West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As we first reported last weekend, the mayor has set up a community advisory group for the West Seattle Bridge project, and it’s being formally announced today. So are details of the technical advisory group that was already in the works. We also have a general update on what’s up with the bridge, two months after it was closed.
First, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. It’ll be co-chaired by Greg Nickels, the West Seattle-residing former mayor who’s remained active in transportation advocacy, and Paulina Lopez, a longtime South Park community leader/advocate. From the announcement:
… we are launching the Task Force to ensure that the many voices and concerns of the community are not only heard, but consistently advocated for.
The group is comprised of elected officials and representatives from West Seattle businesses, neighborhood groups from the Junction to Georgetown to South Park to Highland Park to SODO, and industrial and maritime businesses and their workers.
Members will help ensure transparency, clear communication, and broad community engagement and understanding around both traffic mitigation efforts and the future path forward for the West Seattle
High-Rise Bridge as we address new data, public input, fiscal challenges, and many other important factors that will inform consideration of repair versus replace scenarios.
Here’s who else is on the Community Task Force:
=(Photo courtesy Kevin Freitas, originally published on Twitter)
Two months ago tonight, on March 23rd, the West Seattle Bridge was closed because of collapse concerns, with only a few hours’ warning to the public. Will it ever reopen? The city has yet to announce whether it considers the bridge fixable. Here’s a quick look at some of what’s been happening in the meantime:
MAYOR ASSEMBLING COMMUNITY TASK FORCE: Earlier this month, as reported here, the District 1 Community Network suggested a stakeholders’ group of some sort was needed, to be sure the community has a voice in key decisions. Multiple sources have confirmed to WSB that Mayor Durkan is doing exactly that. Who’s on it, and what it’ll be charged with, we don’t know yet; we asked the mayor’s office for comment when we got first word of this, but no answers yet.
BUT WHAT’S HAPPENING *ON* THE BRIDGE? Monitoring instrumentation has been installed, and a three-scenario emergency-response plan spells out what happens if those instruments – or the daily inspections – show it’s on the verge of collapse. To try to avoid that, stabilization work is planned; SDOT announced the contractor for that three weeks ago.
GETTING AROUND WITHOUT THE BRIDGE: SDOT is working on neighborhood-specific traffic plans, which director Sam Zimbabwe says will be ready – at least in draft version – in early June.
Heads up for next weekend – SDOT plans low-bridge work next Friday-Sunday (May 29-31), with some overnght closures:
We will be doing necessary maintenance work on the controls and communications systems that are used to operate the bridge. The work will be done at night to minimize traffic impacts and because some of the systems need to be turned off during the maintenance activities.
We will be closing the low bridge to vehicle, bike, and pedestrian traffic while we are working at night because we will not be able to open and close the bridge in a normal manner. As a result, roadway traffic, including freight and buses, will be detoured to the 1st Ave or the South Park bridges. The low bridge will also be closed to bicyclists and pedestrians, and emergency vehicles will have limited access across the low bridge. Waterway traffic will be maintained.
These restrictions will only be in place at night while we are working during the following hours:
• Friday night (5/29-30): 8 PM to 5 AM
• Saturday night (5/30-31): 6 PM to 3 AM
• Sunday night (5/31-6/1): 6 PM to 3 AM (if needed)
During the day, transit, emergency vehicles, freight, bikes, and pedestrians will have access to the bridge.
If all or part of the West Seattle Bridge collapsed – how exactly might that happen? SDOT has just released a new memo from its consultant WSP, part of the ongoing work to determine the bridge’s future (or lack of one). Here’s the 7-page memo (4 pages of text and 3 of graphics), which warns, “This bridge’s issues are unique, and we are not currently able to indicate the likelihood of any of the potential failure scenarios”:
… The memo identifies 9 proactive steps to prepare for, and potentially prevent, these worst-case scenarios. We have already begun work on all of them.
… The steps to better understand and monitor the structural integrity of the bridge include:
1. Continue the daily visual inspections of the bridge
2. Implement an automated intelligent monitoring system that collects data in real time
3. Implement localized data logging using an automated system that will report total deformation across multiple cracks
4. Undertake non-destructive testing of select vertical post tensioned tendons
All these steps are underway. We have conducted in-person visual inspections of the bridge every day since March 20. We have nearly completed installation of the intelligent monitoring system that includes 8 high-resolution cameras, 16 movement sensors, and 52 vibrating wire sensors to monitor cracking.
Our structural engineering consultant has completed about 30 percent of the 100+ non-destructive tests we plan to conduct. This includes using ground penetrating radar to create an image of cavities and voids deep within the bridge concrete and identify whether there is any corrosion around the steel support tendons. We look forward to sharing more about this incredible technology and the important role it plays in a future blog post.
The steps to stabilize the bridge and potentially prevent bridge failure include:
5. Design and construct interim repairs at the distressed locations to arrest the crack propagation in the near term.
6. Repair the bearings at Pier 18 that are restricting thermal expansion and contraction movements of the structure.
7. Design, fabricate, and deploy temporary shoring to support the bridge in case of partial or multi-span superstructure collapse.
