WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: 3 notes, high & low

Tomorrow marks 11 months since the West Seattle Bridge closed. Tonight, 3 notes:

WHO’LL FIX IT? As SDOT‘s consultant WSP continues designing the repairs, and the process of hiring a contractor approaches, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s weekly newsletter has this note:

One aspect of the West Seattle Bridge project that hasn’t received a lot of attention is the potential use of a community workforce agreement, and use of geographic hiring preferences.

The City’s Department of Finance and Administration is pursuing an exemption from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to allow us to use a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA)/Priority Hire on the project. Early in the Trump administration, USDOT withdrew proposed rulemaking that would have allowed geographic hiring preferences. In light of termination of the pilot program, these type of issues require FHWA’s consultation with the USDOT Office of the Secretary and Office of General Counsel. SDOT says, “We will work in partnership with FAS, with Build America, NACTO, other allies, and our congressional delegation to ensure Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg has this issue near the top of his agenda.”

Here’s a city document explaining CWA/Priority Hire. As for the timeline, as of the February 11th West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, SDOT expected to start seeking bids as soon as this week.

LOOKING WAY INTO THE FUTURE: Also from Herbold’s newsletter:

SDOT is continuing work on scoping for a study for replacing the bridge, which will eventually need to happen. They are coordinating with the Sound Transit Engineering Working Group to discuss Sound Transit’s assumed marine navigational clearance requirements as well as how to best align initial screening of alternatives with their DEIS release for the West Seattle to Ballard Link Extension project.

One potential wrinkle, though, is the Sound Transit “realignment” that could push back West Seattle light rail even further than the recently revised date of 2031. ST’s board is scheduled to look at some realignment scenarios when it meets this Thursday afternoon.

LOW-BRIDGE TICKETS: This is the fourth week that citations are being issued to low-bridge rulebreakers, seventh week since the cameras were turned on. In the first two weeks of $75 citations – February 1st through 15th – Seattle Police tell WSB they’ve sent 3,277 citations from the camera photographing vehicles headed eastbound, 4,099 from the camera photographing the westbound direction. If all of those resulted in $75 payments, that’s more than half a million dollars. However, the money doesn’t all go to the city. It contracts with Verra Mobilityformerly American Traffic Solutions – to run the cameras, and a cut goes to the state, as explained in our coverage last year pf the ordinance authorizing the cameras:

After paying for administrative costs, half of the remaining funds are to be remitted to the state’s Cooper Jones active transportation safety account, which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. The remaining half of the funds may only be used for transportation improvements that support equitable access and mobility for persons with disabilities.

If you need a refresher on the current rules, go here.

46 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: 3 notes, high & low"

  • Jort February 22, 2021 (9:29 pm)

    I would like to offer a sincere and hearty “THANK YOU!” to all the motorists who have personally chosen to break the law with impunity and mandatorily contribute to more bicycle safety projects in Washington. This is a win-win-win-win. Car-driving enthusiasts are punished for breaking the law which leads DIRECTLY to an increase in more and more people cycling, all through funding for cycling improvements. Thanks for the money, drivers! I have a newfound appreciation for your impatience and willingness to brazenly flaunt the law! A sincere thanks!

    • CAM February 23, 2021 (12:56 am)

      Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of violators, SPD told another publication they were not independently verifying the violators were not on the exempt list because they didn’t have the resources to do so it is likely a number of these violations will be contested and get bogged down and end up costing the city more in the long run than they potentially net in fines. It’s still good people are being fined for violating finally but it’s potentially not the best system. 

      • SeaSpade February 23, 2021 (9:26 pm)

        I’d volunteer  a few hours a week to do the cross checking if they need the labor.   Still 2-300 cars a day in each direction. 

    • Pelicans February 23, 2021 (8:37 am)

      Look up the definition of the word impunity. It means breaking laws or rules with no consequences forthcoming to the scofflaw. Your first sentence makes no sense.

