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West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, report #2: Cost-Benefit Analysis review

(SDOT video of Wednesday’s full Community Task Force meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A day and a half after receiving the information-dense Cost-Benefit Analysis reviewing West Seattle Bridge options, Community Task Force members got their first chance to ask questions about it.

The 89-page report was almost done before the ballyhooed new “rapid span replacement” possibility went public, so the discussion took place somewhat in its shadow, and immediately after the first half of Wednesday’s CTF meeting was spent on a presentation on that unvetted option (WSB coverage here) – something that hasn’t been done for any of the other possibilities, so far.

SDOT‘s bridge-project leader Heather Marx opened with a warning: “None of the numbers you see here should be referred to as ‘estimates’ SDOT would have preferred ranges but this type of study requires choosing a number, she said. She also stressed what the CBA is not:

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VIDEO: Mostly new West Seattle Bridge by 2023? Community Task Force gets briefed on ‘rapid span replacement’ concept

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Repaired bridge in 2022 or mostly new bridge in 2023?

That’s what the repair-or-replace decision could boil down to, now that a “rapid span replacement” has been vaulted into the mix.

The first hour of today’s Community Task Force meeting was devoted to an exploration of that concept. We’ll report separately tonight on the second part of the meeting, a discussion of the newly released Cost-Benefit Analysis, which does not include the “rapid span replacement,” though SDOT‘s project team points out that would fall in the CBA’s Alternative 4 “superstructure replacement” option.

If you missed the meeting (the viewing link was changed at the last minute), here’s the hour-long presentation and discussion of the new concept, which was described more than once during the meeting as “intriguing”:

Shown during the presentation was this animation of how the span replacement would be installed:

The presentation was given by Ted Zoli of HNTB, the firm the city hired this summer to design a replacement regardless of whether the decision is to repair or replace.

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From eight-digit repair to ten-digit tunnel: Here’s the West Seattle Bridge Cost-Benefit Analysis

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Just released by SDOT, here’s the Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) meant to help inform the city’s decision of what to do about the seven-months-closed West Seattle Bridge:

(It’s also on the city website.)

Though it looks at six options for repairing or replacing the bridge, the renderings and costs are NOT by any means the final set of options – they’re what was roughed out for comparison purposes. It should also be noted that the CBA does NOT address the newly emerged option that some have nicknamed “rapid replacement” – though that will be explained at tomorrow’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, along with the CBA. But if you just want to skip ahead to the bottom line, those estimates are on page 68 of the 89-page document, with basic up-front construction cost rough estimates from $47 million for repairs to $1.9 billion for an immersed-tube tunnel.

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WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: CBA today, meeting tomorrow, and 2 other notes

(Early-morning photo by Tony Welch)

West Seattle Bridge notes, three days shy of 7 months since the bridge was closed:

AWAITING THE COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS: This much-awaited document, prepared to play a key role in the repair-or-replace dedision, was supposed to be made public Monday; SDOT sent it to Community Task Force members late last night and is expected to release it more widely later today. We’ll publish a separate report once it’s out.

TASK FORCE MEETING TOMORROW: As previously reported here, the original plan for Mayor Jenny Durkan to announce her repair-or-replace decision to the CTF tomorrow is now off (no new date yet) – the task force will instead be discussing the CBA when they meet online at noon Wednesday (October 21st). They’re also going to hear more details on the “rapid replacement” proposal that suddenly emerged earlier this month. Here’s the draft agenda; here’s the link (UPDATED) for the YouTube stream of the meeting. If you have questions, the email address remains

STABILIZATION WORK: SDOT’s weekly update says the release of the stuck bearing on Pier 18 could happen by the end of this week.

PORT COMMISSION CHAIR’S COMMENTS: During a media briefing this morning on monthly cargo volumes, Seattle Port Commission chair Peter Steinbrueck – who’s also one of the elected officials on the CTF – spoke briefly about the impending repair-or-replace decision. He said he feels there’s not enough information yet for the port to support one option or the other, so both pathways should continue to be studied. The port’s biggest stake in the game is low-bridge accessibility, with the low bridge under extra strain because of the high-bridge closure.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Stuck truck under West Seattle Bridge

Thanks to John for the photo and tip: That truck got stuck trying to U-turn under the West Seattle Bridge and is now blocking part of Spokane St. just east of Harbor/Avalon. Avoid that area for a while.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s how that West Seattle Bridge survey turned out

(WSB photo)

Last Monday night, we reported on City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s unofficial survey asking whether you support repairing the West Seattle Bridge or replacing it. She announced results in her newest weekly update:

On October 12 at approximately 7 p.m., I conducted an online survey asking whether people support a repair or a replacement of the West Seattle Bridge.

