By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The plan to extend 7-day-a-week West Seattle Water Taxi service through the fall and winter – reported separately here – was the biggest news from today’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, but not the only news. You can watch the entire meeting above, and/or read the toplines below:
BRIDGE UPDATES: Bridge program director Heather Marx said they’re reviewing the 90 percent repair design and also have received approval for “early work” that’ll start in October.
Here’s what the “early work” will involve:
One thing they won’t be doing – Pier 18 stabilization. Here’s why:
That was a $12 million savings from the project, Marx said – so they’ll be doing some “major maintenance” work that otherwise might have been done in the future. So here’s the newest repair timeline:
They’re still not getting any more specific for a reopening estimate than “mid-2022.” But: “We are on schedule,” insisted Marx. “100 percent on schedule as of this moment.” What about supply-chain and material-cost issues? asked CTF member Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor). Marx said that’s one of the reasons they’re glad they can start purchasing now. SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe said they’re cognizant of cost increases for some items but so far nothing indicates they’re going to be out of the estimated project-cost range (though final negotiations with the contractor are yet to come).
Also mentioned: Results are being analyzed from the “deck scan” done recently on the Spokane Street Viaduct (the bridge section east of I-5, which has remained open).
LOW BRIDGE ACCESS: As SDOT had long been warning, there will be some changes when Terminal 5 opens early next year – but nothing as drastic as they had previously suggested:
The biggest change will be “emergency only” for government employees 10 am-3 pm, which is the time slot they’re most concerned about. (It was clarified during the meeting, for those who keep asking about this, that elected officials are NOT among the government employees allowed to use the low bridge.) SDOT’s Maureen Sheehan said that “conditional users” have been doing a good job limiting their use, and that’s why they’re not anticipating major changes after T-5 opens, They’re still having a “high number of violations,” she said (without mentioning a number), so there will be new signage in an awareness campaign aimed at unintentional violators.
In summary, here’s what the low bridge policy will be, starting in January, with further changes if needed:
But, they warned, they can and will reduce access if that’s determined to be necessary next year.
Seattle Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck pointed out that the shipping backups – dealing with “pent-up demand” – mean the longshore workers’ use of the low bridge remains vital. But he said they also are working hard to limit trips or encourage “alternate routes” whenever possible. Higuera asked whether government agencies are continuing to stage vehicles over here, as was noticed last year, with some parked at Lincoln Park; Sheehan says they haven’t been working closely with departments to manage what they’re doing but are continuing to ask them to reduce bridge use whenever possible. About 5 percent of authorized low-bridge trips are by government vehicles, Sheehan noted.
RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE: SDOT’s Sara Zora said there’s “maybe one more weekend of work” left for the Highland Park Way/West Marginal intersection – potential rain might affect whether that can be done this weekend. Also this weekend, work is set to start for the interim signal and crosswalk by the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse.
She also announced that SDOT has launched another new website focused on alternative travel – FlipYourTrip.org. You’ll be able to sign up for an app next week that will offer transit “rewards” for trip-flippers.
SEATTLE TRANSIT MEASURE: What voters recently approved – under the name Transportation Benefit District – is now going by this name. The program manager, Nico Martinucci, briefed the CTF on the upcoming Metro service changes that take effect October 2nd (as reported here two weeks ago). He noted that some of the changes are temporary because of the bridge closure and will be phased out once the bridge reopens. Here’s the overview of how things will look starting on service-change day:
The routes remaining suspended will be examined as part of Metro’s “long-term restoration plan,” Martinucci said. As for the additions happening in October, he provided some route-by-route specifics, including Route 50 going to 15-minute intervals in some dayparts, and frequency improvements for the C Line and Route 120.
For South Park/Georgetown, Route 60 will become more frequent, too.
TASK FORCE CHANGES: Chris Peeler from ILWU has joined as that organization’s new rep on the CTF. Also, a new member to represent South Park is being sought, as Aley Thompson has left the area.
TASK FORCE COMMENTS: At the start of the meeting, it was open-mic time for CTF members as usual. Co-chair Paulina López noted that school has started and in South Park, they need signage and crossing-guard help because of students walking to school … Deb Barker from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition brought up the 16th SW issues and wondered what’s being done about that. SDOT’s Zora said they’ve met with 16th SW community members and are working with them regarding speeding concerns. They plan “a couple different steps,” Zora said – restriping, radar feedback signs, and more speed studies to show if those “two interventions” made any difference.
NEXT CTF MEETING: 4 pm Thursday, October 14th.