Bridge, Terminal 5 updates @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s April meeting

Progress reports comprised most of this month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting:

BRIDGE UPDATES: Heather Marx, director of the West Seattle Bridge Safety Program, led the briefing. The schedule hasn’t changed – construction of repairs starting by year’s end, completion by “mid-2022.” As we reported a week and a half ago, they’re reviewing six applicants for the project, “and hope to have a decision we fan announce in May.” The next official schedule/budget update should be in “early July,” Marx added, Monitoring is still going well.

Regarding low-bridge access, Marx recapped what was announced two weeks earlier and the reasons for the changes, as well as what her colleague Meghan Shepard had told the Morgan Community Association the night before – that applications will open this week for most new-access applicants. (Watch the official low-bridge page.)

In Q&A, WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd asked about people using the low-bridge for a life-threatening emergency – would they be able to challenge a ticket? It would be up to a judge to decide but “for Pete’s sake, use the low bridge,” said Marx.

Is the repair project really being treated as an emergency? “We would have taken a lot more time to plan and design and go through a normal capital process” otherwise, said Marx. “This is moving extremely fast … we are spending public money and there are rules for transparency and we can’t just go for it in a different way.” WSTC member Mark Jacobs said he thought things could move faster. He added that he’s concerned with the lack of midday bus service in his neighborhood, Admiral. Marx suggested talking with Metro about that. Jacobs said he thought the city should be advocating for it. Taylor-Judd said they’d had Metro in, and noted that city dollars buy some Metro service. Every penny of those dollars is being spent, Marx said, and they are planning for the September service change. (Though she didn’t get into specifics, here’s a slide deck from a city briefing about that in March.)

We asked about the State Legislature’s failure to reach agreement on a transportation package and whether that would affect the bridge project. Marx replied: “We were hoping for the state transportation package to cover part of the costs … it’s a bummer … it means the city is going to have to pay a larger share of fixing this regional facility.” But the repairs will get done, she declared.

TERMINAL 5 UPDATE: Northwest Seaport Alliance engineering director Thais Howard opened the briefing and handed off to project manager Emma Del Vento. She said they were about to hit a new milestone, switching on Friday night to a new electrical system. Here is the project timeline:

NWSA’s Christine Wolf talked about the traffic mitigation that’s part of the project.

“Every star is an intersection where we have improved the controller … all of them are now tied togrether so they can function in sync,” and they’re all tied to city traffic management. East Marginal is the only one not installed yet – that will be when bicycle improvements in the area are built. Also – the railroad “quiet zone” design is complete and they’re hoping to start construction next year. Other systems that will go live with the new dock include one that communicates with truckers about dock conditions, plus a noise hotline; the terminal will operate under a noise-management plan. They haven’t yet finished the plan to manage trucks to minimize queueing in the public right of way.

In something you might see from offsite, the north terminal building will be “going up pretty quick,” Del Vento added.

In discussion, the NWSA reps said the backlog of shipping in other ports is forcing some shuffling here – some ships that would call at T-18 are calling at T-30 for example.

Some discussion of traffic ensued, and it was noted that the eventual goal for T-5 is to have 75 percent of the cargo go by rail, so road traffic will be far less affected.

We asked about the new T-5 cranes, due to arrive in June. They are coming from ZPMC in China and will take four weeks to get here; they haven’t left yet. Terminal 5 tenant SSA is buying them, not the NWSA. ZPMC handle a huge share of the world market for port cranes – you might recall the ones that passed by two years ago on their way to Tacoma.

Also at the meeting:

NEW BOARD MEMBERS: The WSTC board has openings, as reported here in March. Two new members were approved on Thursday night – Jeremy Barton and Phil Frick. Barton said he was joining for “sll the times I have sat in traffic and wished I could do something about (it).”

VEHICLE LICENSE FEE: WSTC’s Deb Barker briefed her fellow board members on the council proposal. She tried but was unable to get access to public comment on Wednesday and said she was frustrated to hear no West Seattleites speaking. Board members had an extensive discussion of the concept of raising $100 million in bond money based on the $20 fee’s revenue. The proposal will be back before the City Council Transportation and Utilities Committee next month.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets fourth Thursdays, 6:30 pm, online.