It’s not a scientific survey, and geographic responses aren’t representative of District 1 overall. That said, it is useful for receiving feedback from constituents at this point in time. Thank you to all who engaged.

As of 7 p.m. on October 14, approximately 7,000 people had participated and of them, 59.8% favored repair, 36% supported replacement, and 4.2% supported other.

39% of replies were from 98116, the zip code furthest north in West Seattle. Other zip codes, such as 98106 and 98126, stretch from north to south, 98126 is in the central portion, 98106 in the eastern portion. 98136 is the SW portion of West Seattle, and 98108 includes South Park. 98146 includes the very southwest portions of the city.

Zip Repair Replace % of Total Replies
98116 66.8% 29.6% 39% of total
98126 64.7% 31.39% 24% of total
98136 58.6% 37.1% 16% of total
98106 41.7% 54.6% 16% of total
98146 37.3% 60% 4% of total
98108 34% 66% 1% of total

Her weekly update also recapped the major headlines from last week’s extra meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, which we covered Wednesday afternoon – that the Cost-Benefit Analysis won’t be out until next week, so the timeline for the mayor’s decision is pushed back, and that a new “rapid replacement” option had surfaced. Both the CBA and the new option will be discussed at the next CTF meeting, noon Wednesday (October 21st) online.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Decision date moved back, ‘rapid replacement’ possibility suddenly surfaces, as Community Task Force members discuss where they’re leaning

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two headlines emerged as the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force gathered online this afternoon for a between-meetings discussion:

First, the expectation that Mayor Jenny Durkan would announce a “repair or replace?” decision at next Wednesday’s CTF meeting is no longer the plan – the final Cost-Benefit Analysis won’t even be ready for the CTF to look at until Monday, so they’ll be discussing it next week rather than making, or hearing, a recommendation.

Second, a ‘rapid replacement” possibility is suddenly in play – modeled after the Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont, built in two years.

(Lake Champlain Bridge, NYDOT photo)

More about that, the CTF was told, will be presented at next week’s meeting. Today was not meant to be a time for presentations, but more an hour and a half of temperature-taking. As co-chair Paulina Lopez explained, they wanted to spend more time “to hear from each other.”

Ahead, how that unfolded: Read More

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Councilmember Herbold asks you – repair or replace? Plus, 3 other notes

(WSB photo)

West Seattle Bridge notes tonight as the mayor’s repair-or-replace decision nears:

COUNCILMEMBER’S POLL: West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold sent email tonight launching a survey to ask you – repair or replace? You can answer here. Her email announcing the survey recaps what SDOT presented at last week’s Community Task Force meeting (WSB coverage here), from the forthcoming Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA).

ABOUT THAT ANALYSIS: The day after the meeting, we asked SDOT if the full CBA document is available yet, or at least the missing cost-in-dollars projections. They replied today:

The final Cost-Benefit Analysis is not yet complete.

As you know, we are at zero percent design. We do not have exact cost estimates at this point and, from a Cost-Benefit Analysis perspective, it is more important to have apples to apples comparisons of the scale of various alternatives. The most critical aspect is understanding which options would likely cost more than the other to carry out (repair or replace) and which would be more costly over the long-run in terms of operations and maintenance. As we finalize the Cost-Benefit Analysis, we will be able to provide more detail on the conceptual cost estimates we have developed through the CBA process.

ABOUT THE CAUSE: Another followup question we asked was for elaboration on Technical Advisory Panel co-chair Barbara Moffat‘s mention during last week’s meeting that they now understand what went wrong with the bridge. Here’s the reply we got, also today: “While our confidence in our understanding of the physics affecting the bridge has grown with time as we’ve been able to test our advanced engineering modeling by watching the bridge behave as predicted in response to seasonal temperature changes and our initial stabilization efforts, it may never be possible to determine with 100% certainty a single underlying cause of the bridge cracking, or even if there was a single isolated cause.” We’ll keep following up.

