WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: How the ‘Priority Hire’ plan will work

(August photo by Long Bach Nguyen)

Another Labor Day note about jobs: SDOT announced last week that the federal Department of Transportation had approved the plan to use the Priority Hire program to fill bridge-related jobs. The city explains the program as “promot(ing) access to construction careers for women, people of color and others with social and economic disadvantages.” So how will this work? We asked a few followup questions; the replies below came via Melissa Mixon of the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services:

How many jobs are expected to be part of this?

The West Seattle Bridge should provide significant opportunity for construction workers in our communities, with a need for several hundred workers over the course of the project. Based on performance on other Priority Hire projects, the City estimates that workers from economically distressed ZIP codes could earn an additional $600,000 in wages on the West Seattle Corridor Bridges Rehabilitation and Strengthening project due to Priority Hire. Other apprentices, women and people of color who live outside the economically distressed ZIP codes will earn additional income.

Who will do the hiring?

Kraemer, their subcontractors, construction union partners and apprenticeship programs will work together to hire Priority Hire workers on the project. The project will have a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA), which sets basic terms and conditions of employment on the project it covers. Contractors on the project will hire apprentices and experienced journey workers through union hiring halls and associated apprenticeship programs.

When and where will those openings be posted?

If you or someone you know is interested in working in construction, learn more about getting in the industry (and potentially working on the West Seattle Bridge) by viewing the Apprenticeship Guidebook. These programs will work directly with contractors to place workers on the project. You can also connect with our community-based partners to learn more about construction opportunities:


Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle: 206-702-8011
Rainier Beach Action Coalition: 206-914-1762


ANEW: 206-381-1384 or info@anewaop.org
Carpenter’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program: 206-437-4235
Ironworkers Pre-Apprenticeship Program: 206-244-2993 or info@iw86appr.org
Seattle Central Colleges PACT Program: 206-934-2943 or PACT.Central@seattlecolleges.edu

28 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: How the 'Priority Hire' plan will work"

  • Dave P September 6, 2021 (5:47 pm)
    • I applaud SDOT for doing this, yet it took them months to pull off this purely administrative act.  It speaks volumes to why our bridge isn’t even close to getting repaired and re-opened – a complete lack of urgency from SDOT.
    • Kj September 6, 2021 (7:00 pm)

      Totally concur, Dave. You nailed it. 

  • Djet7carn September 6, 2021 (6:12 pm)

    The priority was a jobs program all along.  

  • Rick September 6, 2021 (8:25 pm)

    I commuted to Kirkland when we had two green bridges.  And then one.  And it was just fine. Hundreds of million dollars later we got something that needs hundreds of millions of dollars to fix (if they can).

  • Mike September 6, 2021 (8:50 pm)

    This jobs program is okay, but after almost 18 months of shutdown it would sure be nice to see a news release from SDOT regarding repair work actually being performed, meaningful progress being made towards re-opening.  

  • Ahhhhhh September 6, 2021 (8:59 pm)

    600,000 in wages!  How long will the project last?  Can we just pay people 600,000 and finish the bridge as soon as possible?  Korea has a tunnel on the bottom of the ocean built in less than a year.  It was finished ahead of schedule.  

    • WSB September 6, 2021 (9:53 pm)

      Which tunnel? I looked around and all I can find is the Boryeong tunnel, for which ground was broken nine years ago.
      The Busan project, with bridge and immersed-tube tunnel, took eight years.

  • Jim September 6, 2021 (9:53 pm)

    A typical beaucratic crock – When will these life-long cya placeholders actually turn in some meaningful work? Use the time to advance the project – all federal programs have minority and women hiring requirements, so why do they make this out like some kind of accomplishment? The next “news” is they will be union jobs, another big “duh”. 

  • Azimuth September 6, 2021 (10:15 pm)

    I don’t know if this bridge labor plan is a worthwhile goal, but I feel compelled to say that my few experiences as a subcontractor project manager on CWA projects boiled down to me needing to add about 30 percent to my usual rates to cover paperwork, overhead, and prevailing wages.

  • bill September 6, 2021 (10:16 pm)

    Have none of you been paying attention? A huge amount of work has been done inside the bridge to stabilize it (translation: saved from falling down). And prior to that a good deal of engineering work had to be done. Sorry, but none of this is spectacular. What exactly do you expect to see? Would you-all feel better if SDOT put one of the Port’s new cranes on the bridge and had it go up and down all day for your entertainment?

    • Rick September 6, 2021 (10:54 pm)

      All that work and money to save a bridge from falling down that we can’t use.  I say let it fall down, save the money and then build a new one. Problem solved.

    • Andrea September 7, 2021 (9:10 am)

      @BILL – I totally agree with you. So strange the people (not engineers or close to the details of the work) who consistently complain that it is not getting done soon enough and seem to know all the answers. We have been told mid-2022 for the fix and from everything I have read we are on track to meet that. I guess folks just like to complain and have selective listening lol.