8. Evaluate full repair alternatives relative to the potential need for bridge replacement.
9. Design and construct full repairs if feasible or demolish the bridge and plan for a bridge replacement.
Meantime, as reported two weeks ago, there’s now an emergency-response plan for what would happen **if** a collapse seemed imminent – or close to it.
Three notes related to the West Seattle Bridge closure:
BRIDGE BARRICADES: Not sure how long these have been up, since we haven’t looked recently and they’re all a ways down their respective ramps, but a tipster pointed out that the access points to the high bridge now all have chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. We photographed two today.
This is in addition to the movable barricades originally placed when the bridge was closed on March 23rd.
BUS SURVEY: A reader who’s been talking with Metro to advocate for a bus route from West Seattle to the University of Washington has set up a survey. It’s NOT official but its results will be shared with Metro. If you want to take it, go here.
HISTORY PRESENTATION TONIGHT: Retired civil engineer Bob Ortblad, who’s stirred some discussion for espousing an underwater “tube” solution for the bridge (and has previously suggested one cross-Sound too), has a free online presentation coming up at 6:30 tonight: an updated version of his 2017 “Who Built Seattle?” lecture, plus “the lurid history of the West Seattle Bridge,” its “current demise, and controversial future.” Register here. It’s free but you’re also welcome to make a donation to fight sarcoma, of which Ortblad is a 12-year survivor.
This week’s West Seattle Bridge closure update in Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s weekly newsletter includes 4 new updates related to traffic – first, the latest volumes at key points around the area:
Traffic levels continue to be high in the most recent counts on West Marginal, and are up slightly on the South Park Bridge, Roxbury and 15th, 35th and Raymond, and on East Marginal Way and 1st Avenue South. Citywide traffic levels are around 50% of normal volume.
Second, Herbold’s newsletter also says travel times for West Marginal Way SW are now available via the message boards at Admiral Way/34th SW, Fauntleroy Way/38th SW, and 35th SW/SW Snoqualmie.
Third, something related to the traffic-management planning mentioned in last night’s “Town Hall”:
SDOT is working on neighborhood-based traffic management plans to prepare for the significantly higher levels we can expect. Draft plans for the neighborhoods that will see increased traffic off the peninsula (e.g. South Park, Highland Park/South Delridge/Riverview/Roxhill, as well as SODO and Georgetown) will be released for public comment and further work with the community in early June; SDOT has met with a number of community groups and committed to further meetings to discussing the draft plans. SDOT is considering public suggestions. You can send ideas to SDOT directly at 684-ROAD@seattle.gov. I’m happy to pass on suggestions as well.
And fourth, regarding the oft-suggested idea of moving some ferry traffic from the Fauntleroy dock:
Washington State Ferries replied to my letter requesting they consider re-directing some of the ferry traffic from Vashon and/or Southworth, that usually travels to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, to Downtown Seattle instead; and that they consider trips from Fauntleroy to Downtown. Numerous constituents have written to suggest this.
Ferries replied they are “working with transportation agencies and stakeholders from across the city of Seattle and King County to better understand this dynamic situation, and together we are analyzing a variety of options to address this challenge.”
I appreciate Ferries’ reply, and commitment to work with the City, and analyze options.
Ferries also noted challenges related to their terminals include the limited capacity at Fauntleroy; the reconstruction of Colman Dock through 2023, reducing the number of operating slips from 3 to 2; potential impact to Seattle/Bremerton and Seattle/Bainbridge routes and those communities; the number of ferries they have available; and public input requirements for any schedule changes.
Ferries also notes that their most recent origin-destination study showed 60% of passengers aren’t heading downtown or points north (which is why my request was to “directing some of the traffic between Vashon and/or Southworth to Downtown Seattle”).
If you don’t already get Herbold’s weekly updates, you can find them – usually published Fridays – at herbold.seattle.gov.
Though the announced-at-the-last-minute “West Seattle Town Hall” a few hours ago was not primarily about the bridge, that was a major topic, unsurprisingly. No new information, but SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe‘s part of the program offered some new framing of where things stand. We recorded video of the entire event, which we’ll publish in a separate report; here’s a clip with just his 10-minute segment:
We screengrabbed key slides to summarize his update. First, project priorities:
Then he went through a quick recap of the heart of the emergency plan whose key points were unveiled last week (WSB coverage here):
This next slide was the first time we’ve seen SDOT try to give a visual explanation of the dramatic loss in street capacity to and from West Seattle:
Then, what seemed tailored to those who are worried nothing’s being done:
This one, for those wondering why the bridge isn’t already being repaired or demolished:
And here’s another promise that they’re working on traffic management, with the stay-home order potentially lifting in less than three weeks:
Another slide along the way recapped how many meetings they’ve spoken at:
Earlier in the event, both Mayor Jenny Durkan and Councilmember Lisa Herbold included the bridge in their opening remarks. Durkan described the bridge as “a vital, vital piece of infrastructure … for our entire region.” She says she’s been discussing the situation with all levels of government – federal, state, county, regional. She also reaffirmed her support for current restrictions on the low bridge, saying it has its limit. But she promised the city will “do everything” it can “to increase mobility” (for West Seattle).