      • Ivan Weiss February 24, 2021 (9:04 am)

        He should look up the difference between flout and flaunt while he’s at it.

    • reed February 23, 2021 (9:01 am)

      Perhaps knowing that the fees from violations go towards bike and pedestrian safety improvements will piss off the “nothing but cars” crowd so much that they will stop driving over the low. It is a win either way. 

    • Mark H February 23, 2021 (9:56 am)

      Declaration of non responsibility is effective at getting the fines dismissed.The city needs to get its priorities straight. Fix/rebuild the bridge, remove the low bridge “toll”, stop the messy and congestion/road-rage inducing road diets.

      • Ron Swanson February 23, 2021 (10:41 am)

        Yes, committing a class C felony to get out of a $75 ticket sounds like an amazing innovative idea with no possible consequences!  

        • Mark H February 23, 2021 (11:54 am)

          Except when you realize how the legal system works, you will see that the burden of proof is on them, and the burden beyond a reasonable doubt would cost the prosecution way more money than it’s worth. Dismissed.

          • Ron Swanson February 23, 2021 (1:21 pm)

            Sure, until they want to find someone to make an example of for deterrence.  A detective wants to talk to you about all these multiple declarations of non-responsibility you’ve filed: who are you letting use your car? Why do you continue to let them use it when they keep breaking the law in a way that gets you tickets? Remember, you can’t just lie on a piece of paper like you’ve been doing, now you’re committing perjury in person to a public official.  It isn’t the crime that gets you, it’s the coverup.

          • Jort February 23, 2021 (1:57 pm)

            Nope! Not dismissed. I guess, if people want to, they can play this kind of game and see what happens. Go ahead, commit a felony and try your luck. Especially if you do it over and over again. See how that works for you. What do they say about playing stupid games?

          • Mark H February 23, 2021 (3:32 pm)

            @JORT @RON SWANSON; well, that’s not how it really works. Again, the burden of proof is on them, which is extremely cost prohibitive for little reward. No detective is going to chase you because quite simply, that is not what career, let alone legal motivations they might have (or really build a case upon). Best legal advice I heard is you do not argue whom was ever crossing the bridge, you argue whether or not they have definitive proof of the operator of the vehicle at the time (which again, the city is legally not allowed to take photos of who’s driving). You put two and two together and the city gives up. QUOTE:Remember, you can’t just lie on a piece of paper like you’ve been doing,
            now you’re committing perjury in person to a public official /QUOTE You don’t ever really lie, you simply ask for definitive proof whom was driving the vehicle at the time the citation was issued (which the city can’t legally prove). It’s at this point the city is almost always going to dismiss the ticket. If not, the declaration of non-responsibility is to follow (which again falls into that whole “city can’t legally take photos of the driver”). If there’s an actual cop on the scene writing you a citation and has your driver license details on the citation, then it’s a whole different story. I am not a lawyer. I am not YOUR lawyer. Do your own research and this is not legal advice.

          • CAM February 23, 2021 (6:31 pm)

            To be clear, you’ve made it obvious that the thoughts/feelings/needs of others/society have no impact your behavior, so this isn’t for your benefit, Mark H. But if your justification for engaging in illegal behavior is that the city doesn’t have the resources to prove you did it so you can’t be penalized, I’m pretty sure there will come a day when that will catch up to you and in my experience stuff rolls downhill real fast in those situations. 

          • Low bridger February 23, 2021 (4:48 pm)

            Exactly what I and everyone I know are doing. 

          • Mark H February 23, 2021 (7:02 pm)

            @CAMDon’t hate the player, hate the game as they say. If SDOT’s political motivations didn’t appeal to technocratic egos, maybe we wouldn’t have maintenance shortfalls with a high bridge many people like myself used to rely on for our commutes beyond a reasonable alternative like a bicycle or bus or what have you. But that’s a story for another time.

