REPAIR DECISION: West Seattle Bridge NOW vows to ‘watch this process carefully’

(Photo by Tony Welch)

Continuing our coverage of today’s big news – the West Seattle Bridge repair decision – we have reaction from the community coalition that formed in response to the bridge’s sudden shutdown eight months ago: West Seattle Bridge NOW. The group has been advocating for choosing the repair pathway, and now it’s happened. Here’s their reaction, sent by WSBN’s Kevin Broveleit:

The West Seattle Bridge NOW team is very happy with today’s announcement by Mayor Durkan to repair the West Seattle Bridge.

This is a decision that we celebrate with everyone affected by the Bridge’s closure. As a community, we rallied together to raise our voices up to be a part of this process and to not just sit by while others decided our fate. To the thousands of people who added to our call to repair the bridge, we say THANK YOU!

We also want to thank Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for their leadership in getting us moving again. They listened to the experts and to the community. Now we should have our bridge back sooner, rather than much later.

The process of getting the Bridge reopened can now truly begin. We intend to watch this process carefully and will continue to advocate for our communities’ best interests as the repairs are completed.

The past few months have shown what’s possible when we come together to support one another. Congratulations, West Seattle, you did it!

WSBN sent the mayor a letter and online petition in August, two months after an SDOT manager first said the bridge seemed fixable.

33 Replies to "REPAIR DECISION: West Seattle Bridge NOW vows to 'watch this process carefully'"

  • AB83 November 19, 2020 (8:33 pm)

    Great glad they made a decision still think it’s ridiculous that I can’t use a bridge that I have used for years to get to work “lower bridge”……. that has an exit specifically to my location “Harbor Island”I guess I’ll just thank all the cheaters for taking it away from someone who really needed to use it 

  • commuter November 19, 2020 (8:53 pm)

    I’m sure I missed this in some other post, but will the bridge repair option affect the timeline for WS getting light rail?  For example, will light rail run on the repaired bridge, or will light rail be delayed until the ultimate replacement bridge is built?  Maybe this is a silly question…

    • WSB November 19, 2020 (9:50 pm)

      None of the above/

  • namercury November 19, 2020 (10:19 pm)

    I finally found something I can agree with Mayor Durkan
    on!  As a professional civil engineer, I am familiar with pre-stressing
    and post stressing to compensate for the weakness of concrete in tension. 
    I am confident the repaired bridge will outlast the “repaired”
    estimates recently offered.  This, along with the much lower cost of
    repair and the shorter “out-of-service” period make the
    “repair” option quite obvious to me.  There are risks; there are
    risks in almost everything.  However, these risks are acceptable.   namercury, P.E. 

    • Jason November 20, 2020 (6:59 am)

      Thanks for adding your opinion. Is this commonly shared among other engineers in Seattle? A previous post had an engineer state the bridge could be repaired faster and would last closer to the 40 years v the 15. Would like to see other engineers share their thoughts. 

      • BBILL November 20, 2020 (10:16 am)

        I note that the engineers who are responsible to design and build a repair, the ones who have data, are not as certain as those who post “I’m an engineer and the (yet to be determined) repair will last a long time” here on WSB.

    • hammerhead November 20, 2020 (7:42 am)

      A MEN

    • Mike November 21, 2020 (10:55 am)

      The original engineers thought it would last longer too, but they are not the ones that fund or build it.  In the end, what goes on paper isn’t always what we end up getting.  The engineering might be sound on paper, but the implementation is typically garbage.  That’s why we have a busted bridge half way into its lifespan.

  • RB November 20, 2020 (6:03 am)

    Typical short term thinking by Seattle. A mark of every civic project in our history.

    We are all feeling happy feelings about the bridge being operational much sooner. Of course. But it’s a tradition of Seattle’s civic history that we keep pushing out long-term investments — the long term replacement project WILL be pushed out, over and over, as coffers get tight and the buck is passed from mayor to mayor.

    This is setting us up for a far worse disruption in a few years. Mark my words, well ahead of the “expected” lifetime of the repair, there will be another unexpected issue with the bridge and the city will need to be decisive in closing it again when that happens. We will look back and wish we’d started construction on a new bridge during 2020 when traffic was lighter and a huge chunk of us were isolated at home.