As she has before, Herbold declared the bridge closure a “crisis.” In counterpoint to the mayor, she said she will continue advocating for some changes in low-bridge restrictions, such as opening it to personal-car drivers during late-night/early-morning hours. (In subsequent Q&A, the mayor seemed to soften a bit on that, saying “all requests” would be considered.) Herbold also summarized recent developments such as the SFD announcement that another medic unit and ladder truck would be added to this side of the Duwamish River.
Again, we’ll recap the rest of the two-hour event – which featured more than half a dozen other city department heads – in a separate story.
As reported here last Friday, Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced SDOT planned to repave two blocks of SW Roxbury, the badly rutted section between 16th SW and 18th SW. We subsequently asked SDOT about the timeline, and today the department confirmed the work will be done before the end of the month, and once it starts, will last up to a week. They also sent this flyer that will be mailed to nearby homes and businesses this week:
(You can also see it here in PDF.)
One week after SDOT went public with some details of its emergency plan in case of West Seattle Bridge failure or imminent failure (WSB coverage here), it’s just published a close-up look at the new monitoring system. The graphic above is from the new SDOT Blog update, which also includes photos of some of the monitoring equipment. Also explained – the monitoring is also key to the biggest decision yet to be made. Three main purposes are listed:
*Keep us informed on how the bridge reacts to environmental changes, bridge stabilization measures, temporary shoring, and potential future repairs.
*Give us a better indication of bridge distress that could warn of impending failure.
*Guide us to a decision about the technical feasibility of repair or replacement.
SDOT says the system includes cameras, movement sensors, and crack monitors, noting:
The new intelligent monitoring system is already ‘talking’ to us and telling us that there is some potential for failure. What we don’t yet know is how great that potential is. The new system will help us better determine that.
SDOT adds that “after we collect a few weeks’ worth of data”:
Analytic modeling will interpret the data to gain a baseline understanding of the bridge’s behavior. If we observe stable behavior, the bridge will continue to be monitored during and after the temporary crack arrest measure installation and the Pier 18 restrained lateral bearings’ release, to see how the bridge reacts.
See the entire update here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As city leaders make decisions about the West Seattle Bridge‘s future and the impacts of its long-term closure, who can/should speak for the peninsula?
That was a major topic at the May meeting of the District 1 Community Network, a coalition of West Seattle and South Park community advocates, with 30 people in attendance via videoconferencing/phone.
D1CN members weren’t suggesting their coalition should or could take on that role. But in the course of two hours’ discussion, an idea took shape:
Just got word from SDOT today – they’ve added six new publicly viewable traffic cameras, on SW Roxbury and on 35th SW. We’ll be adding them to our traffic-cams page and weekday-morning traffic watch. From east to west and south to north, they are:
Any more on the way? We’ve asked, and we’ll add the reply when we get it.
P.S. You also can find these cameras, and others around the city, via SDOT’s traffic-info map.
(Seattle Fire Department photo of Ladder 13 in 2010)
Not long after the West Seattle Bridge‘s sudden shutdown, we and others started asking whether West Seattle would get additional SFD resources, as happened during the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project (east half of the bridge) in 2011-2012. The early answer was: It’s being discussed. New answer today: Yes. In addition to West Seattle-based Medic 32, SFD will station Medic 26, staffed with two paramedics, at Station 26 in South Park. And joining WS-based Ladder 11 will be an extra truck, Ladder 13, to be based at Station 37 in Sunrise Heights. The announcement says, “Beginning in June, these units will be in-service for responding to emergencies 24-hours per day, seven days a week.” (Ladder 13 was based at Station 11 in Highland Park during the SSV project.) The SFD announcement adds, “The new medic unit and ladder truck are coming from SFD’s reserve apparatus located at the City’s Fire Garage. The department will continue to have other apparatus on reserve to support scheduled maintenance and for any unforeseen mechanical issues. The funding required for staffing the two new units, apparatus maintenance and fuel, and room accommodations at the fire stations is approximately $2.5 million for the remainder of 2020 and will be covered from existing resources.”
HPAC – the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – got a fast reply from SDOT on its letter centered on 13 requests related to the West Seattle Bridge closure and its effects on those neighborhoods. We spotlighted the letter here on Tuesday; HPAC circulated the response tonight. It’s signed by Heather Marx, who’s leading the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project. The letter, which you can see in its entirety on HPAC’s website, also incorporates topics from HPAC’s April meeting (WSB coverage here). From the response, here are HPAC’s points, and SDOT’s replies:
… Below are the specific requests we heard from HPAC – at both your meeting and in your letter – with the status of each request:
Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St Intersection
*Request for a left-hand turn signal for turning onto SW Holden St from northbound lane on Highland Park Way SW
Status/update: We installed a temporary traffic signal at this intersection and it’s not currently possible to add a left-hand turn signal to it. We are, however, sharing this feedback with the team designing the permanent traffic signal scheduled to be installed in 2021.
*Request for extra traction on uphill southbound lane on Highland Park Way SW
Status/update: The Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St Safety project team will evaluate high friction surface treatment. This treatment has typically been done where crashes have occurred when roadway conditions were slippery.
*Request for separate green signals for pedestrians and drivers in the northwest corner of the intersection
Status/update: We installed a temporary traffic signal at this intersection and it’s not currently possible to add these features to it. We are, however, sharing this feedback with the team designing the permanent traffic signal scheduled to be installed in 2021.