          • Jort February 23, 2021 (11:06 pm)

            Well, I know the city attorney’s office will certainly be paying close attention to potential instances of a “MARK H” committing perjury. Who knows? Maybe somebody will get to try their luck and see how much risk they want to take in repeatedly committing a felony. I see, Mark, you’ve done your own math and think you’ll never face consequences. We’ll see about that.

          • WSB February 23, 2021 (11:35 pm)

            Felony = not the City Attorney, the King County Prosecuting Attorney.

  • Come now February 22, 2021 (10:40 pm)

    Three countries have sent equipment to mars since the bridge closed.  We should hire the groups that can fix it in the least amount of time.  

    • Bill February 23, 2021 (4:26 am)

      At least someone has some sense!

    • Jort February 23, 2021 (9:46 am)

      Really? You want to compare the timelines of sending spacecraft to Mars with the timelines for repairing the bridge? NASA started work on the Perseverance rover in 2013. Maybe pick a different comparison? Engineering and building bridges is complicated and takes time. Just because you refuse to accept using an alternative transportation method to avoid waiting in traffic is not sufficient cause for such unrealistic expectations on the timelines.

      • John February 23, 2021 (12:25 pm)


        If only you could expand your horizons and realize that not everyone works downtown.

        Try taking public transit to Redmond, Everett, or Kent.

        4+ hours of commuting round trip versus driving just doesn’t make sense.

        • reed February 23, 2021 (3:58 pm)

          Kent I can get, but commuting from West Seattle to Redmond or Everett? That was a huge driving commute before the bridge went out. Seems like such a waste of time to CHOOSE to commute so far everyday.

          • BLee February 24, 2021 (2:35 pm)

            When your company cuts jobs from their Seattle site forcing their employees to commute to Redmond, I don’t call that a choice. I call that getting screwed over and making the best of it. It just shows that people don’t understand this concept and I hope you all are thankful your job hasn’t changed/cut staffing so you too don’t have to drive beyond just downtown. 

  • Smittytheclown February 23, 2021 (5:26 am)

    Wow, that’s a lot of violations.  I wonder how many were “planned”?  Guess we will never know.  That said, I think it’s fantastic.  If you can afford it, great.  Puts money in the coffers and lightens the traffic on West Marginal for the rest of us.

  • tk February 23, 2021 (7:26 am)

    7,376 total violations in 2 weeks = 526 vehicles per day still crossing the bridge, despite warning signs. Wow!

  • APM February 23, 2021 (7:46 am)

    WSB/anyone – are there any proposals being evaluated to expand low bridge access on the weekends, or if not, to reevaluate the 5am to 9pm closure? It just seems unduly harsh – I was driving home from my flag football game in North Seattle Sunday night at 8:30pm and it’s an extra 20-25 min on slick roads with low visibility on West Marginal Motor Speedway while in the meantime there’s not a soul on the low bridge. And no, I couldn’t ride a bike to Lake City. I know, poor me, but in all seriousness, how many extra cars would we really be talking about for allowing some expanded hours on weekends. It’s like the city forgets that people live here and are significantly impacted. 

  • CarDriver February 23, 2021 (8:42 am)

    Thank YOU Jort!! As a driver you’ve contributed too. How many times have you crossed?

    • CAM February 23, 2021 (9:59 am)

      Do you really believe every driver is illegally crossing the bridge? As an essential worker regularly going downtown for work I haven’t done it once since it closed. Nobody else I know has crossed it illegally either. Maybe you need to reevaluate your justifications for your behavior?

      • sf February 23, 2021 (12:33 pm)


  • My two cents February 23, 2021 (9:27 am)

    I hope that this latest Herbold initiative doesn’t drag out the repairs to the bridge. Providing access for the residents of our new island should take precedence.

  • natinstl February 23, 2021 (12:23 pm)

    I went to a doctor’s appt. in West Seattle recently and the nurse there lives in Kingston, she legitimately had zero idea that they had restricted low bridge access until she got a ticket. 

