West Seattle, Washington
A little over one hour after today’s “final repairs have begun” briefing about the West Seattle Bridge (WSB coverage here), SDOT allowed media crews onto the bridge to photograph the work. It was our third visit in three months. SDOT has been saying that the first work would include hydroblasting attachment points for the work platforms, and that’s what was happening this afternoon.
Before the actual blasting, workers were measuring and marking:
These workers are with Rampart Hydro Services, a Pennsylvania-based company that describes itself as “the world’s leading hydrodemolition firm.” Their work will be done before the platforms go up next month (we’ve asked SDOT for a more specific date). Much of the rest of the $45 million dollar repairs will subsequently be happening beneath and inside the bridge.
As we reported in our coverage of this morning’s briefing, the city and contractor Kraemer North America agreed to a “substantial completion” date of the end of June, and SDOT says completion of work would be followed by up to two weeks of testing before reopening the bridge to traffic.
When the Sixth Church of Christ, Scientist, closed at what then became The Sanctuary at Admiral, it merged with the Fourteenth Church of Christ, Scientist, in Upper Fauntleroy. Now that church building too is being sold. The church at 3601 SW Barton is on an acre of land, listed for $2.3 million, and already has a sale pending, according to webpages featuring the listing, The description of the site notes that the new owner could “build 8 new homes” – since it’s zoned Single-Family 5000. The church phone number is disconnected, so we contacted a regional spokesperson for Christian Science to ask what happened to the church itself. According to the state website, it had shrunk to the smallest organized unit, a society, and the spokesperson tells us the Society based at that building is disbanding. West Seattle also had a Christian Science Reading Room until last year, in the Junction space that became home to Mystery Made. Back to the Fauntleroy church – no word yet on who’s buying it, as the sale hasn’t closed yet and the listing agent didn’t reply to our inquiry.
In case you noticed/wondered – we’re skipping this round of weekly pandemic updates because the long holiday weekend broke the data flow. Usually we’d publish countywide and local stats on Sunday nights, but last night the King County dashboards only had been updated through last Wednesday; on Mondays, we usually publish local breakouts from the Seattle Public Schools dashboard, but that too has less data than usual, since all schools were out Thursday-Friday (and elementary grades were without classes all week because of family conferences). We’ll get back on track next Sunday/Monday.
ORIGINAL REPORT, MONDAY NIGHT: Last Wednesday afternoon, just before the long holiday weekend, “No Parking” signs went up along the stretch of SW Andover where more than a dozen RVs are usually parked along the south side of Nucor Steel (a source of growing concern for the plant, as reported here two months ago).
The infosheet that accompanied the signs cited only “RV remediation,” Because of the holiday, we were not able to reach city departments until today to ask what that will involve. Seattle Public Utilities is the lead agency, so here’s what spokesperson Sabrina Register tells us:
Seattle Public Utilities’ RV Remediation Program works to reduce negative impacts to public health and safety by removing garbage and debris from roads, sidewalks, and the public right-of-way near RVs. This effort started initially as a pilot in November 2017 in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, program staff observed safety protocols and best practices based on guidance from health experts, including maintaining social distancing during cleanups of areas impacted by RVs. SPU staff passed out purple trash bags to assist people with cleaning around their vehicles and aimed to gain voluntary compliance from RV owners.
In October 2021, the program ramped up to engage RV occupants to voluntarily move their RVs, which allows crews to clean and remove garbage, waste and immobile, unoccupied vehicles that pose a major health and safety risk.
Days prior to a clean, staff trained to support RV occupants connect with them to let them know about an upcoming remediation clean, so the occupants can prepare to move their vehicle on the morning of the clean. If an RV is occupied but inoperable, staff work through our community partners to try to assist that person, including help with a battery jump, fuel, or a spare tire. SPU’s goal is 100% compliance with RV relocation in order to remove garbage and debris, plus address any fluids or materials that could enter a storm drain. RVs that are abandoned, derelict or pose a public health risk may be towed on a case-by-case basis.