Turning from arterial streets onto SW Holden St
*Request to see painting and/or signage to prohibit blocking of the intersections
Status/update: Because these treatments have limited effectiveness and high maintenance costs, SDOT is focusing on more effective tools, many of which are below and will also be reflected in the neighborhood traffic plans we are preparing.
Traffic calming in the neighborhood
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
That wasn’t the only item of interest, though – the meeting also touched on two curiosity-piquing potential future tools in the ongoing Vision Zero safety program, and an unsurprisingly dour budget update.
First, the bridge. While its emergency needs obviously aren’t part of the original plan for the levy that voters passed in 2015, which is what this all-volunteer advisory group monitors, SDOT put it on the group’s radar last month. So deputy director Lorelei Williams presented a short update last night.
With no detailed city plan yet for handling West Seattle Bridge-less mobility when the stay-home order lifts, local groups are continuing to spell out their proposals. Today, we hear from HPAC, the community council for the areas most affected by detoured traffic – Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge. While SDOT guested at HPAC’s meeting April 22nd (WSB coverage here), they had no specifics beyond the Highland Park Way/Holden signal that was installed in the first week post-bridge closure. So HPAC has sent a letter (see it here in PDF) to the mayor, council, and SDOT, noting that “… we are now in week 7 of the closure and very few of the public concerns that have been raised have been adequately addressed.” HPAC has these 13 specific concerns/proposals:
… Issues and areas that need to be addressed before the stay-at-home order is lifted:
1. At the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St:
● A left-hand turn signal is needed for turning onto SW Holden from Highland Park Way/9th Ave SW northbound. Currently, traffic coming up the hill on Highland Park Way and going right does not stop, with SW Holden being so narrow, only one car being turning onto SW Holden, so traffic trying to turn left are stuck at the light for several cycles or cutting through SW Portland St at higher speeds.
● Extra traction on the uphill southbound lane on Highland Park Way.
● Separate green signals for pedestrians and drivers in the northwest corner of the intersection.
2. Traffic signal adjustments to address traffic backups at the following intersections:
● Add a left hand turn signal at 16th Ave SW and SW Holden St as previously requested for
over the last 6 years.
● Delridge Way SW and SW Holden St.
● Orchard St. and Delridge Way SW
● 8th St and SW Roxbury St.
3. Traffic calming features on our neighborhood streets:
● For the school zones of Chief Sealth HS, Roxhill Elementary, Sanislo Elementary and Highland Park Elementary.
● Police presence to curb excessive speeding on 16th Ave SW
● Signage at 4-way intersections to ease transit for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. Signs
along SW Thistle St at 20th and 18th Ave. Stop sign at 11th and Kenyon St.
● Work with the neighborhoods to identify streets to become one-way to help mitigate cut- through traffic.
4. Turning onto SW Holden St from streets both east and west of Delridge Way is extremely difficult with increased traffic.
● Mitigation requested.
5. West Marginal Way S:
● Increase the number of lanes to get onto the on ramp for the 1st Ave bridge.
● Request for better bike lane marking at the intersection with Highland Park Way SW
● Request to fill potholes and fix road deterioration near the railroad tracks
● Request for two lanes northbound at the intersection with Highland Park Way SW
6. Pedestrian path on the east side of Highland Park Way after the SW Holden intersection:
● Request to consider widening the path to allow for more use
● Request to clean moss off from path
7. Left-hand turn signal requests at the following intersections:
● 16th Ave SW and SW Holden St
● 16th Ave SW and SW Roxbury St.
● 8th Ave SW and Roxbury St.
8. King County Metro Route 131
● Make a bus-only lane starting at SW Holden and Highland Park Way going on through to West Marginal Way then over the 1st Ave bridge toward Seattle.
● Request to adjust signal at Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden for bus priority
● Increase Route 131 service.
9. We want to clearly understand the traffic patterns throughout the peninsula. SDoT has never taken into consideration the east-west traffic flow throughout West Seattle. We want to know what routes people are taking and which streets are becoming major arterials. Monitoring should be placed at the following intersections:
● SW Orchard St. and SW 35th Ave
● SW Orchard St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Holden St. and SW 35th Ave
● SW Holden St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Thistle St. and California Ave SW
● SW Thistle St. and SW 35th Ave
● SW Thistle St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Trenton St. and SW 35th Ave
● SW Trenton St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Barton St. and SW 35th Ave
● SW Henderson St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Henderson St. and 9th Ave SW
● SW Roxbury St. and 35th Ave SW
● SW Roxbury St. and Delridge Way SW
● SW Roxbury St. and 9th Ave SW
● Olson Pl SW and 1st Ave S
10. For the City of Seattle to increase Metro bus service for access for east and west transit on the peninsula itself i.e. access to California St./ Junction areas only offer the 128, which is hard for the rest of the peninsula to get to without using their cars.
● The transfers through the Westwood Village has been difficult for Highland Park riders since the reroute of the 136/137. Highland Park and Delridge Neighborhoods have been designated food deserts by the city.
11. A commitment from the City to repair the streets that were damaged during the bridge closure.
● Once traffic resumes we will have a better understanding of which of the streets that will be, but assume at least: Roxbury St, Delridge Way SW, SW 35th Ave, Highland Park Way SW, and Olson Way SW.
