West Seattle, Washington
Two months ago tonight, the barricades and signs came down and the West Seattle Bridge opened back up, two and a half years after its sudden shutdown. We checked in with SDOT this week on two matters – first, what are the current traffic volumes? Not long after the reopening, traffic was reported to be about two-thirds what it was pre-pandemic. This week, SDOT spokesperson Mariam Ali replied to us that it hasn’t changed: “Traffic volumes on the West Seattle Bridge are still approximately two-thirds of what they were in 2019. (~60k vehicles per day vs. ~90k per day in 2019).” Also: “Volumes on the Spokane Street low bridge corridor are roughly half of 2019 levels. (4,500 vehicles per day vs. 9,000 vehicles per day in 2019).” (We haven’t yet checked on the 1st Avenue South Bridge or South Park Bridge – our main interest was the high bridge.) We also asked about the ongoing inspections, when the next one was scheduled, and whether any new cracks had been seen. Ali replied, “(Today) will be the next scheduled inspection. No new cracking other than normal new construction shrinkage is occurring. The electronic monitoring is ongoing 24/7.”
(Latest image from ‘live’ SDOT camera atop the bridge)
Just received from SDOT:
Westbound lanes on West Seattle Bridge closed Wednesday overnight for overhead signage adjustment
Overnight on Wednesday, October 19 to early morning Thursday, October 20 we will be closing all westbound lanes on the West Seattle Bridge to allow crews to complete overhead sign adjustment work. Once work is complete, all westbound travel lanes on the bridge will be restored. A signed detour route, directing travelers across the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) will be in place during the closure.
We will also be conducting single lane closures on the westbound lanes overnight tonight (and Tuesday night). These closures are also being conducted as part of the signage adjustment work.
No exact hours for any of the above yet – we might not get those until tomorrow, but we’ll update when we do, and we’ll include reminders (as we do with all announced road work/closures) in our first-thing-in-the-morning traffic roundups.
P.S. Tonight marks exactly one month since the bridge reopened.
ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: SDOT says this has been canceled and will be rescheduled, possibly for next week.
If you’ve been on the SDOT mailing list for weekly West Seattle Bridge updates – today’s newsletter is the last one, they’ve announced. Here’s the final update, three weeks post-reopening:
The West Seattle Bridge has been open to travelers for nearly 3 weeks, and people are transitioning back to their pre-closure travel patterns. Nearly 2/3 of pre-closure bridge travelers have returned to the high bridge over the past few weeks.
Traffic on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge), which is now open for everyone 24/7, has decreased by 30%, improving the flow of goods in and out of Seattle’s busy port. Traffic volumes on West Marginal Way SW, which were 250% higher than pre-closure volumes, have decreased dramatically. Elsewhere on the former detour routes – such as East Marginal Way S and 1st Ave S – the number of cars on the road has returned to what it was prior to March 2020.
Traffic on the low bridge, which sits just below the West Seattle Bridge, was down by more than 30% since reopening to all users.
People traveling to and from West Seattle are getting time back in their daily lives as traffic continues to adjust after the bridge reopening.
This decrease in traffic volumes across West Seattle means that people are getting to their destinations in less time. Peak travel times on most former detour routes have decreased significantly and people commuting to downtown from some neighborhoods in West Seattle have seen their travel times cut in half.
While more and more people get back on the bridge for their commutes, we will continue to monitor and inspect it in the months to come. Our first comprehensive inspection following the reopening confirmed that the repairs are doing their job and keeping the bridge strong and stable.
Last week, we mentioned nighttime lane closures so crews could go inside the West Seattle Bridge to work on the new observation platforms. Now, they’re done, SDOT reports in its weekly bridge update:
This week, crews finished installing lighting inside the bridge for the permanent inspection platforms. These newly installed and illuminated platforms will allow inspectors to easily monitor the bridge’s interior concrete in the months and years to come. On top of frequent visual inspection, the bridge’s 24/7 monitoring system continues to transmit real-time data to our bridge inspection team.
With the interior light installation work complete, crews ended the nighttime lane closures on the high bridge that were needed to finish this work after the bridge opened. An additional nighttime lane closure on the high bridge will be needed to adjust several signs in the coming weeks.
Tomorrow night marks two weeks since the bridge reopened after its 2 1/2-year closure.
Two West Seattle Bridge post-reopening notes tonight:
TRAFFIC STATS: While speaking with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition at tonight’s WSTC meeting, new SDOT director Greg Spotts shared a few traffic stats from the first few post-reopening days. He said the bridge traffic on Monday and Tuesday was 66 percent of comparable pre-closure days. Low-bridge volumes are down by half. Detour-route traffic is down 30 to 50 percent. But some other streets have seen an increase, Spotts said, such as 35th SW – at 35th/Raymond, traffic rose 12 percent.
