VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge will be repaired, mayor decides

(Above: Video of hourlong announcement event)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The suspense is over.

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced this morning that the city will repair the West Seattle Bridge, eight months after she announced its shockingly sudden closure.

The alternative – replacing its damaged midsection with a shiny new steel span – was appealing, she and SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe acknowledged in a pre-announcement media briefing, but covering its cost and achieving a “rapid replacement” timeline seemed out of reach. So, to get West Seattle moving again as soon as possible, she decided that repairing the bridge is the way to go.

Before we get to details, quick answers to 6 big questions:

WHEN WILL IT REOPEN?
Some traffic might return to the bridge in “the first part of 2022” but the projected completion is “mid-2022.”

WILL ALL LANES REOPEN?
That’s what SDOT expects, though an early-2022 reopening might have to be “phased in.”

WHEN WILL REPAIR WORK START?
Next fall.

WHO WILL DO THE WORK?
Consultant WSP is designing the repairs, and then a contractor will be sought to build/install them.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The Cost-Benefit Analysis made a rough estimate of almost $50 million but that won’t be refined until the repairs are designed.

HOW LONG WILL REPAIRS LAST?
Projected – 15 to 40 years.

So here’s the rest of the story:

(West Seattle Bridge cracks photographed by SDOT before stabilization work began)

It’s been five months since the city’s top bridge manager disclosed that repairs seemed possible. and four months since the Technical Advisory Panel concurred. The question was whether repairs were feasible, not just possible.

In the briefing, the mayor characterized her choice as facilitating a “plan to safely and quickly restore mobility” – though “quickly” isn’t really the word for what will have been a 2-year closure if the projected time frame for repairs works out. (It’s not a surprise, though, as the city has consistently said since April 15th that traffic would not return to the bridge in any scenario before 2022.) She said economic factors weighed most heavily in the decision – the potential cost to West Seattle businesses and residents as well as port jobs if the closure lasted too long.

She said she had been leaning toward replacement but the “rapid” timeline did not seem a sure bet and finding half a billion dollars to fund it didn’t either. The rosy suggestion of a possible 2023 completion for the “rapid span replacement” conflicted with the city’s experience in getting permits for prior projects. However, the bridge will eventually need to be replaced, so planning for that will continue, with a Type, Size, & Location study. She stressed that they would aspire to a multimodal bridge – more transit, maybe even bicycling, and they would continue talking to Sound Transit.

SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe talked about the nuts and bolts of the work, both what’s been done and what’s now ahead. He said the stabilization work that’s been done so far is “performing well to date.” He described the plan as a “challenging engineering solution” and “highly technical work.” They’re also studying the bridge to see what other parts of it might need repair before the end of its expected lifespan in 40 years. But they are confident the repairs will succeed:

Once the repairs are designed, a contractor will be sought to run the project as a GC/CM – General Contractor/Construction Manager – which city documents describe as an “alternative public works delivery method” that “is intended to create a more collaborative relationship between the City and the General Contractor that is not found in a traditional ‘design-bid-build’ delivery method.” That selection process is expected to start in spring; the actual repairs would start in fall.

Looking beyond the repairs, Zimbabwe said they’ll go ahead with a Traffic/Revenue study as well as the Type/Size/Location study the mayor mentioned (which would look at a wide range of possible replacements, including a tunnel, project leader Heather Marx confirmed). Also in the future, work to strengthen the low bridge, as Marx noted while running through other components of the project. The Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation projects are expected to total about $50 million. Zimbabwe pointed out that stabilization work so far has cost about $20 million.

WHAT’S NEXT? Members of the advisory Community Task Force already have been notified of the mayor’s decision, and have an online meeting with her at 3:30 pm today (watch here). SDOT also will be at tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (6:30 pm, online, attendance info here). On the bridge, stabilization work will continue into December. As the permanent repairs are designed, they should have a clearer idea next year of cost.

ONE LAST ISSUE: At the heart of this remains the fact the bridge failed decades before it should have, and West Seattleites and neighboring communities are facing a total of 2 years of negative impacts as a result. So, we asked the mayor in the pre-announcement briefing, what is planned regarding determining who’s to blame and whether the city has any recourse, perhaps with the original builder? Durkan replied that they’ve “consulted with city attorneys” who are reviewing original documents, “If there’s anything (we can do), we’re going to pursue it.” She paused and laughed. “I’m not afraid to sue!”

ADDED 10:21 AM: The announcement event ended about 10 minutes ago. First – here’s the official SDOT announcement (and here’s the mayor’s version).

We asked about a big question that remained after the pre-announcement briefing: Why is the actual repair work not expected to start until fall of next year? Both Zimbabwe and Technical Advisory Panel co-chair Barbara Moffat said they need to observe the stabilization work’s response to a full thermal cycle before the repair design can be finalized. In response to another question, Moffat said the timelines projected so far have been admittedly “conservative.” She reiterated that the TAP feels it’s an “eminently doable repair scenario.” She also said the original bridge plans included an “option” for added post-tensioning (the steel strengthening cables) that wasn’t considered necessary at the time (but is now part of the stabilization). And she said it’s certainly possible the repair could be completed more quickly, but they don’t yet know the “methods” that will be used, so it’s too soon to say.

Other participants in the announcement event included West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who had already indicated support for repair, saying she agrees it’s “the best approach” (here’s her full statement).

The most exuberant participant was Port of Seattle commission chair Peter Steinbrueck (a former city councilmember), who proclaimed, “We can all breathe a great sigh of relief today!” Though the port hadn’t previously taken a stand, Steinbrueck said he and Tacoma’s port commission chair, together leading the Northwest Seaport Alliance (developing the Terminal 5 expansion), both support the decision.