STABILIZATION UPDATE: SDOT is posting stabilization updates every Monday; today’s edition is here. Key points include that the release of the stuck Pier 18 bearing might happen as soon as next week, as well as a note that those two work platforms under the bridge will likely be there until late November.

As West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force gets more repair-vs.-replace info, members suggest something major is missing

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“This has been bad. It’s been awful for West Seattle. And there’s no immediate fix … no matter what options we take here, we’re in this for a number of years.”

That’s part of what Mayor Jenny Durkan told the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force today at its 10th meeting, two weeks before she is expected to announce her choice between “repair now and replace later” or “proceed directly to replacement.”

But the centerpiece of the meeting came in toplines from the report that is supposed to shape her decision, along with input from the CTF and the Technical Advisory Panel: The Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). And members voiced concern that it doesn’t give enough consideration to the misery the mayor mentioned. The toplines presented by SDOT seemed to be leaning toward “proceed directly to replacement,” but without some key information: Cost estimates in dollars, and cost estimates in impacts to area residents and businesses.

Though the mayor spoke first, as one CTF member observed, it would have been more helpful for the CBA toplines to have been presented first, so that’s where we’re starting, right after the meeting video:

(Note: Meeting stopped for 15 minutes starting 55 minutes in due to technical trouble)
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WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Mayor to talk with Community Task Force again

(WSB photo, Monday)

As West Seattle Bridge stabilization work continues, so does the road to the repair-or-replace decision. When the Community Task Force meets tomorrow (Wednesday, October 7th, noon) for the 10th time, its three-dozen-plus members are scheduled to talk again with Mayor Jenny Durkan. She last spoke at a CTF meeting in mid-August (WSB coverage here); tomorrow, she will “set expectations/establish goals for bridge repair/replace decision” and define/clarify “the multiple inputs for (the) decision,” according to the agenda. Then in two weeks, she’ll be back to announce/discuss the decision. Since our first preview of tomorrow’s meeting, they’ve dropped plans to break into two discussion groups during tomorrow’s meeting, so this is the only link you’ll need to watch it, live or later.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Coalition’s ‘video wall’ debuts; Community Task Force meets Wednesday

Two West Seattle Bridge notes tonight:

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE NOW ‘VIDEO WALL’: With the repair-or-replace decision due before the month is out, the community coalition West Seattle Bridge NOW continues pressing for a quick fix. Last month we reported on their call for people to send videos telling their stories underscoring that plea. WSBN has now published some of them as a “video wall” here, featuring West Seattleites from students to seniors. “We’re really excited about how this turned out,” says WSBN’s Kevin Broveleit.

NEXT COMMUNITY TASK FORCE MEETING: The livestream viewing links are already set for the next West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, coming up at noon this Wednesday (October 7th) – the main link is here, and that will include one of the breakout-discussion groups during the meeting; the other discussion group will break off to this link. We don’t have the agenda yet, so we don’t know exactly when in the meeting that’s scheduled to happen. But the centerpiece of the meeting is expected to be information from the Cost-Benefit Analysis – the report that will shape the repair-or-replace decision before the month ends.

UPDATE: Councilmember Herbold’s Town Hall, hour 2 – West Seattle Bridge


6:44 PM: Our coverage of West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s Town Hall continues – we covered the first hour, on public safety, separately, and now it’s on to the second hour, about the West Seattle Bridge closure, in its seventh month. Really only 3/4 of an hour left, since the public-safety discussion ran long, and it’s starting with SDOT’s bridge project leader Heather Marx making a presentation. A lot of this covers ground we have covered repeatedly – including going all the way back to the March 23rd closure – so we’ll just note anything new that arises.

6:51 PM: Interesting datapoint, Marx mentions that the post-tensioning steel brackets being used as part of the stabilization were made at Vigor in the Portland area. And she reiterates that the Cost-Benefit Analysis is under way to shape the “repair or replace?” decision, which the Community Task Force will weigh in on, though if “replace” is the decision, the CBA does not include a final decision of HOW to replace it – that is the separate Type/Size/Location study. Marx says the mayor will “visit the Task Force to announce her decision and take questions.” (If that’s at a regular Task Force meeting, it wouldn’t be any sooner than October 21st, on the current schedule.)