NIGHTTIME LANE CLOSURES: SDOT had said there’d still be some work going on post-reopening, and the past few nights, there’s been work that led to lane closures on the bridge. Joseph sent this pic while noting the inside lane was closed each way.
We asked what specifically is being done. Here’s the reply from SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:
These nighttime single-lane closures are to allow crews to finish installing lighting for the inspection platforms inside the bridge. We won’t be doing any more closures this week, and expect to perform some similar overnight work next week.
Once we’ve completed installing the lighting, we’ll use these new inspection platforms for monitoring the structure over the coming months and years. Most routine inspections will not require a lane closure.
The sign has the headline: The West Seattle Bridge is open, as of 21 hours ago, after its 2 1/2-year closure. People started celebrating immediately last night by driving across the bridge, honking their car horns, some even going up on the Andover pedestrian bridge to exuberantly cheer. Today, the celebration continued, with perhaps the biggest party at Ounces Tap Room and Beer Garden, continuing on into the evening.
Yesterday, Ounces had a pre-reopening party with an island theme, marking the last day of West Seattle’s status as an “accidental island.” Then just after 9 pm last night – as seen in video we featured – co-proprietor Laurel Trujillo watched an SDOT worker open the Delridge entrance to the bridge, right across from Ounces. She said they’d been seeing “false alarms” all day and was elated when it opened for real
This afternoon, all smiles, she told us they just felt the community deserved a party, so they threw one all weekend. She isn’t sure how the reopening will affect their business, except for increased visibility – she’s grateful for community support that continued through the closure and the pandemic. (Watch for other businesses’ festivities as the week ahead unfolds.)
Also this afternoon, we talked with SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge program director Heather Marx, who gave a post-reopening media briefing on the northwest corner of 35th and Fauntleroy, suddenly a much busier intersection with the bridge back in business. Wearing a “Reunited” commemorative T-shirt, Marx – a West Seattle resident – said all had gone well so far. Here’s the unedited Q&A, which lasted 15 minutes:
Key points: The West Seattle Bridge has the “most sophisticated monitoring system of any bridge in Seattle’s (city) inventory” so they’re getting info on a “minute-by-minute basis.” Formal inspections will be done every two weeks for the first three months, then once a year, then every two years. They will of course be watching the traffic patterns, since the pandemic has changed where and how people work; they’ll be monitoring feeder streets’ traffic patterns and signals too, and adjusting as necessary. The work of removing detour/closure signs will likely continue for much of the next week; if you see anything left behind, please notify SDOT at 206-684-ROAD. Marx – who hadn’t driven across the bridge yet as of the 1:30 pm briefing – said she was going to go check detour routes herself later in the day. Looking even further into the future, she reiterated that the repairs are expected to facilitate the bridge lasting its originally planned lifespan – almost 40 more years. But if it doesn’t, the replacement discussions that happened early in the closure period have left the city with a 30 percent design with which they could continue working immediately.
There was some talk about people speeding across the bridge last night and today, and Marx said her big request for people on all city streets was to “slow down.” And if anybody’s planning to try some bus-lane cheating, she warned that “Officer Friendly” will be back to watch for that. Speaking of watching, we’ll be chronicling the first post-reopening West Seattle Bridge morning commute starting by 6 am Monday.
9:13 PM: It’s official. Cars just started heading eastbound from the 35th entrance. More to come…
9:23 PM: Thanks to Laurel at Ounces (which is having a big reopening party tomorrow) for sending that video of the last barricade being removed at the Delridge entrance, and the worker declaring, “The West Seattle Bridge is open!”
9:30 PM: Here’s the official SDOT announcement. Key points to remember:
-Restrictions on the low bridge are now ALL lifted
-Buses don’t return to the high bridge until Monday
(Texted photo from Eric Linxweiler)
9:44 PM: Thanks for the photos and videos – getting caught up once the server starts behaving again (sorry if you’ve had trouble connecting, we have increased capacity over the years but apparently not by enough). Tim McMonigle reports his car was the first car across (see comment below) – here’s his video:
(Added: In the comment thread on our earlier report, “Matt #2” says he was first across on his motorcycle.) … Many noted fireworks this past half-hour. Haven’t had time to sleuth them yet. (Update: Someone on Twitter says they were off Bainbridge.)
10:10 PM: The reopening means a huge sigh of relief for residents along detour routes – particularly (but not limited to) Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown. Kay from HP sent this photo and caption:
Tail lights on SW Holden – so long, y’all!
You might recall that SW Holden was so swamped with traffic immediately after the closure, SDOT installed a traffic signal at Highland Park Way/Holden in the span of a week – an intersection where previously residents had been requesting traffic-control help for decades.
