‘Here we are. One year later’: What the city’s saying on the West Seattle Bridge closure anniversary

(WSB file photo)

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.

45 Replies to "'Here we are. One year later': What the city's saying on the West Seattle Bridge closure anniversary"

  • Derek March 23, 2021 (12:17 pm)

    Absolute and colossal city failure. 110k + people now have their lives completely interrupted because the city didn’t adequately prepare and take steps to fixing proactively. This needs to have a “drop everything and correct” type priority pinned to it. We’re about to go back to normal life and the traffic is going to be epically bad. 

    • NorthAdmirals March 23, 2021 (2:50 pm)

      I’ll need to leave the island multiple times a day when Covid subsides. There’s no way this will be possible and I’m already my planning on renting a second place in town.  It’ll be extremely expensive and frustrating but I’m in a bind.It’s all our faults for electing people to take care of our money and infrastructure who don’t care about either. I think the assumption by our leaders was you can ignore the things people take for granted and instead funnel money into friendly non-profits to goose up outrage incorporated.Now that we’re losing things that actually matter; ie police, roads, laws – we’ll hopefully realize common basic infrastructure is the most basic of their jobs. 

  • CarDriver March 23, 2021 (12:35 pm)

    I wasn’t looking for a “grand statement” I was hoping for a rebuilt bridge.  It could very well be that SDOT is going as quickly as possible but with their lack of credibility and communication  it’s real hard to get a warm and fuzzy. 

  • Chemist March 23, 2021 (1:02 pm)

    Considering that SDOT has said it’s not a maintenance thing and the technical task force lead and SDOT’s folks have stated it was a flaw in the original design/construction of the bridge (but apparently it’s not corroded post-tension cables), I’d really feel a lot better if SDOT would share some of the details around what went wrong. Marx kept jumping in to say “many factors contributing” but I’m certain the bid documents being put together for the actual repair will have to have details about the design/construction defects and those should be public records.

    • 1994 March 23, 2021 (8:23 pm)

      Did Marx also remind West Seattleites to jump on their bikes or walk out of West Seattle? I can’t hear/read anymore about the WSB but I like to read everyone’s comments and give a snarky one too once in a while.

    • 1994 March 23, 2021 (8:32 pm)

      Did Marx also remind us to jump on our bikes or walk out of West Seattle to reduce traffic? 

  • Black panther March 23, 2021 (1:27 pm)

    Roads and bridges are a basic function of government. People want to give government more tasks and responsibility in private sectors where they should never be? If I cant trust them to maintain a bridge, how can I trust them to fix it. Thank you mayor and council for allowing my house increase in crazy value, because we are cashing out. My wife and I, after 27 years in west seattle, have finally given up on this city and its politics.  Time to move where the rule of law is enforced, police, property and citizens are respected, and where taxes are and cost of living are lower. 

    • Reed March 23, 2021 (2:05 pm)

      So you’re off to a conservative welfare county/state?

      • GC March 23, 2021 (2:45 pm)

        Reed, Is it a progressive state where laws are not enforced, police, property and citizens are not respected, and where taxes and cost of living is high? Wow, I guess so. That does sound like Seattle!

      • The King March 23, 2021 (3:31 pm)

        Ahhh there you go Reed. A constant reminder that even the art of human discourse is gone in Seattle. Heaven forbid someone think outside the box. 

        • reed March 24, 2021 (9:04 am)

          The disproven “Seattle Is Dying” narrative is getting really old. Seattle certainly isn’t perfect (what place really is), but it is not what all those who only and always dwell on the negative portray it to be. If Seattle is such a dystopian hellscape, why are people dropping $1M cash on houses to move here? Seattle is a highly desirable place to live and honestly will be better off without pearl-clutching  downers who focus only on the negative. I will leave you with a data point for perspective: I’ve lived in Seattle for 13 years, and have never had my house broken into. My second home near Kettle Falls which I’ve owned for 7 years, has been broken into twice, despite it being a small town in a conservative (pro-gun, pro-police, super pro-god) area. Bad stuff happens everywhere, and you are a fool if you think otherwise. 

    • Foop March 23, 2021 (2:42 pm)

      – X Allowed my home value to go out of control Um, they can’t control that. Home value is a supply / demand issue- I wanna go somewhere where laws are obeyedAmazing that the demand here is so high being how lawless it is.Lower taxes? We don’t have income tax, property tax is really low compared to other states. I mean, good luck and have fun, but you seem to be greatly misunderstanding economics here, and I think you’ll be disappointed anywhere you go.

    • Seriously ? March 23, 2021 (11:50 pm)

      So true Black Panther.   Sadly we are leaving as well.  Things have gotten really bad.  Sad. 

