WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Decision date moved back, ‘rapid replacement’ possibility suddenly surfaces, as Community Task Force members discuss where they’re leaning

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two headlines emerged as the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force gathered online this afternoon for a between-meetings discussion:

First, the expectation that Mayor Jenny Durkan would announce a “repair or replace?” decision at next Wednesday’s CTF meeting is no longer the plan – the final Cost-Benefit Analysis won’t even be ready for the CTF to look at until Monday, so they’ll be discussing it next week rather than making, or hearing, a recommendation.

Second, a ‘rapid replacement” possibility is suddenly in play – modeled after the Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont, built in two years.

(Lake Champlain Bridge, NYDOT photo)

More about that, the CTF was told, will be presented at next week’s meeting. Today was not meant to be a time for presentations, but more an hour and a half of temperature-taking. As co-chair Paulina Lopez explained, they wanted to spend more time “to hear from each other.”

Ahead, how that unfolded:

“This has been a very lengthy process,” acknowledged co-chair Greg Nickels in thanking the CTF members for their time commitment. “We heard loud and clear from you that you don’t feel you got enough information to make informed recommendations to the mayor.”

The co-chairs asked for the 80-page CBA document by week’s end but were told Monday was more realistic, and that’s what’s pushing back the timeline.

Before their discussion, they heard briefly from SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe, one of several SDOT staffers in attendance.

He acknowledged the “stress and agony of the decision point next week” without full information – they’ll “keep going on all pathways” but will “move that decision point a little bit farther.” Replacement contractor HNTB has brought up some concepts, he added, “ways that we might be able to change the dynamic we’re talking about when we talk about replacement” – shorter than the five or six-year replacement timeline that’s been discussed. The CBA won’t be updated but this newly added concept will be discussed at the October 21st meeting. The CBA isn’t final yet because it was reviewed by the TAP yesterday and is being made accessible before being released to all.

After that, the discussion proceeded with two minutes for each task force member, mostly in alphabetical order.

Charlie Able noted that last week’s information hinted at a multi-year closure, and wanted to know more about why a replacement couldn’t be built next to the existing bridge so that repair AND replace could happen simultaneously. Also, would a replacement require a full-scale EIS if it did happen on the same pathway?

Dan Austin from the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce expressed frustration that “11 meetings in and we’re just hearing about a new building option, new technology … I don’t like making major decisions on anything with just three days’ heads-up. At this point, if we ere asked to make a recommendation, I would feel completely uncomfortable.” But no matter what, ‘six years is completely unacceptable to get reconnected.” He also wanted to know why SDOT’s 15-to-40-year time frame for repairs lasting has recently morphed in at least one interview to possibly just a few years.

Deb Barker from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and Morgan Community Association noted that she had advocated from the very start for this to be treated as an emergency. “Even though the mayor declared it an emergency in July, there’s no perceived urgency in getting this done.” She said non-West Seattleites are still voicing a lack of awareness that the bridge is still closed. She offered the West Marginal Way plan as something that’s not being treated with enough urgency. She initially supported a new bridge but felt that everything presented last week “was so slanted to a replacement that it made me uncomfortable.” She says the cost to “everyday people” needs to be factored in.

Ken Bowden from Nucor said he voiced concerns similar to those already voiced – while also appreciating that “this is a complex situation.” and he said he’s been pleasantly surprised at SDOT’s work with the Task Force.

Todd Carden from Elliott Bay Brewing said he agreed that information to date had been slanted “in a particular direction” but also felt frustration that he learned about some things “outside of these meetings.” He stressed that the bridge closure “is having a huge impact on the community” and needs to be addressed fast while also looking at a “long-range solution.” He said it’s getting harder and harder to navigate the current pathways.

Marci Carpenter from the Washington Federation for the Blind said she hears a lot of concern from people who want to get the bridge open again as soon as possible but also don’t want to kick the ball down the road for a longterm solution.. She also wants to hear more about the 1st Avenue South Bridge repair-needs solution. And she said accessibility is vital for all the ways in which this information is presented.

Katie Garrow from MLK Labor Council said the labor community is unofficially leaning toward “full-bridge replacement” but a desire to “move swiftly.” She said the evidence for repairing hasn’t been compelling enough to push them that way, yet.

Erin Goodman from SODO said she was “really struck as I watch this process of the strong need to reconnect West Seattle quickly, but I’m also concerned about the concept of kicking this down the road … I’m concerned about waiting for Sound Transit (because for example) there will be delays … I’m looking at what will give us the most amount of certainty … the option that will get us the most stable for the longest period of time … either the partial replacement or total replacement at this time.”