10:45 PM: Speaking of looking back, if you for any reason want to browse back through our 2 1/2 years of coverage – going back to the shocking March 23, 2020, announcement that the bridge had to be closed – it’s all archived here, 300+ stories. Getting back to the present, here’s the “live” 35th/Fauntleroy webcam, which we featured earlier in the hours leading up to the reopening.
We’ll of course be watching the traffic situation, especially on Monday morning, with live updates during that first post-reopening outbound commute.
11:34 PM: Commenters are noting that the southbound I-5 exit to the bridge hasn’t reopened yet. SDOT mentioned that in a tweet and said it’s related to WSDOT’s “Revive I-5” work.
1:15 AM: One of the high bridge webcams is working now.
4:51 PM: No new intel so far today on exactly what time SDOT expects to reopen the West Seattle Bridge, but we did learn that the 35th/Fauntleroy traffic camera has been pointed at the bridge’s west entrance so you can see when it’s open there, so we’ve embedded it above. (The high-bridge cameras have not been reactivated yet, although we’re told, again, that they’re trying to get that done in time for the reopening.) Refresh for the latest version of the image, which is updated every minute or two, or go to the SDOT Travelers’ Map to click on the camera and get a window with an option for watching live video. Camera aside, SDOT says the official “it’s open” notification will come first via Twitter, then an SDOT Blog post, then a news release, then email.
7:30 PM: From SDOT via Twitter:
Crews will be hard at work this evening getting the #WestSeattleBridge ready for reopening. There’s lots to do removing signs & barricades in dozens of locations around West Seattle & Duwamish Valley. We will have the latest info tonight here on Twitter. #WestSeattleReunited pic.twitter.com/dZnCLzmKUf
— seattledot (@seattledot) September 18, 2022
8:02 PM: Also from SDOT – please stay off the bridge so those crews can do their job.
8:48 PM: Went over to 35th/Fauntleroy for a ground-level look at final tasks. This crew took down the “Bridge Closed/Detour” sign by Taco Time’s east side:
Data point: The signs are reusable because what’s on them was applied with adhesive, not painted, because of the materials needed to meet reflectivity requirements.
9:10 PM: The live webcam shows crews just pulled the ROAD CLOSED signs away at the 35th/Fauntleroy entrance.
(Added: Video by Paulette Athan as Fauntleroy barricades were removed)
9:17 PM: And a moment after that, as we’ve posted separately, the bridge reopened.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Acknowledgments, applause, even a poem were part of an hourlong event this afternoon on Harbor Island commemorating the impending West Seattle Bridge reopening and acknowledging those involved in the repair project.
It seemed that almost everyone who had some role in what’s transpired since the sudden shutdown March 23, 2020, was there, including former Mayor Jenny Durkan and former SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe. They didn’t speak, though; newly confirmed SDOT director Greg Spotts took the podium first, for a land acknowledgment that mentioned the Muckleshoot and Suquamish tribes and their “Duwamish ancestors,” followed by a Native prayer, and then speeches. Here’s the video:
Here’s the group shot of everyone who spoke:
Mayor Bruce Harrell said the most important thing he could offer was to “thank the people whose lives were impacted,” thanking everyone for their patience and acknowledging the “inconvenience” of the last two and a half years.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell followed, noting that on Sunday, “the nightmare of this congestion [for detouring] is going to end.” She observed that freight was affected too, and talked about the federal funding that covered more than half the cost of repairs (as noted here last night).
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, describing herself as a “proud resident of West Seattle,” said she also is proud of the “patience, grit, and determination” people have shown during the 2 1/2 bridgeless years.
Seattle’s Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith read a poem composed for the occasion, musing what the bridge might say if it could speak, and reminding all that it has a name (the Jeanette Williams Memorial Bridge, after the city councilmember who secured funding for it 40-plus years ago).
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold spoke of the “stark effects” of the closure and the dramatic change in traffic patterns. She recalled former mayor Durkan’s “big decision” to proceed with repairs rather than replacement.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed – mentioning her West Seattle roots as a Chief Sealth International High School graduate and South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) Running Start student, recapped the port’s partnership on low-bridge access.
Two labor leaders, Monty Anderson of Seattle Building Trades and Katie Garrow of MLK Labor, spoke about their members’ contributions to the repair work. Garrow also served on the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, whose co-chairs followed her at the microphone: Paulina López of the Duwamish River Community Coalition spoke of relief that the Duwamish Valley (South Park and Georgetown) would soon be free of the extra air pollution brought by detour traffic, and hope that people will come back to the area for other reasons, like dining and shopping; Greg Nickels, former Seattle mayor, reminded everyone that Sunday will be the 910th day since the bridge closed, saying two of his grandchildren have been born in that time. He also spoke of a family member having to use the low bridge to get to cancer treatments, something made possible because the WSBCTF pushed for people undergoing “life-saving treatments” to be added to the list of those who could get permission to use the low bridge during restricted times.
