By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two months short of two years since the West Seattle Bridge closed, no date is set yet for its reopening, aside from “mid-2022.” SDOT‘s contract with the company fixing it, Kraemer North America, says they’re supposed to finish their work no later than June 30th. Testing will follow. And at some point around the reopening, a community celebration is expected (as we first noted in October). What kind of celebration? That’s up to the community – so a brainstorming session today officially kicked off the planning.
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and Junction Association convened a call with dozens of neighborhood advocates and businesspeople to invite ideas and to solicit volunteers for planning committees. The many ideas ran largely along two paths – celebrating the bridge itself, and welcoming visitors back to the peninsula. Celebrating the community members who’ve endured bridgelessness for two years should also be a goal, it was suggested. One big event? Multiple events? Merge the celebration with already-planned events like West Seattle Summer Fest, which is expected to return July 15-17, or the West Seattle Grand Parade, also likely to return this summer? Celebration on the bridge? Somewhere else, like a park or stadium or street? This was a “no bad ideas” type of conversation, so every suggestion and question was duly noted.
The executive directors of the WSCC and WSJA, Whitney Moore and Chris Mackay, said they’d had some preliminary conversations with SDOT, describing the department as “open” to possibilities, but with one big stipulation, which SDOT itself noted in October: The actual bridge reopening can’t be delayed in any way. If a celebration is planned on the bridge for a certain Sunday, for example, and the bridge is deemed ready to go on the preceding Friday, sorry, the bridge won’t wait, the WSCC and WSJA leaders say they were told. So that is a factor to consider. The only thing they said SDOT could say for sure in terms of a timeline is the same thing the city said in October – that they’ll know one month in advance.
P.S. Wondering if money is budgeted for a celebration? The WSCC and WSJA said no. (We are checking with SDOT to see if that goes for the city too.) So that could mean sponsors will be sought to cover any costs. That’s another reason why volunteer help is being sought now. If you’re interested in helping, contact WSJA or WSCC.