Peter Goldman likened it to buying a used car when he was a teenager and having to keep putting money into it The analogy to a used car vs. new car ..”maybe we should not throw good money after bad and get on with a long–term solution.” He said he’s glad they’ll get all the info from SDOT because they can’t make a decision without it. Sound Transit is going to be a game-changer and he would like the city to push them to move quicker … “it makes no sense to spend a few hundred million if we have something that could be game-changing right now.” Long term, he wants to see them stop being in “silos” and see a focus on light rail.

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold spoke next. She said she appreciated Goldman’s used-car analogy. She also acknowledged how everyone is being affected, and the scheduling/permitting risks are “very elemental to this situation.” She said a constituent brought up the issue of the 1914 rail bridge over the Ship Canal, which will be repaired, while two years ago the railroad announced a reconstruction … her office heard that the Coast Guard might have asked for higher clearance … “I believe that is caution for us to be sure that the risk we’re assuming for Coast Guard delays have to be fully (evaluated)” and urged SDOT to talk to BNSF. She also said she’s received 6,700 poll responses to her “repair or replace” survey and she’ll be sharing the results in the next 24 hours. She said that she was worried the repair option was getting “short shrift” so far so is glad the CBA info will be available. She has questions including operation and maintenance and whether any part of the bridge “beyond the crack zone” is showing problems. Her other concerns include how long it would take to fix the bridge and if a potential repair is already designed (since that part of the process was supposed to be under way).

Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) had sent written questions earlier and said one reply had raised further questions, “the lack of economic impact data being applied to all options.” The reply, she said, was that it was hard to separate the impact of bridge closure from the impact of COVID. She also noted that the previous bridge replacement took six years – 1978 to 1984 – and said research could and should be done on those economic effects. She said she recalled empty storefronts in West Seattle when she first arrived in 1999. “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if it (takes six years) to restore that. path ..” two years would be hard, “six years would be awful.”

Tim McConnell of West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor) said he’s approaching it “pragmatically.” he likened the current status to being a juror being asked to render a verdict without al the information – right now, he said, he is leaning toward a repair while designing a replacement, “unless something pops up that’s a better option.”

County Councilmember Joe McDermott said what’s key for him is the total time that the bridge – connection – would be down. He doesn’t see “repair only” as an option. So he’s evaluating “how much time does West Seattle have to be (unconnected)?”

Nickels mentioned that the last closure included a drawbridge still being functional, and West Seattle having far fewer people.- so while there’s anecdotal information, it may not be totally applicable.

Rachel Smith from County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office said they’re leaning toward replacement – “the notion of longevity and the lower maintenance cots, the ability to bring creative solutions to bear, potentially greater ability to put together a funding package for a new structure, and the general confidence level we’d have in a new structure.” She said Constantine, who is on the ST board, also agrees that synergy is vital.

Yazmin Mehdi from U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal‘s office noted that Jayapal is a West Seattleite too – she’s mostly there to listen and help facilitate. “One thing that concerns me a little bit is an idea of a hybrid option, repair and replace, in terms of bringing federal funding …” she’s not sure how that woudl work, although if the group recommends it, they’ll find a way. Also: “The concerns seem to edge on how long will it take to get a connection back,” so they need to know if there’s a way that replacement would be closer in timeline to repair.

City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who chairs the Transportation and Utilities Committee, said the goals of safety and speed are in conflict – but he’s very hopeful that other governments will contribute “for what is really a statewide bridge.”

John Persak, who represents Georgetown and the maritime trades, said he wanted to “call out the fact that we are talking about putting a substantial amount of money into a failing asset …” characterizing the decision as “pay me now or pay me later.” He said that money put into that “failing asset” could be better spent investing in neighborhoods and transit. Regarding building a new bridge, materials and labor are “only going to get more expensive as time goes by. … we don’t want to wind up in a situation with costs that cannot be mitigated.”

State House Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon said “repair feels to me more feasible than (it seemed) when we began these meetings …. I do worry about the impacts on the West Seattle community. of not having this corridor open until 2026.” He also worried about even meeting that timeline in terms of “assembling a financing package.” So he’s leaning toward repair as “being marginally less painful.”

West Seattle Bridge NOW‘s Jen Temple said her group is also leaning toward “repair as soon as possible … six years is totally unacceptable to be cut off.” She said they also feel there’s been a “lot of stacking toward replacement” and said they’re also wondering why repair would “take so long.”