In post-speeches Q&A, we asked if anyone at the city would apologize for the bridge shutdown having to happen at all. Mayor Harrell fielded that one, saying he would “apologize on behalf of the city,” asking for “grace” because “leaders … are human; they make mistakes.”
Along those lines, the citizens coalition West Seattle Bridge NOW sent this statement about the event:
We’re relieved that everyone who’s been impacted by the bridge closure can finally get moving again. But a cause for celebration? Not so much. When the bridge closed without warning two and a half years ago Mayor Jenny Durkan declared an emergency. Then what happened? Bureaucracy as usual. While we sat stuck in traffic, with travel times to get almost anywhere outside of West Seattle doubled, tripled or worse, the city took its sweet time exploring replacement options and finally settled on repairs after community pushback. There was nothing about this process that suggested any increased urgency or accelerated timeline.
We think instead of celebrating, our elected leaders should take stock of why we had to wait two and a half years for a critical transportation link to be restored. West Seattle has already paid the price for the City and SDOT choosing to respond to a transportation emergency with the usual process. In a city rife with bridges with maintenance backlogs we only hope that no other community has to endure what we have for the past 30 months.
The West Seattle Bridge closure should serve as a cautionary tale. We’d love to see a press conference where elected leaders share lessons learned from the closure and what’s being done to avoid a similar debacle. That way we can all feel like our two and a half year traffic jam at least helped prevent the next one.
Other statements issued after today’s event include:
–SDOT’s news release
–City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Alex Pedersen (who chairs the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee)
As for the bridge itself – the backdrop for this afternoon’s event at Terminal 18 Park – SDOT still isn’t saying exactly when on Sunday it will reopen. Some fencing/signage removal is under way – but SDOT stresses that the bridge is not open yet.
SIDE NOTE: Some people on their way to the event were delayed because, almost predictably, the Duwamish bridges had to open for ship traffic. We waited at the 1st Ave. So. Bridge and by the time we got to the event site, the same vessel was going through the low bridge, a bulk carrier:
Some of what’s happened in the past two and a half years of West Seattle Bridge closure will change when it reopens – no more low-bridge restrictions, for example. Some things will stay – like all those new speed humps/cushions installed in various neighborhoods. But at least one major matter remains unsettled: The fate of Seattle Fire Ladder 13 and Medic 26.
(WSB photo: Ladder 13 at a West Seattle fire response in July)
A few months after the bridge closed, those two units were activated from SFD reserves and added to West Seattle/South Park to supplement what’s already based at the six area fire stations – Ladder 13 was added to Station 37 in Sunrise Heights, Medic 26 was added to Station 26 in South Park. The additions doubled the local availability of those two types of apparatus – previously the only ladder truck and medic unit in the area were Ladder 11 and Medic 32 at Station 32 in the Junction/Triangle area. We don’t know the total cost of basing those resources here, but in the original May 2020 announcement, SFD said that just for the remainder of that year, “funding required for staffing the two new units, apparatus maintenance and fuel, and room accommodations at the fire stations [would be] approximately $2.5 million.” Whether they’ll be deactivated – meaning that in responses where an extra truck or medic unit is needed, they’d be sent from outside the area – has yet to be decided.
A source suggested that Fire Chief Harold Scoggins supports keeping them here, so we asked SFD first; spokesperson Kristin Tinsley would say only that “The future of Ladder 13 and Medic 26 will be determined in the budgetary process.” That process begins shortly, with the mayor presenting a proposed budget and the City Council starting months of reviewing it, culminating with finalization of a budget in November. So we asked West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who also chairs the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, which among other things deals with fire/police issues. She meets regularly with Chief Scoggins and told us that in August, “I brought the issue up with him as well and requested that both be maintained. It was apparent to me in that conversation that the Chief understands the clear need for these resources to be maintained.” Right now, SFD confirms, the two units are funded through the end of this year, so they’ll stay at least a few months beyond the bridge reopening. If you have comments for the mayor about this or anything else as he drafts a budget, contact info is here; council contact info is here.
(Countdown sign outside O’Neill Plumbing [WSB sponsor] HQ in Morgan Junction)
As reported here earlier, SDOT says the repaired West Seattle Bridge aced its “load testing” and remains on track to reopen Sunday after two and a half years. Here are some other miscellaneous bridge-related notes.
