(WSB on-the-road photo, looking toward the bridge from West Marginal Way)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The next public updates on the 16-months-closed West Seattle Bridge and associated projects are expected this Thursday (August 12th) at the monthly Community Task Force meeting.

But you’re not likely to hear anything revelatory about the repair/reopening timeline. SDOT‘s bridge project director Heather Marx tells WSB a schedule update is more likely next month, as repair contractor Kraemer North America is using the “60-percent design” to work on that right now.

Some repair preparation is under way, too – an asbestos survey has been completed, and ordering of materials is getting under way, according to Marx, who was joined in our conversation by Sara Zora, who heads up the Reconnect West Seattle program.

Dozens of projects, mostly small but some with a relatively big impact, comprise RWS. One recently completed is addition of a left-turn signal at 8th SW and SW Roxbury. Major work on that was completed weekend before last; the project, like many on the RWS list, came from community suggestions.

Also recently completed, paving repair in the bicycle lane on SW Alaska. They’re interested in hearing about any other bicycle lanes with paving or debris problems. (Call SDOT at 206-684-ROAD or use Find It Fix It.)

And Home Zone traffic-calming work continues, with dozens of speed humps/cushions and other changes, mostly in Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown,

Marx said that even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, they coordinate construction schedules to avoid major overlap. On West Marginal Way, for example, they are working to finish most of the Highland Park Way/WMW intersection work before launching the next project on WMW, the temporary signal/crosswalk by the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse and Cultural Center. That, like the HPW/WMW intersection work, will be done on weekends.

And yes, Marx (a West Seattle resident who says she commutes by bus on the days she goes to the downtown office) acknowledges that the concurrence of the Delridge Way repaving/utilities/more project has been “really unpleasant.” She says they had many internal “discussions” about proceeding with the project after the bridge closure (it had been planned for years prior, as we’d reported here many times) but went ahead with it because they’re sure people will be “really happy” with the results.

Marx and Zora mentioned some behind-the-scenes factors in SDOT scheduling/planning: One example, a concrete shortage that required preparation of an alternate plan for using “full-depth asphalt” in WMW/HPW paving work in case concrete wasn’t available.

Speaking of what’s on the road – SDOT wants you to be aware of what cross-hatching stripes on the road mean, For example, Marx mentioned a conversation with the firefighters at Station 36, in the bridge’s shadow at the north end of Delridge. They were having trouble getting out of the station to respond to calls because of the continuous backups. So, Marx said, “we went out and marked cross-hatching.” It’s not just there for show – it means, keep that area clear (you’ve probably also seen it on SW Holden in front of Fire Station 11, and in front of business entrances on the east side of West Marginal Way).

And a final word from SDOT (elaborated on here) – they know everyone’s frustrated, but please don’t take that out on the construction workers and traffic officers, Marx and Zora plead – they’re just doing their jobs.

WHAT’S NEXT: You can watch the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting at 4 pm Thursday here. Questions/comments in advance? westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.

50 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: What's next"

  • JB August 10, 2021 (11:34 am)

    I’m curious how they calculate the happiness quotient when deciding to do something.   ‘Because they’re sure people will be “really happy” with the results.’  Wouldn’t it be higher if they waited?  We’d still be ‘really happy’ at the end of the project (albeit a year later), but wouldn’t have had to go through the massive inconvenience.   It seems an odd metric to be using to justify a public works project.

    • bill August 10, 2021 (10:18 pm)

      How would you not go through massive inconvenience? Tearing up the street is tearing up the street.

      • joezaloom August 11, 2021 (11:53 pm)

        You would not do it at the same time the major thoroughfare to the mainland is closed.

  • Jeepney August 10, 2021 (11:43 am)

    The implementation of the left had turn signal at 8th SW and Roxbury was a welcome improvement.

