VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force’s first briefing in 2 months

(SDOT’s webcam view from atop the bridge this afternoon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

This week’s big news – the possibility of a bridge-reopening delay – headlined the first West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting in two months.

The meeting was held online Thursday afternoon/evening. Here’s the video:

Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell joined the meeting for the first half-hour. She assured CTF members that the West Seattle Bridge is “very important to our administration as well.” She says a multi-jurisdiction team has been meeting three times a week to talk about the concrete-drivers strike and “what can we do to bring the teams back to the table” to support a resolution. She briefly mentioned the King County effort to try to line up an alternate concrete supply, as announced Wednesday by County Executive Dow Constantine at the media briefing during which Mayor Bruce Harrell talked about the potential WS Bridge delay. “We are working on this as much as we possibly can” but “we don’t want to interfere in the process … we all support labor … we believe there is a positive resolution (possible) and we just need the parties to get back to the table.” Regarding rearranging the repair work “(SDOT has) juggled all the balls they can juggle.”

SDOT’s transportation-operation division director Adiam Emery affirmed that. She said they’re daily urging both sides to return to the negotiating table. She also urged CTF members “to reach out to both parties and let them know how (a bridge-reopening delay) would affect you.”

Bridge program director Heather Marx then got into the specifics of the potential effects – basically the same as we had discussed with her at the Wednesday briefing:

She said the first pour has to happen February 20th to avoid a delay, not just an end to the strike by that date. Once concrete is available, they’ve figured out a way to compress the amount of time and number of pours needed. She noted that the February 20th date is already three weeks later than when they originally needed the concrete.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold joined the meeting despite being bedridden (with two broken vertebrae from a snow-tubing mishap), adding that the city is working to be sure that the West Seattle Bridge is “first in line” for the needed concrete when it becomes available, as it must be the regional top priority. Harrell affirmed that the city has been lobbying for that.

So how much of a delay would the project be facing after February 20th? asked by CTF member Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor), “I don’t think we can say it’s a one day for one day situation – it depends at what point in the project we get the concrete,” replied Marx.

One more strike-related note later in the meeting came from CTF member Katie Garrow of the union coalition MLK Labor, who urged attendees to also consider the human cost of the three-month-long strike, saying two strikers have died, one by suicide, since the strike began, for example, and at least one has become homeless.

OTHER REPAIR UPDATES: Marx went through key points what has happened (including the recent installation of work platforms under the bridge), what’s happening now, and what’s happening next.

She stressed, again, that “most of the work is happening INSIDE the bridge.” Here’s a timeline:

(For more current-work specifics, see the weekly bridge update sent out shortly before we published this story.) Here’s the latest on the low-bridge work plan:

One change in the low-bridge plan, Marx noted – the low bridge will NOT need more post-tensioning (steel-cable strengthening) – it’ll just get carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy injection.

Separately, she disclosed there’s a hole in the loop ramp” to 99 from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge – this is an WSDOT structure, not SDOT, so the state is handling it:

The repair is expected to be done before the West Seattle Bridge reopens, Marx said. CTF member Deb Barker asked about damage to the ramps between the bridge and I-5; that’s also WSDOT, Marx said, and the state is aware of it, but the “loop ramp” is more of a priority. (We’re following up on this separately with WSDOT.)

RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE: This is the umbrella under which projects aimed at calming detour-route traffic have been built, among other things. The updates were from the RWS program manager, SDOT’s Sara Zora. 17 projects remain to be done. She recapped what’s been done so far, and then what’s ahead:

As we noted in a separate mention last night, she said that 106th, 18th, 45th, Cloverdale, and Marine View Drive are where stalled traffic-calming elements (primarily speed bumps/humps/cushions) will be installed. (We are following up with SDOT today for more specifics on those locations.) And now they’re continuing to talk about whether some projects will have to be modified or removed once the bridge has reopened.

Transit-wise, Zora recapped transit changes – added bus hours and extension of the Water Taxi’s 7-day-a-week season: “A lot of different things we’ve been trying to do” to help with mobility, Zora summarized. As for the Flip Your Trip, 5,000+ people have used 6,000+ trips – here’s the neighborhood breakdown:

LOW BRIDGE ACCESS: They’re monitoring the traffic post-T-5 opening and it’s “looking pretty good,” Zora said, though no specifics, so no changes in the access plan currently. Councilmember Herbold asked about new programs that will be diverting some urgent medical transports, and how those would be handled. She is worried that an unintended consequence might be people who use the alternative services will be delayed in getting help. Low-bridge program manager Maureen Sheehan and Herbold agreed to talk about this outside the meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, it was noted that the newly launched port-workers shuttle is working well.

WEST MARGINAL/HIGHLAND PARK WAY IMPROVEMENTS: Sam Marshall of SDOT presented an analysis of some of the changes – island removal, northbound lane installation, pedestrian signal installation, timing changes.

On the routes they analyzed, Marshall said, travel times improved up to 31 percent:

Those times remained “remarkably consistent” across seasons, he said. He addded that they’re also watching speeds – while they’re seeing some increase, they’re not seeing ‘speeding issues.” They also compared how alternate routes were working since the intersection changes, including 16th SW:

NEW AND DEPARTING TASK FORCE MEMBERS: Co-chair Paulina López thanked four departing members and welcomed four new ones:

NEW INTERIM SDOT DIRECTOR: Kristin Simpson introduced herself briefly and noted that she’s been SDOT chief of staff for three years so she is already up to speed on the project..