WHAT DID YOU PAY? The pie chart above is courtesy of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell‘s office, breaking down the bridge-project price tag in a news release sent in advance of an event tomorrow at which she and other elected officials will discuss the reopening. “Of the project’s $66.94 million repair costs more than half – $37.65 million – came from federal funding sources,” Cantwell’s news release notes.
ABOUT THE WEBCAMS: The SDOT webcams on the high bridge stayed up for much of the closure – until the sign structures were replaced; they’ve been down since then. We asked if they would return in time for the reopening; SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson says, “Our traffic operations center has been working on restoring traffic cameras around the West Seattle area. If everything goes according to plan, they hope to have the West Seattle bridge deck cameras operational by the time the bridge opens.” A few others around the area have been down a while too, such as Highland Park Way/Holden, and those are also on SDOT’s list.
DELRIDGE LIBRARY BRIDGE WISHES: Beatriz Pascual-Wallace at Delridge Library sent this photo and report:
Just for fun: Delridge Library invited patrons and staff to share the first place they will go when the bridge reopens. These are the responses so far. Where will you go first???
(We asked about the PCC mention – she explained that was from someone who lives off-peninsula.)
BREWING THE BRIDGE BEER: As mentioned last week, local brewers teamed up to brew a special beer to celebrate West Seattle “reuniting” with the rest of the city, and you’ll be able to try it starting Sunday. The collaborators put together a short promotional video and sent us the link:
OTHER CELEBRATORY EVENTS: The West Seattle Junction Association says the week following the bridge reopening will be full of specials at local businesses and some other ways to commemorate the “reunion” – among the special events the first full weekend with the bridge are the Wine Walk on Friday, September 23rd, and the 8-Bit Brass Band performing at California/Alaska at 5:30 pm Saturday, September 24th.
(New WSB photo: West Seattle Bridge as seen around 4:30 pm today from east Admiral hillside)
The countdown to the West Seattle Bridge reopening Sunday will continue uninterrupted. SDOT has just sent word that the load-test results have been analyzed, and the bridge passed the test:
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has completed the analysis of strength tests conducted earlier this week on the West Seattle Bridge, and the bridge has passed its final safety test. This data confirms the bridge is strong, safe, and ready to reopen on Sunday, September 18. …
Earlier this week, SDOT conducted load testing on the bridge to confirm that it is structurally sound and able to reopen thanks to the repairs that have been completed over the past two and a half years. This testing process involved driving a dozen 80,000-pound trucks on the bridge deck, then actively measuring the bridge’s response to the added weight using sensors.
SDOT is confident that the repaired bridge will stand strong for decades to come, fulfilling its original intended lifespan.
The bridge is stronger and safer now that we have added nearly 60 miles of steel cable “backbone” to the bridge, 100,000 square feet of carbon fiber wrapping, and 240 gallons of epoxy to fill cracks in the bridge’s concrete.
The bridge now includes an extensive, sophisticated bridge monitoring system that can detect subtle movements or any growth of existing cracks. The safety system runs 24/7 and automatically alerts engineers immediately of any issues that would require further inspection.
Still no announcement of exactly when on Sunday the bridge will reopen after the 2 1/2-year shutdown. We have other reopening-related notes to bring you a little later today but wanted to get this announcement out immediately.
12:02 PM: That was the scene a short time ago at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza, as people started gathering to participate in the first of four shoots as part of the community-planned video to commemorate the West Seattle Bridge reopening, as announced earlier this month. If you’d like to be in it, there are three more stops today with video director Ryan Cory – if you can get to any of them, the plan is:
12:45 pm Admiral Theater
1:45 pm Alaska Junction by Easy Street
2:45 pm at the bridge’s west entrance
The bridge remains on schedule to reopen this Sunday, September 18th. SDOT isn’t saying yet exactly what time.
P.S. These two had our favorite outfits seen at the Alki shoot:
1:15 PM: Just got word from Stephanie, one of the people coordinating this, that if you can make it to the 2:45 pm shoot on the bridge, meet at Pecos Pit (35th/Fauntleroy; WSB sponsor), “graciously feeding us with sliders and tastes of potato salad.”
5:02 PM: Thanks to Laina Vereschagin from the community coalition for these photos from the last shoot of the day, on the bridge’s west end – first the “cast” with director Ryan Cory:
Even the Chief Sealth International High School cheer squad turned out:
The full video might not be out till month’s end but snippets are expected to debut soon.
1:52 PM: As we first reported last week, today’s the day that SDOT planned to begin one of the last critical tasks before reopening the West Seattle Bridge on Sunday (September 18th) – load testing. It involves trucks moving across the bridge with “specialized heavy loads,” and SDOT has recorded some of it via drone video we just received.