6:58 PM: Now it’s on to Sara Zora, SDOT’s new “mobility manager” handling the Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation program that’s part of the bridge project. She touches on the low bridge and its upcoming improvements, plus the evolving access policy, and the Community Task Force subcommittee that will work on it. She also had a bit of new information on what the enforcement cameras – pole-mounted – will look like. Then she moves on to West Marginal Way (see our recent story on the 6 planned/proposed changes). She reiterates that two of those changes – bike lane and freight lane – are still pending more “stakeholder engagement.”

7:11 PM: Finally to Q&A. First question Callanan reads is about whether the immersed-tube tunnel option is getting proper evaluation, since consultant HNTB specializes in bridges. Yes, says Marx. “To say that they don’t have experience in tunneling is untrue,” she adds, saying they’ve gone to lengths to explore the ITT in every aspect, and to constantly have it suggested that they’re not is “insulting.”

Next – why the punitive approach on the low bridge? “It feels like the city doesn’t appreciate what residents are going through.” Herbold takes this on first. She reiterates that the enforcement cameras will start with only warnings through year’s end. The state legislation that authorized it was intended to keep unauthorized vehicles out of transit lanes, and that’s “the function of the lower-level bridge right now.” It’s important that people respect its limited capacity, she stresses. When ticketing starts, it’ll be $75. Then she hands it over to Marx to talk about the low bridge’s capacity: 450 an hour “before we start impacting emergency services,” as she’s said at many briefings before. “What automated enforcement allows us to do is to be more finely grained” about access – perhaps allowing medical professionals, people who need life-saving medical treatments. She says she does understand as she lives in here and has a family and transportation challenges too: “We’re all in this together … The city IS on your side … We really have to protect the low bridge for emergency services.” Herbold notes that the camera use also will allow SDOT to better examine traffic patterns on the low bridge, which could in turn lead to other policy changes for usage. “We’re all pushing SDOT to … examine these policies.”

7:19 PM: Next Q, any plan to encourage better usage of park and rides, add more, encourage more water taxi usage, etc.? “All those ideas are definitely in play at this time,” Zora replies. Is there a time frame? Callanan follows up. Next few months, says Zora. They’re taking into account all the feedback from the 15,000+ respondents to the mobility survey.

Next Q, what will they do to encourage repair-or-replace crew to work as fast as possible? Marx replies, “How many crews and the hours of work are ‘means and methods,’ and we generally leave that up to the contractor … One of the things we can do is include some pay for performance measures,” such as a financial incentive for delivering early. The question is “absolutely valid,” she affirms.

Then: Why hasn’t there been much discussion about combining with light rail? “It’s a little bit complicated,” says Marx, adding that they are continuing to talk with Sound Transit about “the advisability of combining both bridges.” (ST has always been planning its own cross-Duwamish bridge, you might recall.) There might be wisdom in having two separate structures, she says. “There are good reasons to combine the structures, good reasons to keep them separate … you can rest assured those conversations are happening on a weekly basis.” Herbold adds that if a new West Seattle structure is built, it would be ’24-’26, but ST’s timeline is years later. She says she sent a letter about including this in the draft Environmental Impact Statement that ST is working on; they said it can’t be included but there’s “potential they could add it for analysis in the final EIS.”

7:27 PM: Why couldn’t the Longhouse just get a simple crosswalk? Marx explains that they have to have a signal before they can put in a crosswalk, and that (as mentioned in the West Marginal Way presentation) it will all be fully funded by the bridge project. “The interim signal will be installed in mid-2021,” Zora notes. (As we’ve reported, and as Marx added, dealing with the railroad tracks is what will take extra time.)

7:30 PM: This is wrapping up. In closing, Herbold says her office has ‘a big backlog of emails” and she and her staff are “doing everything we can” to get answers. Callanan says unanswered questions from tonight will be forwarded to her office too.

WHAT’S NEXT: Two related meetings are coming up next Wednesday (October 7th) – the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meets at noon, and the District 1 Community Network is scheduled to have Councilmember Herbold as a guest at 7 pm. We’ll have connection information on both as they get closer.