West Seattle Junction Association‘s Lora Radford said that she’s also concerned about the “rapid replacement” option also surfacing “200 days” into the process and feeling they don’t have enough information, especially in light of rumors that a “rapid replacement” could take only a little more time than repairs, and hopes to hear more about that Wednesday.

Greg Ramirez from the Georgetown Community Council said that in the beginning his community leaned toward repair to get the detour traffic “off our roads” but they’ve come to appreciate lifespan concerns and the possible waste of money on a failing asset. “We have to look longterm … but (also) six years is too long …. There are a lot more questions that need to be answered.”

Diane Sosne from SEIU Healthcare 1199 said, “Speed is of the utmost to reconnect West Seattle … I feel we should be looking quickly at … transit as part of the solution here, I wouldn’t want to separate that out.” She said she had looked up the aforementioned Lake Champlain Bridge, which took two years, as well as the much-discussed Genoa bridge replacement (here’s our April report), because she had wondered about “any type of hybrid … now I am very interested in a replacement that could be done in 2 years … but I also don’t want to take seven more months to study this.”

South Park Neighborhood Association‘s Aley Thompson is leaning toward replacement and ‘very conscious of the use of public funds … South Park neighbors aren’t excited about the idea of two closures,” but there’s not enough information yet to make a recommendation. However, “six years does sound a little bit nuts.”

Bob Watters said they need to drill down more on the timelines of each possible option. Also: “If we’re looking at equity as one of the attributes here, we have to look at soft costs …. people in West Seattle, businesses in West Seattle.”

Finally, a few remarks by the co-chairs:

Nickels noted that it seemed natural that SDOT might lean away from repair because they’d be responsible for the result, the costs of maintaining. He also offered a concern about the “rapid replacement” possibility – “It needs to be vetted, peer review by the TAP, our review by the affected community … to be sure we’re not making a promise of a 2 1/2-year replacement that we simply cannot fulfill.” He also noted that the mentions of Sound Transit are important, citing his recent involvement in the West Seattle-Ballard expansion’s stakeholders group. If a repair could last 15 years, “light rail will be done and we’ll have a backup” for a bridge closure then.

Lopez followed up by reiterating that the community impacts are vital to consider, and “how creative can we be” in terms of envisioning support.

ANSWERING ONE MAJOR QUESTION: Before the meeting wrapped up, SDOT’s Michael Harold addressed the timeline question, regarding how long a repair might last. Project leader Heather Marx tackled it. “One of the things it’s important to note, those numbers, 15 to 40 years, are not the results of any modeling … The number 15 is an assumption based on (a bridge code) saying “if you think you can get 15 years out of it, build it” … The 40-year number also doesn’t come from any direct modeling” – it’s that repairs could help the bridge last its full originally intended lifespan. “Engineers do their design work based on codes … which are built on models … which are built on extrapolations of what we expect to happen when the real world interacts with concrete and steel … It’s pretty important not to get too attached to those numbers because they really are just affectations of the code.”

So do you have confidence you can fix it and it will last 15 years? Nickels asked. Roadway structures director Matt Donahue replied, “I think we’re living the fact right now that even though you do your due diligence to live up to the code of the time … things don’t always work out as planned. .. A design life even if we calculated it specifically … wouldn’t necessarily apply to (the unrepaired parts of the bridge) … you can’t eliminate all the risk … there’s always a chance it won’t work out.”

Yes, but the failure area of the bridge is a relatively small part, noted Nickels. “Do you believe we can fix that to that kind of life?” Donahue replied, “We need to see how the bridge responds to the stabilization measures, how the bridge responds to the colder weather … (also) physically the space on the bridge (that’s being stabilized) is a small area of the bridge but has a huge impact” on how the bridge operates. Bottom line, he says the bridge may not be in good enough condition “to have a tolerable level of risk” if they proceed with repairs. That seems different from what the TAP has said, Nickels observed. You’d have to ask them, Donahue replied.

WHAT’S NEXT: The next official Task Force meeting, which will be open to public viewing in real time, is noon next Wednesday (October 21st). The CTF would set a date after that for its recommendations, so a new date for the mayor to announce her decision is not clear. SDOT says the full Cost-Benefit Analysis document will be released to the public next week as well as to the CTF. Meantime, they also plan to post a recording of today’s discussion.

75 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Decision date moved back, 'rapid replacement' possibility suddenly surfaces, as Community Task Force members discuss where they're leaning"

  • m October 14, 2020 (2:16 pm)

    Id like to amend my previous bridge survey selection to choose the new Rapid Replacement option. 

