By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition moved up its regular fourth-Thursday meeting slot by a week this month because of Thanksgiving – and so, unplanned, that put it at the end of a long day of meetings about the West Seattle Bridge.
The bridge was the WSTC’s first of two main topics (the other was Terminal 5).
SDOT UPDATE: Bridge project leader Heather Marx recapped the day’s big news, Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s announcement that the bridge will be repaired rather than replaced. Marx stressed that they are being very cautious about estimating cost and timelines at this early stage. They won’t have a “full design package” until spring, and then they’ll advertise for a contractor.
As stabilization work continues, the post-tensioning – using steel cables – so far totals 3.3 million pounds of force, she noted. “We can’t rush – the stakes are high with bridges that carry traffic.” Her presentation was brief and quickly moved to Q&A. In response to a question, she noted that, yes, the Type, Size and Location study looking way ahead to the eventual bridge replacement would consider an “off-alignment tunnel,” How much would that study cost and who will do it? HNTB – the firm already on board for a replacement design – will do the study; it will likely take at least a year, and $4 million is budgeted for it. Will the bridge repairs have traffic effects? No, but next year’s low-bridge work will require some “short-term closures.”
Sara Zora followed Marx with a Reconnect West Seattle update. She focused on West Marginal Way, including the interim traffic signal next summer near the Duwamish Longhouse. It was noted that the City Council has earmarked funding for this in next year’s (now-finalized) budget. The Highland Park Way intersection channelization change and radar-speed signs have been installed; they’re still working on freight and bicycle challenges. The southbound lanes have a few concepts under exploration, she showed.
They’re still collecting more data – you’ll see tubes across the road on West Marginal. They’re also doing “targeted surveys” along the corridor.
WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd asked on behalf of West Seattle residents working on Harbor Island, might they get some access to the low bridge? Zora noted that the low-bridge advisory group is meeting to talk about such things.
Any discussion of adding a lane under the 1st Ave. S. Bridge? SDOT’s Trevor Partap said they could check into it but if they’re just shoveling people more efficiently onto the bridge, it’s just pushing the backup further down the line.
TERMINAL 5: Emma Del Vento from the Port of Seattle presented an update.
She showed recent photos, including some preparation for new cranes.
The work has entered a “repetitive” phase, she said, with some in-water pile-driving. They’ve received a few grants, she added.
They’re on track to get the new cranes in April and then “international operations will start a few months later” on the north berth; construction then will start on the south berth, to be done by the end of 2022.
About the bridge: “The mayor’s decision allows us to open the full terminal when we have traffic back on the high bridge,” Lindsay Wolpa – who represents the port on the Community Task Force for the bridge project – said. It’s been six years since T-5 operated fully as a cargo terminal so this will be a big change. Overall, “we feel this is a really good decision today,” she added. Port trucks, however, don’t use the high bridge and will continue using the low bridge.
STBD: WSTC briefly discussed the passage of the transit-funding city Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 – final results 80.3 percent approval, 88 percent voter turnout, .15 percent sales tax. Question: Will it enable the revival of Route 22? Taylor-Judd noted they frequently advocate that, but no word from Metro so far. Overall, he said, they might look at whether there’s advocacy to be done for reshuffling bus routes to better serve post-COVID mobility in West Seattle.
NEXT MEETING: This was the last WSTC meeting of the year. In January they will be back on their fourth-Thursday schedule, so that means a January 28th meeting, 6:30 pm online. Watch westseattletc.org for updates.