WHAT’S NEXT: The CTF is scheduled to meet again at 4 pm April 21st.

16 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force's first briefing in 2 months"

  • GWG February 11, 2022 (4:33 pm)

    What type of “concrete” work remains? I mean the main part of structural work seems to have been completed in the last year. Just curious and impatient.

    • WSB February 11, 2022 (4:36 pm)

      Explained in our Wednesday coverage. The structures/blocks that hold the post-tensioning steel cables inside the bridge need to be poured. There’s a bit of other concrete work toward the end of the repairs but the post-tensioning is what needs to be done now. (Three weeks ago, originally, but the city and contractor juggled other tasks to keep pushing this back in hopes of a strike resolution.) – TR

      • Zach February 11, 2022 (6:27 pm)

        Are there any pictures showing the formwork and rebar are ready for concrete inside the bridge. If concrete is needed no later then 2/20, I would expect to see progress well ahead of this date.thanks

  • bill February 11, 2022 (7:22 pm)

    “Not seeing ‘speeding issues'”? Well, of course that is the case if you think lowering speed limits without an extensive campaign explaining the Vision Zero rationale and goals coupled with vigorous enforcement constitutes implementation of Vision Zero. The city completely flubbed this process; everyone thinks SDOT is just being mean to West Seattle, whereas the program started four or five years ago city-wide but without real commitment. With no real efforts made at education and coercion we’ve seen an increase in deaths on our roads.

    • aa February 11, 2022 (10:09 pm)

      I would love to see where Bill is getting his information that “everyone thinks SDOT is just being mean to West Seattle “.  Thats just silly.  

    • Jort February 11, 2022 (10:14 pm)

      That is correct, Bill. The city was quick and eager to adopt the slogan, because that is cheap and easy to do, but almost completely unwilling to make the structural changes necessary to reduce road violence, because that would take a modicum of courage that literally no elected or appointed officials in the United States has. It’s easy to say that roads should be safe, but confronting the root cause of the issue — the catastrophic generational error of our toxic social engineering toward car-only transportation — would require hard truths that car drivers literally refuse to accept. 

  • Mj February 11, 2022 (10:18 pm)

    Bill – the issue is that SDoT failed to adhere to Traffic Engineering Science.  Speed limits that are inconsistent with what the street geometrics and driver expectations has resulted in more deaths. 

    I told the Council several years ago this would happen and unfortunately I was correct.  It’s time the Speed Limits on the Principal Arterials revert back to what they were.  Seattle’s street system was amongst the safest in the Country until SDoT staff started hanging out at the cool aid stand!

    • AO February 12, 2022 (8:58 am)

      Mj, I’d argue that a complete lack of traffic law enforcement in the city is a larger problem than lowering the arterial speed limit from 30 to 25. Let’s enforce the rules before we evaluate and critique them.

    • Jort February 12, 2022 (11:51 am)

      You once again falsely assert that lower speed limits cause more roadway deaths. There is zero —zero— evidence to support this blatantly false statement. 

    • James February 13, 2022 (9:17 pm)

      MJ please provide a link to this wild claim. 

  • Mj February 12, 2022 (3:02 pm)

    Jort – I have seen the data that clearly shows improperly set speed limits results in more accidents.   

    Regarding WMW, the speed differencial has significantly increased since the City arbitrarily lowered the limit to 30 MPH with zero technical study conducted.  Speed differencial is critical factor in causing accidents.

    • bill February 12, 2022 (8:48 pm)

      MJ: There are very few accidents. True accidents are unforeseeable events like a bird or rock hitting the windshield, a catastrophic equipment failure, a landslide. Almost all crashes are the result of decisions to drive irresponsibly — too fast for conditions, failing to pay attention, driving when impaired, ignoring traffic laws, gambling on beating a red light. These are deliberates. The foreseeable consequences of deliberate, poor, irresponsible decisions. As for data, it is clear that speed kills. You can’t refute that.

    • Jort February 13, 2022 (7:42 pm)

      No you haven’t. That “data” doesn’t exist. Just because the city is doing something that doctrinaire traffic engineers of the previous generation don’t like doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. It takes an incredible amount of chutzpah to accuse lower speed limits of causing deaths when the history of American road engineering has lead to more road deaths than any other developed nation. This is gross. 

      • Montana Man February 14, 2022 (9:06 am)

        “Gross”?“Of the previous generation”?Do feel emotionally secure at present to provide extrapolation of those comments?  This is a safe space, really.  Tell us what you mean by “gross” and “of the previous generation”.Thank you in advance.Oh—-and you’re welcome.

  • Mj February 12, 2022 (10:15 pm)

    Bill – are you aware that the RCW was changed to allow SDoT to ignore Traffic Engineering Science and arbitrarily lower the speed limits on Arterials, aka ignore the Science!   

    I have no argument that bad driving behavior, in particular drug alcohol use, is the cause of many incidents, but failure to follow Traffic Science is a contributing factor!

    • zark00 February 14, 2022 (11:51 am)

      MJ – you need to stop posting the lies about lower speeds causing accidents – or – provide some kind of data, analysis, information, supporting your wildly inaccurate and quite frankly dangerous claim.
      Every time you have posted these lies you have been asked to provide anything to back them up. You have never, not once, been able to provide anything and today is no different.
       You’ve been posting this garbage for literally years now, it was false when you first posted it, it’s false now, it’s never been true.  You need to stop.

Sorry, comment time is over.