‘When? When? When?’ West Seattle Bridge reopening questions – and birds! – @ Community Task Force meeting

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A big part of the role of West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force members is to serve as community liaisons to circulate information to and from fellow community members. When the CTF met online today, one member explained all she’s hearing from everyone with whom she talks is “When? When? When?” regarding a bridge-reopening date.

No date yet. But today’s meeting had a definite “light at the end of the tunnel” – well, bridge – mood.

BRIDGE UPDATES: SDOT’s Heather Marx recapped what’s happening now with repairs, including the first two deliveries of specialized structural concrete Saturday and Wednesday.

The nesting pair of peregrine falcons on the bridge have required coordination with the state and creation of a “falcon management plan,” just approved today, less than a week after the nesting birds were found.

They’re above Pier 15, on the west side of the bridge, she said. (In Q&A, she said the chicks are expected to hatch in June.) Because of the birds, crews have to make “some changes” in how they’re working but will, Marx added, be able to continue working. Here’s the overall status report:

Now – here’s what’s affecting the schedule as they approach reopening, and what else will be done before it happens:

More concrete is expected next week, but Marx repeated what she’s said before – they can’t reassess the schedule until “the last pour” – next week will be the third, of six that are needed. They expect to set the reopening date a month in advance – maybe a bit less, she said. But she cautioned strongly against trying to guess or estimate the date before there’s an announcement.

Asked for more details on pours, she said they’ve divided the bridge into six sections and estimate they need one pour per section – first pour, for example, was about 35 cubic yards. The timing is uncertain because concrete plants aren’t back up to full capacity. If they could get concrete faster, is waiting required between pours? she was asked. In short, no. But they have to ensure all the concrete will have at least 28 days to cure.

Later, responding to a question, Marx said the bridge project not only is on budget, but is likely to come in under budget. The budget was a “conservative” estimate. So what happens to any unspent money? asked West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Marx replied she expects “good-faith conversations with the council” will ensue – “there are plenty of other bridges in this town that could use whatever’s left over.”

Besides the to-do list for reopening, there’s also the to-undo list. That was mentioned briefly at a previous meeting and Marx went into details at this one:

Most of what’s been done, though, is permanent – radar speed signs, speed humps, etc. Now for the big picture on that:

RECONNECT WEST SEATTLE: SDOT’s Sara Zora recapped what was done in the first quarter; some work’s still ahead, like the Dumar/Orchard rapid-flashing beacon, which is now delayed until at least mid-June because they couldn’t get all needed utility partners to coordinate.

Data indicates the Home Zone projects have helped the side streets where they’ve been installed, Zora said:

They’re surveying neighbors in detour neighborhoods about whether to keep Stay Healthy Streets permanent, she said. Here’s what’s yet to come – note that some will start after the bridge reopens, such as the permanent signal at Highland Park Way/Holden:

DETOUR & LOW BRIDGE TRAFFIC: Data analyst Sam Marshall presented the numbers. Citywide, traffic is 30% below 2019 levels as of March – even more traffic is back on Saturday. In West Seattle, here’s how the detour routes are stacking up:

Here’s how the conditional use of the low bridge is going:

The low bridge remains “under thresholds” that would have required rolling back some access. But they’re not adding any new categories either.

SPEAKING OF THE LOW BRIDGE: Its maintenance/repair work is still set to start soon. Work platforms are being built off-site right now and are scheduled to be hoisted in May.

SDOT is working with the US Coast Guard to get “deviations” approved for the low bridge – maritime, not surface – while the hoisting happens. Epoxy injection and carbon-fiber wrapping will be done to the low bridge, as with the high bridge.

Earlier in the meeting:

TASK FORCE REFLECTIONS: CTF co-chair Paulina López facilitated this section toward the start of the meeting. CTF member Deb Barker said all she hears from community members is “When? When? When?” CTF member Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) said a friend who works in SODO is reporting “excruciatingly long” commutes, while a client who takes the bus says theirs has been quicker than ever – the bus isn’t full and neither are the roads. WTF member Chris Mackay of the West Seattle Junction Association reminded everyone that

MOMENT OF SILENCE: The meeting started with a moment of silence for two people killed in traffic incidents in recent months – including what was described as a 64-year-old woman “killed while walking in Highland Park.” Our archives from that date don’t include a deadly incident; checking the 911 logs, we saw an evening medical callout at 2nd SW/Highland Park Way near the 1st Avenue South Bridge. We’re following up to try to find out more.

ONE MORE MEETING? CTF co-chair Greg Nickels expressed hopes are that the next meeting in early June (likely June 9th but could be a day earlier) will be the last one – assuming the bridge-reopening date is set by then – and would be celebratory more than anything else. The CTF, an advisory group, has met more than two dozen times since June 2020; here’s our coverage of the first meeting, at which the road ahead was seen as “a long journey,” as indeed it’s been.

