HERBOLD: West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force updates
information from District 1 Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold
The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on September 15, and the meeting featured two key updates.
First of all, the bridge repair remains on schedule for mid-2022.
Secondly, the West Seattle Water taxi will maintain daytime operating hours during the winter, instead of going to the regular winter schedule on October 15th. Thanks to King County and SDOT for working together to make this happen, and to City voters for approving the Seattle Transit Measure last year to provide funding.
West Seattle Bridge Repair
Construction on the repair is scheduled to begin in November, with some construction activities beginning next month.
Permit approvals have been attained on schedule, which is critical, as permitting delay in by external governments is a key risk for schedules for large capital projects.
Next month, early work on construction will include building work platforms off-site (work platforms were visible during the stabilization done last year), coring through parts of the bridge to allow installation of the work platforms, and relocating utilities inside the box girders in order to make room for post-tensioning.
There is one scope change to the bridge repair project. Additional geotechnical review has determined that seismic stabilization of Pier 18 will not be needed at this time. If the work is needed in the future, it would not require a traffic closure. The cost estimate for this work was $12 million.
Instead, the project will shift these funds to $12 million of major maintenance work, including work on expansion joints, concrete overlay and carbon fiber wraps. This work would be needed in the future, and disrupt traffic in future years. So doing it now makes good sense. Also, doing this work now allows the City to keep federal grant funds, rather than having to return them.
Lower Bridge Access Update
When the West Seattle Bridge was closed, SDOT limited use of the Spokane Street (lower) bridge between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. to emergency vehicles, transit, freight and urgent government uses.
In June, SDOT granted conditional access to restaurants and retail businesses, maritime and industrial businesses, vanpools, employer shuttles, on-call medical workers, people traveling for lifesaving medical treatments, longshoreman, and urgent/unplanned trips for government vehicles (limited to urgent/unplanned trips and includes City of Seattle, King County, State of Washington, local law enforcement). Over 1,300 users have been granted access.
The bridge has been open for general use from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.; in June SDOT added 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. for general use on Saturday and Sunday.
With Terminal 5 opening in January 2022, SDOT had announced that conditional uses granted to June would need to be revoked, or sharply restricted at that time, and use limited to emergency vehicles, transit and freight.
There is good news on this front. SDOT has announced they have no changes in the current access planned for January 2022, expect for additional limits on government vehicle use. This is possible, in large part, because users granted access have been judicious in their use of the bridge. The West Seattle Junction Business Association and the West Seattle Chamber, and representatives of other user groups have played a very helpful role in this, so I want to thank them for their efforts.
Based on current trip levels, and expected increase in freight traffic, SDOT is encouraging users to voluntarily reduce trips levels between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Their area of concern is especially regarding eastbound trips at that time; they are working with the Port and Northwest Seaport Alliance to shift trips when possible.
Here’s the current policy scheduled to take effect on January 1:
Below is a timeline for current access, and “Phase 1” access beginning on January 1. If there is a need to reduce access levels, a “Phase 2” plan would involve reducing West Seattle and maritime business trips caps (I.e. allowing fewer trips per month), and restricting access between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.