12. Heavy freight routes clearly designated and enforced.
● This type of vehicle will cause massive and immediate damage to our more residential
streets (i.e. Holden St) and will significantly slow traffic since these types of vehicles will
have issues turning the tight corners. Both Avalon St. and Roxbury with their wider lanes
and concrete enforced lanes are better suited for this type of transit.
13. We want an immediate bridge replacement plan without a $33 million expenditure for the current bridge or a two-year evaluation period. SDOT’s current plan will put an undue burden on the daily lives of our West Seattle residents.
Please learn from the I35 bridge failure and replacement in Minneapolis and the rapid rebuild of the Genoa, Italy bridge. No one waited for two years before making a decision on viability – just replace this bridge.
The $33 millioh reference, if you missed the original report, goes back to the April 15th briefing covered here – it’s the projected cost of stabilizing the bridge, planning traffic control, and doing maintenance on the low bridge.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
While the city’s been working toward stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge and determining whether it can be repaired, they’ve also been working on an emergency-response plan in case the bridge was deemed at imminent or near-imminent risk of collapse – which currently, they stress, it is NOT.
Most of this has been taking place out of the public eye, with the city working with “stakeholders” who have operations close to the bridge, such as the Port of Seattle. This came up during last week’s inaugural meeting of the community coalition West Seattle Bridge Now (WSB coverage here), when a port rep noted that this emergency plan was front and center right now. We’ve been pursuing more information from SDOT, and today they are announcing key points of the plan.
SDOT stresses that the bridge is “stable” and that the cracks’ growth has “slowed” since the bridge was closed to traffic March 23rd. But “out of an abundance of caution” they’ve devised this plan for how they would get the word out, and what people would need to do, if bridge failure seemed likely before stabilization work is complete.
What they’re releasing today is what SDOT communications director Michael Harold explained to us in an interview this morning is the “essence” of the emergency plan; the plan itself will be released “soon.” Today’s announcement first notes:
We’ve established an interagency task force to coordinate a unified emergency response if conditions of the high bridge reach critical thresholds.
The task force includes the City of Seattle, King County, Washington State, Port of Seattle, Northwest Seaport Alliance, United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
If we must activate the task force’s unified emergency response, a unified command will be led by the Seattle Fire Department (SFD), the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Police Department (SPD), and USCG.
These and other agencies will work together to prioritize public safety and provide clear communication. SDOT will manage traffic operations to assist emergency response and provide consistent updates to the public. SFD will manage evacuation and, if necessary, rescue of people near the bridge. SPD will manage traffic control and assist with evacuation. USCG will manage maritime coordination and communication. Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light will manage utilities to reduce impact on customers.
SDOT stresses that the “only section of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge that currently has cracks is the highest span directly over the Duwamish River between West Seattle and Harbor Island. … The rest of the bridge is relatively stable and doesn’t currently show signs of distress.”
But just in case, the emergency plan addresses three potential scenarios:
1) Immediate evacuation to be used if the daily in-person inspections indicates enough of a change to warrant the immediate evacuation of a small number of properties, though we could
have hours or days before actual bridge failure.
2) One to five days notice to be used if the new remote monitoring instrumentation, which will be fully functioning in mid May, indicates enough of a change to warrant execution of evacuation plans within one to five days. If failure is anticipated, but not immediate, SFD and SPD will clearly communicate, via direct site visits and other platforms, when evacuation must occur.
3) Controlled demolition to be used if the change in the condition of the high bridge indicates the need for execution of an evacuation plan followed by a controlled demolition.
The #1 response would involve evacuations in what’s considered “the Fall Zone.”
In what Harold calls a “very conservative estimate,” this area was identified via “modeling potential cracking scenarios” plus adding a buffer zone – it’s an area “225’ north and south of the bridge, 225’ west of Pier 15, and 225’ east of Pier 18, and includes the Spokane Street Low Bridge, parts of Harbor Island, the Duwamish Waterway, and areas on and around West Marginal Way.” (This is the type of information that the “critical failure modeling” mentioned in Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s update last Friday is addressing – not an estimate of when a failure could happen, but of how it might happen, IF it happened.)
Even if they don’t have to evacuate, some on Harbor Island could see travel affected, so: “It is recommended that people on Harbor Island who are non-essential leave the island using the eastern approaches if they receive any notification that the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge is at risk. Those staying should know that emergency response could potentially block vehicle access to the island.” (added 2:07 pm – traffic map)
The Fall Zone does NOT include any residential areas, not even Pigeon Point adjacent to the bridge, SDOT says. But SFD and SPD would close access to nearby roads.
A mailer is being sent later this week to all addresses within a quarter-mile of the “fall zone,” Harold says. But in the meantime, even if you’re NOT that close, everyone in West Seattle is urged to sign up for Alert Seattle – an opt-in service through which emergency messages are sent and one way through which the city will send any bridge-related emergency notification.
Today’s announcement also says any bridge-related emergency alert will also be sent through “Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) text messages … an alert system that sends text messages to all cell phones within a particular area. This is the same service that sends Amber Alerts. WEA will send text message alerts to all cell phones in the impacted area at the time of alert.” The Coast Guard also would send “an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast over VHF Channel 16 to warn mariners to avoid the Duwamish Waterway,
and they will use the USCG Alert Warning System to warn commercial operators and terminals on Harbor Island and the Duwamish Waterway.” Along with all those alerts, SDOT would also notify the media and publish warnings via its social-media channels.