The RV Remediation clean taking place along the 2400-2600 blocks SW Andover will involve multiple City departments, including SPU, SDOT and SPR.
The “No Parking” signs that went up Wednesday (but were not in view this afternoon) were dated tomorrow through Sunday, so it’s not clear what day the work will happen; we’ll go by periodically but if you see it in progress, please let us know if you can – 206-293-6302 text or voice.
BACKSTORY: We first reported on the RV parking on Andover almost six years ago.
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING, 11:11 AM: Thanks to everyone who texted to say it appears the work is beginning. We went by and all we saw was one junk-hauling truck working right at the corner of Andover/28th, with a Parking Enforcement Officer there to direct traffic.
The truck was labeled South Elmgrove; a company by that name is listed online as a city contractor for junk pickup. We’ll be checking back in a few hours.
WEDNESDAY NOTE: We checked back at 3:30 pm Tuesday, no sign of further activity. Went by again just before 10 am today, and junk-hauling trucks are back but no other activity in view.
WEDNESDAY NOTE #2: A reader who works nearby saw at least one RV being towed. We went back over around 3:15 pm, no activity but there seemed to be a larger gap on the north side of Andover – 12 RVs total on Andover and 28th. Tonight another reader reports the RVs all have been tagged.
By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
The longest salmon watch since counting of coho spawners in Fauntleroy Creek started in 1999 ended Sunday with a near-record 244 fish.
The seven-week watch began in mid October, and a month later watchers were about to call it a day when the count stood at 10 – a typical number for this small creek. Then high tides, an “atmospheric river” weather system, and perhaps barometric pressure brought in the most spawners since 2012, when the tally was 274.
11:05 AM: Just under way, livestreaming above, the mayor and SDOT are announcing the start of “final repairs” on the West Seattle Bridge, 20 months after it was abruptly closed for safety concerns. We’ll be reporting today’s updates in two parts – first, this online briefing; second, what we see and learn when media crews are escorted onto the bridge in a few hours (some of the work is already visible via this city webcam). We’ll add notes from this briefing every few minutes.
11:11 PM: Mayor Jenny Durkan thanked the “residents and businesses of West Seattle” and the Duwamish Valley for enduring the bridgelessness. She said it’s “exciting” that “we are closer than ever to reopening the bridge.” She described the project as “on time and on budget.” $19 million in federal funds and $9 million in port funding are assisting in covering the cost. “We know how much impact this has,” she reiterates. She describes the work as “extensive,” adding 91 tons and 46 miles of steel cable, two football fields of carbon-fiber polymer, among other things, to the bridge, which she says will be restored “to as close to new as possible.”
SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe got into the details. He says steel cables (post-tensioning strands) will be installed throughout the bridge, which will be wrapped in carbon-fiber polymer, with cracks being injected with epoxy. And “while we have contractors on the bridge” they’ll do “major maintenance” including replacing expansion joints, repaving, and replacing signs. He also noted the low bridge is getting carbon-fiber wrap and epoxy injections too.
11:22 AM: They’re in Q&A now. We asked about the projected completion date in the now-finalized agreement. End of June 2022, said Zimbabwe. Are there incentives for finishing sooner? No, he said, partly because of federal rules.
Mike Lindblom of The Seattle Times asks why they didn’t just keep Kraemer North America, which also was the contractor for stabilization, on to continue with repairs, Zimbabwe says he doesn’t think that would have saved time – he says the process of designing the repairs and assembling the funding was done in parallel and would have still required time post-stabilization. He insists, “I don’t think we’ve lost any time in this.”
11:35 AM: We also asked whether the bridge is going to reopen a lane or two at a time in mid-2022 as had been suggested before. No, said Zimbabwe, they expect that when it reopens, they’ll reopen it fully – after a period of up to two weeks for “load testing” among other things, Zimbabwe was also asked about whether reopening the bridge partly, early, could have been possible. He said no – it needs this next round of repairs to be able to safely carry traffic. He also said the repairs are expected to restore the bridge to where it should have been at this point – 40 more years of life.