    • Derek November 20, 2020 (6:14 pm)

      Work from home means less car usage anyways over the next year or so anyways. Who cares? We saved two years of life by not putting any weight on it currently. 

  • CM November 20, 2020 (7:04 am)

    I am not an engineer but I’m very happy with this news. Just a little frustrated with the timeline. I feel like this decision could’ve been made sooner and construction can begin sooner than next fall

  • Eddie November 20, 2020 (7:50 am)

    We have our heads in the sand if we think reopening the bridge is going to end all our traffic suffering here in West Seattle.  Remember back to the “before-times”, when it took over a half an hour nearly every day to crawl across the bridge and through the stopped traffic on the Spokane Street viaduct, so much of it trying to squeeze through one lane entering Northbound I5?Reopen the bridge tomorrow and sit in that traffic instead of West Marginal/1st South Bridge/Michigan street?  What is being done to use the time we have before repair/replace to improve that bottleneck interchange?  (Hint: absolutely nothing).

    • JSBM November 20, 2020 (9:37 am)

      I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, how soon traffic would return to the pre-bridge outage levels. It does seem possible that the daily volume may decrease due to some of the NW’s largest companies (Amazon, Microsoft), allowing their employees to work partially remote for the foreseeable future. My employer has said that when we’re allowed to return to the workplace it will not be the 5-day office arrangement it was before, and some friends have said it’s the same story for them. While this is just my own experience (and sheer speculation) if there are enough others with a similar arrangement, it could reduce the overall amount of traffic. It would be nice if those that can work from home would do so, even part of the time, to make the commute easier for those that need to travel to their place of work. 

  • Mj November 20, 2020 (9:21 am)

    The Mayor made the correct decision to repair the bridge!  A capable contractor is already on site conducting stablelization of the bridge. 

    The design of the original bridge provided anchoring to add more reinforcement tensioning.  With 24 7 work the bridge should be able to be opened much sooner than the SDoT timing.  I believe Fall of 2021 is feasible, that quite frankly is important since I expect Covid-19 will be behind us by then. 

  • namercury November 20, 2020 (10:18 am)

    As a professional civil engineer, I am very optimistic about
    the construction aspects of this project.  The access situation is better
    than most road construction projects; concurrent vehicle traffic is absent and
    they have relatively unobstructed access and no real estate issues.  The
    technology involved has been proven and refined on many more complex
    projects.  I haven’t reviewed all the details; however, in overview, it
    seems to me they could have a “design and build” contract and
    separate, independent parallel review contractor to assure technical adequacy
    and this project could advance very rapidly.     Hopefully, the
    politicians can see the project does not get bogged down in the administrative
    and permitting processes which I foresee being the time limiting issue. 
     namercury, P.E. 

  • PATRICIA DAVIS November 20, 2020 (11:16 am)

    WHEN   is it going to be ready for traffic?  Can it be ready earlier for cars only (due to them being light)IS  ANYONE  INTERESTED  IN  GETTING  THE  LOWER  BRIDGE  OPEN  FOR  WEEKENDS AND  ALSO  7 PM INSTEAD  OF  9 PM (SO WE COULD GET  TO HOME DEPOT AND STORES BEFORE THEY CLOSE DURING THE WEEK?)

    • AB83 November 20, 2020 (12:33 pm)

      I’m sorry but I don’t think you’re little store trips should Override my right to get to work Harbor Island workers used that lower bridge before this whole bridge catastrophe if anybody gets priority it should be them And by the way there is a Home Depot in West Seattle not sure why you would need to cross the bridge for that

    • East Coast Cynic November 20, 2020 (1:03 pm)

      You can go to Home Depot in SODO to save yourself the trouble of working through the back roads of getting back to West Seattle in a timely fashion.

      • FixTheBridge November 20, 2020 (10:53 pm)

        Access to the outside world is not a privilege. As tax paying citizens SDOT should be bending over backwards to accommodate our right to move about the city freely. Only in this weird part of the world do humans think it normal to take the abuse we here do from local government. Trust me. It is very very weird to not demand the city extend hours on the low bridge. Seattle is a strange place and business like REI are fleeing Seattle for a reason. 

        • WSB November 21, 2020 (1:05 am)

          REI is not “fleeing Seattle.” REI is headquartered in Kent and was moving to Bellevue but decided to sell its just-built HQ there instead.

