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.

15 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE REOPENING: Day 1 notes"

  • JB September 18, 2022 (6:44 pm)

    For 2 1/2 years I’ve been hearing nothing but vitriol towards Heather Marx. I never paid much attention to it, but it was loud and it was prevalent. But after watching this 15 minute video, I find her to be knowledgable, credible, and professional. Seems to me like she (and her team) did a great job ensuring that the bridge was repaired properly, under budget, and in a time frame that allowed safety to be paramount. That’s exactly what I’d want from a public official. Appears to me like a job well done, Heather!

    • Heather Marx September 19, 2022 (6:00 am)

      Thank you, JB

    • Frustrated September 19, 2022 (6:04 am)

      Hear hear!This is going to make people angry but the same vitriolic, don’t-trust-the-experts streak that propels MAGA is prevalent here in liberal Seattle too. The reaction to the bridge repairs are a good example of this. Some introspection would be nice.

      • Not MAGA September 19, 2022 (11:52 am)

        You’ve got to be kidding.  LOL at these city apologists trying to intimidate critics by painting them as Trump supporters.  Thankfully not working much anymore.  Not angry, actually laughing at your ridiculous comment.

      • Jort September 20, 2022 (3:18 am)

        People were so angry about having to take an extra 10 minutes to Costco that they were willing to state as fact, with zero evidence whatsoever, that SDOT and city officials were engaged in outright fraud and criminal negligence. Do not ascribe to malice what can easily be attributed to a foolish, unsustainable over-reliance on car-centered infrastructure that will cost more to maintain than any car driver is ever going to be willing to pay for. America erred in designing all transportation almost solely around the automobile; this is inarguable and a flat, undebatable fact. The bill for this mistake is presently coming due and will be passed down as a burden to future generations who, hopefully, will have the critical thought to arrest the death spiral.

    • KM September 19, 2022 (9:11 am)

      I reached out to Heather about a few safety improvements I wanted to see on the reroute and though the response wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, Heather was really kind and professional. She serves in a challenging position that I’m not sure most of the stone throwers would have the guts or skills to take on. I hope she can take some well-deserved time off!

    • Pietro September 19, 2022 (10:28 am)

      Imagine having a job where even if you do everything right you will still get raked over the coals for not doing it “right enough.”  No matter how successfully this project went the armchair bridge engineer brigade would still have been rankled, taking their angst out via their keyboards.  Could some aspects of this project and its communication have been done better?  Certainly.  Those casting aspersions should maybe take a look in the mirror and go find a more productive hobby.  Cheers to the bridge reopening.

  • Tim September 18, 2022 (7:08 pm)

    An interesting data point would be Ounces patrons who drove the bridge — maybe incl # of ounces.

    • waikikigirl September 19, 2022 (6:25 am)

       Good point Tim!

  • Sukmi Koch September 19, 2022 (6:13 am)

    Why do the federal minimum 2 years? Did they learn their lesson? 

    • M September 19, 2022 (7:28 am)

      I agree. After all that’s happened, I assumed more frequent (and thorough) inspections would be planned. 

    • Lagartija Nick September 19, 2022 (8:16 am)

      Your moniker is rude (are you 12?) and your assertion is false. “Formal inspections will be every two weeks for the first three months, then once a year, then every two years.” That is on top of the minute by minute 24/7 real time data they will get from the new monitoring systems. This will be the most heavily monitored and inspected bridge in Seattle’s inventory. 

  • Jason Correa September 19, 2022 (7:46 am)

    Question. I ordered one of those reunited t shirts. Does anyone know where we pick them up? I can’t find the information in my email. 

  • lpws September 19, 2022 (7:35 pm)

    Thanks for the reporting.

    Do we know when the left turn from 35th onto the bridge will become protected again?

    • WSB September 19, 2022 (8:14 pm)

      If you mean the signage, we were CC’d on an email thread today that indicated that’s one of the signs that hadn’t been replaced yet but they’re working on it.

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