CITY BUDGET PROPOSAL: West Seattle Bridge funding, Parks changes, and other toplines of interest

Just a week after the conclusion of a battle over “rebalancing” the current city budget, the 2-month process of working on a new budget has just begun. Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s proposal is now public, released in connection with the prerecorded speech you can watch above. Here’s the 751-page document:

Reporters got a preview this morning, with the mayor as well as city budget director Ben Noble and staff; we participated. It’s a $6.5 billion budget – about $2 billion of that for the city-run utilities. While the mayor says the COVID-19-caused shortfall will be largely covered by the new “JumpStart” tax, she also said more than once that it’s time to get busy on a city income tax.

From both the briefing and our scan of the document, here are some specific points of interest:

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: The budget proposes $100 million – the $70 million recently advanced by a City Council vote, and $30 million more. We asked at the briefing, what happens if it costs more to get the bridge back in service, whether by repairs or replacement? Noble said they’re well aware they’ll likely need to spend more, and SDOT is working on that. The mayor added that they’re hoping for state/federal assistance – the former in recognition of the bridge serving the port, “the heartbeat for much of the commerce in the Pacific Northwest,” the latter because they already have “broad support” from our state’s congressional delegation. “In any other year, this would be” the budget headline, Durkan observed, but this year, the pandemic and the fight for equity are atop the list. She also noted that the city is working on “ways to help businesses” as well as mobility issues for people ‘including front-line health-care workers.” Another bridge-related expenditure mentioned at the briefing: $4 million to continue stationing an extra Seattle Fire ladder truck and medic unit on this side of the Duwamish River while the bridge is out.

PARKS: With so much park property in West Seattle, this spending is always of interest. The mayor’s budget anticipates only opening four of the city’s 10 swimming pools next year. Southwest Pool is one of them, but this means Colman Pool will be closed for a second year. Hiawatha Community Center will be closed all year, though that’s planned in connection with the stabilization work. The budget also proposes converting Alki Community Center from a full-service community center “to a childcare and preschool hub,” which would save $100,000 in operating costs. Many capital projects will remain deferred – West Seattle has several in waiting, including three landbanked parks (Junction, Morgan expansion, and 48th/Charlestown). The prospect of a new Park District levy – deferred for a year though the current one is expiring now – might be needed to raise money for capital projects.

POLICE/LAW: The City Attorney’s Office plans to go back to combining the Precinct Liaison positions for the South and Southwest Precincts. As for the public-safety-reform big picture, from the “budget book” overview:

• The Seattle Police Department was budgeted for 1,422 sworn officers in the 2020 Adopted budget, but will only be funded for 1,400 in 2021. The IDT referenced above will work in the fall of 2020 and into early 2021 to assess the appropriate force size for the long run.

• SPD’s Parking Enforcement unit and its 120 employees will be transferred to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

• The Office of Emergency Management, which coordinates the City’s efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies, will be moved out of SPD and become an independent office.

• The existing 9-1-1 Communications Center, currently housed in SPD, will also be transferred out into its own independent, stand-alone unit. As non-sworn, community-based alternative responses to calls are developed, the 9-1-1 Communications Center, now to be called the Seattle Emergency Communications Center, will be crucial in dispatching those responses.

• The 2021 budget will make permanent the transfer of the Seattle Police Department’s Victim Advocacy Team to the Human Services Department (HSD). This transfer was initially made by the City Council in the 2020 2nd Quarter Supplemental Budget Ordinance. This team is comprised of 11 FTEs and a budget of $1.25 million. These resources will be added to the proposed new Safe and Thriving Communities Division in HSD.

(Here’s how Chief Adrian Diaz summarizes it.) The mayor said she’ll unveil her vision for the future of the homelessness-addressing Navigation Team separately, soon. Meantime, no, there is NOT any proposal to close the Southwest Precinct, as once suggested by the former chief. Its operational budget is in for $17 million, down from $18 million this year.

SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY: One thing noted in passing during the briefing, and also underscored in the “budget book” (page 147) – some library-levy dollars that were supposed to go toward expanded hours will instead be shifted to cover basic services/operations. So that could mean reduced hours once libraries are fully open again.

OTHER DEPARTMENTS: We’re still reading! More coverage to come.

WHAT’S NEXT: The budget proposal goes to the City Council, and they start almost two months of meetings, hearings, proposals, and counterproposals. First meeting is tomorrow, 9:30 am – here’s the agenda. Meantime, there’s of course a lot more in the budget, and we’ll


4 bridge-related notes:

STABILIZATION-WORK UPDATE: That photo of the bridge’s underside, credited to Alex Francis, is part of this week’s SDOT update on bridge-stabilization work. From the update:

This week, the contractor is planning to:

*Continue prepping for the post-tensioning work
*Continue prepping for Pier 18 access
*Continue inspecting, mapping, and filling cracks

The work continues atop, beneath, and inside the bridge.