  • West Seattle Lite March 23, 2021 (2:05 pm)

    I’ve been willing to give the City of Seattle some slack on the bridge until I visited Deception Pass over the weekend. It took less than a year(!!!!!)  to build that bridge back in the mid 30’s. Why is it taking so dang long to fix the West Seattle Bridge when something as grand as the DPB could be built in less than a year almost 90 years ago?! From Wikipedia: The Deception Pass Bridge, one of the scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest, is actually two spans, one over Canoe Pass to the north, and another over Deception Pass to the south. Pass Island lies between the two bridges. Construction began in August 1934, and the completed bridge was dedicated at noon on July 31, 1935. The Wallace Bridge and Structural Co. of Seattle, Washington provided 460 tons of steel for the 511-foot (156 m) Canoe Pass arch and 1130 tons for the 976-foot (297 m) Deception Pass span. The cost of the New Deal-era construction was $482,000, made possible through the Public Works Administration and county funds.

    • Brian Judd March 24, 2021 (5:30 pm)

      The Deception Pass bridge was completed in less than year likely because low-paid immigrants in horrible working conditions likely did the work. Because we pay people livable, union wages in Seattle and are concerned with proper working conditions is a factor in it taking longer. Also, the level of diligence around design and review is intentional to ensure a solid product. This level of diligence did not exist in the 1930s.I encourage you and everyone here to not personalize this temporary inconvenience. In fact, I believe gratitude is in store. We are entering into a overarching era where we will see infrastructure failing across our country due to lack of investment. I, for one, am grateful that the WS Bridge challenge happened at the front end of this era. We will not see this level of concern or action in the coming years as municipalities will be forced into mitigation plans, rather than focusing on solutions.

  • NorthAdmirals March 23, 2021 (2:13 pm)

    That was super close. They almost didn’t get the words “equity” and “justice” in their bridge statement. Everyone can relax though. There’s no bridge but they care about equity 

    • Brenda March 23, 2021 (3:48 pm)

      SO FUNNYI thought the same thing. 

    • Seriously? March 23, 2021 (11:51 pm)

      Omg that’s funny!

  • Daniel March 23, 2021 (2:41 pm)

    Plan for a major 1st Ave bridge construction retrofit (for no apparent reason), close all of South Park (just because you need to divert traffic for street-tree arborist report), and limit all Duwamish waterway traffic to the hours of 901pm-459am (because, why not?). Jenny and Sam do not care about you, nor does anyone in their offices. Wake up WS – your tax dollars might as well be thrown into a dumpster fire. Poor planning and poor execution from the city of Seattle as a WHOLE. Like BP – we too are leaving Admiral/WS/Seattle. 

    • Colonel Mustard's Wrench March 23, 2021 (7:32 pm)

      For whatever reason, the Mayor doesn’t have the spine to fire Zimbabwe – still don’t understand why he has a job. 
      Was part of Jenny’s decision to not run for re-election is because she understands that SDOT needs a new leader, but she just couldn’t find it in her heart to get rid of Sam ? 
      Maybe we should find out which mayoral candidates will be willing to get rid of Zimbabwe, and vote for one of them. 
      Total failure on the part of SDOT to properly maintain the West Seattle bridge. 
      All experts in the industry understand that the bearings require replacement after 30 years. 
      Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that the ones tasked with maintaining the bridge (SDOT) know that and do that ? 
      Apparently not !

  • Lola March 23, 2021 (3:33 pm)

    I have found all the ways in and out of West Seattle.  Been down roads I have never been on, and now have my route down.  I am sure the Find it Fix it app knows me well.  Since the roads we all have to take are now deteriorating I am trying to keep them going so we don’t loose these as well or we might all be like Gilligan’s Island with no way off. 

  • bfly March 23, 2021 (3:46 pm)

    One year down, five or six to go.

  • Jeff March 23, 2021 (4:07 pm)

    The city could use the high rise for emergency vehicles as it is now stabilized and open the lower to all traffic. Would be better for the emergency vehicles and for west seattle residence. Maybe start a petition?

  • Dogs March 23, 2021 (4:24 pm)

    Enough of the propaganda and politics. FIX THE BRIDGE!

  • Smittytheclown March 23, 2021 (4:36 pm)

    It’s only been a year?  Seems like yesterday…….I think it needs two more years of study.

  • Pessoa March 23, 2021 (4:39 pm)

    I wish I had a nickel for every time a West Seattle “lifer” threatened that they were going to move out.  West Seattle is Seahaven from Jim Carrey’s, “The Truman Show.”  

    • John March 23, 2021 (6:51 pm)

      I owe you a nickel. I did move out.

      Property tax went from $500 a month to $175.
      Car tabs went from $511 to $85.
      Sold my house for 750K, bought one for $315K.

      There is life on the outside.