      • Joanne K. September 7, 2021 (10:35 am)

        The W. Sea. Bridge was supposed to last 80 years but at 30 years it is in desperate need of repair.  Who is responsible/accountable for that?  The new builders, Kraemer is doing a detailed study-prep and hopefully honest assessment and reconstruction that will last as long as they predict.  Why isn’t the crew for the last job being questioned in public? 

        • wscommuter September 7, 2021 (11:34 am)

          @Joanne K … the reason why the “crew for the last  job isn’t being questioned in public” is that there is no legal basis to do so.  Too much time has passed – the statute of limitations  expired decades ago.   And in all candor, what good would it do if we could question that team?  The situation today is what it is.  There is no money to be had from the original builder or designer at this point.  

    • GT September 8, 2021 (2:45 pm)

      As is, the bridge exceeds the original. More tension cables will extend the life indefinitely, also ban all heavy trucks such as steel rebar. Don’t see any problems.

  • Mark47n September 7, 2021 (5:04 am)

    As a licensed Master Electrician I can say that it’s incredibly tough to get apprentices interested in any facet of construction and/or maintenance at industrial facilities. While the Priority Hire program has been around for awhile projects like this really put a positive spotlight on it.I will say that that those who believe that $600K in wages is high should look in the mirror and be ashamed at what they see. The trades used to be respected and we are the ones that keep the lights on, the water flowing and the roads useable. A bit more about trades and manufacturing jobs…Nucor steel is hiring entry level production positions! These are great jobs with a solid and respectable company that takes good care of its employees and the average entry level employees earns approximately $75K/yr. Despite this it’s shockingly hard to fill these positions.     

    • RandomUA September 7, 2021 (9:07 am)

      They are having the same problem in Aerospace Manufacturing….this new generation would rather smoke a doobie then turn a wrench. I think until it goes federally legal states with recreational marijuana are gonna struggle filling jobs that require you to be clean.  Anywho—-just a thought! 

      • Mark47n September 7, 2021 (6:25 pm)

        I teach for the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee on the side. They have several programs filled with promising young kids learning machining skills. I teach electrical systems and machine automation.

    • Auntie September 7, 2021 (10:13 am)

      Thank you! Hey, you out of work college grads – how’s that degree in Psychology working out for you? Put down the game controller and learn a trade, why don’t you?

      • Jay September 7, 2021 (10:44 am)

        How do super judgy comments like these get approval? They belong on NextDoor or the Breitbart Facebook page comments, not WSB.

      • E.W. September 8, 2021 (12:24 pm)

        Psych major here, doing just fine working in tech. No disdain for wrenches, just a lot of people my age understand cloud computing and have to follow the money (which is better in SaaS than in manufacturing)– and we still can’t afford property.This jobs program doesn’t seem bad at all and everyone who seems to know anything about bridges seems to think this project is going generally pretty well. Let’s chill on the slander- youd probably like videogames too if you could swap your TV to ‘hdmi 2’ without calling your grandkid

        • RandomUA September 8, 2021 (5:01 pm)

          Chill on the slander by slandering….?  LOL How do you know @Auntie has grandkids? Seems a little bit  judgy to me…but your a Psychology major so you probably know more than me about the human experience.  The money wouldn’t be worth it to have to work with passive aggressive grand standers like you. I’ll stick to the wrenches. 

  • Ibrahim Ibram September 7, 2021 (7:40 am)

    When will the bridge open up for traffic ? 

  • TM7302 September 7, 2021 (2:53 pm)

    So the Priority Hire program is going to channel $600,000 of the $175M repair costs to those that need jobs.  I think MARK47N has it right, maybe that $600,000 could be better spent by helping those same people overcome current obstacles with good paying career jobs that seem to be available now…

  • AJ September 8, 2021 (9:20 am)

    I’m appalled by this article. We haven’t even hired people to do the work? How is this not a priority for our city?? This is devastating and just extends the constant frustration of how this city is run. 

    • Mark47n September 8, 2021 (2:53 pm)

      People HAVE been hired to do the work. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean that meaningful progress isn’t being made! This weird idea that you have to actually SEE people doing random seemingly relevant tasks to believe that work is proceeding is beyond ridiculous. Right now the engineering is proceeding based on thermal expansion/contraction data gathered by sensors telemetering data out from the bridge. Additional tendons have been installed in the bridge to hold it together, which is a part of the bridge design, tension holds it together, and carbon fiber wrapping has been placed over the damaged areas.This isn’t a plank over the creek, this is is a 140′ tall bridge. It’s high time people around here recognize its complexity.

  • TM7302 September 8, 2021 (4:07 pm)

    I guess people need to see orange barrels and people standing around in reflective vests to think work is happening because that is what $600,000 is going to get you…

Sorry, comment time is over.