    • reed February 23, 2021 (4:00 pm)

      That is remarkable considering the signs that have been posted for months. Smells like willful ignorance to me.

      • alki_2008 February 23, 2021 (7:09 pm)

        The signs coming into West Seattle are not clear at all. A single verbose sign AT the lane exit that says cars should exit, but doesn’t make clear what lane to use to exit.  Probably part of why there are 30% more tickets going westbound than eastbound.

    • Lisa February 25, 2021 (8:31 am)

      I’m not sure that’s the kind of nurse I want tending to my medical care… LOL 

  • Mj February 23, 2021 (3:50 pm)

    I wager CalTrans gets SR 101 opened after a catastrophic landslide way faster than SDoT repairs the WSB.  It’s frustrating the SDoT timeline that lacks any urgency.  If it was CalTrans instead of SDoT the repairs likely would already be completed already! 

    I still believe that repairing the bridge is doable by this Fall, at a minimum they need to be done prior to T-5 starting to operate.

    • bill February 23, 2021 (6:56 pm)

      Sounds great, MJ. The PCH slides almost every year. Maybe we want a better fix for our bridge?

    • Reed February 23, 2021 (7:09 pm)

      Major STATE road compared to a city road. Seems like something a retired “traffic engineer” should be able to distinguish between……

  • skeeter February 23, 2021 (4:13 pm)

    I hope Jort runs for Mayor of Seattle.  Jort has the kind of forward-thinking this city needs to grow and prosper.

    • Low bridger February 23, 2021 (4:56 pm)

      That’s hilarious skeeter.  Everyone thinks things can’t get any worse in Seattle  but what you just suggested…wow. 

  • AB83 February 23, 2021 (9:49 pm)

    Harbor Island workers did have access when the restrictions were first put in place. And that access was taken away and given to who? 650 passes later and Harbor Island workers that live in West Seattle still don’t have access. I knew something was fishy. Something ain’t right with that “talk about who you know” 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Mj February 23, 2021 (10:30 pm)

    Bill – SDoT failed to properly maintain the bridge, after it was closed the repair was determined feasible, a capable contractor was already stablelizing the bridge and could have quickly transitioned into repair mode and had it repaired by this Fall.  Adding reinforcing steel as envisioned by the original bridge designers could be underway now with designers working on fine tuning the repair elements.  It’s BS it’s taking this long.  

    • bill February 24, 2021 (8:36 am)

      MJ: It’s more likely the original design was flawed than SDOT failed at maintenance. The bridge needs to be repaired as correctly as possible. We don’t need another rush job.   

  • Mj February 24, 2021 (3:52 pm)

    Bill – no one’s asking for a rush job, but the fact is SDoT needs to expedite the repair.  The slow pace is the City’s hope to get someone else to pay.  The City needs to find the money and get it repaired this year.  Once Covid is in the rear view mirror and T5 is operating the traffic impact of the closure will be significantly worse than currently is happening.  And the simple fact is there is no technical reason it cannot be repaired this year.

  • Andrea Pirzio-Biroli March 8, 2021 (5:41 pm)

    I just received a violation from the City of Seattle for traveling in the new W Seattle detour high occupancy lanes.  It occurred on 2/4, was issued on 2/10, was required to be paid on 3/1, and arrived in my mailbox on 3/8! This detour was confusing and not clearly marked at all, besides the fact that it now takes an additional 15-20 minutes in light traffic to get to I-90 on the new detour, which we missed. I believe the DOT is making this far more confusing and far more complicated intentionally for the purpose of lining their coffers with their cut of the violation proceeds. By the way, when traveling over the high occupancy lane, it was virtually empty. So why in the world would they need to reserve it for high occupancy vehicles, just treat it like the HOV lanes on 405 and toll drivers ethically.

    • WSB March 8, 2021 (6:01 pm)

      What HOV? Do you mean the low bridge?

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