18 Replies to "'When? When? When?' West Seattle Bridge reopening questions - and birds! - @ Community Task Force meeting"

  • Blbl April 21, 2022 (9:26 pm)

    A moment of silence? That’s extremely inappropriate. If some mid-level bureaucrat uses my death to send a political anti-car message, I will be doing some serious haunting. 

    • CAM April 21, 2022 (10:08 pm)

      What about that was anticar? At most it seems anti bad driving or anti road rage, as in calm down and stop speeding and watch for pedestrians. But more than anything, it seemed to be that these were people whose families have been irreparably harmed by the fallout of this situation and they took a moment to recognize it. Not everything is a conspiracy. 

    • Adam April 22, 2022 (8:01 am)

      What a strange take-a-way from this article.  Perhaps instead of looking a reason to feel victimized, have some compassion for those who died. 

    • miws April 22, 2022 (10:25 am)

      Don’t worry, BLBL, your car will get over its hurt feelings… —Mike

    • Ban’em April 22, 2022 (12:28 pm)

      Ban cars

  • Junctioneer April 22, 2022 (6:35 am)

    Somewhat confused, our bridge Peregrines keep up their nest year round right? And SDOT helped their initial nest? How were they “just found”? I’m sure there is an explanation, I’m just confused about what I am missing.

    • Rick April 23, 2022 (6:29 pm)

      Do you actually believe they’ll keep you informed of things they don’t want you to know?

  • SlimJim April 22, 2022 (9:22 am)

    Ditto to Junctioneer’s comment. The Peregrines nesting on the bridge have done so for many years. How were they just found and requiring plans to change?

  • Undo the 99 bus lane April 22, 2022 (9:39 am)

    On the subject of undoing, how about adding removing the bus lane on 99 Northbound from Spokane Viaduct to the Alaska Way / 1st Ave exit.  It was not helping reduce congestion for the commute hours nor was it reducing much time for the buses that used the lane since they were often caught behind the long line waiting to merge where the bus lane begins. “Too soon?” ; )

    • Kevin on Delridge April 22, 2022 (10:09 am)

      Do you have any data for your claims?

      ”It was not helping reduce congestion.”
      ”Nor was is reducing much time for the buses.”

      Is removing it the best and only option assuming your “data” is correct?

      • Burgerman April 24, 2022 (7:04 pm)

        I can attest he’s right. What’s your assertion?Having to wait for the merging traffic from the west Seattle bridge onto NB 99 affects the buses (and traffic) off the WSB, without any doubt. All you have to do is sit and watch the traffic or be stuck in it, to see what is going on. Many people have reported backups, including those who ride the bus, as a result of the unnecessary merging caused by that unnecessary, and short, bus lane.Please don’t ask for data that no one has access to, just to be snarky and prove some kind of “point.”

  • Rose April 22, 2022 (11:08 am)

    I know this is super random, but I would love to know how many cars are fined for crossing at the non-allowed times. How much money has that brought in and where does that money go?

  • KD April 22, 2022 (1:22 pm)

    Pffffffftt!!! 😝😜 Highland Park and surrounding feeder neighborhoods (Delridge corridor, South Park, Roxbury corridor and any others) that have taken the daily brunt (yes 7 days a week, not just work week) of the WSBridge closure should be the ones to celebrate and EXHALE once it goes back to normal (is anything normal or old ways anymore with the 2 year closure and the combined 2 year pandemic changes that have affected everything) I’m dreaming of the hopefully return to regular traffic patterns and no more all day congestion. 

  • WSB April 22, 2022 (5:24 pm)

    I asked SDOT about the birds. (No photos, sorry.) Yes, they’ve nested there before but, according to SDOT, “They typically leave the bridge after their nesting season and then return most years in the spring. But they did not nest in this location last year, so they’ve been absent from the bridge since 2020.” That’s why finding them this year was somewhat unexpected. – TR

    • junctioneer April 23, 2022 (9:56 pm)

      Super helpful, thanks. Interesting they took a hiatus, I wonder if they didn’t nest last year due to construction. Or if it’s a different pair. Glad they’re back!

  • Jill Loblaw April 24, 2022 (8:11 am)

    We should all be thankful and appreciate the fact that we made it through a difficult period of time for both residents and businesses of West Seattle. And whoever said ban cars has a very simpleton idea of where folks commute to. Hint: it’s not all to downtown Seattle. Furthermore, a Gibb’s smack to those who continue to treat West Marginal Way as a personal speedway. 🙄 Driving way too fast and tailgating is a recipe for an accident.

  • Leon S Kennedy April 25, 2022 (12:55 am)

    Has nobody realized how much a big roundabout would improve the flow of traffic at the 5-way intersection at W Marginal Way @ Chelan Ave @ SW Spokane @ Delridge Way SW?It’s insane that no one has even proposed this yet.        

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