While this needs to be done before the bridge reopens, SDOT has said repeatedly that the repaired bridge already has been tested in other ways and has performed as expected, so they’re not anticipating any surprises. Still no word of exactly what time Sunday they plan to start pulling down the barricades to end the 2 1/2-year closure.
3:31 PM: So what happens now? SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson says, “It will take us a few days to analyze the data.” Likely that’ll be complete by Friday afternoon, when a pre-reopening media briefing is planned.
Six days until the scheduled reopening of the West Seattle Bridge after 2 1/2 years. Today’s notes:
TIMING: We asked SDOT again today exactly when on Sunday they plan to reopen the bridge. Reply: They’re still not saying.
BUSES: After we published our report today on the Metro “service change” this Saturday, Metro announced that the bus routes returning to the high bridge won’t do that until the start of the service day on Monday, instead of Sunday.
FINAL TOUCHES: If you’re wondering what’s happening on the bridge in these final days, SDOT has published an update, including a recap of all the maintenance work that’s been done during the repairs, including resurfacing the west end of the bridge (formally the Fauntleroy Expressway):
SPEAKING OF CONCRETE: The labor dispute that delayed part of the bridge-repair work earlier this year is now over. Teamsters Local 174 says its members have ratified a new contract, more than a year after the old one expired.
As noted last week, people who ordered the “Reunited” T-shirts commemorating the upcoming reopening of the West Seattle Bridge were asked to pick them up these past few days – but not everyone was able to, so there are four more chances, at a different location, this week. If you still need to pick up your T-shirt, you can do it at the West Seattle Junction Association office (4210 SW Oregon, Suite A, immediately east of Shadowland) these days/hours:
Monday (today) 12-3 pm
Tuesday (September 13) 3-6 pm
Wednesday (September 14) 3-6 pm
Thursday (September 15) 3-6 pm
Please bring something confirming your order, such as the confirmation email. If you didn’t order one but are interested in getting it, we’re told the community volunteers who organized this are working on the possibility of a second order.
Nine days before the West Seattle Bridge’s scheduled reopening on Sunday, September 18th, the community-created commemorative T-shirts have arrived, with the contest-winning “Reunited” design (by Susie Perry). Online sales have ended. But if you ordered one, you can pick it up at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW) 5-7 pm tonight or between 11 am and 2 pm Saturday or Sunday. We’re also told there’s a limited amount of extra T-shirts available for drop-in sales. Proceeds go back into the community via the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and West Seattle Junction Association (both nonprofits). The shirts are $19 for youth sizes, $29 for adult short-sleeve, $35 for adult long-sleeve.
With nine days to go until SDOT plans to reopen the West Seattle Bridge, here’s the latest.
POSTCARD: If you still harbored any doubts about the September 18th reopening promise, consider this postcard that just arrived in our USPS mail, declaring “The Bridge Is Back” on that date, in eight languages. (Added: SDOT tells us it was “sent to about 58,000 addresses in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley.”)
SURVEY: In case you don’t do QR codes, the survey the postcard points to is here. It’s officially labeled a “Reconnect West Seattle followup survey,” asking how you’ve been getting around these past two and a half years since the high bridge closed.
DISTRICT 1 COMMUNITY NETWORK BRIEFING: The repair work is almost over, but SDOT still has a lot to do in our area before and after the bridge reopens. That’s what the District 1 Community Network heard from bridge-program director Heather Marx on Wednesday night. First she reaffirmed the reopening date and then went through the list of what’s happening now:
And here’s what’s happening next – including, as we reported earlier this week, the “load testing” starting Tuesday:
Marx stressed that bridge monitoring that’s already being done has left them confident of no surprises when the formal load testing is done. Meantime, as previewed in our traffic roundup this morning, a lot of preparatory work on routes leading to the bridge is planned for this weekend.
Once the high bridge reopens, the low bridge work – done by the same contractor, Kraemer North America – will intensify. Marx said some of the recent problems – the low bridge getting stuck open – will be addressed by pump replacements scheduled in October.
And Marx reiterated that the moment the high bridge is open, the low bridge goes back to being open to all 24/7.
In addition to low-bridge work, SDOT has some other remaining West Seattle projects after the high bridge reopens – these have all been reported before, so this was a recap:
About a controversial item on that list, the West Marginal Way protected bike lane, Marx said they still plan to “collect more data” along the route after the high bridge reopens, particularly traffic from/to Terminal 5 and businesses on the east side of the street.
She also noted that new SDOT director Greg Spotts (interim, pending confirmation vote) had toured the West Seattle bridges earlier and shared photos on Twitter. (This one’s from inside the high bridge.)