The Community Task Force’s co-chairs spoke too. Paulina López of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition reminded everyone of the increased traffic and pollution affecting communities including South Park and Georgetown because of the detours. Former mayor Greg Nickels said, “There’s a lot more work to do.”

Task Force member Lora Radford, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association, was the last speaker, with a message for everyone – “Support small business” (since community resiliency matters even more with another year-plus of bridgelessness ahead) – and an invitation for the rest of the region: “Pack a picnic, turn your GPS on, and come visit us.”

130 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge will be repaired, mayor decides"

  • Mj November 19, 2020 (9:08 am)

    Hallelujah – this is great news, but it would be even better to get the work started sooner than next Fall.  It seems that if the work started in the Spring the bridge could start allowing traffic next Fall.  This fits the likelihood of the Corona Virus being in the rear view mirror by this time and everything opened up again, in particular schools!

    • JVP November 19, 2020 (9:32 am)

      I’m guessing that’s how long it’ll take for design and permitting. Permitting usually can’t start it’s final approvals until the design is complete, and permitting in Seattle is painfully, unacceptably slow. I’m really hoping the mayor can hound-dog this and push it through faster. Seattle is so frustratingly slow and inefficient at everything. 

      • CC November 19, 2020 (11:11 am)

        Towards the end of the story we’re told that they’re waiting because they want to observe a “full thermal cycle” with the stabilization work, I guess to make sure it can handle the expanding and contracting with changing temps.

  • Derek November 19, 2020 (9:09 am)

    YESSSSS!!!!! Good job Durk!

  • Will S. November 19, 2020 (9:14 am)

    Just to be clear: Jenny Durkan wasted our time.

    • wscommuter November 19, 2020 (10:24 am)

      Could be.  Please provide facts (and not wild claims) to support your thesis.  Frankly, in the real world and not the comment section of this blog, it actually does take some time to perform engineering analysis to arrive at this conclusion.  If you think this was easy or could have been known several months ago, please provide your proof.  I’ll wait …

      • Will S. November 19, 2020 (1:10 pm)

        Thank you for waiting…
        On June 17, this blog quoted SDOT’s chief bridge engineer: “We know we can fix the bridge–the question is should we?”This has never been a difficult question, because the City of Seattle has never had $500 million sitting around to demolish one bridge and construct another in its place. So while the estimated costs of repair have recently come into focus as being affordable at $50 million (could have been worse!), the alternative has always been utterly unaffordable and thus impossible.
        Replacement proponents casually assume that the federal government would pony up the difference, and in their defense any amount up to $4,999,999,999.99 shows up as “$0.0*” in the federal budget, where line items are rounded to the nearest billion. But this assumption ignores the past 30 years of federal transportation appropriations (including the part where Congress banned earmarks) and even the history of the existing bridge, which got federal funding only because a drunken pilot managed to render a navigable waterway unnavigable. This country has a long list of more expensive and frankly more important (from a federal perspective) bridge and tunnel project proposals that are much better developed than our replacement bridge at 0% design. Even if Democrats had won the Senate, Seattle could maybe hope for federal assistance in the form of low-interest loans (which must be repaid, very often with tolls), and not hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants, and definitely not with any assurance of federal aid before 2022. Only then could bridge replacement begin in earnest.
        Given that time and money matter, the important engineering question has been answered for at least 5 months: the bridge is repairable. Jenny Durkan could have made a decision then, but instead she chose to wait until after the election, and even now she seems reluctant to choose repair. We’ll never know what a decisive mayor would have accomplished here, but I believe our wait could have been shortened by 6-12 months in the end.

        • BBILL November 19, 2020 (4:20 pm)

          “Replacement proponents casually assume that the federal government would
          pony up the difference, and in their defense any amount up to
          $4,999,999,999.99 shows up as “$0.0*” in the federal budget, where line
          items are rounded to the nearest billion.” In federal government budgets, $5 billion rounds to $0.0 billion?

          • Will S. November 19, 2020 (4:52 pm)

            you’re right I’m wrong

      • wetone November 19, 2020 (1:11 pm)

        Problem was known since at least 2013. Very little was done since that time to fix real issues, just band-ads.  Easy to document, file public discloser and pull records from SDOT on maintenance. Yes they worked on pillow blocks in a few areas, then had to redo from wrong material used and SDOT did some  epoxy injections. But reality of situation is Mayor McGinn, Murray and Durkan never addressed issue until shutdown. It was/is Mayors and city councils job to hire qualified people to maintain city. They have been failing for many years now and I see little showing me things will be changing anytime soon.      

  • Peter S. November 19, 2020 (9:14 am)

    While I applaud the mayor making what  seemed to be the obviously logical decision, please tell me why we have to wait until NEXT Fall to START the repairs?

    • Paul November 19, 2020 (10:25 am)

      It takes awhile to design repairs and get them permitted.In case you haven’t figured it out from this debacle building bridges is hard.

      • Rick November 19, 2020 (5:00 pm)

        “Building bridges is hard”? Are you kidding me? Tell it to the Romans. They did it well, some are still in use today. 

    • Robert November 19, 2020 (1:22 pm)

      They said something about needing a full thermal cycle, blah blah.

  • Bronson November 19, 2020 (9:15 am)

    This is great news and the absolute right decision. I am a bit disappointed that the repair work won’t start until next fall, as I think they should have been pursuing the permits alongside the stabilization and analysis work. However, hopefully, that is a very conservative estimate and they can get going sooner.

    • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:04 am)

      Maybe, just maybe, listen to the entire presentation: The engineering cannot start until the data are available, and all the necessary data to engineer the repair won’t be available until spring.

    • dsa November 19, 2020 (4:44 pm)

      But they seem to think they know the repair life span without data.  Interesting.

      • Rick November 19, 2020 (5:04 pm)

        Lessee, the lifespan of the bridge was 70 years, made it to 36. Boy oh boy do I have a bridge I want to sell you. Pay me up front.

  • Bob Piper November 19, 2020 (9:16 am)

    8 months to come to this decision and the repairs won’t start until next Fall?  Sigh….

    • Build a new bridge November 19, 2020 (3:16 pm)

      If it takes until next fall to figure out who to hire and design and all the hoops of  bureaucracy to fix the stupid bridge, then it makes more sense to rebuild it instead of fixing it.  Needs tons more lanes for cars and needs to be wider. 

  • JenT November 19, 2020 (9:20 am)

    Thank you, Mayor Durkan.

    Now let’s get this moving!

  • Roms November 19, 2020 (9:21 am)

    Finally a decision which makes sense. Maybe the value of our house/apartments will stop going downhill and we can move on with some sort of certainty. If only they could accelerate the work and deliver much faster.

    • Monkey November 19, 2020 (9:33 am)

      There is no part of West Seattle that is declining in value. Most of the sales have had multiple offers.

      • Ahem November 19, 2020 (9:54 am)

        Eh, we sold our condo this year shortly after the bridge was closed (located right by the bridge).  It took months -and several price reductions- for us to find a buyer.  Value declined rapidly after the bridge closed and we wound up taking a loss on our condo.  The housing market may be going strong for actual houses but the same can’t be said for condos in all parts of West Seattle.

        • Joe Z November 19, 2020 (10:08 am)

          Everyone is moving out of condos and into houses during COVID. That has nothing to do with the bridge. 

        • Wes C. Addle November 19, 2020 (10:09 am)

          Most likely due to it being a condo.  I looked at many, many condos, townhouses and single-family homes here this summer.  General lack of space with extended quarantine and ridiculous HOA’s took us out of the Condo Market immediately. 

        • JES November 19, 2020 (10:37 am)

          Same, our townhouse finally closed in October after listing in July. One price reduction. Lots of interest on size, layout, floorplan, etc but feedback was that people were not willing to commit to West Seattle. Lots of people telling me home values / sales aren’t being affected but none of those people were actually actively selling a home, so I don’t know…

        • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:08 am)

          Just because you were unable to sell your individual unit at the price you wanted does not mean the entire market is going down. Oh, yeah, that’s right, all sellers want to sell above market value, but at the same time, if a seller truly wants to sell, if asking too much, the price must be reduced to market. In other words, asking too much and then coming down to market is not how market conditions are measured. One possible measure is to consider your selling price less your purchase price (profit) and then factor time for rate of return.

        • NoFnWay November 19, 2020 (10:05 pm)

          I was the president of a condo HOA for many years. My advice to everyone I know and everyone reading this: Do. Not. Buy. A. Condo.

      • East Coast Cynic November 19, 2020 (10:08 am)

        Our duplex, which had interest from multiple suitors prior to the bridge closure (Morgan/HIghpoint area), only had one bidder after the bridge closed when we were ready to put it on sale:(.  We estimate that the bridge closure reduced our profit in selling by about 150-200K.

        • LK November 19, 2020 (11:34 am)

          Sorry to hear this; I decided test the real estate waters in September and list my 2 bedroom 110 year old home near the junction; lost patience with the snail’s pace of the bridge repair/replace analysis paralysis. Was lucky to get a 50k over asking offer within 5 days.  Was a best case scenario and wish others the best trying to unload their properties.   2 more years for a fix and I’m willing to bet it’ll be more like 3 given the pace of things.  Seriously disappointed by the negligence and lack of accountability that got us into this situation, we all deserve way better.

      • Bert November 19, 2020 (10:11 am)

        It’s a relative thing. While properties are still selling decently over here, it’s nothing compared with February’s pace, or the rest of the city.

        • Derek November 20, 2020 (7:49 am)

          Not true. Lots of houses for 30+ days in Ballard and Northgate, Madison Valley areas. It’s COVID causing market disruption, not a uniquely West Seattle thing. (I am a realtor).Condos are always hard to sell despite bridge etc. West Seattle is consistently preferred by customers over Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Mt. Baker, Central District, First Hill, Shoreline, anything south of here. Let’s stop being dramatic. 

      • Roms November 19, 2020 (10:36 am)

        Take a look at Zillow for example and see the price reductions which are happening. Many people are selling in my neighboordhood, and all but one had to reduce the prices, and they are still not selling.

      • Mel November 19, 2020 (11:34 am)

        Hmm I live in Seaview and most houses in my neighborhood seem to be going for above ask when I check them after closing. Maybe it’s due to the property being a condo and people wanting houses? It could also depend on the price of the home. I have seen a few reductions I suppose but they’re typically on homes over $1.25M whereas houses under $850k seem to go above ask.

    • Value November 19, 2020 (9:46 am)

      The value of my house hasn’t gone down at all? Honestly surprising considering the state of the economy and the bridge out. Houses in my neighborhood keep selling like hot cakes.

      • WSB November 19, 2020 (9:57 am)

        The incredibly low interest rates on loans are helping fuel hot home sales in even more-surprising markets. Las Vegas, for example, where the main industry has been decimated by the pandemic – housing market and prices booming.