MAYOR’S BUDGET PLAN: With the repair-or-replace decision still up to a month away, what will Mayor Jenny Durkan propose for the bridge in her 2021 budget? We’ll find out in a few hours – her plan goes public at 1 pm today, and the council’s budget work starts tomorrow. So far, the city has allotted $70 million via an “interfund loan,” but that’s just a down payment. The council doesn’t finalize the budget until November, so there’s theoretically time for change once the decision is in.

CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERATION: After the mayor’s presentation, the council has its weekly business meeting at 2 pm today, one day later than usual because of Yom Kippur. Besides the low-bridge-camera legislation we reported on Monday, the agenda has one other bridge-related item. A resolution calling for review of potential Comprehensive Plan amendments that would be considered next year includes one now described as a “review of policies and maps in the Comprehensive Plan to determine whether any changes are warranted due to the failure of the West Seattle Bridge.” This is a revision of the proposal from community member Deb Barker, which we first reported on three weeks ago.

REMINDER – TOWN HALL TOMORROW NIGHT: The bridge is scheduled to be the focus of the second hour of City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s two-hour online “town hall” 5:30-7:30 pm Wednesday (as announced last Friday). To get the viewing link, and info on asking questions, you have to RSVP here.

TOWN HALL: Councilmember Lisa Herbold announces one for September 30th, focused on public safety & West Seattle Bridge

For the first time since April, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold will preside over an online “town hall.” The one five months ago (WSB coverage here) was all about the West Seattle Bridge; this one is scheduled to start with an hour about public safety, followed by an hour about the bridge. The announcement is in her just-published weekly update:

On September 30, I will co-host a District 1 Town Hall on public safety and the West Seattle Bridge, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

SPD Chief Diaz and SW Precinct Captain Grossman will be attending, along with SDOT Director Zimbabwe. There will also be a representative from LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) to talk about the expansion of the program to the SW Precinct.

The first hour will be on public safety, and the second hour will be on the West Seattle Bridge. There will be plenty of time for questions on each topic.

You can RSVP (here); later in the day Tuesday we’ll e-mail information to the RSVP list about how to participate in the Q&A, and view the town hall.

As noted further into Herbold’s weekly update, Wednesday is also the day the council starts work on the next budget, with the mayor officially delivering her proposal the day before.

VIDEO: Six months post-closure, West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force awaits decision-shaping data

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Six months ago, the West Seattle Bridge was closed with just a few hours’ notice.

When, or if, it will reopen, remains undetermined.

But one thing’s for sure – the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force is getting close to one of its milestones in the process of helping with the decision about the bridge’s fate.

“Process” is the key word here, as noted by more than one person Wednesday afternoon during the all-volunteer task force’s ninth meeting. Much of the meeting focused on the process of developing the Cost-Benefit Analysis that is expected to be the key to the repair-or-replace decision later this fall.

Here’s how the meeting went:

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FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge NOW hears back from the mayor

(Photo by Tony Welch)

One week ago, we noted that the community coalition West Seattle Bridge NOW had yet to hear back from the mayor after sending her a letter imploring a fast fix for the six-months-closed bridge. That spurred the coalition to work on what you might call a “video petition” (still in progress). But in the meantime, WSBN’s Kevin Broveleit tells WSB they did finally get a mayoral response – it’s posted in full on the coalition website. No major revelations or promises, but here’s an excerpt:

Like me, I know others want to see a solution right now. Restoring safe travel for years to come to and from West Seattle is my north star. I cannot stress enough that we have not passed up a single opportunity to expedite these efforts and that I will continue to be steadfastly focused on efficiency throughout.

Since the closure of the High-Rise Bridge, we’ve worked to simultaneously advance all efforts needed to expeditiously pursue both a repair or replace scenario in addition to traffic and environmental mitigation efforts. By advancing all pathways at once, not a moment has been lost while the careful and thorough assessment is done to understand which avenue – repair or replace – provides the best, safest outcome for the region over the long term.In October, I am expecting a full engineering and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis that Task Force – which includes the Coalition – have played a part in shaping.

