)

      @Joe z basing the future of the bridge on the hope light rail will come in on time, and with the corresponding financing is akin to putting all of your eggs in one basket.

  • psps October 29, 2020 (2:09 pm)

    Yes, we obviously need more task forces, reports, analysis, “input,” etc., before doing anything. “Mid-2022” for it to open again?  What’s the rush?  We should still be analyzing and getting even more “input” well beyond that.

  • West Seattle Bridge NOW October 29, 2020 (2:59 pm)

    How many other bridges with 40 years of service life left in them are we talking about replacing? They would literally be tearing down a drivable bridge to build new. 95%+ chance of fulfilling its 40 year life expectancy. Reopen in months, not years. Affordable to complete the repair without adding tolls for a new bridge we don’t need. And fiscally and environmentally responsible… because new steel and concrete comes at the expense of our climate and kid’s financial futures. It’s time to make a decision for repair. 

  • Steve October 29, 2020 (3:07 pm)

    I’ve lived here in West Seattle for ‘only’ 20 years and still feel like a newcomer!  But I remember when the first bridge was closed and the pain the community went through.  We feel so isolated and cut off from normal life.  Why can’t we have some sort of permit system for those living in the northern part of the penninsula to use the low bridge?  Maybe even just on weekends or an expanded weekday period?  Myself, I’m looking at daily radiation for two months at Seattle Cancer Care and am considering renting an apartment nearby just to avoid that daily drive for treatment.  Oh, and my vote?  Repair and start a design process that includes light rail.        

  • Dave October 29, 2020 (3:17 pm)

    Given the stated desires for both speed and future compatibility with Sound Transit’s West Seattle Ballard Link, I have two thoughts:1) The option for immediate bridge replacement will likely foreclose the possibility of a joint structure/project in that corridor – the City can’t wait for ST’s environmental process to run its course.  There are also technical challenges, such as how to thread the ST alignment and profile into the existing corridor, higher light rail loadings, and vibration and stray electrical current concerns with the existing approach structures. 2) If the City proceeds with immediate repairs, it could also join ST in planning a future joint structure, where the roadway portion could be constructed at a later date as determined necessary.  This approach would have the following advantages:a) The planning and permitting could be done at the same pace as the ST project.b) The roadway and transit designs would be fully compatible.c) ST could obtain the necessary new right-of-way in the City’s behalf as part of their project.d) ST could also relocate conflicting utilities, as well as install subsurface foundations in the City’s behalf.e) When needed, and/or when full funding is available, the City could proceed with the pre-approved construction, which would also also be much faster and less risky because it would be starting at ground level.It seems to me that this approach would address the major community concerns, while also significantly reducing risks to the City.

  • Shufflerunner October 29, 2020 (3:23 pm)

    The idea that the EIS could be expedited or shortened just seems unrealistic. I have no doubt that an interested group would attempt to block that. Also, if we are going to have to replace the bridge anyways down the line, why make it an “or” situation? Repair the bridge and start the design, permit, and construction process for a rapid replacement. I’m also a homeowner in their 30’s with little plans of leaving (humble brag) but I’m more likely the leave if the city shows their indifference to our situation by dragging this out.   

  • L October 29, 2020 (3:59 pm)

    The fact that we’re even having a drawn-out conversation about this now is ludicrous.    95% chance we have 40 years of life left — let’s get with the program and start the repair now.

  • Auntie October 29, 2020 (5:11 pm)

    @STEVE – Really, permits for people in the northern part of West Seattle? How would they decide where the permitting starts … perhaps by property value – too far south or southeast, too poor to use the lower bridge? I’m sorry for your health issues, but I live in south Delridge and have to go to First Hill frequently for medical visits. I, too, would love to be able to use the lower bridge, but if permits were issued only to north West Seattle residents, people in my area would surely be left out.

  • Auntie October 29, 2020 (5:37 pm)

    @STEVE – Wait, I have a better idea than granting permits to north West Seattle residents. Why don’t they issue permits based on longevity in West Seattle. Perhaps only to those living here 40 years or more. (I’ve been here over 50 years, so surely I should be allowed to use the low bridge.) ;-P

    • FixIt October 30, 2020 (12:17 am)

      Wait, I have the best idea. Repair the bridge NOW and let’s get moving again. And to think we could be 7 months into the repair if not for all the hemming and hawing and hand wringing and tunnel discussing and community in putting and meeting and arguing…all to land on the most obvious choice all along…FIX THE BRIDGE SEATTLE! Oy Vey! Makes me miss Los Angeles where people would never ever ever ever put up with this kind of dithering.  People, stop the yammering and get to work fixing the bridge. Ok? 

