West Seattle, Washington
Another anniversary tops our pandemic roundup tonight:
ONE YEAR SINCE ‘STAY HOME’ ORDER: Though the West Seattle Bridge closure might be your most vivid memory from one year ago tonight, there was one other big announcement – at 5:30 pm on March 23, 2020, Gov. Inslee announced the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. He promised, “This challenge is temporary” – at least two weeks, he speculated. Instead, it lasted two months.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: Checking today’s daily summary from Seattle-King County Public Health – the cumulative totals – we note a glitch on that page; while the totals are updated, the “change from yesterday” numbers were not changed from the previous day, so we’ve done the correct math:
*85,733 people have tested positive, 104 more than yesterday’s total
*1,455 people have died, 3 more than yesterday’s total
*5,232 people have been hospitalized, 12 more than yesterday’s total
*950,579 people have been tested, 1,418 more than yesterday’s total
One week ago, the totals were 84.416/1,441/5,185/936,284.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: See them here.
NATIONAL/WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: 124.2 million cases worldwide, 29.9 million of them in the U.S. – see other nation-by-nation stats by going here.
CHIEF GETS VACCINATED: Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins was at the city-run Rainier Beach site today to get his first shot:
Acting SFD Capt. Brian Wallace administered the shot. More details are on the SFD Fireline site.
IF YOU’RE ELIGIBLE AND LOOKING FOR AN APPOINTMENT … here are the links to try:
*Check for West Seattle city-run site appointments here; sign up for the city’s notification list for all three of its sites here.
*Health-care providers (particularly bigger ones like UW Medicine, CHI Franciscan, Swedish, Kaiser Permanente, etc.)
*covidwa.com (volunteer-run aggregator)\
*The state says it’s improved its own lookup tool
*Here’s another search to try
*Pharmacies big and small – Safeway, Rite Aid, QFC, Pharmaca, Costco
*Sea Mar clinics
LEFTOVERS? The city-run West Seattle site offers leftover vaccine at day’s end to people who are there in hopes of getting lucky – but they sort by age, and so far we haven’t heard of anyone outside their 60s getting vaccinated this way.
IN-PERSON LEARNING: The Seattle Public Schools board meeting tomorrow is likely to have some updates, as well as action items such s approval of the new elementary and K-8 schedules.
GOT SOMETHING TO REPORT? firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-293-6302, text/voice – thank you!
Throughout the day, we’ve been observing the one-year anniversary of the West Seattle Bridge’s sudden, shocking closure. One last report as promised: So what’s happening now?
ACCEPTING REPAIR BIDS: Along with the design milestone, the city announced that it is accepting bids from prospective contractors to handle work on both the high and low bridges. That process is under way now; the deadline for submissions is April 12th.
SEEKING REPAIR FUNDING: The price tag SDOT has announced for its entire “program” – including high and low bridge repairs and traffic mitigation – is $175 million. When that figure was announced, we asked SDOT for a breakdown of where the money’s coming from, and this was the reply:
SDOT has secured $124M in funding sources, including:
Federal grants ($14.4M for high bridge rehabilitation and $1.5M for Reconnect West Seattle)
Seattle Transportation Benefit District ($8M)
City of Seattle REET-backed bonds ($100M)
We are actively seeking federal grants, such as Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA), and local partnership funding opportunities. We are closely monitoring the development of potential Washington State transportation packages.
INFRA is a federal grant program administered by USDOT. The grant is for highway and freight projects of regional significance. We are requesting $17-21M for the West Seattle Bridge Program.
This new post on SDOT Blog gets into details of the INFRA application, and invites you to sign on to a “community letter” of support.
RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE PROJECTS: On and around the detour routes, SDOT has a long list of small-ish projects it’s working through, from traffic-calming to pothole-filling.
ENCOURAGING MODE-SHIFT: The city also continues to warn that as schools, businesses, and offices reopen, traffic will become unbearable unless some people mode-shift to non-single-occupancy-car travel at least part of the time.
Ideally, the city says, the single-occupancy car’s share of daily travel would be down to 35 percent while the bridge is out – less than half its pre-closure, pre-pandemic 81 percent share.
SO WHEN WILL THE BRIDGE REOPEN? SDOT first said on April 15, 2020, that it didn’t expect the bridge to reopen before 2022. That was 7 months before the mayor’s November 19, 2020 decision to repair rather than replace. Now, four months after that, the estimated reopening date remains “mid-2022.”