        • candrewb November 19, 2020 (10:19 am)

          Also being fueled by an increasing depopulation of the Bay Area.

      • John W November 19, 2020 (11:25 am)

        Anecdotally, we sold our home in Gatewood for nearly full asking price within two weeks of listing.  Notably, the buyers are moving to West Seattle from the Central District. Even with Covid and the bridge out, I am dubious of claims of $150,000 loss of any condo.  Quite often people falsely assume the value of their own property is higher as they live in it.  I agree with other posts mentioning the high monthly condo association fees that may be a factor.  Condos have also traditionally been more volatile as investments than the single family house.The apartment market I am entering is rife with incentive of one month free with 12 month lease, but actual rents have yet to show reversals and declines. 

    • Derek November 19, 2020 (1:58 pm)

      Homes are still going over list price in West Seattle according to Redfin so just what the heck are you talking about??So tired of this myth.

      • smittytheclown November 19, 2020 (3:04 pm)

        I track it closely.  The market is up – but not rising as quickly as the rest of the city.  So, everyone is right!

        • Derek November 19, 2020 (8:52 pm)

          Very wrong. People love West Seattle over Beacon Hill, First Hill, Central District, North Seattle off Aurora, and Shoreline, and anywhere south or southeast of here. I am a part time realtor, so I know these things. 

  • smittytheclown November 19, 2020 (9:21 am)

    Great news!  Feels like they are sandbagging the timeline though.  

  • Jake November 19, 2020 (9:22 am)

    WILL ALL LANES REOPEN?

    That’s what SDOT expects, though an early-2022 reopening might have to be “phased in.”

    WHEN WILL REPAIR WORK START?Next fall.”

    Are they really only expecting this to take ~6 months?

  • Blbl November 19, 2020 (9:33 am)

    Starting repairs a year and a half after closure. Unacceptable. 

    • Jort November 19, 2020 (9:55 am)

      You better start working on your personal “acceptance” pretty quickly because that’s how long it’s going to take, at best. Amateur internet commenters don’t get to determine what is and isn’t an “unacceptable” timeline for designing and repairing a major piece of infrastructure. Experts do.

      • Duffy November 19, 2020 (11:11 am)

        Jort calling out “amateur internet commenters” has got to be the funniest and most ironic thing I’ve read on here, maybe in years. Thank you.

        • BW November 19, 2020 (11:37 am)

          This.  Times 1,000.  

        • OneTimeCharley November 19, 2020 (11:45 am)

          What’s really funny is assuming that the commenter was actually Jort at all. Sort of a comment section apparition methinks. We should ask Q.

    • Kram November 19, 2020 (10:31 am)

      I mean, its also unacceptable to kill people if the bridge fails. I’m fine with them taking the time they think they need to design and engineer the fix. They are still working on the stabilization work they said needed to happen regardless from day one. I don’t see why the 1.5 year timeline is such a shock. This is a large unique project with large unique problems to solve. I don’t believe there was ever a expectation set that the bridge was going to open in 2021…

    • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:12 am)

      The “repairs” began right away with the stabilization work. There are some commenters here that suggested the mayor was moving too fast–that the stabilization work was not placed out for competitive bidding. Others commented that the stabilization work didn’t begin soon enough, as the basic claim was that the sooner the work began the sooner the bridge would open. When I suggest “right away,” what I mean is there was little delay, and the City Council/Mayor/SDOT made the bridge repair a priority.

  • D November 19, 2020 (9:37 am)

    Omg, what are they all thanking each other up and down for, singing each other’s praises. It’s your job, do your job on behalf of your constituents. So over the top.  

    • David November 19, 2020 (9:10 pm)

      The Politicians’ and Appointees’ Mutual Appreciation Society of Seattle finds your tone regrettable, and will post a strongly-worded condemnation as soon as we can get our hands free. It may take almost as long for us to finish patting each others’ backs, as it will take for repair work to actually start. (^_~)

  • Wayne November 19, 2020 (9:41 am)

    Seems pretty short-sighted to be celebrating this choice… if the repairs end up only lasting 15 years (the low end of the range) then you’ll be wishing they had gone with the better (long-term) decision to replace the bridge entirely. Hopefully it lasts a lot longer, but I’m not optimistic since the problems that caused the cracks are structural and can only be mitigated so much.  Personally, I would’ve preferred if they had just focused on accelerating the timeline for light rail and replaced the bridge with one that’s more transit(& bicycle)-focused and less car-focused.

    • Matt P November 19, 2020 (10:17 am)

      No, 15 years of life gives us 15 years to designed and build the replacement.

      • Jort November 19, 2020 (11:46 am)

        As I predicted many, many times before, the only “acceptable” solution to West Seattle commenters would be “repair the bridge AND replace the bridge — TOMORROW.” The fantasy-land of ever expanding automobile infrastructure continues unabated, aided in large part by the political ambitions of Jenny “I Love Cars” Durkan.

        • L November 19, 2020 (3:02 pm)

          “Fantasy of ever expanding automobile infrastructure” … what is fantasy about that Jort?   It’s what’s been going on worldwide since the 1950s.   Cars allow us to go wherever we want whenever we want.   They’re going to be around for a long time.

    • Sun Devil November 19, 2020 (10:27 am)

      I will be packed up, retired, and gone to sunnier climates by that time. It can be shut down for a decade after that for all I care.

      • Jort November 19, 2020 (11:43 am)

        “Screw future generations, I want to get what I want and my children can just deal with my poor choices after I am dead.” America, 2020. 