13 Replies to "Bridge, Terminal 5 updates @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition's April meeting"

  • North Windsor April 26, 2021 (9:30 pm)

    Moving fast but no repair until 2022 after they pondered the cracks for years. And once the repairs start there will be an “oh no, this looks bad” and another year delay. They have the proposals and are reviewing them, but early July until they decide?  I have lived in 10 states and have never seen this kind of total incompetence.  

  • Smittytheclown April 27, 2021 (5:49 am)

    I find it hard to believe that if this was happening to the ship canal bridge portion of I-5 that there would not be measures in place to expedite repair.   The emergency shoring/repair made sense. This snails pace to monitor and review bids seems prolonged..

    • KM April 27, 2021 (7:52 am)

      The I5 ship canal bridge is a federal roadway managed by the state—the WS high bridge is city. And it’s a much different structure with different traffic volumes. 

      • wscommuter April 27, 2021 (8:26 am)

        KM – you shouldn’t interfere with peoples’ uninformed ranting with … you know … facts.  That’s very inconsiderate of you.  :-p

  • reed April 27, 2021 (6:14 am)

    If the process was rushed and something was missed, resulting in delays or something worse, I’m sure you would be the first to complain about it. Please take your seat on the bench of internet armchair engineers and let the real experts complete this project on a timeline they deem reasonable.

  • Ken April 27, 2021 (9:14 am)

    I’m not an engineer but When they built the high rise they got a bad batch of Cement right about where the cracks are And had to jackhammer it out.  If they could do that years ago, They should be able to do it now? Wrap the whole thing with 10 layers of carbon fibre Which is stronger than steel pound for pound. Like I said I am not an engineer. sounds too simple. And to think they were going to run light rail right down the middle of the bridge. Would be nice if  They saw the cracks while doing the Extra weight tests

  • Derek April 27, 2021 (10:34 am)

    This is taking WAY too long. It takes two hours to get to work now… This is a travesty. PLEASE hurry this up!

    • reed April 27, 2021 (11:48 am)

      Ride a bike, you live right near the bridge right?

      • JAG April 27, 2021 (12:37 pm)

        Really Reed. Wow. Lets be reasonable here. Those who can by all means do ride their bike. Last I checked we still lived in a free society which includes personal choice on peoples mode of transportation methods. South end residents should have the same equal access to roads in their neighborhoods and residents in the North end. Do you want your parents to have to ride a bike to the hospital. Shame on you.Or all North end West Seattle property owners should get a refund on their taxes.  Also all residents of the North end WS neighborhoods should be allowed to use the low bridge. Why are people that live outside of WS allowed to use the bridge like on harbor island while workers that need to travel north are not. If I am essential enough to go to work during the shut down then I should be essential enough to drive on the lower bridge. The buses and semi’s are the reason the cracking occurred but they are not paying the same price and inconvenience. I would like to see some kind of accountability for the big lie and negligence and the lack of transparency of the cracking that occurred for years. Using the pandemic no doubt  as a distraction of their total irresponsibility. I want names of the people responsible. Why are they allowed to keep their jobs? High paying jobs that probably come with a very lucrative paycheck.

  • Al King April 27, 2021 (1:19 pm)

    KM. So you’re saying there are “highway”bridge engineers and builders and “city”bridge engineers and builders?? and building/repairing them are 100% different? Really?? REED. I take it you NEVER get in a car to go anywhere???

    • reed April 27, 2021 (3:53 pm)

      No I drive several days a week, I just see the temporary reality we are faced with and deal with it, and handle it better than alot of people on here apparently.

  • Joe Z April 27, 2021 (3:25 pm)

    I love seeing nature reclaiming the ramps leading to the bridge. Another year or two and they will be covered by the blackberry vines. The cracks between the concrete are filling with grass and weeds. Soon we won’t even remember what it was like to have a bridge.

  • Rj April 27, 2021 (5:41 pm)

    My boyfriend tried the bike route and ended up with a torn PCL from a bike accident.  Get the darn bridge fixed.  At 60 years old we shouldn’t have to rely solely on a bike to get to work.

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