    • Survey response dripping with sarcasm October 14, 2020 (6:54 pm)

      I’d like to amend my replies to the survey too. I distributed them equally for all three choices but now I have a fourth.  Perhaps I will have time to quadruple the number of survey entries this time.  It is so hard to make up my mind and so easy to submit multiple entries.  I wonder how many individuals the 6,700 responses represent anyway?  Thank you for the reporting by the West Seattle Blog to allow our elected officials and committee appointees to show their true competencies and perspectives.

    • Roms October 14, 2020 (9:30 pm)

      Unfortunately, the bridge they use for comparison just doesn’t match the situation: It was demolished with explosives, which can’t be done here; It’s on much easier grounds (doesn’t land in front of what is basically a cliff); They seem to have build the new bridge aside the location of the former one (but I was not able to confirm); Built during the Great Recession, when the Federal Government was pouring money into infrastructure projects; It was a state project, not a city-managed one (and certainly not a Seattle-style-managed project); Also, SDOT was not involved (huge difference, that last one).

    • Levi October 15, 2020 (10:31 am)

      Guarantee the rapid replacement will take 6 years, be over budget, have a toll and a LID tax. The word rapid is a marketing ploy to make WS residents compliant with a half decade (or longer) construction.Fix the bridge now, they’ve already completed half of the required fixes. Once it’s up and running we will get a better sense of how long it will last and can work on a replacement that includes light rail. If we replace the bridge now we will just build another one in a few years for light rail. 

  • SickofLies October 14, 2020 (2:29 pm)

    Such a bait and switch.  They knew the community couldn’t tolerate a 6 year wait, now they are dreaming up a 2 year time frame.  Next time, SDOT should just sell us the Brooklyn Bridge.  I hear it’s for sale.

    • FLau October 14, 2020 (3:27 pm)

      Less likely a bait and switch, more likely lack of vision.

  • MightyMoh October 14, 2020 (2:30 pm)

    If a “rapid replacement” option is suddenly surfacing, where are any details? I totally understand if it was breezed by in this meeting, but it’s hard to judge without a single detail other than an example bridge that is clearly much lower with different topography, etc. We got a lot of coverage of the ITT concept that has suddenly been dismissed because of apparent undisclosed costs, so I hope you hear more about the concept and have a follow up report. Thanks!

    • sna October 14, 2020 (8:48 pm)

      It’s a mirage. There’s no chance it gets replaced in 3 years.  

  • Blbl October 14, 2020 (2:32 pm)

    What a complete and utter disaster. 

  • Mel October 14, 2020 (2:34 pm)

    Why are we just now hearing of a rapid replacement option? Seriously? Possibility of a new bridge in 2 years? I’m so fed up with our city leadership- why didn’t we know about this sooner? We’ve been waiting 6 months for a recommendation and they’re just now presenting this…eye roll.

    • LR October 14, 2020 (7:47 pm)

      I’m also beyond fed up and I too cannot believe they’re getting away with this level of incompetence.  How do we get them to treat this as the emergency that it is. I really wish Inslee could step in to help Seattleites during this era with basically no leadership. 

      • A R October 15, 2020 (12:59 pm)

        The worst part is we haven’t even scratched the surface on peak traffic yet. In 4 years when this bridge is still being built, (or we’re still doing a CBA -_-) and we’ve hopefully “gone back to normal” from COVID, traffic is going to be more of a nightmare than it already is. 

  • Um, No! October 14, 2020 (2:34 pm)

    So this is how it’s going to go.  Mark my words.   We’ve decided to do a “Rapid Replacement” which is the “logical” compromise between repair and replace.  We get the best of both options.  We have a new bridge is just over the time it would take to repair the existing one.  Everyone will be happy.  All problems addressed and resolved. Later in 2024,   still no bridge because when has Seattle ever done anything efficiently of even remotely on time?   This is a short term political CYA decision and I guarantee there is ton of under the table money influencing what seems to now be a forgone conclusion on this decision. 

    • Molly October 14, 2020 (6:38 pm)

      Was just saying this to my husband. They’ll choose this option, float it around for 5 years while they “build” because we all know they’ll come into issues and it will be delayed delayed delayed. And then they’ll run out of money, raise our property taxes AND still charge us a toll to use this bridge. 

  • wscommuter October 14, 2020 (3:00 pm)

    Setting aside the vitriol here, I suspect the reason this is just coming up is because the initial feasibility review for the concept took this long.  I suspect many ideas have been considered, all of which take time to be vetted from an engineering perspective.  The fact that we’re just hearing about it now, conspiracy-nuts aside, is for fairly benign reasons.  Get a grip people.  This is complex engineering problem not easily reduced to quick solutions.  