    • Jeff Fuller October 31, 2020 (8:51 am)

      There’s no reason for the low Bridge to be closed from 0500-2100hrs on a daily basis. No where else in the city are there traffic or parking restrictions in place to combat high traffic volumes. Generally it is 0600-0900hrs and then again 1600-1900hrs. I realize the need to have access for Emergency vehicles, transit and port traffic but that is insane and placing an undue burden on side streets and neighborhoods to carry the 100,000 vehicles per day that were using the WSB. Not to mention the traffic outside of commuting hrs is very light and we should be using the capacity of the low bridge then. At the very least the low bridge closure should be reduced to say 0600-1900hrs for weekdays and even less on the weekends to move more vehicles and relieve the side street congestion. I also would propose both lanes out from 0600-0900hrs and both lanes in from 1600-1900hrs on weekdays to increase commuter traffic. SPD could post officers to stop traffic for the rare occurrence that emergency traffic needs to use the bridge during that time frame.As far as a permit system, that also makes sense to relieve undo pressure to southend streets and neighborhoods that are closer to the detour. You could use a zip code system for those residents closest to the low bridge on the northend and Alki areas that are furthest from the detour based on h

  • Chemist October 29, 2020 (5:40 pm)

    The CBA study was mandated with limitations to simplify comparisons, but might significantly differ from what actually needs to happen.  Just like when the Spokane Viaduct was replaced they had all traffic move to one span while the adjacent one was rebuilt and traffic shutdowns were minimized.  SDOT required the CBA to use the same footprint for a replacement bridge and re-use the same approaches from delridge, admiral, etc.  That makes sense if you’re talking about immediate replacement and a bridge unable to support traffic, but doesn’t necessarily make sense in a replacement bridge decades from now with a bridge that can support traffic.  A type-size-location study will be required for the actual project anyways.  Modelling Alternative 2 with a future 3.75 year full closure to replace the repaired bridge really skews the analysis with 3-4 times the shutdown/detours than has to happen if the replacement bridge is off-alignment by going to the North of the Low Bridge rather than the South as it presently does.  With a few decades to plan, you can acquire properties and rebuild the utilities to accommodate a future high bridge replacement.  Here’s some info from the appendices and a quick map of how the bridge alignments are.

  • Mj October 29, 2020 (5:43 pm)

    Repairing the bridge is the obvious best option, it’s very frustrating the City finding money for everything else $47 million to repair a bridge serving 100,000 residents and businesses needs to be found.  In addition to WS, residents and businesses in South Park and Cities to the south are impacted.

  • JenT October 29, 2020 (6:23 pm)

    As if one bridge being out isn’t enough, here’s a headline from today’s Seattle Times: “West Seattle motorists can’t catch a break. Now First Avenue South Bridge needs urgent repairs.”

    Until we have a real way of getting in and out of here, eg, redundancy with light rail, the only reasonable option is repair. And for those saying rail moves people not cars, what?  Rail is fast and will get us many places by 2030, unlike protracted bus routes.  Anyone who has lived in a city with a rail/subway system would never compare buses in that way or argue that it doesn’t carry cars so it’s moot.

  • Chemist October 29, 2020 (6:55 pm)

    Does anyone have more info about the shoring and “ran into a couple of snags this last week ” Durkan mentioned at the video’s 1h 18m 50s point?  Were there snags explaining why the pier 18 bearing wasn’t released last week?

    • WSB October 29, 2020 (7:06 pm)

      Yes, I followed up on that after the meeting and meant to add SDOT’s response to the story. Doing that now.

  • Don Brubeck October 29, 2020 (9:26 pm)

    If you think the light rail bridge and the vehicle bridge should be combined, why do you think that is a good idea?  Cost? What would make it cost less, if the combined bridge has the same load capacity as separated bridges?  The rail and vehicle bridge designs obviously need to be coordinated, but there are reasons to keep them separate:
    1, If one fails or gets hit by a ship, the other one is still there and working.
    2. You can have one operational before the other one is built.
    3. They go to different places at each end.
    4. Keeping them separate makes it easier to route the ramps on and off the bridges.
    5. Funding and project management are simpler.

    • FixIt October 30, 2020 (12:21 am)

      Now they want a light rail.. first had to have a tunnel, now a light rail combined bridge. Some just want the bridge knocked down for some personal reason they think might benefit them. Isn’t this clear enough yet?

      • Alyssa October 30, 2020 (1:06 pm)

        SDOT is kicking and screaming against repairing the bridge. Why so much manipulation, data twisting, tantrums…against all common sense? SDOT wants what is best for SDOT – no actual work needed from them for a long time, and most of all, a heap of money coming their way. To hell with 100,000 people suffering for 5-6 years. Yes, that is how long it will take for their super fast replacement plan.  Let’s not be naive.They want to start a very long and expensive replacement process without securing the finances to complete it?! We know how this is going to end, years of delays, costing more and more, because of delays.Mayor Durkan, please be brave, and a voice of reason in this cesspool of corruption and incompetence, and make a decision to repair the bridge. It is just a matter of time until someone dies in an ambulance stuck on a 45 min trip to a hospital.No sane person would prefer a replacement, comments planted by interested parties. 