Inspection platform for future monitoring pic.twitter.com/pSUh97UBGU
— Greg Spotts (@Spottnik) September 7, 2022
In Q&A with D1CN attendees, Marx was asked again about SDOT’s decision not to allow a community-planned event on the bridge (a run/walk/ride was being discussed earlier in the year). She said that “the very, very strong response we got was ‘never mind the party, just open the bridge’.” She said SDOT is mindful of the fact that this isn’t an occasion to celebrate – “the largest asset in SDOT’s entire system failed and (by reopening it) we’re just getting people back to their normal lives.”
With a week and a half to go until the scheduled reopening of the West Seattle Bridge, four things to tell you about:
(Bridge work zone during our last visit, August 25)
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW: We asked SDOT if a key final step – load testing – has been taken yet, and what’s happening in general. From spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:
The final load-testing event, which will involve driving specialized heavy trucks over the bridge and measuring how the structure responds, is currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 13. In a sense, load testing has already been occurring for several months now as our intelligent monitoring system has been continuously recording data from the bridge 24/7. The bridge has responded as predicted throughout the repair process, as well as in response to changing weather conditions from the hottest days of summer to the coldest nights this past winter without showing any cause for concern. This ongoing stream of positive data under various extreme conditions gives us a lot of confidence that the final testing event next week will go according to plan.
This week, we are pouring concrete to close the last access points in the bridge deck that were created to allow crews and equipment to get into the bridge’s girders. We also began removing equipment and materials from the construction site that are no longer needed for remaining work activities. We plan to remove a few of the worksite trailers this week, which served as onsite storage facilities and breakrooms for crew members.
Crews are also continuing roadway preparation work to get the corridor ready for vehicles. This work includes pouring concrete for road barrier openings, striping lanes, and replacing guardrails. Permanent inspection platform installation is still underway inside the girders as well.
Meantime, three biznotes looking ahead to the reopening:
COUNTDOWN SIGN: Service businesses with a regional customer base are especially excited about the reopening of the high bridge. O’Neill Plumbing (6056 California SW; WSB sponsor) just moved that sign to its Morgan Junction property, after initially placing it by their Admiral/Avalon sign. Tim O’Neill (pictured) says, “We’ll be in line on the 18th, ready to go!”
COLLABORATIVE BREW: The photo and announcement are from The Beer Junction proprietor Allison Herzog:
To celebrate the opening of the West Seattle Bridge, several members of the West Seattle beer community collaborated on brewing a beer! Reunited is a West Coast IPA brewed at Good Society in collaboration with Beveridge Place Pub, Ounces, The Beer Junction, and Best of Hands Barrelhouse. We are planning to concurrently release our collaboration beer on Sunday, September 18th to coincide with the bridge reopening date and to welcome non-West Seattleites back to our beautiful peninsula. We plan to have the beer on tap all through the week of September 18th through the 24th, so stop by for a pint to celebrate!
PARTY PLAN: Another of those collaborators – the closest one to the bridge, in fact – has announced a party plan! From Ounces (3809 Delridge Way SW) co-proprietor Laurel Trujillo:
WS Bridge Opening Party at Ounces!
Saturday 9/17: 2-9 pm & Sunday, 9/18: 11 am-8 pm
We’re throwing a 2-day event to celebrate the last day on the WS Island and the Opening of the bridge! Woohoo! Event features food trucks, desserts, live music, and so much more! We’ll also be tapping Reunited IPA [explained above]. Event is FREE and family/dog friendly. Full event details and a schedule of events can be found here: ounceswestseattle.com/wsbridgeopen
The Saturday theme will be “Last Day on the Island”; the Sunday theme will be “Welcome (back) to West Seattle.”
Is your business among those doing something special in connection with the bridge reopening? Please send us the info so we can include it in updates like this, as well as our Event Calendar – firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!
(WSB photo from last week’s media tour of bridge)
16 days until the scheduled reopening of the West Seattle Bridge on September 18th, two and a half years after its sudden shutdown. As previously noted, no giant party – but the reconnection will be celebrated and commemorated in other ways. This one has a role for you, if you’re interested: The “West Seattle Best Seattle” community coalition would like to invite you to be part of a video shoot. Here’s the announcement:
It’s a casting call! We’d like to invite any and all West Seattleites to be the stars of a video we’re putting together to spread the excitement about the reopening. It’s purely for entertainment, but we hope to create something fun and interesting that people inside and outside West Seattle will watch and engage with. The basic idea is to celebrate the reopening, attract people back to West Seattle, and help support neighborhoods/businesses that have suffered through 900+ days of the bridge closure.