“It’s a good start,” says Broveleit, adding that the coalition is working on a formal response, as well as the aforementioned video (to which you can still contribute).

Meantime, the task force mentioned in the mayor’s letter, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, meets online at noon tomorrow; the agenda and viewing link are at the end of this WSB story.

FOLLOWUP: No mayoral response yet, so West Seattle Bridge NOW will try a video petition, potentially starring you

(SDOT photo)

Last nonth, we reported on the community coalition West Seattle Bridge NOW sending Mayor Durkan a letter imploring her to proceed with bridge repairs ASAP. No response yet, says the group, so it’s now inviting you to be part of what you might call a video petition:

About three weeks ago, we sent a petition with more than 3,600 signatures on it asking the Mayor for immediate action to repair our Bridge. To date we haven’t heard back, so we wanted to follow up with her, but this time in a personal way.

The West Seattle Bridge NOW citizens coalition has a new ask. Our goal is to highlight everyday West Seattleites in a short video telling their story, in their own words, as to how the closure of the West Seattle Bridge as affected them. We need your smart phone selfie testimonials to make this happen!

To participate, please visit:

Your story will be hosted on the WSBN website and shown to the mayor as part of the group’s commitment to driving urgent action on behalf of our community.

SDOT said again at last week’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting that it’s expecting to decide in October between “repair now/replace later” and “replace now.” Meantime, stabilization work continues (here’s an update SDOT published Monday).

VIDEO: West Marginal, immersed-tube tunnel, and other hot topics @ West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The “repair now, replace later” vs. “replace now” decision for the West Seattle Bridge is now as little as a month away.

Today’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting explored how the in-progress Cost-Benefit Analysis will “shape” that decision.

But the CTF briefings/discussion also spent significant time on the advisory group’s other focus – how people are supposed to get to and from the peninsula until that connection is restored. And when the “Reconnect West Seattle” plan hit the spotlight, one previously undiscussed element did too. Here’s our video of (all but the last few minutes of) the meeting:

Ahead, the highlights, including some of the slides (see the full deck here):
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WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Should Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan consider its effects?

(Photo by Tony Welch)

Tomorrow, the West Seattle Bridge closure will factor into a discussion at the City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee: The issue: Should the city’s Comprehensive Plan be amended to consider the potential effects of a long-term closure? The plan can only be amended once a year, and tomorrow’s committee meeting takes up potential amendments that can’t advance without councilmembers voting to “docket” them. Amendments can be proposed by anyone inside or outside city government; the amendment that would take the bridge closure’s potential effects into consideration is proposed by Deb Barker, a community advocate whose current roles include membership on the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. Almost since the start of the closure, she has advocated for the city to look at its effects beyond the basic matter of bridgelessness, and ways to mitigate them. The council staff report says that staffers recommend docketing it, though the Seattle Planning Commission and Office of Planning and Community Development do not. From the staff report:

Amendment with mixed recommendations

Amendment 2 would amend the Transportation Element and FLUM to address the effects of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge emergency closure. The proposal lists a wide range of changes related to the closure. Many of these proposals are regulatory in nature and would not affect the Comprehensive Plan. However, Central Staff recommend moving Amendment 2 forward because the Comprehensive Plan may need policy modifications to address the major, unexpected and potentially long-term impact to mobility in Seattle caused by the bridge closure. Considering whether changes to the Comprehensive Plan are merited due to this significant impact to the City’s infrastructure is prudent.

SPC and OPCD disagree. They conclude that the proposal would be better addressed through the budgetary and programmatic processes currently being coordinated by the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Tomorrow’s meeting also includes a public hearing and vote on two West Seattle amendments – a proposal to change the West Seattle Hub Urban Village boundaries to include Providence Mount St. Vincent, and additions to the Delridge Neighborhood Plan. The committee meets at 9:30 am tomorrow (Wednesday); the agenda explains how to watch and how to comment.


Bridge updates as we start the holiday-shortened workweek:

(Photo by Neal Chism)

CITY COUNCIL VOTES ON FUNDING: The plan for $70 million in “interfund” loans to finance the first stage of West Seattle Bridge work gets a final vote when councilmembers reconvene today after the two-week end-of-summer recess. This won unanimous Transportation Committee approval before the recess. More info is in the 2 pm meeting agenda.