  • KayK October 29, 2020 (11:02 pm)

    I suspect the decision will wait until after the Nov. 3 election – the current national admin’s hostility towards Seattle is a big risk factor to me on whether or not we can get timely federal funding support.

    • East Coast Cynic October 30, 2020 (7:25 am)

      Yes, good point.  If Trump is re-elected, we may have to settle for repair since anarchist antifa cities aren’t entitled to federal funding as far as he is concerned.

  • Jackie October 30, 2020 (8:39 am)

    I agree with Dan Austin, Peter Steinbrueck, Todd Carden & Lora Radford.  Repair the bridge!

    • LEL October 30, 2020 (10:51 am)

      I agree with above.  Repair the bridge!!!  $49 million for repair that will last for even 20 years is so worth it for the community and frankly way less than we spend on many other stupid initiatives in the city, i.e. 1st Ave street car, that was/is going to cost $272M, which right now would be running empty.  The WS bridge will never be empty.

  • ACTNOW October 30, 2020 (12:17 pm)

    If we want this fixed everyone needs to suffer equally including freight and the Port and everyone else who uses West Seattle roads. They want special treatment those companies need to fork over some cash. Residents should occupy the bridge. Maybe they might make it a priority because it is obvious that West Seattle residents and businesses don’t matter.

  • Jordan October 30, 2020 (12:51 pm)

    After reading the CBA, what an utter farce. It’s plain to see that almost no one here has read it. As an example the tunnel was line itemed in at 2.7 billion for a 500 foot tunnel and it will take 9 years to complete. Germany is putting in an 11 mile tunnel for 8 billion and will do it in 6 years across an ocean. They also took out the light rail (LR) from the tunnel and it’s still somehow came to 2.7 billion. The cost to bring  LR to WS is almost 3 billion, a hefty chunk of which will be for it’s own independent bridge, which if you take the cost from this CBA for a replacement bridge (1.2b) that gives you some idea of how much you could take away from the tunnel cost if you reallocated those funds. Additionally, they go on to say that it’s 1.5m to maintain the tunnel… wtf are you smoking. They allocated 250k per tunnel based off other Seattle tunnels… Ok, this 500ft tunnel is 1.5m to maintain, so the other tunnels would be more costly as they are a minimum of 3x longer, but we’ll use the 250k. 4 lanes for 99 tunnel, 8 for mercer island tunnel and 8 for mt. baker tunnel, is 20 lanes by 250k for 5 MILLION… SDOT only spent 6.6m last year for all maintenance and monitoring of bridges and tunnels. Are you trying to tell me that 75% of that went to just the 3 tunnels, I call BS.Additionally, the Seismic considerations just aren’t being take seriously enough imo. The existing bridge couldn’t be built today given the seismic considerations and we haven’t even touched upon the fact that the Coast Guard can technically still require the bridge height to increase, which would blow the budget right out of the water if they had to add say 50 or 100 feet of elevation to allow for additional traffic up the river. Alternative 2 sounds the best on paper for a temporary fix, shore up the structure, duck the Coast Guards navigational study. I however would put the tunnel in at the same time. MOST of the imaginary cost they attribute to the tunnel is tied to tying in the tunnel to the existing road structures…  I have a simple solution, just don’t. Put the tunnel in and let it be another route into downtown. You already have all the roads you need down there to facilitate the traffic and you can leave the draw bridge, giving WS three options. Build out a plan for the eventual death of the bridge, by slowly adding additional access from the tunnel to existing structures. We might even be able to extend the life of the bridge beyond 40 years as we could move the heavy buses off the bridge and into the tunnel along with additional  car traffic. They believe the buses caused the accelerated cracking by causing uneven weigh distribution across the bridge. TLDR; shore up the bridge and put in the tunnel.

    • Matt P October 30, 2020 (2:49 pm)

      I read it and had the same takeaways.  They intentionally inflated the tunnel cost so people would drop it.  Tube tunnels are known to be low cost alternatives to bridges that are safer and last much longer.

  • Seriously October 30, 2020 (1:05 pm)

    I would seriously hope the people saying that they deserve to use the lower bridge because they live further north than some or they have lived here longer are kidding. As I would be for calling for a complete shut down of the lower bridge. I live in the very north end of delridge and been here a couple decades but giving some people and businesses access is not the answer. Also I would argue that there is no difference in income north or south of delridge. We all need to be proactive as a group to get the city to care about all who live and own businesses Especially businesses suffering with a double blow Covid and the shutdown. The only way to force the city to care is if we all are on the same side not ask for special priveleges.

  • Matt P October 30, 2020 (2:51 pm)

    My thought after reading all this is that there are way way way too many people involved and it has gotten far too political.  Everyone has their opinion.  Someone needs to make a decision already and start working on it ASAP instead of worrying about the least offensive option.

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