  • Mark Schletty November 19, 2020 (9:42 am)

    Right decision by Mayor. But, another year before repair is started is insane.  It is just building in the incompetence of the SDOT to contract the work. Fire Zimbabwe before he screws up the whole repair. 

    • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:14 am)

      From the presentation, and I suggest watching the entire presentation, Zimbabwe is *NOT* the one who is engineering the solution. Sure he is administratively involved in the process, but he is not on the engineering team.

  • m November 19, 2020 (9:42 am)

    It took less time to develop a Covid Vaccine. Seems like they should be able to start repairs before next fall. 

    • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:16 am)

      What does time to develop a COVID vaccine have to do with bridge engineering? More specifically, what does the time to develop a COVID vaccine have to do with the amount of time to stabilize the West Seattle Bridge, or engineer a repair?

      • David November 19, 2020 (9:23 pm)

        I thought everyone knew that in the post-logic era, viruses are capable of attacking concrete structures. Obviously COVID broke the bridge, because if I first heard about both COVID and the bridge in the same month there must be a correlation.
        (/sarcasm) tag, regrettably necessary these days

  • Mellow Kitty November 19, 2020 (9:45 am)

    Total waste of time, resources and money. Typical Seattle hat trick. 

  • Jort November 19, 2020 (9:53 am)

    WSB, if I may ask: does the quoted $50 million “fix” also include the projected maintenance costs as outlined in the 89-page cost-benefit analysis?  I recall seeing some eye-popping costs for ongoing maintenance in the WSP report if “repair” was chosen. 

    • WSB November 19, 2020 (10:01 am)

      No. That’s the rough estimated cost of the design and work itself.

    • Bronson November 19, 2020 (10:06 am)

      Eye-popping and completely fanciful numbers for maintenance with over half of that number being attributed to the building a new bridge. If you look at what the maintenance components are, there is no way it costs what was being put forth. Either way, it’s merely deferred maintenance costs. Knowing about a stuck bearing and not doing a d*mn thing about it is ridiculous and the most likely cause of this entire debacle. 

      • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:20 am)

        “Knowing about a stuck bearing and not doing a d*mn thing about it is
        ridiculous and the most likely cause of this entire debacle.” Regarding the bearing, the official recommendation at the time was “CTO” [=”Continue To Observe”], as was the case with many other items. No one seems to be suggesting that the other items should have received more attention. With the benefit of history, it’s easy to look back and say something different should have been done, which may happen with this repair option–it is possible that we could hear, “A bunch of time and money wasted, they ‘should have known’ that the repair would not last more than 2 years.”

  • Um, No! November 19, 2020 (10:00 am)

    Wow!  A good decision by the Mayor?    Are we sure we’re not in some time weird warp and this is really April 1st?

  • Peter November 19, 2020 (10:01 am)

    Well, as she does on almost all issues, Durkan, in her extreme shortsightedness, has made the wrong decision. Repairing with a replacement later will cost a lot more and involve a lot more construction than just replacing it. Get ready to pay up. Read SDOT’s announcement; they are careful in making no definite statement on how long a repair will last, but they are clear that it may be shut down again at any time.

    • Bert November 19, 2020 (10:17 am)

      SDOT’s position on this has been crystal-clear: They wanted a rapid-replacement bridge. Is it that surprising, then, that they make the repair option sound as unappealing as they possibly can?

      • Peter November 19, 2020 (10:43 am)

        That is not true, Bert. SDOT has never said rapid replacement is their preferred option. Even if that were true, what would be their motivation to make a repair seem like a bad option after the final decision has been made? That doesn’t make any sense. 

        • WSB November 19, 2020 (10:49 am)

          As alluded to toward the start of the story, both Durkan and Zimbabwe admitted the rapid span replacement had seemed appealing. This morning, the mayor called it “intriguing.” But the funding and timeline challenges couldn’t be wished away.

          • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:33 am)

            It’s very difficult to predict what Congress will do, but in the current political atmosphere, where the Senate adjourned before negotiating a COVID relief package, I very much doubt that this project will be prioritized by Congress. First the House would have to put it in a spending bill. Then because of the structure of Congress, the less populated states will always have a majority in the Senate, so senators from the less populated states agree to the House’s budget to fund this bridge. It may be that this won’t happen until there is a significant change in Congress, and Durkin seems to be very cognizant of the current political climate in DC. Sure, sure, there are some other possibilities, such as the House sends a spending bill over to the Senate, and the Senate insists on adding funding for the West Seattle Bridge, but I’m trying to be practical about what’s likely to happen given my read on what’s happening in the current Congress, and to a lesser extent what’s going to happen in the next Congress, which includes two undecided senate seats.

  • ScubaFrog November 19, 2020 (10:08 am)

    Politically-expedient, she’s obviously going to run again.  “Future costs could soar” is the headline that grabs me.  This is a horrible decision.

  • Robert Becker November 19, 2020 (10:09 am)

    WHEN WILL REPAIR WORK START? Next fall?!It’s great that there is finally a decision. But … it has been frustrating hearing about what it will all cost while a huge number of West Seattle residents are spending hours commuting and businesses here are losing even more patrons. At some point the cost to the West Seattle community by dragging on without action is worse than any cost of repair or replace. Repairs start next fall? They need to start right away. I’m on the road 10 hours a week already. And have been thinking about what route to take when it snows, or if there is ice on the road, and Highland Park Way closes…. Work on repair or replace needs to start now.

