The sign has the headline: The West Seattle Bridge is open, as of 21 hours ago, after its 2 1/2-year closure. People started celebrating immediately last night by driving across the bridge, honking their car horns, some even going up on the Andover pedestrian bridge to exuberantly cheer. Today, the celebration continued, with perhaps the biggest party at Ounces Tap Room and Beer Garden, continuing on into the evening.
Yesterday, Ounces had a pre-reopening party with an island theme, marking the last day of West Seattle’s status as an “accidental island.” Then just after 9 pm last night – as seen in video we featured – co-proprietor Laurel Trujillo watched an SDOT worker open the Delridge entrance to the bridge, right across from Ounces. She said they’d been seeing “false alarms” all day and was elated when it opened for real
This afternoon, all smiles, she told us they just felt the community deserved a party, so they threw one all weekend. She isn’t sure how the reopening will affect their business, except for increased visibility – she’s grateful for community support that continued through the closure and the pandemic. (Watch for other businesses’ festivities as the week ahead unfolds.)
Also this afternoon, we talked with SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge program director Heather Marx, who gave a post-reopening media briefing on the northwest corner of 35th and Fauntleroy, suddenly a much busier intersection with the bridge back in business. Wearing a “Reunited” commemorative T-shirt, Marx – a West Seattle resident – said all had gone well so far. Here’s the unedited Q&A, which lasted 15 minutes:
Key points: The West Seattle Bridge has the “most sophisticated monitoring system of any bridge in Seattle’s (city) inventory” so they’re getting info on a “minute-by-minute basis.” Formal inspections will be done every two weeks for the first three months, then once a year, then every two years. They will of course be watching the traffic patterns, since the pandemic has changed where and how people work; they’ll be monitoring feeder streets’ traffic patterns and signals too, and adjusting as necessary. The work of removing detour/closure signs will likely continue for much of the next week; if you see anything left behind, please notify SDOT at 206-684-ROAD. Marx – who hadn’t driven across the bridge yet as of the 1:30 pm briefing – said she was going to go check detour routes herself later in the day. Looking even further into the future, she reiterated that the repairs are expected to facilitate the bridge lasting its originally planned lifespan – almost 40 more years. But if it doesn’t, the replacement discussions that happened early in the closure period have left the city with a 30 percent design with which they could continue working immediately.
There was some talk about people speeding across the bridge last night and today, and Marx said her big request for people on all city streets was to “slow down.” And if anybody’s planning to try some bus-lane cheating, she warned that “Officer Friendly” will be back to watch for that. Speaking of watching, we’ll be chronicling the first post-reopening West Seattle Bridge morning commute starting by 6 am Monday.