  • Reality Chick August 10, 2021 (12:04 pm)

    WSB–that’s the blog not the bridge–we cannot thank you enough for your diligent coverage on this. I have tried to find if there has been discussion so far or one planned soon on whether the water taxi will not go to its winter schedule in October but remain on summer schedule until the bridge is fully reopened. SDOT implores WS residents to not drive and find other options, so the question is if SDOT is going to meet residents at least halfway and provide  a number of viable non-SOV alternatives. When the viaduct was shut down, the water taxi and shuttles ran full schedule; what is the plan for this much longer closure? There are no announced plans to re-start the 37. Yes, King County operates the water taxi, but it’s on SDOT to work with them to ensure that reliable and viable travel options/alternatives are in place for the remainder of the bridge closure. I have heard that SDOT staff don’t pay attention to comments on the blog and we have already sent this question to SDOT staff…what else can we do?  Thanks! 

    • WSB August 10, 2021 (12:09 pm)

      Actually they’re quite aware of “comments on the blog” BUT I would not advise commenting here or anywhere as a substitute for directly contacting an agency (or business or whatever) with your concerns. Sorry to hear you haven’t gotten a response but the Water Taxi is not an SDOT operation so Metro would be the people to ask; I’ll check with them.

  • Beto August 10, 2021 (12:07 pm)

    I wouldn’t be surprised of the reopening of the bridge is delayed.  And once is reopened they will find some other issue that will close it for a year or more..remember, this is Seattle.

    • Jay August 10, 2021 (1:39 pm)

      With just a little bit more time they could have put in a hundred year bridge with the rapid replacement option that was proposed later on. It’s really upsetting that after two and a half years of closure (hopefully that’s all it is) we’ll only have a temporary fix.

      • Mellow Kitty August 11, 2021 (8:26 am)

        @Beto and @Jay, I completely agree. I seriously doubt they’ll make the target date of June 2022.

  • Dan August 10, 2021 (12:19 pm)

    Reality Chick raised some very good questions and issues. Sadly – no one with answers. Accountability is lacking. Thank you WSB for your diligent coverage on this.

  • Jort August 10, 2021 (12:25 pm)

    It’s still unfortunate that Heather Marx and the rest of Seattle’s political “leadership” are still dancing around the reality that the next year of driving in and out of West Seattle is going to be excruciatingly painful, and that there’s literally nothing that can be done about it due to the laws of geometry and physics. Without directly confronting this painful reality for car drivers, they are passively perpetuating a false hope that somehow small tweaks can be made that will improve the commuting and driving experience for people who make the choice to drive. The best thing SDOT can do is be honest with  people and tell them that if they choose to drive, they will be choosing to take the longest possible way, and that they should instead choose to bike or take the bus, and that no amount of foot-stomping and getting angry will change the incontrovertible, unarguable fact that this will not change, period, end of story. It’s like screaming at the top of the lungs in the faces of SDOT that you want the sky to be green. It’s not going to happen. SDOT needs to be honest with people and tell them to throw away their cars and get on a bike or get on the bus if you don’t like waiting in traffic. 

    • Reality Chick August 10, 2021 (4:34 pm)

      Mr. Geometry & Physics: please let us not forget the water taxi (where the water is blue-ish, just like the sky), thank you!

    • Jethro Marx August 10, 2021 (5:21 pm)

      I drive a car and ride a bike and walk. None of them are painful on a typical day, and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes driving takes a long time. That’s mostly because we live in a city with lots of people, and sometimes due to some disruption like a broken bridge. If you expect professionals who work to lessen disruptions like broken bridges to set their hair on fire and get all worked into a lather to tell the citizens that they’re going to experience PAIN and need to essentially and immediately change their way of living due to some rather routine infrastructure failures you are going to be disappointed far longer than the bridge will be down. If you need to scream about your frustrations because you want to wage war on cars, or in the case of others, because you THINK there’s a war on cars that extends beyond the nutty edges, have at it. Most reasonable people understand that traffic in cities, and internal combustion engines, and rather nonsensical and selective outrage in the comment sections, like the poor, will always be with us. Meanwhile, infrastructure will continue to be built (the projects often sluggish, and overly expensive) that attempts to accommodate the greatest numbers of transportation modes and the most prolific users. The peculiar transportation philosophy or urbanist view or whatever you’ve got is great for you to champion, but it is simply not the job of SDOT to help you out with that. 