11:44 AM: The briefing is over but you should be able to view the video on instant playback above. Look for our separate report later on what’s actually happening on the bridge now (among the work, Zimbabwe said, is hydroblasting to prepare for the new work platforms to be hoisted).
2:41 PM: Back from the bridge, separate story later. The city’s post about today’s announcement, includes quotes from elected officials and others who were on the call but didn’t speak, is here.
11:01 AM: Metro is rerouting buses onto the 1st Avenue South Bridge right now because of a “mechanical issue” on the West Seattle low bridge – which is closed to all surface traffic. More info when we get it.
12:07 PM: Its status isn’t clear right now – it’s open so a barge can get through, said SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe when we asked for an update before the high-bridge briefing ended, but he believed it would return to normal surface traffic after that. We’ll keep checking.
12:58 PM: Just reopened.
ADDED 4 PM: The reopening happened just as we were being escorted onto the high bridge for photos of the work crew. We also saw this truck backup that built up during the low-bridge closure:
ADDED 6:12 PM: We asked SDOT what went wrong. Their reply:
Operations on the Spokane St Bridge (West Seattle Low Bridge) were interrupted today due to two separate mechanical issues related to the bridge’s hydraulic system and center-locking mechanisms. This incident was unrelated to mechanical issues which affected bridge operations earlier this month, from November 3-5.
At about 11 a.m. this morning, the bridge was swung open to allow a ship to sail through. SDOT bridge operations crews observed irregularities in the bridge’s movement, and discovered a hydraulic fluid leak in one of the pump lines at the West Pier which allow the bridge to swing open and closed (a different pump than the one that was replaced earlier this month). While crews were able to return the bridge to a closed position despite the hydraulic fluid leak, they were briefly unable to open the traffic gates that allows vehicles to use the bridge due to safeguard in the bridge’s center-locking mechanism which was triggered by a faulty mechanical switch which was sending an incorrect signal that the center-lock had not been engaged. Crews were able address the center-lock safeguard and reopened the gate for vehicle traffic shortly before 1 pm.
Since that time, crews have continued to work to double check other bridge systems and repair the hydraulic fluid leak. This work can be done while traffic drives over the bridge. We will only open one leaf of the bridge at a time while these repairs are occurring, but do not expect this to have a noticeable effect on vehicle or ship traffic. We may also perform brief bridge openings to test the systems later this evening, after peak-period traffic is over.
(View from SDOT camera on the bridge this morning)
WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE BRIEFING: As previewed on Friday, the mayor and SDOT plan a media briefing at 11 am today “to mark the start of construction for the final phase of repairs to the West Seattle Bridge.” They’ve decided to hold it online, though media crews will be allowed onto the bridge this afternoon for a closer look. You can watch the livestream at 11 am by going here.
HANUKKAH: Night 2 of the eight-night festival.
And two online holiday fundraising auctions continue today:
ST. NICHOLAS FAIRE: Last day for online bidding, with themed gift packages available – and dream getaways too – all raising money for the West Seattle Food Bank in this virtual version of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle‘s annual fundraiser fair – go here to browse and bid.
KIWANIS ONLINE AUCTION: You can help the service club continue its work with local kids by bidding on items including local gift cards. Browse and bid by going here.
6:03 AM Good morning!
More rain today, though not continuous.
26th SW – One more time – it’s now open both ways.
20th/Roxbury – Work continues on the SW side of the intersection.
BUSES, WATER TAXI, FERRIES
Metro is on its regular weekday schedule. Watch @kcmetrobus for word of trip cancellations.
BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES
616th morning without the West Seattle Bridge. Here are views of other bridges and routes:
Low Bridge: Automated enforcement cameras remain in use; restrictions are in effect 5 am-9 pm daily – except weekends; the bridge is open to all until 8 am Saturday and Sunday mornings. (Access applications are available here for some categories of drivers.) No change for the holiday.
The 1st Avenue South Bridge (map):
South Park Bridge:
West Marginal Way at Highland Park Way:
Highland Park Way/Holden:
The 5-way intersection (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):
Trouble on the streets/paths/bridges/water? Please let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.