  • Joe Z November 19, 2020 (10:10 am)

    Excellent decision! As Mayor Durkan correctly noted, a 75+ year car bridge replacement goes against the long-term environmental goals of the city. After light rail is complete in the 2030s I look forward to the demolition of the high bridge and permanent removal of the highway ramps in favor of a smaller-scale, climate-conscious replacement. 

    • Jort November 19, 2020 (10:42 am)

      That’s a really good way of thinking of it, Joe Z., though I am inclined to believe it is merely a deferral of the reckoning of our failed choices in transportation planning. I highly doubt in 15-20 years that America will have magically come to its senses on our mistakes in prioritizing the automobile, but, hey, we can always dream. Passing off the buck to another generation is sadly something most in our present gerontocracy have embraced.

      • Kram November 19, 2020 (2:34 pm)

        Jort; you are obviously anti car and I’m assuming you don’t have kids. Our ‘failed choices in transportation planning’ is an opinion, not fact. Every reasonable person wants the generation below to have things better then they had it.  My question to you is what path do you see a low car future? The next step as I see it is at least 50 years+ of automated/self-driving cars. A future where people may not own cars but rent them when needed. If that’s even close to true we will still need all the car infrastructure we’ve been building for the last 100 years as we will still have a high number of cars on the road. I’m legitimately curious how you envision a low car future in a city like Seattle. It’s not reasonable to assume everyone will start riding bikes and cars are only becoming cleaner. Most will be zero emissions in the next decade. Does that change your view? How do you break Seattle (and most of the world) from using cars in the volume we use them as it seems that is a big theme of your comments on the WSB?

        • Jort November 19, 2020 (3:42 pm)

          If you’re looking for a path to reduced car ownership I recommend you look at literally – and I do mean literally – LITERALLY any other major city outside of America on the planet that manages to house, move and employ people without near-100 percent reliance on automobiles as the primary mode of social transportation. None of this is fantasy-land garbage that relies on jetpacks or flying cars or self-driving cars. Low car ownership cities are attainable, and it’s been done and been proven over and over and over and over again hundreds if not thousands of times all around the world. I will say what I have said over and over: no city on planet earth in the entirety of human civilization has solved its transportation issues by relying on automobiles, and Seattle will not be the first. Just because you have become comfortable with it doesn’t mean you’re right about it.

          • Canton November 19, 2020 (10:27 pm)

            Jort, I get that it hurts you deeply, but individually propelled transportation will exist in perpetuity, in many forms for a while. You ask that others adapt and change their minds, but you refuse to change or adapt to the opinions of the commuters. People flow like water, they will choose the easier path.

          • kram November 20, 2020 (6:44 am)

            We’ll you clearly have never left the US. Read about traffic in China. Go drive in Vancouver BC. I had a daily commute in Frankfurt, Germany, not great. Read about India’s car problems. Seattle isn’t so bad when compared to a lot of other cities in the world. This is a blog comment section so it’s all conjecture anyway.

          • Fauntleroy For Life November 20, 2020 (7:35 am)

            Jort: I hope you do a little reading about car ownership in other countries verse the US. When you say to look at literally any other major city outside of America  I’m not sure what point you are making. Many cities outside of America have more cars per capita. Seattle is an empty parking lot compared to cities like Mexico City and countries like Italy. I think the question posed in this thread was in regards to how you shift to a lower car ownership rate. Seattle’s traffic however bad it may seem is not even close as bad as many other cities.

          • Joe Z November 20, 2020 (9:21 am)

            Jenny Durkan’s comments about downscaling the bridge in the 2030s or beyond are based on the the King County climate plan, just released earlier this year, which calls for a 25% reduction in personal vehicle travel by 2030. So that’s why downscaling major highways and bridges is likely in the future. Transit ridership is expected to increase considerably (by 100,000s trips per day) when ST3 is built out in the 2030s.

            Again, this is not personal opinion, this is just going by the official studies and numbers, which is what the mayor is looking at.

    • Ethan November 19, 2020 (10:52 am)

      Hopefully by 2030 there’ll be a more comprehensive rail network in Metro Seattle, but if you think we’ll be at a situation where we will be tearing down and demolishing existing freeways, I think you are up for some disappointment

      • Joe Z November 20, 2020 (9:25 am)

        I’m just going by the official King County climate plan, which is the same study the mayor is looking at when she talks about future downscaling of highways as we move into the 2030s. Based on these plans, yes, we will be reducing capacity on freeways. And yes, the plan is accounting for electrification of vehicles. 

  • Drew November 19, 2020 (10:24 am)

    Good call by the mayor.  And finally an issue I’m in alignment with Lisa Herbold on.  Let’s get this done.

  • Ethan November 19, 2020 (10:30 am)

    2022 is too soon to reopen! They’ll need at least a few more years for Delridge Way to be ready lol

    • Brian November 19, 2020 (12:50 pm)

      These are the kind of comments I’m here for. 😂

  • Anne November 19, 2020 (10:34 am)

    By the time repairs start-wouldn’t be surprised if timeline & cost will be quite different than what’s estimated right now. Wondering why a year wait?-online meeting with Community Task Force(do they have any recourse if they disagree?) repairs must be designed, then Construction Co found – continue/more stabilizing of lower bridge, more studies? Heaven forbid someone files lawsuit!

  • plato November 19, 2020 (10:49 am)

    I would have rather seen $50M put towards transportation infrastructure of the future, with a focus on rapidly expanding light rail in our city and beyond.

    Repairing this bridge seems to be investing in the car dependency of the past.

  • BB November 19, 2020 (10:59 am)

    This is fantastic news! 