      • wscommuter August 10, 2021 (11:26 pm)

        Oh gosh, the anti-car zealots aren’t going to like your observations of rationality and reality.  Tsk, tsk …

      • Mellow Kitty August 11, 2021 (9:06 am)

        I would hope that we, as a society, don’t refer to imminent bridge collapse is a “routine infrastructure” issue. Bridge failure should not be referred to as “routine.” 

        • Mellow Kitty August 11, 2021 (11:43 am)

          *as a (grammatical error😳)

    • Anne August 10, 2021 (9:58 pm)

      No problem with consequences of driving in & out of WS.when necessary. Can’t bike & won’t take bus. I’m not stomping my feet or getting angry. Cars won’t go away- no matter how much YOU rant against them. 

      • Gull August 11, 2021 (6:40 am)

        What about the environmental consequences of driving in and out of WS and car traffic, no problem with that?

    • Fern August 10, 2021 (11:02 pm)

      Way to assume everyone is able bodied enough to commute by bike. That’s an incredibly biased and inaccurate view. But I do agree that the pain of driving should be acknowledged. 

      • Jort August 11, 2021 (3:16 pm)

        The overwhelming majority of people are, actually, able to ride a bike. Take a look at a city that actually prioritized bikes and de-prioritized cars. The majority of people ride bikes. Somehow disabled people aren’t reduced to being shut-ins, either. Whenever the bus or bikes come up, all the sudden people act like 95% of West Seattle residents are in wheelchairs. Lots of people don’t WANT to ride a bike, but that’s much different than “can’t.” And, no, it’s not “incredibly biased and inaccurate.” It’s the truth and a fact.

  • sw August 10, 2021 (12:27 pm)

    What would make me really happy is finishing the work at Eastbound Roxbury and 15th.  That lane closure creates havoc not just on Roxbury, but on all other surrounding streets.  It is absurd that they are not required to do evening/night/weekend work to get finished and open that lane back up given the importance of Roxbury as a main route out of WS.  I’d also like a left turn light on Eastbound Holden at 16th, please.   

  • Joe Z August 10, 2021 (12:31 pm)

    SDOT has done really nice work restructuring the detour route and keeping traffic moving while also keeping safety in mind and balancing the needs of a wide range of stakeholders. I know many would call them the most hated organization in West Seattle right now but this WS resident thinks Heather Marx has done a fantastic job, far above and beyond the call of duty. I thought the detour would be far worse, but the improvements to the Chelan 5-way and Marginal/Highland Park intersections have been fantastic. Plus they have kept the buses moving. I’ve needed to get to Swedish First Hill a few times recently and it’s been super easy to get there on public transit. It will be nice to have the bridge back but things could have been far worse. 

    • Geoff August 10, 2021 (1:04 pm)

      It really seems like these changes should just be the way its done the first time… and WMW highland Park isn’t done yet… 

  • DC August 10, 2021 (12:50 pm)

    Does anyone (WSB) know what is going on with the landscaping work on Delridge in zone A? It has been going on for months, with some parking/bus lanes blocked off for the duration, with little progress. There seem to be weeks where no work is being done, and when there are people working, it seems to be just a couple of people. Recently, they have closed off lanes requiring one way traffic, still with little perceptible work. Is there any way to get an update on this since RapidRide H Line emails are not providing info on landscaping work?

    • Fern August 10, 2021 (11:04 pm)

      I noticed that – but what irritates me is to see irrigation systems installed. Why? Plant for the climate. Wasting drinking water on a median strip in 2021 should be a crime. 