But, Harold stresses yet again, they do NOT believe there is a risk of the bridge collapsing any time soon – they nonetheless have to be prepared. They’ve been installing instrumentation to enable real-time monitoring of the bridge status – in addition to continuing “near daily” inspections. We’ve asked how exactly that monitoring is being monitored, so to speak; Harold says they’ll be releasing those details this week too.
Questions? He says SDOT is ready to answer them via email or phone any time, 684-Road@seattle.gov or
206.684.ROAD (206-684-7623). Meantime, you also can find released-so-far info via the bridge-project website, where documents and information links are already archived.
While we await a plan for how to move people from and to West Seattle without the high bridge when the stay-home order ends, we’re continuing to spotlight feedback that various groups are providing to SDOT. Tonight – here’s what bicycling-safety groups are suggesting for “strategies and actions to help mitigate the closure of the West Seattle high-rise bridge. This letter was shared with us this past week by Don Brubeck, president of longtime community group West Seattle Bike Connections, which along with three other groups sent it to SDOT:
Four more West Seattle Bridge updates tonight, this time from West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. They’re in her weekly newsletter (which is also online here); she begins with the stabilization-contractor announcement, reported here last night, and continues:
SDOT’s instrumentation consultant, BDI, measured crack depths on the sides of the box girders where they meet the deck and also used ultra-sonic pulse echo imaging and ground penetrating radar to help in understanding if there is any weakness in the steel rope that holds the bridge in compression.
On April 22, SDOT’s design consultant, WSP, provided an estimate of rate of crack growth as well as a critical failure projection. WSP also continues work on a decision tree to inform the question of whether or not to replace or repair the bridge.
SDOT also is installing additional structural health instrumentation (such as crack-width gauges, strain gauges and high-resolution cameras). This is mostly complete and will allow for a clearer definition of the condition of the bridge, and which path to pursue.
I’ve asked how the rate of crack growth informs the question of whether or not to replace or repair the bridge, and about the critical failure projection.
SDOT paved and reconfigured the 5-way intersection below the West Seattle Bridge last weekend; average daily traffic on the low bridge is down to 6,480 vehicles per day, approximately the same as the baseline. Here is the most recent traffic data we’ve received, with West Marginal and Idaho, and Highland Park and Marginal showing significantly higher than usual volumes:
SDOT has installed new controllers, added communications to signals, and tweaked signal timing in both the Roxbury and 35th corridors, and has upgraded these intersections over the past two weeks:
Chelan 5-Way Intersection
17th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
16th Ave SW/Delridge & SW Roxbury St
15th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
35th Ave SW & SW Thistle St
SDOT also noted they are planning to improve operations at the following intersections over the next few weeks:
30th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
26th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
20th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
8th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
35th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St
35th Ave SW & SW Barton St
35th Ave SW & SW Henderson St
35th Ave SW & SW Trenton St
16th Ave SW & SW Austin St
16th Ave SW & SW Holden St
35th Ave SW & SW Kenyon St
35th Ave SW & SW Holden St
35th Ave SW & SW Webster St
35th Ave SW & SW Myrtle St
35th Ave SW & SW Holly St
35th Ave SW & SW Morgan St
35th Ave SW & SW Raymond St
35th Ave SW & SW Findlay St
Changes include allowing SDOT to manage signals from a central location, rather than needing to go to the signal to manually make changes.
Town Hall Question Totals
For the Town Hall held last week, over 1000 questions and comments were submitted: 133 on the use of the lower bridge, 156 on traffic management, 212 on transit (including ferries), 63 on whether to repair or replace, 209 on process and oversight, and 254 on multiple subjects, or other items. My office is continuing to organize the suggestions.
Letter to Washington State Ferries
I sent a letter to Washington State Ferries, linked here, asking that they consider re-directing some of the ferry traffic from Vashon and/or Southworth, that usually travels to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, to Downtown Seattle instead; and that they consider trips from Fauntleroy to Downtown, and options suggested by the public.
The letter notes that during some previous years, for example 1981, 1993 and 2002, eastbound ferry traffic has been diverted to Downtown on a temporary basis. Thanks to the community members who assisted with this research.
SDOT info, meantime, is on the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project website; our coverage since the bridge closure March 23rd is all archived here.
6:49 PM: Just announced by SDOT:
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is moving forward with West Seattle High-Rise Bridge stabilization. The City used emergency contracting authority to move with urgency in selecting a construction contractor to carry out Phase 1 stabilization work. Kraemer North America has been selected for Phase 1 construction and work is already underway.
There are three phases of repair for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge:
Phase 1: Stabilization – The first step in stabilizing the bridge was to remove traffic from the High-Rise bridge on March 23. The second step is to repair lateral bearings on Pier 18.
Phase 2: Shoring – In Phase 2 we will add temporary external structures called shoring. Shoring is necessary to help support the bridge as we continue to assess repair feasibility, timeline, and costs.
Phase 3: Long-term repair – We do not yet know if repair of the bridge is feasible technically or financially. In the meantime, it’s critical that we carry out stabilization and shoring work to protect public safety.