  • Susan November 19, 2020 (11:06 am)

    Why work isn’t starting right away:“We asked about a big question that remained after the pre-announcement briefing: Why is the actual repair work not expected to start until fall of next year? Both Zimbabwe and Technical Advisory Panel co-chair Barbara Moffat said they need to observe the stabilization work’s response to a full thermal cycle before the repair design can be finalized. In response to another question, Moffat said the timelines projected so far have been admittedly “conservative.” She reiterated that the TAP feels it’s an “eminently doable repair scenario.” She also said the original bridge plans included an “option” for added post-tensioning (the steel strengthening cables) that wasn’t considered necessary at the time (but is now part of the stabilization). And she said it’s certainly possible the repair could be completed more quickly, but they don’t yet know the “methods” that will be used, so it’s too soon to say.”

    • WSB November 19, 2020 (11:11 am)

      Just noting, those “why so long” comments came in before I added that info from today’s briefing. The story, published at 9 am, was based on the pre-announcement briefing for us and other media, up until the paragraphs at the end marked as added at 10:21 am, which are from the 9 am event. – TR

      • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:40 am)

        ARE WE THERE YET? The presentation was scheduled to last an hour. When someone cannot make it though the entire hour to find hear the answer to “why so long,” I expect that the next few months will be filled with a constant stream of “why so long.”

        • Bronson November 19, 2020 (1:53 pm)

          Probably because some of us work every day and don’t have the time, particularly when the politicians start blabbing on an on. It’s why we are grateful for WSB to provide the synopsis. 

          • BBILL November 19, 2020 (4:23 pm)

            “Probably because some of us work every day and don’t have the time, particularly when the politicians start blabbing on an on.” Yes, people are working every day to fix the bridge, but that does not mean that anyone should expect the bridge would be fixed in 24 hours.

  • wasbob November 19, 2020 (11:10 am)

    Typical Seattle delay – and now more.  Yes I know it takes time – but there utterly has been NO URGENCY from Seattle City Government about this.  And on the topic of home values – all you have to do is look at the steady price reductions around High Point and the new construction – drops of thens of thousands of dollars.  Yes I was an active home seller – and went through several prices reductions – some just to keep up with the High Point area price drops.  Yes the bridge is a definite fact – this from potential buyers.

  • Andy November 19, 2020 (11:15 am)

    I was hoping to see a little bit of a reach for something beautiful. A damaged bridge is probably not as conducive to an ambitious project as something that’s starting from scratch, but I really wish I would have heard a voice in favor of something inspirational. Something to lift spirits, something to be proud of. Beauty is a long-forgotten and sorely missed value in architecture, especially in the (clearly prioritized) faster/cheaper ethos of city living. It would have been wonderful to build something that turned the nation’s eye towards Seattle for a good reason, for a change. We’ve spent the last several months proving we can burn things, fight, and tear things apart as well as anyone. The bridge could have been a symbol of something better. Something hopeful and promising. Who knows, maybe the coming light rail project will give us some of that. It’s never too late.

    • BBILL November 19, 2020 (11:46 am)

      My personal read is that the culture is not currently seeking what is aesthetically pleasing to you, which when looking back, will be viewed as a representation of the life and times of the current era.

    • heartless November 19, 2020 (1:11 pm)

      I agree, Andy.

      Hopefully, when the time comes to build a new bridge, beauty and art will be taken into account.  As you point out, unique and beautiful structures have long drawn people to cities, and have served to reinvigorate tourism and other interests.  They are absolutely a worthwhile investment.  

  • Gaby November 19, 2020 (11:23 am)

    This is awesome news and I bet all of West Seattle is breathing a sigh of relief today that the REPAIR decision was made.  Can’t wait for us all to get moving over the high-rise bridge again! Hope the repairs happen sooner than their projected timeline. 

  • Seattle's Emergency Response Rate November 19, 2020 (11:33 am)

    Kudos to the SPD and SFD and other first-responders.  When an emergency is called out for them they have a much faster response time than the elected politicians who cry “Emergency” for the lack of shelter for roughly 3,700 homeless individuals and a broken bridge that serves 100,000 individuals. These are challenging problems but calling them “Emergency” issues seems to be a misnomer.  How about “High Priority” or “Extreme Importance.”  Too many individuals or business are DOA when the City Council or Mayor respond to an “Emergency”.  

  • Lisa November 19, 2020 (11:46 am)

    Did Jenny mention anything about expanding transit? The back up is going to be disastrous once we go up in phases….

  • D November 19, 2020 (12:01 pm)

    So the decision is to repair, but work to repair won’t start for another year (next fall)? Obviously not that much of a top priority. Doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  • Patrice Biava November 19, 2020 (12:05 pm)

    I wish property value would go down…lower property tax

    • Derek November 19, 2020 (2:03 pm)

      Eyeroll. Appreciation of your home is much better than your tiny property tax increase.

  • Flivver November 19, 2020 (12:21 pm)

    Great news!!! Even Jort will be happy that they can take their F350 across!

  • Kathy November 19, 2020 (1:16 pm)

    Not to rain on the parade, but once the WSB is reopened to traffic, it will still just be a parking lot during rush hours. How about making it accessible to more users? Add bike lanes. So you don’t have to wind your way through the pothole, traintrack filled SODO labyrinth to get across town on an e-bike. And maybe add some signal access control to regulate the merges.

    • My two cents ... November 19, 2020 (3:32 pm)

      @ Kathy – easier to fix potholes than to reconfigure roadways not designed for bike traffic (lane width requirements, shoulder widths, on ramp and exit ramp work, signals).