  • Deb Barker August 10, 2021 (12:52 pm)

    @ Reality Chick – Thank you for repeating your Water Taxi question here in the WS Blog. It’s a good question and I regret that you don’t have an answer yet. As a member of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, I will be sure to ask the water taxi during the WS Bridge meeting Thursday  afternoon Aug. 21, and notify the WS Blog when I get a response from King County and Metro. 

    • Reality Chick August 10, 2021 (7:02 pm)

      Thank you for representing all of West Seattle, not just where you reside!

  • sam-c August 10, 2021 (1:12 pm)

    I am a little disappointed that SDOT focused their mitigation efforts at Highland Park Way and those areas but have not made improvements in the Roxbury detour area.  Like, left-turn signal / arrows at some of the heavier/ detoured intersections, such at 16th Ave SW/ Roxbury and 26th Ave SW/ Roxbury (even though that is currently affected by Rapid Line H construction right now).  There have been a lot of close calls with people trying to make left turns there, and both are bus routes.  Sometimes, when buses are finally able to make left turns, at those intersections, they have to do it on a red light (and they are the only vehicle to make it through an intersection on that light cycle).  And Sometimes they can’t even make the turn because traffic is backed up to the intersection.

  • Also John August 10, 2021 (1:25 pm)

    It appears every 12 months the City is repairing the bike lane on SW Alaska.  They excavate it, remove existing soils, lay down geotextile fabric, backfill with import materials, compact it and top it off with asphalt.The bus comes along drives on top of it, brakes for the bus stop, causing the asphalt to washboard.  After a short time the asphalt cracks and fails.  The City turns around and repeats the entire process 12 months later.I wish they’d top off the compacted import material with 10″ of 3,000 psi concrete.  They wouldn’t need to be redoing it.

  • Still Waiting August 10, 2021 (1:35 pm)

    I’m so glad the mayor declared the WSB situation as an “emergency.”  Just think how long it would be taking if she hadn’t.  🤦‍♂️

    • smittytheclown August 10, 2021 (1:56 pm)

      No kidding.  At this pace we should be finished by the the time the 10th covid wave – this one led by the Omega2 variant- hits.

  • Rumbles August 10, 2021 (2:13 pm)

    Obviously, Ms. Marx has never stopped outside the cross-hatched area in front of the fire station.  Well, on two occasions, I have — and was the recipient of the wrath of two very aggressive drivers.  The last one included yelling, continuous horn honking and plenty of the middle finger.  I guess at least when I get shot, I’ll be by the fire station.

    • bill August 10, 2021 (10:29 pm)

      I talked to an SPD dispatcher once about emergency access to our alley being blocked by illegally parked cars. He told me if necessary fire engines can ram cars out of the way. Seems like that needs to happen once or twice at the 5-way. 

  • dcn August 10, 2021 (2:15 pm)

    I’m curious if the finished Rapid Ride route along Delridge will prevent cars from ever passing a bus?  So far the new bus stops I’ve seen are bumped out so that the bus doesn’t pull over out of traffic. Does anyone know if that’s the plan or are some stops still going to be the way the 120 stops are now, where cars can pass a bus? I also hope that it will be easy to pass bicyclists without crowding them with the new median planting strips . I used to straddle the median and driving lanes whenever passing a bicyclist to give them plenty of room. And to avoid especially large potholes. 

    • 1994 August 10, 2021 (6:05 pm)

      People may also need to plan ahead for garbage pick up days on Delridge. The garbage trucks will move way slower than the bus….and if there is no way to pass….pack your patience

    • bill August 10, 2021 (10:33 pm)

      I think median planters are stupid waste of road space. Once or twice a year a lane has to be closed off for maintenance crews. The width could be devoted to bike lanes instead. Jersey barriers could be used to keep drivers on the correct side of the road. 

