VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force hears about ‘early work,’ low-bridge access changes, more

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 – 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.

29 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force hears about 'early work,' low-bridge access changes, more"

  • Blbl September 15, 2021 (10:08 pm)

    LOL “Early Work” to begin 19 months after closure. 

    • TophWS September 16, 2021 (10:23 am)

      I know, right?   Should have just slapped some duct tape and bondo on it, maybe some concrete patches, and called it good, right? Maybe a little JB weld if it was really bad… Darn that research and discovery process, and resulting complex
      engineering design problems to repair and strengthen a bridge that
      carries how many 10s of thousand of cars over the course of a day.  Also,
      how dare they take time to review their work and process, make sure the
      solution will be the best investment in the long run with regards to
      servicing the various communities, make sure it complies with the
      variety of laws across multiple jurisdictions, and for God’s sake,
      actually find the funding to do so! Shameless scofflaws, all of them. 

      • S.A. September 16, 2021 (12:15 pm)

        Yeah, just jam some 4x4s in the ground and throw some plywood on it and call it good, right? How hard can a bridge be?

      • WS Resident September 16, 2021 (12:59 pm)

        @TOPHWS, work for SDOT do ya?  

        • Also John September 16, 2021 (1:25 pm)

          WS Resident…..   and where did you get your structural engineering degree from?  How about your Constructuon Management Degree?     A new bridge is a huge undertaking that’ll take time.    Out of college I use to design wastewater treatment plants.  On average it takes 3 years from the time we’re given Notice to Proceed before plans and specification where advertised for bids.

          • WS Resident September 16, 2021 (3:00 pm)

            Last I checked no needs a engineering or construction management
            degree to know this project it taking to long. 
            As tax payer I have the right comment or question our cities actions on
            this bridge.  Take a poll of WS residents
            if you need to get the general feelings about it. 
            BTW we are not building a new bridge, it’s a repair job.  

          • NotAnEnginerrEither September 16, 2021 (6:07 pm)

            Yes, everyone is allowed an opinion. Even the most profoundly ignorant among us. 

          • smittytheclown September 16, 2021 (3:59 pm)

            Good lord.”Are you a engineer?””Are you a epidemiologist?”‘Are you a arborist?””Are you a army general?””Are you a priest”?Ridiculous – tired – argument.

  • Djet7carn September 16, 2021 (5:58 am)

    I would love to be able to get away with this at work.  Customer: “When is launch date?”Me:  “Mid 2022”Customer: “Great, here is your check $$$”.

    • Peter September 16, 2021 (9:12 am)

      Engineering, planning, materials, equipment, insurance, legal fees, site prep, staff ramp-up, and overhead all cost money. Contractors don’t work for free. Paying 1/3 to 1/2 up front for a construction project is the industry standard because that is what is required to get started. 

      • Chris September 16, 2021 (6:28 pm)

        Respectfully  – There is no excuse for this calamity of errors nor for the time that it’s taken. It’s laughable. I appreciate all of the jokes. If SDOT had it together they would’ve had all of this lined up before closing the bridge because they knew this was coming. 

  • bruce gaumond September 16, 2021 (7:28 am)

    They’re still having a “high number of violations”. As a frequent bicyclist across the low bridge, that’s been my observation too. A key question: What’s the percentage of actual collections for the $75 tickets, or are there hundreds or more of violators who just ignore the tickets? 

    • Chemist September 16, 2021 (9:34 am)

      Supposedly about half the violations don’t repeat offend.  Not sure about payments but I suspect there’s an uptick in the number of folks who don’t know who was driving their vehicle at the time of the infraction.

      • Auntie September 16, 2021 (1:50 pm)

        I certainly know who is driving my vehicle at any given time, don’t you? I guess the scofflaws will claim it was one of their many extended family members who took the keys without permission. Or some such malarkey. I think the ticket should be payable by the vehicle owner without regard to who is driving. 

  • Azimuth September 16, 2021 (8:18 am)

    It can’t come soon enough. Trying to get downtown is punishing.

    • Joe Z September 16, 2021 (11:30 am)

      Downtown is the one spot that is easy to get to thanks to the bus, everyone else is a pain. 

      • Also John September 16, 2021 (1:27 pm)

        Thanks to bikes and bus.  Downtown is a piece of cake to reach.

        • Beanie September 16, 2021 (5:45 pm)

          Downtown is a piece of cake by bus unless the low bridge has to go up for ships. Then it’s up to a 20 min delay.

  • Mark Schletty September 16, 2021 (8:35 am)

    What does “operating with partial service” mean for the 22 bus? Its full service was only once an hour before closure. That was totally inadequate. How much less can they make it?

    • WSB September 16, 2021 (8:39 am)

      We’ve already reported that. Weekdays.

  • DeadEnder September 16, 2021 (8:45 am)

    I am just curious if they (SDOT) are doing anything about the upper surface of the roadway, like is being done to the I-5 suspended areas. The rutting of the lanes will require other closures, and if it can be done now, it will make best use of the current down time of the bridge.

  • Dave P September 16, 2021 (8:56 am)

    It’s appalling that SDOT can’t give a definitive date for opening the bridge. “On track for mid-2022” is neither a schedule nor a milestone.  They’ve been at this for a year and half and have had a contractor on board for many months now.  It’s impossible that they don’t have a detailed schedule, so why won’t they share it with the public?

  • WSJoy September 16, 2021 (10:47 am)

    At this point, how many “unintentional violators” are there really?

  • Dave P September 16, 2021 (12:45 pm)

    In frustration, I made a Public Document Request for SDOT’s WSB Repair Schedule.  Rather than their own schedule, they sent me Kraemer NA’s original proposal which included a construction schedule.  While it was developed prior to Kraemer’s contract award, it still served as the basis for their selection: May 27, 2022.

  • Typesetter September 16, 2021 (2:30 pm)

    The kerning on these bridge sides is reliably horrible. I’m not sure how it even gets screwed up that bad. The city should hire a PowerPoint consultant to sort that out. It’s completely unreadable.

  • Beanie September 16, 2021 (5:43 pm)

    With regards to those unintentional low bridge violators, I’ve been surprised the I-5 signage still has nothing about the bridge closure. West Seattle Bridge signs at the exits give no indication drivers would have to detour.

  • Lola September 16, 2021 (11:34 pm)

    Well, there’s always this. Might be faster, at least for some.

  • Leon S Kennedy September 17, 2021 (11:23 pm)

    The Spokane Street Viaduct is in terrible state: full of potholes. Shouldn’t they be using this time -with minimal traffic on it- to fix it?Or are they going to wait until they re-open the West Seattle Bridge to close the Spokane Street Viaduct…?

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