    • John October 14, 2020 (7:50 pm)

      Sure, because there are no other bridges in the U.S. that have lasted longer.
      And no one outside of Seattle that we can talk to.

      Seriously?

    • LR October 14, 2020 (7:52 pm)

      Complex?   It’s a bridge.  They’re everywhere.  It goes across a river.  Like a lot of bridges.  It requires engineering like any bridge.  Please please stop making excuses for them.  Several similar bridges have been replaced in less than 24 months.  Sdot also helped break the bridge we had.  Come on.

    • John October 14, 2020 (7:58 pm)

      Sure, because there are no other bridges in the U.S. that have lasted longer. And no one outside of Seattle that we can talk to.

      Seriously?

  • Baffled October 14, 2020 (3:11 pm)

    Bridge of sighs…

    • Rick October 14, 2020 (7:35 pm)

      Robin Trower. Loved it.

  • Mj October 14, 2020 (3:18 pm)

    I vote for Mayor Nickels.  His read of SDoT thinking is spot on.  The cost to the WS community needs to be major factor, no bridge costs at least a $250,000,000 a year in lost time, business opportunity and other factors.  

    • BBILL October 14, 2020 (4:19 pm)

      Your $250,000,000 estimate is over $3,000 per year for every person in West Seattle. That seems very high.

      • RyGuyBeer October 14, 2020 (4:55 pm)

        That’s really NOT a stretch at all.Say your time is worth our state’s minimum wage, $15.00 per hour.  Every day of your work week is now extended by one hour, that’s five hours in a week.  That five hour work week is the equivalent of $75.00.Over the course of a year (52 weeks), that’s $3,900.

        • BBILL October 14, 2020 (10:38 pm)

          Every person, not just you. Sure there may be someone whose commute is an extra five hours every day, but that one person is not representative of every man, woman, and child in West Seattle. Also there are plenty of people who commute in the evening hours, south to Burien, so there is little, if any, extra commute time. So I don’t doubt that one person (a small group) is impacted by $3,000 – $4,000, but not every family of 4 is impacted in the amount of $12,000 – $16,000 per year.

          • CMT October 15, 2020 (7:14 am)

            I think he/she said 1 hour/day = 5 hours per week.  Pretty conservative.  I suspect there are people whose daily drive times have increased by far more than 1 hour per day.

        • Justme October 15, 2020 (7:07 am)

          The bridge needs a rapid renaming as well:https://crosscut.com/culture/2020/09/why-west-seattle-bridge-should-be-named-jimi-hendrix

  • John Q Lincoln October 14, 2020 (3:20 pm)

    It took 6 months to find a similar bridge that might serve as a model?  And it can be constructed “rapidly”.Hope there’s another survey coming soon…fingers crossed.

  • JVP October 14, 2020 (3:30 pm)

    So do you have confidence you can fix it and it will last 15 years? Nickels asked. Roadway structures director Matt Donahue replied, “I think we’re living the fact right now that even though you do your due diligence to live up to the code of the time … things don’t always work out as planned. .. A design life even if we calculated it specifically … wouldn’t necessarily apply to (the unrepaired parts of the bridge) … you can’t eliminate all the risk … there’s always a chance it won’t work out.”


    Mr. Donahue is ultra risk averse. Yes, some assets fail before their expected usable life, but many more are left in service far longer than their expected usable life. We need leadership on this issue, there is none, only committees.

  • KM October 14, 2020 (3:39 pm)

    Has the climate impact replacing/repairing a bridge primarily for cars ever been mentioned at these task force meetings? I would expect Joe Fitzgibbon to at least mention it, based on his legislative work. Hopefully this is a key consideration in more focused/smaller meetings amongst decision makers. If we’re offering seemingly random and not totally comparable analogies here, it’s like continuing to dump motor oil down the storm drain because that’s how we disposed of it in the 80s.

    • Um, No! October 14, 2020 (4:10 pm)

      That’s what people always get confused on.  Climate and cars don’t have to be at odds.  CARS WILL ALWAYS BE AROUND!   There is no getting around that.    At some point, most will probably be electric or have some other means of propulsion that will be more climate friendly.  But, there will always be cars.    Trains and buses can’t solve everything and ridership will never drastically increase to where there is not traffic.   We have to have a bridge that supports personal vehicles.  Simple as that.