      • Pessoa March 23, 2021 (7:15 pm)

        Thanks, I’ll collect sometime.  You’re right, there is a whole big wonderful world out there.  Cheers. 

      • 1994 March 23, 2021 (8:28 pm)

        And where is this life on the outside? Please share….thank you.

        • John March 23, 2021 (9:32 pm)

          Outside of King County. Preferably nowhere that you need or pay for light rail.
          For me, Port Angeles.8.8% sales tax and much lower insurance rates too.

  • CMK March 23, 2021 (5:27 pm)

    “But this message today isn’t about what we at the City have done.” OHHH…The Irony in that statement! I can barely stand it. At this point, they are just a joke. 

  • Djet7carn March 23, 2021 (7:49 pm)

    Reading the SDOT history of the bridge cracks reminded me of Trump talking about the how many cases. Well, there are a few cracks (cases) but they will probably go to zero  very soon.  You will see, all the cracks will be gone. One year later and SDOT is still pushing paper.  It that laser focus? 

  • Nicholas March 23, 2021 (8:02 pm)

    Still no actual progress.  There should have been crews working on this within 2 months.  What a disaster.

  • Born and raised March 23, 2021 (8:09 pm)

    All of the communities in West Seattle have been affected by this!! Not just Highland Park, White Center or South Park!! Every neighborhood has been affected and I am so sorry that I need to drive thru Highland Park or down Roxbury to come in and out of West Seattle! The people who live here did not create this problem and we shouldn’t be punished! Admiral, Alki, Junction, Fauntleroy and all of the other neighborhood are just as affected if not more than the areas we are now forced to use to be able to get out of here! And since equity is the buzz word of the year, there is no equity to the neighborhoods that I named and are forced to leave only 3 different ways! I guess their equity doesn’t matter….

  • TJ March 23, 2021 (8:20 pm)

    I’ll give you nickel too. Im out in September when my house in Scottadale is finished. Im 49 and have lived in west Seattle my whole life. But this city isn’t remotely what it used to be. Broken bridge with no urgency to fix. The main purposes of local government is providing infrastructure and safety but those are way down the ladder in importance with politicians that aren’t equipped to handle a big city. It used to bother me, but I came to a realization that it isn’t changing here and that’s fine. I have the means to leave to a state that is a true mix of politics and that prioritizes the tax payer and enforces law and order. 

  • Millie March 23, 2021 (10:18 pm)

    So the bridge was opened in 1984 and closed in 2020.  Thirty-six years!   It’s pretty cavalier for the City to say a “design-flaw/construction” results in the bridge failure.   How about SDOT’s  maintenance neglect, adding an additional lane, and allowing heavier vehicles (bus/trucks) to use?  Can’t help but feel that John and BP are onto something.   For a long-time West Seattle resident to say – but there is life outside the City of Seattle.

  • stranger than fiction March 23, 2021 (10:30 pm)

    Any cyclists want to share how they’ve been impacted by the bridge closure? Also please share whether or not you are a ‘privileged’ bike rider or someone who has to bike.

    • Reed March 24, 2021 (7:01 am)

      Drivers have become much more angry/aggressive towards cyclists (and pedestrians) since the bridge closure. Prior to the bridge closing, I had an encounter with someone who didn’t like what I was doing on a bike about once per month; now it is about once per week. 

      • stranger than fiction March 24, 2021 (8:43 pm)

        Yikes, not good, thanks for sharing Reed. Be safe, I’ve also noticed drivers have seemed more agro since the pandemic and bridge closure.

        Had a strange experience last week, where a large truck coming from the opposite direction suddenly chose to swerve into the center of the road and drive down the center lane, closer to me, as he passed me, for literally no reason. The road was clear and it was just a big truck, and me, a woman on a bike, riding to the right of her own lane.

        At least he didn’t deliberately swerve AT me or cut me off and nearly knock me off my bike. I’ve had that happen out there too.

  • Juniper March 24, 2021 (8:35 am)

    If you want to revitalize downtown, maybe consider giving us access to it?  I know when my office reopens I’ll be in no rush to get back.

  • TJ March 24, 2021 (12:43 pm)

    Yes Jort, I am well aware of Arizona’s taxing system. Even with a state income tax, my and my wife’s combined income of just over $500K in 2020 would be less in Arizona than here in Seattle. Up until covid there was unprecedented tax revenue for Seattle and the state, yet its never enough, with little to show for it. Never mind the bridge debacle, streets here are in terrible shape. I was in Scottsdale 2 weeks ago, and the roads are like new. All kids in school, no teacher union that held that up. Never saw a homeless camp there either. They are sticking to the basics there and it’s working great 

    • Jort March 24, 2021 (10:43 pm)

      OK Bye!

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