BRIDGE STABILIZATION UPDATE: In case you haven’t seen this already, SDOT has published its second end-of-week update on the stabilization work, including this:

(This) week, the contractor is planning to:

(SDOT photo, on one of the under-bridge platforms)

-Complete the first phase of filling cracks with epoxy.
-Begin the second phase of crack injection towards the middle of the bridge.
-Continue to inspect cracks.
-Place carbon fiber wrap around recently filled cracks.
-Continue installing the post tensioning system.

During this work, you’ll see:

-Some crews working on top of and under the bridge.
-Scaffolding and crews working on platforms suspended under the bridge.

There’s additional work taking place inside the bridge – including monitoring cracks and preparing for the installation of additional post-tensioning strands – that you will not be able to see.

COMMUNITY TASK FORCE MEETS: 3 weeks after its last meeting, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meets online Wednesday at noon. We hope to get the agenda and connection information from SDOT later today, but in the meantime, one known agenda item: The Reconnect West Seattle implementation plan. We’ve previewed the draft, and among other things, SDOT has slight revisions in the.mode-shift commuting goals – increasing the percentage of commutes it hopes will be made by bicycle next year to 10 percent, for one example (last year’s baseline was 1 percent):

In the 2019 Baseline, about 60 bicycles crossed the Duwamish per AM peak hour. The Lower Spokane Bridge can accommodate 400 – 1,000 bicycles per hour. To accommodate 1,000 bicycles per AM peak hour, SDOT will need to make substantive capital improvements across West Seattle.

The Reconnect WS plan has separate bicycle and freight sub-plans as well as four project lists for the areas most affected by bridge-detour traffic.
12:30 PM UPDATE: Here’s the link for watching tomorrow’s meeting, or use access code: 146 544 1172 after calling 408-418-9388.

AUDIT OF OTHER BRIDGES: Right after the sudden bridge shutdown took so many by surprise 5 1/2 months ago, Councilmember Alex Pedersen – who chairs the Transportation Committee – called for an audit of the city’s other bridges, to be sure no other surprises are lurking. He announced in this online update that the audit will be presented to his committee next week, on September 16th.

FOLLOWUP: Contest-winning West Seattle Bridge T-shirts have arrived!

(WSB photos)

In The Junction today, volunteers are working – at a safe distance – to package the new contest-winning West Seattle Bridge T-shirts for mailing to everybody who ordered one! The orders followed the announcement four weeks ago of the three designs that won the community vote, “Accidental Island,” “Mind the Gap,” and “So Close Yet So Far.”

Above, Junction Association executive director Lora Radford is among those helping. So if you ordered one, watch the mail! And if you didn’t …

… no need to worry about a “gap” in being stylish – as originally announced, some Junction stores will be selling them, too, starting tomorrow. See the list on this page – or go there to order one (deadline September 21st for an October mailing).

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Wondering ‘what ARE they doing up there?’ Here’s the answer

(SDOT photo: Small “syringes” placed into affected areas, used to channel epoxy into cracks)

You’ve heard that stabilization work is under way on the five-months-closed West Seattle Bridge. So what EXACTLY is being done? SDOT just launched a new weekly email update. From the first one:

Kraemer North America, our contractor for the stabilization work, is on the bridge every Monday through Saturday from 6 AM to 4:30 PM to stabilize the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge. The stabilization work, which includes wrapping weakened areas of the bridge in carbon fiber, adding post-tensioning inside the girders, and epoxy-injecting cracks wider than 0.3mm, is expected to continue at a safe but expedited pace over the course of the next several months.

Next week, the contractor is planning to:

Continue to inspect cracks
Fill cracks with epoxy
Place carbon fiber wrap around recently filled cracks
Begin to install the post tensioning system

During this work, you will see some crews working on top and underneath the bridge. You will also see scaffolding and crews working on platforms suspended under the bridge. There is additional work taking place inside the bridge – including monitoring cracks and preparing for the installation of the additional post-tensioning strands – that you will not be able to see. We do not anticipate any additional traffic impacts from the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge construction work over the next couple weeks.

More bridge-related info is coming up this evening in our report on last night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting. Meantime, if you want to be on SDOT’s bridge-related mailing list, the subscription link is on this page.