West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
In our first report noting the second anniversary of the West Seattle Bridge’s sudden closure on March 23, 2020, we looked at what’s happening right now with repair work.
Before the night’s out, here’s one more report – including what happens once it’s back open.
We talked again late today with SDOT’s Heather Marx, the West Seattleite who is in charge of what’s become the West Seattle Bridge Program, encompassing not just getting the high bridge fixed and reopened, but also repair/maintenance work on the low bridge, as well as offshoot programs to calm detour traffic and encourage commuting alternatives.
Our questions included some that recur in discussion of bridge stories, even though they’ve been asked and answered before. For one – when the bridge reopens, will it reopen gradually, or all lanes at once? “It’s still the plan to open all lanes at once,” Marx said, again. There will be a two-week-or-so testing period once contractor Kraemer North America says they’re done – a plan has already been drafted for that, she adds – and then, it’ll be fully reopened.
Will the low-bridge restrictions all go away once the high bridge is reopened? Yes, Marx said. Private vehicles will have full access again, and transit will return to the high bridge.
Speaking of the low bridge, we asked if those fears about truck traffic from reopened Terminal 5 have come true. Basically, no. She said that T-5 has been making use of its rail capabilities, and that’s lessened the truck volume. So they’re not going to have to cut back on low-bridge access as they warned for months might be necessary: “We wanted to be sure people were emotionally prepared for the worst-case scenario.” But they’re not going to relax restrictions, either – the current status quo will remain until the high bridge reopens.
Meantime, “a hundred little projects” for the low bridge are continuing, though the big work – carbon-fiber wrap and epoxy injection, like the high bridge – is on the back burner while the high bridge stays in the spotlight. The “hundred little projects” are moving ahead, Marx said, including rerouting control wires and cables through an underground tube.
And as mentioned in a past briefing, they’re also working on what you might call an “undo list” – things that need to be removed (think of all those detour signs) or changed once the high bridge reopens. Marx explains that requires more logistics than you might expect, ensuring that crews “have space on their summer calendar,” for example.
Yes, she said “summer.” So that brings us back to the concrete concern. As we reported earlier today, contractor Kraemer NA is now talking with supplier Cadman – one of the companies to which striking Teamsters Local 174 drivers said they’d return – about what’s needed for this project. In our conversation late today, we asked Marx for more specifics on those talks. She said they’re working on a “mix design,” aka recipe, for the “self-consolidating” concrete that’s needed for the post-tensioning (strengthening with steel cables). So what happened to the concern that even once the concrete was flowing again, the West Seattle Bridge wouldn’t be anywhere near the head of the line, because a relatively small amount is needed? Marx said it turns out “there’s not a very long line for this kind of concrete.” She also said Mayor Bruce Harrell has been “encouraging” Cadman to prioritize the bridge.
Here’s something that hasn’t changed: The estimated completion date can’t be calculated until the “last concrete pour” for the post-tensioning, Marx reiterated. And she’s not willing to estimate how long it’ll take Kraemer and Cadman to work out the details to get to the pouring point.
Two years ago today, in announcing the closure, SDOT warned repairs could take “months”; three weeks later, they warned the bridge might not be fixable, and even if it was, it wouldn’t reopen before 2022. Now, one-fourth of the way into that year, it’ll be a while longer before we know when in 2022.
One mini-bulletin from tonight’s HPAC meeting, just wrapping up – SDOT has canceled the plan to reconfigure the 16th/Austin intersection. We reported on it three weeks ago after a reader tip. SDOT’s Sara Zora indicated at tonight’s meeting that they got a lot of feedback, and after their traffic-operations team re-examined the plan, they decided to shelve it. They’ll “continue to monitor” the intersection for collisions or other problems. (Our report on the rest of the HPAC meeting will be published tomorrow.)
In the spirit of Little Free Pantries, Libraries, etc., is Maslow’s Closet at Lafayette Elementary School in Admiral – and you can help it continue providing basics like food, clothes, and hygiene items to community members in need. Organizer and teacher Chelsea Gabzdyl, who created Maslow’s Closet while teaching at Concord International in South Park, says they’re accepting donated items as well as raising money with event tomorrow (Thursday, March 24th), 6-9 pm, at Admiral Pub (2306 California SW).
As the flyer notes, a percentage of proceeds from a special cocktail will go toward the project. If you can’t make it to the event, the flyer (see it here in PDF) has three other options for donating, including through Donors Choose and through the Lafayette PTA.