    • Derek November 20, 2020 (7:54 am)

      Nothing worse than the mess from Marginal to Michigan to I-5. I ride it daily and the bridge on its worse days was much better than this. 

  • Hungry Pilgrim November 19, 2020 (1:17 pm)

    I hope they designate some type of e-bike dedicated lane while looking at the bridge infrastructure.  I think we can dramatically reduce the weight load on the bridge at any given time if we designate one lane each way for cars/trucks, another lane for buses, and another lane for e-bikes.

    • My two cents ... November 19, 2020 (3:28 pm)

      @hungry pilgrim – what is wrong with the low bridge crossing for bikes? How would you get bike riders on and off the high bridge?  West Seattle Freeway and 99 aren’t configured for bikes 

      • Kathy November 19, 2020 (9:49 pm)

        My Two Cents, you are talking about the past configuration, not the future. The best time to remedy the gaps in the City’s bike infrastructure is when you are already closed for repairs.  You could put a bike lane on either side of the center divider and create safe crossings of ramp entrances and exits with signals. The City needs to think outside the box to get people where they need to go.  It’s a relatively short bridge/viaduct, not a freeway, although people treated it like a freeway because it was designed wide open. Pre pandemic I rode my bike weekly from West Seattle to Beacon Hill for a class. If you think it is so easy to do that through SODO I suggest you try it yourself. You have to detour to Holgate or Lucile, ziz-zag around many closed blocks, wait for a lot of trains and climb really steep grades up to Beacon Hill. Granted, if people who are stuck in their cars on the West Seattle Bridge were to see bikes freely moving past them, it would either make them very mad or convert them to try it themselves.

      • Joe Z November 20, 2020 (9:29 am)

        Lets say you are driving your car from West Seattle to Northgate. Would you take the West Seattle Bridge to I-5? Or, would you take the low bridge to 2nd Ave downtown, drive through downtown to Eastlake and up Roosevelt through Maple Leaf, waiting a dozen+ red lights along the way?

        Unless there is a major incident you would obviously take the expressway. Why wouldn’t someone on an e-bike make the same decision (if a bike lane parallel to I-5 and the bridge was available?)

  • Mr C Vu November 19, 2020 (1:51 pm)

    Good call by mayor and Herbold  This is a relief. SDOT Was practically begging for a mega project impacts to WS be damned. We can plan for replacement and try to work something out with sound transit in meanwhile. Having to endure several years of a closure would be too much to bear for many of us. Now we have a little bit of hope. Nice early Christmas present. 

  • Dave November 19, 2020 (2:00 pm)

    Maybe some reality sunk in with the replacement option – it is really questionable whether SDOT has the leadership, expertise, and experience to deliver a fast-track 3/4 billion dollar project.  WSDOT, Sound Transit, Corps of Engineers, sure.  While SDOT could add such capabilities, it would come at significant additional cost and learning curve.

  • dan November 19, 2020 (2:38 pm)

    Don’t forget: they could along the way to repairing discover that rapid replacement is the only feasible option! 

    • Chemist November 19, 2020 (5:13 pm)

      Several months ago SDOT was saying the cracks were growing more slowly, not that they’d stopped growing.  Between the bearing being released and the reinforcement/shoring, hopefully cracks have stopped growing and they’ll feel good about asserting that in a few months.

  • Wilson Bestor November 19, 2020 (3:54 pm)

    Let’s all be happy the decision is done and we can move on. Enough bickering. Bridge will be open again soon. Nothing we can do now but support the decision and be kind to everyone on W Marginal Way and other impacted areas. Just Be Kind! 

  • Jeff Wilson Jr November 19, 2020 (3:58 pm)

    @Hungry Pilgrim – love your idea about an ebike lane! Would be great to have a place to take a picture of our beautiful skyline. Like the Poloroid Point spots on the trips I used to take with my Pappi. Maybe at the crest of the bridge have a place to pull over and take pictures? 

    • Mark November 20, 2020 (4:34 pm)

      Yeh, A view point should be a priority for sure. Maybe they should just stabilize the bridge and limit it’s usage for bike and pedestrians. That would be an awesome use of taxpayers money. 

  • Mark32 November 19, 2020 (5:48 pm)

    Such positive comments! I just love that Seattle optimism.Shout out to Wilson Bestor!

  • I Have A Bridge To Sell You November 19, 2020 (7:10 pm)

    Yes. Yes. YES! The right decision. 

  • JKK November 19, 2020 (7:23 pm)

    1. Again. The city has NO money. That is why the talking about repairs or replacement has taken so long.  There is no money.   The virus and no tourism is why this won’t even get looked at being repaired until “fall 202” or later.  2. There is a BIG difference between 15 and 40 years.   It’s going to even take several years to make it stable at all to begin with.  

    • WSB November 19, 2020 (7:41 pm)

      The city has budgeted $100 million, via an interfund loan and then bonding, and more next year. That will cover, as shown in the presentation, most of the repair cost, plus the Reconnect West Seattle cost and $10 million for the low-bridge strengthening. The funding concern is what threw the “rapid span replacement” into disfavor, not repairs.

  • BigB November 19, 2020 (10:10 pm)

    I wish they would fix the bridge and them start on the tunnel.

  • Mark November 20, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    So in 15 years where do they find  the $500 million +++ they will need to replace it? Then there is the millions in on going maintenance once it is repaired. What if the repair doesn’t last 15 years? Maybe they can just replace it with a high level bike and pedestrian bridge as cars are evil in Seattle anyway.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.