Last summer, we reported on the concept for public art that’ll be part of the Alki Pump Station 38 project in the 1400 block of Alki Avenue SW, with a survey for your comments.. Now, an update on artist Sarah Thompson Moore‘s design – including word that a guardrail has been added to the project:
Here are basics on the pump-station upgrade, aimed at increasing capacity and reliability. The project website still says construction is expected to start this year.
4:38 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – transient killer whales are in the area, midchannel in Puget Sound, southbound, passing the mouth of Elliott Bay. Let us know if you see them!
7:06 PM: Texter says they’re in view now looking south toward the Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry lane.
This Thursday, the West Seattle Democratic Women invite you to learn about two hot topics from their guest speaker. Here’s the announcement:
In honor of Women’s History Month, for its meeting on Thursday, March 25th, the West Seattle Democratic Women have invited Alison McCaffree from the League of Women Voters of Washington to present the history of the Equal Right Amendment and current efforts to get it passed. She will also tell us about Speak Up Schools in Washington State, a program created to inspire people to testify in front of the Washington State Redistricting Commission which will draw the lines for our legislative districts this year. Why do we care about these issues? How do they impact us? To join us on Zoom for this interactive and engaging presentation, email Mary Fisher at email@example.com by 11 a.m. Thursday for the Zoom link. Speaker begins at 7 p.m, after we share positive news of the month in a pre-meeting discussion starting at 6:30 p.m.
One of the ways in which people have coped with the West Seattle Bridge closure – one year ago today, and expected to continue for another 15 months or so – is through humor, in the “laughing because otherwise we would cry” mode. Above, one of the signs that popped up around the peninsula in the early going – photographed today in the window at Beveridge Place Pub. A popular meme is that the bridge outage has turned the peninsula into an island – that gave birth to stickers sold to raise money for the West Seattle Food Bank. And remember the T-shirt design contest? Three designs won a community vote last summer from among 63 entries:
NOAH BELL-CRUZ – Greetings from Accidental Island
MIKE SHAUGHNESSY / BRADI JONES – Mind the Gap
REBECCA DAHLIN – So Close Yet So Far
The West Seattle Junction Association, which organized the design contest, says the winning T-shirts are still available at Click! Design That Fits (4540 California SW; WSB sponsor), Alair (3270 California SW), Capers Home (4525 California SW), Wild Rose (4529 California SW).
Three months since Christmas, but if you drive past 35th/Myrtle after dark, you’ll notice that Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s big tree – the highest-elevation Christmas tree in the city – is still awash in light. Today OLG asked us to share this explanation with you:
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHURCH IS KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON! As many of you can see, we have kept our Christmas lights up on the our large spruce tree in front of the church as a sign of hope not only in the midst of a pandemic but also as a beacon of light to the injustice of racism. Let us all strive to be a light to all we meet!
At their March meeting, some members of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force voiced hopes the city would make a grand statement on the first anniversary of the bridge’s sudden shutdown. We’re told this SDOT Blog post is the only statement planned for today – so we’re republishing it here as we continue marking the anniversary:
Dear West Seattle and Duwamish Valley communities,
It’s been a tough year. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll around the globe, your communities suddenly faced another major challenge: the emergency closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge on March 23, 2020.
Here we are. One year later.
While closing the bridge was a necessary step for public safety, the effects of the closure have been widespread and undeniable. All of you have been affected. Your trips have taken more time; your routines have been disrupted. Traffic patterns have changed, with detours sending people driving onto neighborhood streets that weren’t intended for so many cars.
We’ve taken steps – and will continue to do so – to help ease some of the strain. Later this week, we’ll talk more about where we’ve been over the past year and where we’re headed. We remain laser-focused on repairing and reopening the High Bridge in mid-2022 so the closure no longer weighs heavily on your day-to-day life.
But this message today isn’t about what we at the City have done. It’s about what you and your neighbors have endured. Today, we simply want to thank you for your perseverance over the past year.