          • FixTheBridge November 21, 2020 (12:53 pm)

            Correction, Columbia Sportswear is fleeing Seattle along with a long list of other business with no plans to return to Seattle. Business are leaving why? We have very poor local gov and in my opinion a citizenry that refuses to force our local leaders to make sensible, reasonable, moderate and practical decisions – like allowing 20% of the city more access to the low bridge. 

          • WSB November 21, 2020 (3:54 pm)

            Yes, their downtown store will stay closed, variety of reasons cited
            https://www.seattletimes.com/business/local-business/columbia-sportswear-is-the-latest-downtown-seattle-business-to-pull-out-amid-the-pandemic/

          • FixTheBridge November 22, 2020 (7:50 am)

            Columbia Sportswear is certainly not finding a variety of reasons to stay in Seattle. I find it embarrassing that a city like Seattle cannot get it together enough to keep a company like Columbia Sportswear interested in having a retail location here. Seattle people need to change the attitudes of intolerance. Bikes are a fine hobby but they are simply not a reasonable option as daily transportation for so many good people. Cars are needed by people, bridges are needed, getting our bridge fixed and giving cars more priority on the low bridge is the right thing to do for our city. Seattle has gone too far to the left. 

  • Also John November 20, 2020 (11:34 am)

    Thank you NOW for all your work!    WS appreciates you!

  • Rico November 20, 2020 (12:22 pm)

    Engineers have estimated the remaining useful life of the “fix” between 15-40 years.In engineering  or technical terms, a range of that magnitude would be called a swag. “Sophisticated Wild As_ Guess.”  That is a HUGE range, suggesting  we really don’t know – and this is essentially just a guess.  Let’s hope the bridge will reach the 15 years, not 15 weeks – before the next closure is necessary.  

    • sna November 20, 2020 (4:05 pm)

      Not really true.  It’s SDOT that keeps adding the “15 to 40 years” language.  The engineering experts say 95% chance it lasts 40 years.  And 40 more years represents the original projected lifespan of the bridge, so very possibly could last longer.  

    • BBILL November 20, 2020 (4:38 pm)

      The methodology of this range was clearly explained–SDOT suggested that if the minimum were not 15 years, then repair could not be justified. The 40 year estimate, loosely, is the remainder of the original estimate. Thus the engineers considered the absolute minimum to be 15 years (with some uncertainty, as always) and a maximum of the remaining life of the bridge. The maximum, 40 years, is not at issue, since that’s the easier of the two, and I doubt anyone is going to suggest that a broken bridge that’s repaired would last longer than its original design life. The difficult side is establishing the minimum with a reasonable amount of certainty. I do agree, however, that we should be hopeful that a repaired bridge can carry some level of traffic for 15 years.

      • Chemist November 21, 2020 (3:32 am)

        Have you looked into the designed life of old bridges like the Magnolia bridge or the Aurora bridge and how long they’ve continued to operate past that?  I think the city has gotten extra decades from the Magnolia bridge.

        • BBILL November 21, 2020 (12:15 pm)

          Similarly, have you looked into the design life of bridges that have failed *sooner* than their original expected life? I might suggest starting with the West Seattle Bridge. So sure, yes, some do last longer than others, some beyond their original expected life, but others don’t last their full expected life.

    • Frog November 20, 2020 (5:01 pm)

      I am fitting my car with a parachute, just in case.

  • Andrew Krom November 21, 2020 (6:13 am)

    I am assuming that SDOT will put restrictions on heavy loads and tolls on the bridge to keep the stresses to a minimum. Everyone hates a toll, but it’s a method to build the reserve for a new bridge and also reduce the traffic volumes.

    • BBILL November 21, 2020 (12:28 pm)

      Tolling an existing bridge that was originally funded with federal dollars is highly unlikely to happen, would likely need direct authorization from Congress, and approval of the President. 23 U.S.C. 301 and 23 U.S.C. 129

    • BBILL November 21, 2020 (1:32 pm)

      The weight issue is far more complex, but what cannot be done is prohibit otherwise legal loads without justification, and the justification needs to be more than “we think the bridge will last longer if trucks are prohibited (even if true)” or “trucks cause more wear and tear than bicycles (even if true).” Reducing the load can be accomplished in other ways, such as by reducing the number of lanes–reduce the capacity so that trucks and cars can both safely use the bridge.

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