We’re working with local filmmaker Ryan Cory to shoot a short video on Wednesday, September 14th. We’ll be shooting clips at four locations through the day, with a culminating group shot on the west end of the West Seattle Bridge (which we’ve cleared with SDOT). We’re asking people to come as they are (no clothing with profanity allowed), and we can’t provide transportation or guarantee parking. The optimal number of people in the first three locations would be 100 (though we’d happily take more), with a special focus on having at least 200 (or more!) for the final bridge shot (big drone camera finish). We’ll do our best to include everyone who shows up. We’re working with the visual concept of, “Wow, I just got a message that the bridge is going to reopen, and I’m so excited, I’m going to meet up with others and celebrate,” and so having people bring their phones would be great.
Here’s the schedule for September 14th, and showing up a bit early is encouraged, because we’re on a tight timeline:
11:45 am Alki Beach by the Statue of Liberty
12:45 pm Admiral Theater
1:45 pm Alaska Junction by Easy Street
2:45 pm at the bridge’s west entrance
The video would be used across all social media platforms and websites affiliated with West Seattle, and will be sent to as many media outlets as possible. We’re working on releasing short clips before/during the reopening, with a longer version, about two minutes long, available by September 30th. Participants must be able to follow directions onsite and be quiet and respectful when the director is speaking through the megaphone. There may be some hurry-up-and-wait type of moments, so we’re asking for some patience, too. There will be no payment, in-kind gifts, or actor credits given.
The link for you to register for one or all of the locations is here. Questions about the project can be directed to email@example.com.
Thanks to Beverly Molenda at New Finishes for the photos – she says, “West Marginal Way is looking forward to upcoming relief!! Counting down the days!!!”
Her business is at 4235 W. Marginal. Meantime, SDOT reiterated again this week that they’re still on track for the announced September 18th reopening. As of last week’s media tour, they hadn’t set an exact time, probably early in the morning.
New Finishes, Inc.
4235 W. Marginal Way SW
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For the second time in a little over two weeks, we were back up on the 2 1/2-years-closed West Seattle Bridge today,
Last time, SDOT and repair contractor Kraemer North America hosted WSB and The Seattle Times. This time, it was an open-invitation tour for media from around the metro area.
First, let’s get this out of the way: SDOT says they’re still on track to reopen the bridge Sunday, September 18th, the date announced two weeks ago. When on September 18th? Bridge project director Heather Marx says they haven’t finalized all the logistics yet but probably sometime “early in the morning” that Sunday, they’ll just open the gates and let traffic flow on. No, she reiterated, the bridge will not be reopened in phases – when they open it, the plan to open all lanes.
Even now, work is “winding down.” The carbon-fiber wrapping – part of strengthening the bridge – was finished yesterday. That means Kraemer NA will be able to go ahead with removing the remaining beneath-the-bridge suspended platforms this weekend (the first two came down last Saturday, as covered here). That’ll probably span both days this weekend because the logistics involve the railroad tracks under the bridge, explained Kraemer’s bridge project manager Adam Dour. Also remaining: About 40 yards of concrete work, including filling the holes that were used for suspending and moving the platforms.
Despite concrete drivers’ recent rejection of a contract offer, they’ve had no supply challenges, Marx said. Meantime, a variety of other tasks are under way to get the bridge ready for use.
Today’s discussion also covered ground we covered in our report two weeks ago – including the load testing that’ll happen before the bridge gets final clearance for reopening, But keep in mind, 80 percent of the weight on the bridge, even when open, is generated by the bridge itself, And Marx stressed that their monitoring continues to show the bridge reacting exactly as predicted. She gave a 15-minute briefing/Q&A at the start of the tour, along with Kraemer’s Dour and bridge engineer of record Greg Banks from consultants WSP – here’s our video of that in its entirety;
While “demobilization” on the bridge is necessary before it can be reopened safely to traffic, days if not weeks of work will remain on the routes leading to and from the bridge – removing detour signs, for example, will be a priority – so that the neighborhoods that have borne the burden of extra traffic these past two and a half years will have a chance, finally, at relief.
Remember the West Seattle Bridge reopening design contest won by Susie Perry‘s “Reunited”? Now you can get it on a T-shirt.
The commemorative T-shirt is available in short sleeves or long sleeves, with a short-sleeve kids’ option, in a variety of sizes. Order by this Friday so your shirt(s) can be available in the first batch that’ll be ready for pickup at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW) September 9th, 10th, 11th (11 am-2 pm). Organizers explain, “Proceeds from the shirt sales will go back into the West Seattle community, distributed by two local nonprofit organizations: the West Seattle Junction Association and the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.” If you’re not ready to buy one now, they are expecting to order another batch in the third week of September and say other options such as a hoodie version might be available then, depending on how demand goes in the first wave. To order a T-shirt now, just go here.
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