    • sam-c August 11, 2021 (8:14 am)

      That is how they help the Rapid lines stay ‘rapid’- with the bus bulbs, buses don’t have to spend time pulling to or from the curb.  Many times, car drivers continue to pass the bus when it’s trying to pull back into traffic.Good reminder about garbage day.  There were a lot of mentions about it during the design phase, but obviously the design was not changed.  I wonder how garbage day has been going ?  On one garbage day, I saw a garbage truck straddling the traffic lane and the bus lane.  Cars and buses were stuck behind it for a block or so.  This was across from SWYFS.

  • SMG August 10, 2021 (4:57 pm)

    Hopefully the new senate approved infrastructure bill has some money earmarked for the WSB. Thanks for keeping us informed! 

  • curiousquestioner August 10, 2021 (6:07 pm)

    @jort – you might want to consider taking your own advice: yelling at the top of your lungs at Seattle to put down their cars and get on a bike or a bus. Ain’t gonna happen.

  • Patti August 10, 2021 (8:01 pm)

    One thing that would be a big help is to relook at the current metro routes in and out of West Sesttle. There was some major cutting of routes, closing bus stops several years ago. Depending on where you live and where you work the current Metro routes were a nightmare for those living in the areas of Admiral and Alaska Junction: 55 down to two trips to down town in AM and two hopes to West Seattle in PM. Most buses that serve West Seattle travel down 35 to the bridge, not swinging over to Alaska Junction in addition many routes serving First hill, U District have been changed. The 43 no longer loops down fist, up Pine and on to Capital Hill and U District. I would very much appreciate riding the bus to work. Had done so for years, till the routes were slashed. I wish Metro would have examined the situation to see what changes they could make to routes, temporarily, to help us get around. 

    • Dan August 11, 2021 (6:07 am)

      Yep! Totally agree

  • 22blades August 11, 2021 (4:58 am)

    The crossed hatch zones are not there for you to jump the line. You know better. We know better with that “WS” sticker on your window.

  • Kyle August 11, 2021 (6:14 am)

    Did we ever get clean answers on what the root cause of the cracking was? And what the repairs plan to fix?

  • JT August 11, 2021 (7:58 am)

    Reading through these posts confirms for me how important  an unimpeded flow of traffic is for people.   It regulates a sense of joy for living in the city.  Have you ever been to the Phoenix Open?  The Thunderbirds are so directed and organized that they got thousands of people in and out of the area consistently every year in an astoundingly short amount of time.  Let’s make the flow of traffic a priority.  Let’s hire great project managers to make that happen.  Let’s elect officials who are focused on our quality of life.

  • Deb August 11, 2021 (9:37 am)

    Correcting my typo re: the WSB CTF meeting date –  the meeting is Thursday, August 12, 2021. 

  • wsdad August 11, 2021 (12:18 pm)

    The contractor says it should be completed by 2022. 

  • DJ August 11, 2021 (1:21 pm)

    Seattle needs to just stop every other road project on the table until they repair and open the West Seattle Bridge.  EVERY bit of their time, money and energy needs to be devoted on just this one project.It is absolutely asinine that Seattle is still trying to social engineer us out of our cars an on to bikes or public transportation — because the majority of us are not there with it.I, for one, am sick and tired of having to not only try to navigate in and out of West Seattle on one-lane roads and badly-timed stop lights, but also having that same damn route being ripped apart for unwarranted road construction — while we are down major road capacity.

  • anonyme August 11, 2021 (3:45 pm)

    Meanwhile, the world is on fire, the climate tipping point is here, and people are still worried about major road capacity.  There is no quality of life without…life.  Major changes need to be made immediately around how humans live, work and get around – if only someone had the guts or imagination to make them happen.  A dictator would come in really handy about now, but few of them have any environmental leanings.

  • Wil Dizon August 20, 2021 (6:17 pm)

    Any possibility that both Michigan and Lower Bridges not be raised when it’s rush hour?

    • WSB August 20, 2021 (7:59 pm)

      In short, no. Maritime takes precedence for the waterways.

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