“A year later after the West Seattle Bridge closure as we struggle to keep our communities safe and healthy from road traffic and additional emissions for both of our communities Georgetown and South Park, I am pleased to say we have been centering community voices and concerns prioritizing equity and environmental justice and will continue to make sure this is a key element moving forward. Thankful for our community and our SDOT partners.” – Paulina Lopez, West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Co-Chair and Executive Director of Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
“It has been a long, hard year for folks in West Seattle and Southwest Seattle. But finally we see a light at the end of the bridge.” – Greg Nickels, West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Co-Chair and Former Mayor of Seattle
“Thank you for your patience as we work to repair this critical piece of Seattle’s infrastructure. We know that the bridge closure has deeply impacted communities and business, and we appreciate your flexibility in learning new ways to get around. Thank you to all the community members who have helped guide our efforts, through emails, surveys, and public meetings. You have helped set us on a path to success.” – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
“Better days are ahead. After successfully completing stabilization measures on the bridge late last year, we’re preparing to hire the construction team that will rehabilitate the bridge and work to reopen it to traffic. As that work proceeds, you’ll continue to see us in the community telling you what’s happening, humbly asking for your feedback, and steadfastly making improvements.” Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation
This remains a long emergency and remain committed to staying on schedule and reopening a safe bridge as soon as possible. Still, we recognize that this is one of many losses you may have endured this year, and you’ve had to look for new and novel ways of coping and coming together as a community. We hear you and we will continue to do everything we can to return the bridge to service and supporting all of the communities affected by detour traffic.
As mentioned in this pictorial look back that we published earlier today, we’ll look later today at where things stand and what’s next. Our entire year of coverage is in this WSB archive, newest to oldest.
One year ago tonight – at 7 pm March 23, 2020 – the West Seattle Bridge was closed, just 4 hours after the city announced it was unsafe for traffic. The last-minute word of that 3 pm briefing came minutes after a reader emailed us to say they just heard a rumor the bridge had to close for a year-plus of emergency repairs. We found it hard to believe … but it was true. Hours later, crews were blocking off the bridge entrances:
West Marginal Way – a street some West Seattleites had never traveled – was suddenly a major route to and from the peninsula.
Traffic through Highland Park increased dramatically. Within a week, a rush-installed signal was up at the long-suffering intersection of Highland Park Way and Holden.
In April, we learned the bridge wouldn’t reopen before 2022. By May, ramps were more enduringly blocked off:
Police – and later, cameras – worked to enforce restrictions on the low bridge:
Streets beyond West Seattle filled with cut-through drivers to and from alternate bridges; though SDOT was working on mitigation plans, South Park neighbors took action of their own:
Work began to keep the bridge from falling down before the replace-or-repair decision could be made:
In case of complete cutoff, emergency personnel made sure they could get to West Seattle no matter what:
Winter came. Still bridgeless, but the stabilization work was done, and the work platforms came down by year’s end.
In February, a spooky sight as the traffic-free bridge filled with February snow, unplowed
And now … in spring … the empty bridge awaits permanent repairs:
Later today, more anniversary coverage, including where things stand now.
Notes for the hours ahead:
POLICE BUDGET: As previewed last night, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee will take up a proposed police-budget cut in its 9:30 am meeting. The agenda explains how to comment and/or view.
DEMONSTRATE: Organizer Scott continues leading the twice-weekly demonstration:
Black Lives Matter sign-waving
Tuesday, Mar 23, 4 to 6 pm, corner of 16th SW and SW Holden
Thursday, Mar 25, 4 to 6 pm, corner of 16th SW and SW Holden
Come build awareness that will help tear down the systems that have oppressed Black lives for over 400 years on this continent. Hold signs, meet neighbors and stand for racial justice. Scott at Puget Ridge Cohousing, endorsed by Hate-Free Delridge. Signs available.
6:07 AM: Good morning! Some sunshine in the forecast for your Tuesday.
ROAD WORK .
Delridge project – Here’s the rundown for this week’s work.
Metro is on its changed-for-spring regular schedule
The West Seattle Water Taxi is running with the smaller Spirit of Kingston for the next two weeks or so
BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES
Exactly one year ago tonight, the West Seattle Bridge was closed with just a few hours’ public notice. We’ll look back, and ahead, later today. For now – here’s how it’s looking on other bridges and routes:
Low Bridge: Eleventh week for automated enforcement cameras; restrictions are in effect 5 am-9 pm daily. Here’s a bridge view:
West Marginal Way at Highland Park Way:
Highland Park Way/Holden:
The 5-way intersection (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):
And the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map):
For the South Park Bridge (map), here’s the nearest camera:
To check for bridges’ marine-traffic openings, see the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed.
Trouble on the streets/paths/bridges/water? Please let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.
12:44 AM: Big response in the 8400 block of California SW for a report of a car going down the dead end (which leads to a hillside over Fauntlee Hills). Updates to come.
12:49 AM: SFD says the driver, a man, got out OK and is now “being evaluated by medics.” However, towing the crashed car up a 25-foot slope will apparently be a challenge, responders warned dispatch.
1:03 AM: An AMR ambulance has arrived, which indicates the driver’s injuries are not major.
1:20 AM: Most of the responders have departed; a tow truck has arrived.
7:32 AM: Police are investigating the driver for DUI.