WEDNESDAY: The truck-theft trend continues. This report and photo are from Finlay:
This morning, sometime between 6:30 and 9:00, our black 1997 Nissan King Cab pickup was stolen from the street in front of our house. This happened in North Delridge, on 26th Ave SW between Delridge Playfield and the golf course. License # B73872W.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Finlay reports the truck was found blocks away.
Seattle Parks will close many of its facilities tomorrow (Thursday, March 24th) for a day of staff training. Here’s what will be closed in West Seattle:
-Camp Long Environmental Learning Center
-Southwest Teen Life Center
-Delridge and High Point Community Centers
The Parks announcement also includes what will NOT be closed.
Thanks to meet announcer David Feinberg for sending the schedule for this season’s Metro League high-school track meets at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle), which start tomorrow:
3/24 – regular meet
3/31 – regular meet
4/07 – regular meet
4/21 – regular meet
4/28 – regular meet
5/05 – regular meet
5/11 – league meet, preliminaries and some finals
5/13 – league meet, finals
5/18 – district meet, preliminaries and some finals
5/20 – district meet, finals
All meets start mid-afternoon. We’re short-staffed again this season, so volunteers — preferably with some abilities to accurately time and/or measure — would likely be welcome.
If you’re interested in volunteering, he advises, “The best approach for volunteers would be to arrive at SWAC around 2:30 or so, go down to the track, and seek out Lorna” – that’s Lorna Considine, Chief Sealth International High School track/field coach, who is also serving as meet manager.
Alki Beach is quiet today. But now that it’s spring, the busy season isn’t far off. A discussion at last week’s Alki Community Council meeting touched on perennial summer concerns, some of which were addressed last year by closing the park earlier, so we asked Seattle Parks whether that’s planned again this year. Spokesperson Rachel Schulkin says yes, they’re planning a 10 pm closing time this summer too. The exact launch date hasn’t been determined yet – sometime in May – nor have the implementation details. (Seattle Police have already said they’re planning emphasis patrols at the beach again this year.) Last year the early closing time was put in place in early July, days after a deadly shooting, and continued until mid-September.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At 7 pm tonight, it’ll be exactly two years since the city’s emergency shutdown of the crack-plagued West Seattle Bridge, announced just hours before the closure took effect.
There’s still no date for its reopening, and the unavailability of concrete because of a months-long labor dispute has left the long-estimated “mid-2022” in question.
But there’s new hope today that concrete could be flowing soon, in the wake of Teamsters Local 174‘s recent announcement that some striking drivers were willing to return to work to get public projects moving again. SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB, “Our construction contractor is currently in the process of developing a contract with Cadman, and communicating with them about their ability to produce the specialized concrete required for the repair and ensure that it meets the necessary quality specifications.”
Concrete is needed for several aspects of the work but most critically, the added “post-tensioning” – strengthening via steel cables. SDOT says the work to prepare for this is being done now: “This includes drilling holes through the inner walls of the bridge for the post-tensioning strands to pass through, building and positioning forms for the various concrete components that will support and anchor the post-tensioning strands, and installing rebar for these components.” Once concrete is available, the post-tensioning cables themselves will be installed.
We asked what else is currently being done while awaiting concrete: “Right now, crews are focusing on epoxy crack injection and carbon-fiber wrap work at various points of both the bridge’s interior and exterior. This process involves cleaning concrete surfaces that contain cracks and using pumps to inject epoxy into the cracks. Once the epoxy cures, crews smooth the surface and apply carbon-fiber sheets injected with a similar compound.”
As explained when the project manager from the repair contractor, Kraemer North America, briefed the Community Task Force extensively in December (WSB coverage here), maintenance work is under way too. Bergerson says one key component of that involves the bridge’s expansion joints: “Over the past few weeks, we removed and cleaned older joints and are now installing new joints. Once concrete becomes available, we will finish the installation of the new joints that are currently ready for pouring.”
