Continuing our coverage of today’s announcement that the West Seattle Bridge will be repaired (WSB coverage here), the advisory Community Task Force is meeting with Mayor Durkan to hear/talk more about her decision. She had promised the CTF would get word first, and they indeed had a quick briefing just before this morning’s public announcement. Video is above; we’ll add notes as this goes.
3:45 PM: “We needed to have a reasonable level of certainty,” the mayor said, in recapping her decision (see our earlier story for more on the reasons). After her statement, it’s on to SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe, who reiterates that the stabilization work done so far – which had to be done regardless of which path was chosen – is “performing well.” Though the repairs will not be “complex,” as discussed at this morning’s event, they are still “challenging,” he said, and need to be designed and planned carefully – “we can’t skip steps.” But “we’ll do everything we can to accelerate (the estimated) timelines,” which as reported earlier suggest the repair work will be completed in “mid-2022.”
He also says the $50 million listed in the briefings as funding “traffic mitigation” will cover the cost of “transit investments” too.
3:55 PM: Now, task-force members get a chance at Q&A. Marci Carpenter asks about the conflict between “repaired bridge could last 40 years” and “maybe build a multimodal bridge incorporating Sound Transit,” which would be launched sooner. She also asked about federal-funding likelihood, absent a “falling-down” bridge. The mayor said she still plans to seek federal funding to.help with repairs but unlike rapid-span replacement, that won’t delay the work.She says she has confidence in “our federal delegation’s ability to get funding.” (West Seattle-residing US Rep. Pramila Jayapal sent a news release, in fact, reiterating two possibilities.)
Deb Barker asked where the maintenance/operations money will come from, and what kind of permits are needed for repairs. For the former, Durkan said they need to look “holistically” – not just at the $20 vehicle-license fee that councilmembers proposed. For the latter, Zimbabwe said they’re not sure yet but it’s “not expected to hold us up in the process we’re going through.” Diane Sosne worried about unanticipated delays and using “good money now” to do something that might not last. The mayor stressed that restoring mobility is vital to protect jobs including those that will be at Terminal 5 when its modernized berth starts operating next year. Regarding timeline unknowns, Zimbabwe said that during the stabilization they’ve hit the milestones in the predicted timelines, so they’re reasonably confident that will hold.
4:15 PM: West Seattle Bridge NOW‘s Jen Temple thanks the mayor for the decision and for not waiting any longer. Then the mayor offered a few closing remarks, reiterating that neither the repair nor “rapid span replacement” options would have allowed for incorporating light rail, but in the need for an eventual new bridge, “let’s see if we can imagine a better bridge,” maybe light rail AND transit.
What’s next for the Task Force? The mayor said ongoing involvement would be great, ‘some level of interest and accountability,” if the members are willing.
The group will take up that topic at its next meeting December 2nd. This meeting wrapped at 4:28 pm. One more meeting tonight will include a discussion of the decision – the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, 6:30 pm, attendance info here.