Earlier this month we sent out a Request for Information (RFI) to determine who we would contract with to begin Phase 1 stabilization work on the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, as quickly as possible.
Though this emergency situation authorized SDOT to waive all competitive bidding requirements (pursuant to RCW 39.04.280). On April 13, the City contacted six contractors and requested information on capacity, availability, resumes for key personnel, and approach. Four contractors provided the requested information by April 15, and our Capital Projects and Roadway Structures divisions evaluated and rated the submittals while also taking into consideration the City’s previous experience with the contractors and other factors.
This process selected Kraemer to fulfill the needs of the project.
Kraemer is a 109-year-old, engineering-minded, construction-focused contractor with a foundation in complicated structure work. The team’s construction experience directly relates to the High-Rise Bridge’s repairs.
Kraemer is an industry leader in segmental bridge repair and construction, as well as in concrete post-tensioning. This expertise will allow the team to carry out key stabilization activities, help in forensic investigation of the bridge, provide the engineering team with construction input to determine the best approach to stabilization, and confirm repair estimates.
With recent work on WSDOT’s Duwamish River Bridges Project, Kraemer also comes with a detailed understanding of the immediate vicinity, as well as knowledge of US Coast Guard permitting requirements. This is essential because obtaining these permits – or not – could add or subtract months to any stabilization, shoring, repair, or replacement efforts.
Kraemer’s northwest headquarters are located here in Seattle, with a committed, locally experienced team.
With a current contract to construct the new Northgate Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, which broke ground earlier this year, Kraemer understands the complexities of working in and around the City of Seattle. Finally, Kraemer has also worked closely with WSP, our bridge consultant. This relationship, which allows for a quick team integration and efficient approach to the work, will be essential as we move forward with stabilization work.
Kraemer is excited to help the people of West Seattle and others who rely on this critical infrastructure by delivering stabilization, shoring, and repairs quickly and safely.
Kraemer will provide the construction for Phase 1 stabilization work.
They will conduct repairs designed to stop further cracking in the bridge’s most vulnerable sections.
They will then replace the lateral bearings on Pier 18 at the east end of the bridge. These bearings, when working correctly, allow the bridge to expand and contract with temperature change.
They will work with SDOT and the engineering consultant team to develop and finalize strengthening solutions for the bridge.
Kraemer’s first priority is to provide a constructability review of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge stabilization designs.
A “constructability review” is critical to getting a construction project off the ground quickly and performing work safely. The contractor reviews the designs produced by the engineers to determine how easily it can be built and to provide input. In addition, the project leads at Kraemer are starting to develop plans for construction, health and safety, equipment and material procurement, work timelines and schedules, and permitting.
The bridge has been closed since March 23. We’ll be following up on questions not answered in the announcement such as projected cost/timeline.
9:55 PM: Here’s the work Kraemer is doing on the Duwamish River Bridges (the two spans that comprise what’s more commonly known as the 1st Avenue S. Bridge).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A new community “coalition to convey urgency” about the West Seattle Bridge closure has just launched.
We were invited to cover the first meeting last night of people participating in West Seattle Bridge Now.
The online meeting was coordinated by community advocate West Seattle Realty (WSB sponsor) co-owner Kevin Broveleit, who opened with the declaration of what the group says tens of thousands of people know here, but others around the city and region need to realize too: “Losing the bridge is a catastrophic event.” So far, he said, most of what’s been heard from SDOT is “it’s not our fault” and “trust us, we’re doing everything we can … and nether resonate with us.”
So in the spirit of community groups that pushed for action to get the now-compromised bridge built in the first place, this one is determined to turn up the pressure and push for “action, not blame” by creating “as broad a coalition as possible” and focusing on “creativity in potential solutions.”
Those already involved who were part of last night’s meeting included a who’s-who of local community and business advocates. While there was spirited discussion about all three major needs created by the sudden shutdown of the bridge March 23rd, two of them – traffic mitigation and accountability – are not the central purpose for West Seattle Bridge Now, according to Broveleit. “The sooner we have a soluton with any sort of certainty,” the less painful it will be. Right now, he observed, his industry and others are grappling with people wracked by fear of the unknown – will West Seattle be bridgeless for more than the near-two-year minimum of which SDOT has already warned?
(WSB photo: South Park Bridge just before its June 2014 opening)
The West Seattle Bridge closure isn’t just a West Seattle problem. That point’s been made far and wide already, but you probably haven’t heard it yet from this viewpoint – that of your neighbors in South Park, whose bridge (just six years old) is now one of two main alternatives for crossing the Duwamish River. The already-increased traffic has led to this letter to the city from a coalition of South Park community organizations, which we’re publishing with permission:
Dear Mayor Durkan, Councilmember Herbold & Director Zimbabwe,
The community of South Park is extremely concerned about the long term or permanent closure of the West Seattle Bridge and the potential for the lower Spokane St. bridge to also be shut down. We recognize that this closure will impact neighborhoods across West Seattle and within the Duwamish Valley. Our neighborhood is being promoted as a detour for the 100,000 drivers seeking an alternate route. During this time of reduced traffic, we are already seeing an increase in vehicle traffic, speeding and neighborhood cut-throughs. Residents of South Park have extremely poor health outcomes when compared to other neighborhoods. Our neighbors and children have high rates of asthma which has proven to reduce our life expectancy. Years of increased traffic will only perpetuate this inequity. We live in a valley that naturally traps pollution. Everything must be done to prevent additional pollution from coming here. Historically, our community has been disenfranchised and underserved by City and County services. We must have a voice in developing solutions to this long-term problem.