      • Joe Z October 14, 2020 (4:36 pm)

        Cars and climate might not always be directly at odds, but cars and cities will always be directly at odds. Cities have limited space and cars are an incredibly inefficient use of space.

        If you invest significant money in a bridge for cars, you are encouraging people to use cars, which is not the best use of space in a city. If you check out the King County climate plan you will see that everyone needs to reduce their car driving by 25% in order to reach the stated climate goals. So by that logic, a 75-year bridge should be designed under the assumption that there will be less car driving in the future. But that obviously isn’t the way SDOT is thinking, which is what bothers some of us. 

        • JVP October 14, 2020 (4:54 pm)

          Be careful what you wish for. Push cars out the city and you’ll push people like me out of the city, causing sprawl which is an environmental train wreck. I choose to drive as little as possible, but mountain-based recreation is incredibly important to me. I say bring on our EV future!

          • sw October 14, 2020 (7:21 pm)

            Cars will always be part of the mix.  Why?  Because we have a plethora of things to do around here that require a car.  Want to go kayaking on a mountain lake?  Need a car with roof racks to get there.  Mountain biking on Tiger Mountain?  Car with bike rack.  Weekend in Laconner to see the tulips?  Best done by car.  Last I checked there is no bus service to Mt. Rainier’s Paradise, nor Johnston Ridge Observatory on Mt. St. Helens.  How about the coast?  Hard to take Metro to Ocean Shores.  Point is, the people who live here like to get out and do things.  That is part of the appeal and why folks pay exorbitant amounts of money for their housing.  Car-based infrastructure will be needed for as long as people want to go places.  This is about much more than a daily commute into downtown Seattle.

          • LR October 14, 2020 (8:03 pm)

            This is so right JVP.   The hyper rabid anti car people are not thinking anything  through. 

            Such a breath of fresh air to read comments from those who understand the obvious future of cars.

        • Um, No! October 14, 2020 (4:55 pm)

          Regardless of how “space inefficient” cars may be, regardless of the city/county climate plan and regardless of what might bother some, cars aren’t going anywhere. Any bridge replacement needs to be built with that understanding.  Hope and desire don’t always match up with reality.  Simple as that.  

        • KM October 14, 2020 (5:14 pm)

          Nailed it. It’s damn obvious we must drive less (I do own and drive a car, fwiw). Greener modes of transportation, better zoning policies, safer infrastructure–in addition to de-prioritizing cars on our roadways–will move us along in our goal of reducing transportation emissions. Electric cars will only solve the tailpipe emissions issue. They fail to address other pollution issues (mining/disposal, non-exhaust emissions), capacity, or transportation equity issues–which cannot be separated from our climate crisis. I truly believe these are solvable with time by having leaders who understand this creating policy. I hope we get this bridge solution right.

        • mark47n October 14, 2020 (5:30 pm)

          Hell, with that logic why bother doing anything? If we use a long enough timeline entropy will get us all.IF people are driving less in some undetermined future then that means we’ll have space in the city and on the bridge with fewer backups. That said, the bridge is also a main arterial for more that 100,000 people a day. It’s used by commuters, transit services, freight, EMS etc. To say that we should build to some lesser amount of traffic means that the bridge will be virtually useless almost immediately.

        • Lisa October 14, 2020 (5:42 pm)

          So…don’t invest a significant amount of money in a bridge and traffic will magically be reduced in a city (and neighborhood) that promotes growth?

          While I’d love to believe that car driving could be reduced by 25% by anything other than a pandemic, it’s delusional to think that will actually happen in what some have included in their lists of fastest growing cities in the country.

          • Joe Z October 14, 2020 (9:13 pm)

            That’s basically what happened when the bridge went out. Much of the traffic in and out of West Seattle disappeared. I know it’s the pandemic but there would clearly be way more traffic if the bridge was open.

          • East Coast Cynic October 15, 2020 (7:21 am)

            The traffic didn’t totally disappear: Some of it disappeared due to people working from home, but much of the car traffic and the usual backups went to 509, 1st Ave S bridge, Georgetown.if there is an effective vaccine in use then that dynamic will change, traffic will likely increase and become more chaotic.

      • Car driver October 14, 2020 (5:14 pm)

        Don’t worry. Bikes and public transit are not there to take your car away. I don’t understand how folks don’t get that. 

  • sna October 14, 2020 (4:56 pm)

    I don’t believe any three year rapid replacement.  There’s no funding identified. There’s no design ready.  There are no permits.  There’s no environmental impact study done.  These things alone could easily take three years.  SDOT has another item in the repair / replace CBA which is “what are the chances we look stupid.”  The repair option has some risk and they’re not willing to risk their reputation. The only way to replace a bridge in 2-3 years is to repair it, get all the permits, demo plan, design, ect. and be ready to start construction the day after the repaired bridge closes.


    • LR October 14, 2020 (8:09 pm)

      Sdot’s reputation?  Are you serious?  That’s the funniest thing I’ve yet heard regarding the bridge. Thank you. 

      • sna October 14, 2020 (8:49 pm)

        It can always get worse!

    • 1994 October 14, 2020 (8:17 pm)

      The West Seattle Bridge is mentioned in the King County voters pamphlet that arrived with  todays mail. Check out City of Seattle Proposition 1 where the city is proposing a sales tax increase of .15% sales tax (to replace the current .01 sales tax). The bridge gets special mention.  Maybe instead of using the funds for the enhanced bus service the tax can be directed solely to the WSB?

  • Rob October 14, 2020 (5:10 pm)

    Here’s a thought:move all shipping companies on the duwamish to terminal 5. Give the land on the river head back to the Duwamish people. Build a cheap-o bridge. No one else wants Terminal 5 anyways. 

  • aa October 14, 2020 (5:23 pm)

    My favorite line- “they wanted to spend more time to hear from each other”.

  • Findlay October 14, 2020 (5:34 pm)

    “stress and agony”…. Lol

  • Mj October 14, 2020 (5:42 pm)

    BBill – 100,000 vpd = at least 100,000 people a day.  Seattle minimum wage $16 per hour.  Added commute time at 30 minutes per commuter = 50,000 hrs a day * $16/hr * 365 days a year = $292,000,000

    • Ryan Packer October 14, 2020 (7:08 pm)

      Vehicles per day does not equal people per day, since many people driving solo are counted on their outbound and inbound trips

      • BBILL October 14, 2020 (10:43 pm)

        Also the buses probably carry 40-50% of the people, which now have their own bridge. I don’t have the data of how many, but some vehicles carry more than one passenger, but placing an economic opportunity cost on 4-year-old’s time is an exercise that I’ll leave to someone else. Many people seem to want to just make up what they want to believe to be true.

        • Chemist October 15, 2020 (12:11 pm)

          I think most pre-pandemic estimates were for 100k individuals in cars trips per day and about 20k individuals in buses trips a day.  I’m pretty sure when agencies were reporting trips per day they were getting multiplied by standard occupancy expectations to extrapolate to occupants if they were reporting 20,000 bus crossings.

          • BBILL October 15, 2020 (3:51 pm)

            A common theme: Like others, this discussion shows the need to collect good data.

  • Mr C Vu October 14, 2020 (6:06 pm)

    Dow,  Durkan, SDOT their contractor  and trade unions want replacement. If they can restore access even limited while we wait for that I am all for it. That’s a big if. I don’t have a lot of trust for anybody that isn’t living through this mess and isn’t going to be impacted by a bad assumption. Self interested and unaccountable politicians and bureaucrats  won’t do us right unless we make them. Thank you WSB for covering the this. We know where our electeds are leaning now. Time to apply pressure. 

    • LR October 14, 2020 (8:17 pm)

      So true Mr C VU.    As well as a largesecond thank you to the WSB for the coverage.  A lot of us would be largely in the dark, which is probably what sdot wants. 

  • ScubaFrog October 14, 2020 (7:52 pm)

    Let’s get it replaced, and get back on the road.  Too many want a “quick fix” that will just end up with another fix, more money, another fix, more money, THEN a replacement.  Logic obv dictates replacement STAT with a nice, quality bridge that will last many many decades.

    • sna October 14, 2020 (8:51 pm)

      If a repair can last 40 years (there’s debate on this) and be done by this time next year, why wouldn’t we do that?

      • BBILL October 14, 2020 (10:50 pm)

        With a 40 year estimate why not repair? Avoid another unexpected break in the bridge. A proper CBA might show that on a risk-adjusted basis, spending $$$$$ on a 40 year gamble is a bad investment. The risk of a new structure failing earlier than estimated is much lower. At the same time, there is risk of the Coast Guard asking for a higher structure, so there is other risk with replacement.

      • WestSeattleVoter October 15, 2020 (8:22 am)

        I have seen on Facebook folks who are hoping for a long term outage so real estate prices plummet in West Seattle in hopes they can buy a house and wait out the inconvenience. Wether that thinking is greedy and selfish I will leave to you to consider. :)

  • $$$TollsRComing October 14, 2020 (8:23 pm)

    How do they get a new bridge fast? By spending a lot of money. Where will it come from? Us.  Just what we need, another regressive tax.Fix the bridge. Stop the boondoggle.

