VIDEO: City Council committee’s West Seattle Bridge briefing

Six days short of one year after the sudden closure of the West Seattle Bridge, the City Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee got a briefing from SDOT today. You can see it in the meeting video above, starting one hour and two minutes in. It was fairly short – no new information if you’re caught up with what was announced one week ago (WSB coverage here): The repair design is at the 30 percent mark, and the city has officially launched the search for a contractor. SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe and bridge-project leader Heather Marx also recapped the projected price tag: $58 million for the bridge repairs, as part of a $175 million package including everything from the completed stabilization work, to high and low bridge repairs, to the ongoing traffic-mitigation projects scattered through neighborhoods in West Seattle, South Park, and Georgetown. On the subject of money, the committee’s agenda item right after the briefing was formal acceptance of a $14.4 million federal grant that’s being routed to the city by the Puget Sound Regional Council (part of the $124 million the city has already secured). The councilmembers didn’t have many questions for SDOT, but one did yield an answer of interest: SDOT reiterated that traffic would be phased in once the repair work is done at “midyear” next year – but how? Marx said it “makes sense” to go with larger vehicles like buses first, but they’re working on a plan to “generate as little confusion as possible.”

WHAT’S NEXT: Prospective contractors are invited to apply through April 12th; once one is on board and joining SDOT and consultant WSP in the design process, they expect a major design and scheduling milestone in July. Until then, they can only project that work will start “late this year.” SDOT continues guesting at many neighborhood meetings, so watch for our ongoing agenda announcements.

13 Replies to "VIDEO: City Council committee's West Seattle Bridge briefing"

  • Alki Resident March 17, 2021 (11:23 pm)

    Thank you WSB for the continued updates. Frustrating SDOT is so vague (mid year) on timing. If any of us were running this project, we’d be expected to give clear/concise details or we’d be fired. Unbelievable they can’t map out milestones every month from now until 2022. Bus and trucks first is a terrible idea. Open the lanes (even if limited) and let people make their own decisions. There’s plenty of apps that direct people based on flow. I highly doubt buses will be full next year to really benefit the community.  

    • BlairJ March 18, 2021 (7:58 am)

      As a project scheduler myself, I would not trust anything more specific than “midyear” when design is at 30% and contractor applications are not even due yet.

  • Rant March 18, 2021 (6:39 am)

    A year and a half in and they’re going to START the repairs on one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Brilliant.

  • Mark Schletty March 18, 2021 (8:43 am)

    Marx statement that “it makes sense” to phase in traffic with large busses  and trucks first is just further proof that SDOT really does function with a war on cars attitude. If I remember right, it was thought that the heavier busses and trucks were contributors to the failure in the first place, what “makes sense” is to keep both of them off the upper bridge. They can continue to use the lower bridge as they currently do. Use the upper bridge for those that must use cars for their transportation needs. They have been the people most adversely affected by the bridge closure.

    • reed March 18, 2021 (10:04 am)

      I see it as SDOT prioritizing people movement, assuming we will be back to normal numbers post-COVID. Single occupancy vehicles clog up the roads, not buses. Have you already forgotten the all the blog conversations on  C Line buses passing stops because they are completely full only to hit a wall of traffic caused by single occupancy vehicles? What makes sense is people who drive coming to the realization that traffic is not going to get any better no matter what is done, so you need to suck it up and deal with it. 

    • Thomas March 18, 2021 (10:30 am)

      I agree with Reed. And I would also urge anyone who’s gotten comfortable with the “War on Cars” line to let go of the provocative rhetoric and consider a different perspective. SDOT’s mission is to move people as efficiently as possible. Single occupancy vehicles are, well, inefficient at moving lots of people all at the same time. Think of it less as an SDOT hates your car problem. I promise you, most of their staff commute by car too. But a bus will regularly hold 50+ people and it’s SDOTs job to move as many people as they can. 

      • wscommuter March 18, 2021 (4:56 pm)

        The flaw in your premise – that  single occupancy vehicles are inefficient – is the inherent presumption that “efficiency” is the only priority that matters.  As far as it goes, yes, a full bus moves  more people.  But – and I say this as a bicycle commuter – many people have no choice but to drive as an SOV.  We all know this and understand there are many good reasons why this is the case  – and that won’t change.  Those folks are no less deserving of  road access.   While I find the expression “war on cars” overdone, I don’t have much sympathy for the zealots on the other side who reduce this to a binary choice of bus v. car, for which buses should “win” over cars.   

        • bill March 18, 2021 (8:52 pm)

          Really it’s a war among cars. For those who have a choice of other transportation modes, if  you choose to drive you also choose to risk the inconveniences.

  • Admiral March 18, 2021 (8:44 am)

    I’ve asked this to Herbold and SDOT and haven’t heard back – why couldn’t ambulances and other emergency vehicles use the high bridge now that stabilization is complete? There was a foot of snow sitting up there for 4 days, heavy platforms hanging off of it for months, and there are regularly construction trucks parked up there. This would ensure that an ambulance never sits in traffic, is never impacted by the bridge being opened for marine traffic, and would have a direct route to the central peninsula on Fauntleroy, buying lifesaving minutes. All this would take is replacing the cones blocking bridge access with gates, similar to the I-5 express lanes, railroad tracks, rental car centers, and bus only lanes, and then giving the ambulances the sensor to open them. This technology exists, and evidenced by the fact the city just spent $250k on more speed monitoring signs, there is money for transportation technology. We need creative solutions, and this would remove the #1 obstacle to expanding low bridge access. Seems like a win-win-win. If a few ambulances each day is going to take down the high bridge, we should have bit the bullet and just replaced it. 

    • reed March 18, 2021 (9:56 am)

      As West Seattle Blog has pointed out so many times, there are holes cut in the bridge deck making vehicle passage impossible.

      • Admiral March 18, 2021 (5:07 pm)

        Sorry, I can’t follow all the news as closely as I would like and hadn’t read about “gaps in the bridge”. When you say passage is impossible, does that mean there is a complete gap in the bridge? Or, are there just spots to navigate around, similar to an ambulance driving around cars while battling rush hour? The ambulances would have 8 lanes of space to navigate. I thought the bridge was structurally sound and have seen construction trucks parked up there. Let’s face it, the current setup will not work when things are back up and running. There needs to be a creative solution…and fast. I’m trying to offer one beyond “ride a bike”, “ride a bus”, or “‘move out of west Seattle.”

    • Jon Wright March 18, 2021 (10:56 am)

      The bridge deck has a bunch of holes cut in it and it is going to be a busy construction zone soon.

  • Jen March 18, 2021 (4:55 pm)

    Well, the lack of progress on this is making it an even easier decision to sell my house. Prioritizing buses and trucks? They’ve been prioritized on the lower bridge. And don’t bother commenting if you want to tell me that we should all take the bus to work or to run errands. What i do with my vehicle is my choice and paying these high property taxes should ensure I am able to get in and out of West Seattle without taking an hour-long detour both ways. Unbelievable. 

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