SDOT’s bridge-project director Heather Marx has said they can’t estimate a date for reopening until the concrete pours are happening, but as of her last public briefing, she was still hopeful “mid-2022” was in reach. On the occasion of the closure’s two-year anniversary, Marx tells WSB, “We haven’t missed a day of work on the West Seattle Bridge in the two years since it closed. This project is – and has been – Seattle’s number one transportation emergency and priority. I’m so thankful and appreciative of my West Seattle family, friends, and neighbors who weathered this closure with our team and me. And I’m grateful to folks in Highland Park, South Park, Delridge, and Georgetown who’ve been sharing their neighborhoods with detour traffic for so long. In the bingo game of challenging circumstances we’ve all been living through these past two years, I didn’t have ‘concrete strike’ on my board. We’re managing that with our contractor, and I’m looking forward to getting concrete soon. Right now, our primary focus is to keep moving forward on every inch of bridge repairs that we can. Only one type of repair system is waiting on concrete.”
All of our bridge-closure-related coverage since March 23, 2020 – 271 stories and counting – is archived here, newest to oldest.
Two reports in West Seattle Crime Watch this morning:
WATER TAXI DOCK THEFT: Thanks to commenter RodgerM for the tip on this. Metro confirms that thieves hit the West Seattle Water Taxi dock at Seacrest overnight. Spokesperson Al Sanders tells WSB, “Several weights were reportedly stolen. They were located underneath the passenger boarding ramp at Seacrest Dock and are used as counterbalance. The Water Taxi’s engineering team installed a temporary system to replace the weights early this morning with no disruption to service.” We have followup questions out, including how much the stolen weights are worth.
GUN SEIZED AT 7-11: This photo tweeted by SPD this morning is related to a West Seattle incident last night:
According to the report narrative we just obtained from police, the call to 911 around 9 pm was that someone was inside the 35th/Barton 7-11 with a gun. Officers arrived and quickly took a 45-year-old man into custody. The clerk told them he saw the suspect “concealing merchandise in his coat,” the report says, and confronted him, at which time the suspect threatened to kill the clerk (which turned the case from shoplift to robbery). But then the suspect allowed the clerk to check his pockets, in which the clerk found the gun (as well as merchandise) and took it away. The suspect reportedly said he would leave if he got his gun back, and the clerk told him no, he had to wait for police. The report says the gun “had a purchase history from 1978” that was traced to a deceased person. Officers also found “six unfired .22 caliber rounds of ammunition” (as shown in the photo). The suspect, who has a felony record so shouldn’t have been in possession of a gun, was booked into King County Jail. (Wednesday evening update: He remains in jail tonight, with bail set at $30,000.)
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
BUY A BOOK, HELP A SCHOOL: The book fair at Paper Boat Booksellers benefiting Louisa Boren STEM K-8 continues today – mention the school when you make a purchase. The shop at 6040 California SW is open 10 am-6 pm today.
CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE: 2 pm today, the City Council’s Land Use Committee meets with two items of note – requiring registration for tree-service providers, and looking at the city’s proposed Industrial and Maritime Strategy. The agenda has document links and information on commenting/watching.
DINE OUT, HELP A SCHOOL: Mission Cantina (2325 California SW) is donating part of its proceeds to Madison Middle School today – dine-in, take-out, and gift-card purchases. Open 4 pm-10 pm today.
LIVE MUSIC: 6:30-8:30 pm at Locöl Barley & Vine (7902 35th SW), Arthur James performs. No cover. 21+.
SDOT AND COUNCILMEMBER AT HPAC: 7 pm online, the community council for Highland Park, South Delridge, and Riverview meets, with guests including SDOT reps and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Agenda and participation (by video or phone) details are here.
SKYLARK OPEN MIC: 7:30 pm signups @ West Seattle’s longest-running open mic – no cover to watch. (3803 Delridge Way SW)
TRIVIA: Larry’s Tavern (3405 California SW) hosts Wednesday-night trivia starting at 8 pm.
Something for our calendar? Email info to email@example.com – thank you!
6:03 AM: Good morning. It’s Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022. Two years ago tonight, the city closed the West Seattle Bridge with just a few hours’ public notice. We’ll have an update on the repair work later this morning. First – the morning-commute check-ins:
Rain is expected to return by tonight, and the high’s back down in the 50s.
The 35th/Findlay sewer work is expected to continue.
BUSES, WATER TAXI, FERRIES TODAY
Water Taxi‘s on its regular schedule.
Ferries: WSF continues the two-boat schedule for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth. Check here for alerts/updates.
BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES
729th morning without the West Seattle Bridge.
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.)
1st Avenue South Bridge:
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 roads/paths/water? Text or call us (when you can do so safely) – 206-293-6302.