  • Mj October 14, 2020 (10:35 pm)

    Ryan – yes the vehicle occupancy is greater than one, I used one to be conservative.  And the added time is for each trip coming and going.  The pandemic has mitigated the traffic affect, the real impact will be felt when things start to open back up.  

  • mark47n October 15, 2020 (4:24 am)

    For those trying to tote up  the economic impact by using the added time commuting x Settle minimum wage this is a red herring. Some of those people don’t work in Seattle so the minimum wage doesn’t apply. Some are considered ‘exempt’ and earn no extra income on an hourly basis. Some make more on an hourly basis than minimum wage. Some aren’t commuting so no dollar value may be attache, in your calculation. And one other big miss: commuting isn’t paid time. For virtually anyone. So, in terms of economic impact, for added commute time, the impact is zero.The impacts here come from people not coming to WS because it’s now much more difficult to get here impacting businesses doth directly in lost clients and in their logistics and supply chain. It’s also cause people to leave all together and take their contribution to the local economy with them, at least temporarily since people are still moving here despite the inconvenience.

  • Marc October 15, 2020 (5:12 am)

    I guess, if there is a way to avoid making a decision, our City Council will find THAT way.IMO we need to demo the current bridge, and dig a tunnel. It will take a few years for thenecessary ramps, but having dedicates 2 land sections, East, West, Variable we can get thegreatest utility w/ HOV and rush hour traffic opposite freight, and not have to go throughthis problem again any time soon. At some point, you need to stop stepping on the same rake.        

  • Egan October 15, 2020 (6:13 am)

    Here is how I think this plays out. We need money to pay for either a new bridge or bridge repair. The longer we push a decision off the better until the likely situation where Dems take control. At that point, we will likely see the largest infrastructure package ever passed. That money could be used to do either/both repair and/or replace. Local Gov is in a tough position right now because if we commit right now we might not get any federal $$. If we wait a few more months it might be all paid for. My hope is we have both a repair plan and replace plan that somehow includes light rail ready to go so that when the money is committed we can start construction and reconnect.

  • SueSDOT October 15, 2020 (8:16 am)

    West Seattle needs legal representation. Now. Bridge repair is the best outcome for West Seattle and we need an attorney to start demanding internal communication between government officials. In a democracy we are entitled to see the information on this matter. Maybe WSBN can move toward finding a law firm able to represent the people who want a fixed bridge?

  • Joan October 15, 2020 (8:26 am)

    That’s an absolutely beautiful bridge. But I’ll bet that one doesn’t carry all the daily heavy loads that ours will need to. Hopefully it could be built to our specifications. Let’s do it!

  • tk October 15, 2020 (8:34 am)

      The NY bridge is very different from our WS bridge- check out the specs: Length: 2200 ft CL bearing @ NY abut. to CL bearing @ VT abut. Width: 47′-4″ typical approach, 55′-8″ arch span. Number of lanes: 2 . Traffic volume: 3500 cars per day

  • JayDee October 15, 2020 (8:54 am)

    In Italy, in the city of Genoa, a very similar concrete bridge, the Morandi bridge collapsed in August 2018 and killed 43 people. But within a year after demolition of the old bridge was complete, a new bridge was completed in April 2020!!! And this is in Italy.  Seattle should contact the Italians in charge of this project and learn how to do it.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/completion-new-genoa-bridge-symbol-of-hope-italy-morandi

  • Mj October 15, 2020 (6:00 pm)

    Mark47n – time has value and to claim otherwise is not correct.  

  • Jen October 15, 2020 (8:19 pm)

    This might be an unpopular opinion, but as someone who has lived in West Seattle for 7 years and fell in love with it, I cannot wait to move. I would like to thank the city of Seattle and SDOT for now making it even more impossible as everyone is fire selling their homes around us. 

  • JohnH October 17, 2020 (7:23 pm)

    Regardless of the chosen solution from the current two major options – repair for a limited life @ full use vs. a full replacement – the priority should be to repair the bridge enough to allow limited traffic (like a single lane each way) with only metro and emergency vehicles allowed so that the lower bridge can be opened to all 24/7 to help ease the traffic crunch.    As quickly as possible allowing for vastly increased metro service over the reduced capacity bridge will help significantly while not-so-short and longer term solutions are figured out.It feels to me there is a lack of vision and creativity @ SDOT with the pain of the West Seattle residents and citizens not counting for much in figuring out the cost of potential options.

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