By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Repair work to reopen the 19-months-closed West Seattle Bridge is now just weeks from starting.
That’s part of what the bridge’s Community Task Force heard during its monthly meeting, held online Thursday evening. Here’s how it unfolded:
BRIDGE-TOUR THOUGHTS: Since the advisory group’s last meeting, members had been invited to tour the bridge – in visits similar to the media tour we covered last month – and CTF co-chair Paulina López of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition invited members to offer their thoughts.
Deb Barker of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and Morgan Community Association said, “I thought I had looked at so many bridge pictures and understood exactly what was going on … (but) my mind is still exploding” with what she learned on the tour. She toured with a group including port reps and an Eastern Washington legislators (SDOT said that was State Sen. Curtis King, ranking member of the Transportation Committee). What startled her. during the tour: “The extent of the floor cracking that preceded the wall cracking.” SODO business rep Erin Goodman said “it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” She was impressed by the monitoring in place to track the cracks. “These things are tiny and yet they have the ability to stop a bridge.” Colleen Desmond from Highland Park recalled SDOT’s roadway-structures director Matt Donahue explaining “this could have been a different story” but instead was really a “safety-success story.” Dan Austin from the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce said the small cracks were really eye-opening and helped him realize it was an “impressively bad” situation to which photography hasn’t done justice.
BRIDGE UPDATE: SDOT’s program director Heather Marx led off. She noted the $9 million deal with the Port of Seattle (here’s our report on that and what the port gets in return for its contribution to the repair cost). The repair contractor (Kraemer North America) is currently advertising for subcontractors to help prepare, among other things:
Here’s the newest timeline, with construction beginning in late November. “You guys, we are ALMOST THERE,” exulted Marx.
The low-bridge work won’t start until mid-first quarter. Here’s what that work will entail:
Preparations for the low-bridge work will affect maritime operations on dates in November and December, but vehicle traffic will NOT be interrupted, Marx said:
Asked whether the supply-chain problems will affect materials for the high bridge, Marx said that’s possible, but so far not expected. “We are talking (frequently) with our designers and contractors and they are having those conversations with their suppliers.”
That ended the bridge briefing, and it was on to other topics.
MOMENT OF SILENCE: Marx led this in memory of three people killed in Seattle collisions in the past few months, including Michael Hobbs, the pedestrian hit in August while crossing California on the south end of The Junction (his injuries were not described at the time as life-threatening, but he died a week and a half later).
TRAFFIC DATA: SDOT’s Trevor Partap brought data. He showed that traffic citywide is still below pre-pandemic levels:
Bus and Water Taxi ridership is up over last year.
Comparing traffic/collision data for three detour routes – 35th is down in volume and crashes, West Marginal is up in volume and crashes, Roxbury is higher volume but fewer crashes. The data reflects police reports – so please report crashes to SPD so they’ll be on SDOT’s radar too.
RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE: SDOT’s Sara Zora said they have completed 50 of the 70 planned projects and continues working on Duwamish Longhouse interim signal/crossing work, which should be done in mid-November (work will continue this weekend).
Recent accomplishments included 8th/Roxbury turn signal. They also had a “bucket” of community-requested projects, with some accomplished. Here’s what’s coming up:
Barker asked about money for enforcement in areas like Fauntleroy, as discussed in a community meeting this past Tuesday night (here’s our report); Marx said there’s no amount of money that would help because police don’t have the people (although SPD apparently did some spot enforcement the day after the meeting). Marx noted that drivers tend to get less careful when they get closer to home and invited people to be more careful. Zora said they’re still talking about “engineering changes” to help in Fauntleroy. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted that even police support that idea.
LOW-BRIDGE ACCESS: We reported separately last night on word of a crackdown on a particular category of cheaters. Meantime, here are the latest stats on authorized users:
NEXT MEETING: Noon on Wednesday, November 10th – watch here for the link. If you have questions in the interim, firstname.lastname@example.org is where to send them. (All our bridge-closure-related coverage is archived here, newest to oldest.)