Our community members have raised the following concerns:
● Speeding and increased traffic in the neighborhood (Cloverdale, 14th & Dallas Ave S.)
○ Concerns about the safety of children crossing Cloverdale to get to school, the library, the community center etc.
○ Concerns about vehicles “whipping” onto Dallas Ave S. after crossing the bridge endangering pedestrians and cyclists (Dallas leads to the Duwamish Trail – a safe cycling route to downtown).
○ The increasing traffic back-up at the intersection of 5th & Cloverdale
● Increased pollution due to the increase in traffic
● The need to mitigate the impact on the already slow and often delayed 132 & 60 bus service
We would like to put forth the following recommendations:
● Transfer car trips from the West Seattle Bridge to transit, bike and walking trips to reduce pollution.
● Increase access to bus service. If West Seattle buses are rerouted to the First Ave or South Park bridges, some portion need to stop in South Park to provide us with better, faster bus service if we are to bear the brunt of the impacts of additional buses here. We also recommend the use of electric busses to reduce pollution.
● Safe pedestrian crossings
○ Lights for crossing at 10 or 12th & Cloverdale.
■ High-density new construction coming online in 2020 will bring even more neighbors to this area.
○ A light or highly visible crosswalk where Dallas Ave S. and the bridge meet to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
○ A light or four-way stop on Dallas Ave S. near RAM Mounts at Thistle/Dallas/12th streets. Traffic cutting through the industrial area from Marginal Way has led to cars speeding down a residential street that already has a dangerous 4-way stop. We appreciate the Your Voice Your Choice intervention at this intersection, but it will not be enough to prevent accidents with increased traffic.
○ Crossing guards at 8th & 7th & Cloverdale for school children.
○ Improvements at 14th & Henderson.
● Improved Bike Connections
○ Protected bike lanes on the 1st Ave to downtown corridor are especially essential if the low bridge closure were to cut off access from the Duwamish Trail to downtown. A protected crossing across East Marginal from (and to) the First Ave Bridge is immediately needed for this bike route. More people will be biking and this connection is crucial.
○ Continue the funding, planning, and development of the Georgetown – South Park trail project
● Detours should keep traffic on major thoroughfares
○ Police should do consistent traffic stops to address speeding
We look forward to collaborating with SDOT and our West Seattle and Duwamish Valley community to develop solutions to this crisis.
South Park Neighborhood Association – Aley Thompson & Robin Schwartz
Concord Elementary Parent Teacher Association – Robin Schwartz & Gladis Clemente
Concord Elementary School – Miguel Sansalone & Cesar Roman
Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition – Paulina Lopez
Duwamish Rowing Club – Mike Merta
Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition – Maria Ramirez, Robin Schwartz & Analia Bertoni
Duwamish Valley Safe Streets – Jesse Moore & Peaches Thomas
Duwamish Valley Youth Corps – Carmen Martinez
Duwamish Valley Port Community Action Team – Bunthay Cheam, Edwin Hermandez, Maggie Angel Cano & Hannah Kett
ECOSS – Cluny McCaffrey
Seattle Neighborhood Group – Jake Hellenkamp & Dennis Diaz
Somali Parents Education Board – Muna Hussein
South Park Area Redevelopment Committee – Meredith Hall, Bill Pease & Aley Thompson
South Park Arts – Jen Nye, Wendy Woldenberg & Bill Pease
South Park Merchants Association – Rocio Arriaga
South Park Senior Center – Dagmar Cronn & Dat Giap
Villa Comunitaria – Analia Bertoni
Side note: The South Park Bridge is owned and operated by King County, though most of the rest of South Park is part of the city of Seattle.
Thanks to Jim Edwards for the photo – that’s how the 5-way intersection (Spokane/Chelan/West Marginal/Delridge) west of the low bridge looked this morning after the second night of repaving. It’s since been striped, and here’s the SDOT cam view of how it looks now:
Lane reconfiguration and signal work was part of the projet too – here’s the SDOT one-sheet (PDF) explainng.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Guests at Thursday night’s online WSTC meeting included Heather Marx and Adiam Emery from SDOT and Chris Arkills and Bill Bryant from Metro. As WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd reiterated at the meeting’s start, the focus was on “transportation mitigation” – how is everyone who drove across the high bridge going to get around now?
Marx opened by acknowledging that as a West Seattleite who was also surprised to hear about the bridge, “whatever you’re feeling, I’m feeling too.” She explained that she’s heading the project group – engineering, communications, etc., so if you’re looking for a point person, “I’m the one.” She went through the same slide deck as Wednesday night’s meetings (which in turn was mostly the same as Monday’s City Council briefing and last week’s “might not be fixable” media briefing), including a pitch for signing up for Alert Seattle “because the worst COULD happen.” (Not just bridge-wise.) She also acknowledged the letter SDOT had received from WSTC, and had new slides pointing out actions taken – or planned -from WSTC suggestions. They included: