West Seattle Bridge Update, May 22; Highland Park Way/SW Holden Safety Project Update; City Employees Redeployed to Help Provide Basic Needs; Tackling Chronic Homelessness in King County; Little Free Pantries Hosts Needed in District 1; East Marginal Way Project Letter of Support; $7 Million in Food Access;

May 22nd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, May 22

SDOT released a “Conceptual Modes of Failure” memo earlier this week, developed by SDOT’s structural engineering consultant, WSP. The memo models how the bridge could deteriorate and potentially fail, and thus helps to identify warning signs. While this study was being developed, it informed the development of the multi-agency emergency plan for evacuation of areas near the bridge, if needed. SDOT has stated there is no imminent threat of a bridge collapse.

The memo recommends nine mitigation actions, in order of priority:

  1. Continue daily visual inspections of the structure.
  2. Implement an automated survey system that collects data in real time, with manual surveys in the near term until the automated system is functional.
  3. Implement localized deformation data logging using an automated system that will report total deformation across multiple cracks.
  4. Undertake non-destructive testing (NDT) of select vertical posttensioned tendons in the webs.
  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.

Steps 1-4 assist in better understanding the structural integrity of the bridge, and are being implemented. Step 6, to repair bearing at Pier 18, will proceed if the bridge is stable enough. Step 9 acknowledges repair may not be possible, in which case a replacement will be needed. SDOT has indicated that the addition of monitoring equipment will provide a clearer picture in coming weeks of what is viable.

A collapse in the center portion of the bridge could damage adjacent portions of the bridge, and columns. That’s why the emergency evacuation zone extends beyond the central portions of the bridge where cracking is occurring, to the approach structures.

While this isn’t pleasant to contemplate, I appreciate SDOT making this information public. Here’s a link to SDOT’s blog post. Below are images of potential failure scenarios:

SDOT is conducting daily safety sweeps on the bridge each morning before city staff and consultants begin their work.

Roxbury paving

King County DOT has confirmed they will be coordinating work with SDOT on repaving Roxbury between 16th Avenue SW and 18th Avenue SW, to do the work at the same time. Seattle owns the northern portion of the street; King County the southern portion. Thanks to King County DOT and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott for their work on facilitating this.

Traffic data

The most recent data shows traffic volumes increasing in some locations. For example, West Marginal Way SW @ SW Idaho Street is at 205% of baseline volumes. Highland Park and West Marginal is 57% above average (the figure listed is a typo; it should be 27,240).

South Park Bridge traffic is nearly at baseline levels. SW Roxbury at 15th is also approaching baseline levels. Traffic at Michigan and 4th Avenue South increased above baseline levels.

SDOT’s latest citywide estimates for traffic show it now rising slightly above 50% earlier this week. The neighborhood-based plans SDOT is developing will be very important for managing this; traffic levels will  continue to increase.

King County Metro’s latest update shows bus ridership 71% to 74% below average last week, with ridership 77% below average on the C Line, and 63% on Route 120.

SPD lower bridge enforcement

At my request SPD provided a summary of lower bridge enforcement. The first week was focused on warnings, then switched to citations. Between April 6 and May 8, 177 warnings and 489 citations were issued; nearly every citation was for failing to adhere to the signs regarding use of the bridge.

 

Highland Park Way/SW Holden Safety Project Update, Survey

After the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, SDOT installed a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street.

Before that, however, work had begun on permanent improvements to the intersection. Funding for early planning and design was first obtained in 2017; during the 2020 budget, the Council adopted funding for a permanent signal, or a roundabout. SDOT has now reached 10% design for a signal, and other improvements (funding is not sufficient for a roundabout).

SDOT’s 10% design is available at the Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St Safety Project website. You can fill out a survey there and share your thoughts about the proposal, through May 31st.

There is a presentation on the website; here’s a link to the presentation slides. The presentation notes the increased traffic seen at the intersection shortly after the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, and down the hill at West Marginal Way. SDOT has indicated they will continue to monitor traffic levels.

Proposed improvements in the project area (which goes beyond just the intersection) include a permanent traffic signal with left turn phasing at the Highland Park/Holden intersection; concrete curb bulbs and sidewalks, and widening the existing path that goes down the hill on the east side of Highland Park Way SW. SDOT also notes a potential southbound protected bike lane; the presentation notes it will be re-evaluated when traffic volumes normalize. The proposed improvements slide also notes evaluating 16th and Holden for left-turn signal phasing. A Your Voice Your Choice funding grant is funding adding a left-turn lane at the signal on 16th.

A design update and review meeting is planned for fall 2020, with implementation for neighborhood traffic calming in the 4th quarter of 2020, and construction in the 4th quarter of 2021.

You can take the project survey here; translation services are available at 206-727-8697.


City Employees Redeployed to Help Provide Basic Needs

Over the past couple of months, I’ve shared a lot of information about City programs quickly designed to help people impacted by coronavirus.  From deferred utility payments and grocery vouchers to support for artists and grants to small businesses, every City department has been asked to find ways to pitch in.

I’ve been especially impressed with an effort that hasn’t garnered much attention: City employees being reassigned to work at community organizations.  In their new (temporary) roles, these employees are on the frontlines of the coronavirus response, working alongside nonprofit employees, responding to our neighbors’ increased needs for food, shelter, and safety.

Human Services Department (HSD) staff have been reporting to work at homeless shelters and food banks from almost the first days of the public health emergency.  They’re filling a critical gap and allowing essential services to stay open, as many nonprofits are struggling with short staffing, fewer volunteers, and increased operating costs.  For instance…

  • Between March 26 and April 25, HSD staff covered 242 shifts at two different homeless shelters, contributing a total of 723 hours of service.
  • Since May 6, HSD staff have covered 78 shifts at food distribution sites, contributing a total of 380 hours of service.

And of course, many more HSD staff were already on the frontlines in their usual jobs, providing care and support to help more Seattleites thrive.

This morning, I had the opportunity to volunteer alongside redeployed HSD staff at the South Park Senior Center, where we helped pack food for distribution to neighbors.  I am immensely proud of our City employees for their willingness to take on this work during the public health emergency.  Thank you to the Human Services Department, all of our providers, and to everyone who is helping neighbors in need stay safe, healthy, and warm during this difficult time.

Tackling Chronic Homelessness in King County

This week, I joined a coalition of business leaders, nonprofits, researchers, and advocates at the launch of an ambitious effort to help neighbors who have persistently struggled with homelessness.  The Third Door Coalition unites an unlikely group of allies around a common goal – bringing people living outside into safe, permanent homes – and an ambitious plan to build sufficient permanent supportive housing within five years. 

Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is well-established as the most effective and cost effective solution to chronic homelessness – people living outside or unstably for long stretches of their lives, struggling with disabilities and unable to afford rent.  Ninety-five percent of people housed in PSH, stay housed, regardless of their disability, mental health challenges or substance abuse disorder.  Research conducted at Seattle University School of Law found that:

“…PSH is associated with better outcomes related to quality of life, emergency services, physical and psychiatric hospitalizations, and substance use…  Better outcomes for residents also save money, making PSH the most cost-effective, long-term solution to chronic homelessness. When people experiencing chronic homelessness receive PSH, they are less likely to use emergency departments, hospitals, detoxification facilities, and shelters. PSH residents are also less likely to interact with law enforcement, get arrested, and be incarcerated.”

It’s effective for people and a much better use of public resources than hospitals or jails, the place that – without sufficient housing – people with mental health, disabilities, and substance abuse disorder end up.  On year of Permanent Supportive Housing costs the same as only 3 days in the hospital or 3 months in jail.  That’s why I have consistently called for doubling the City’s investment in permanent supportive housing.

Third Door Coalition members have identified a plan that will reduce the cost of building PSH, while raising the resources required to bring PSH to scale across the region: 6,500 units in five years.  Their work recognizes that cities can not do this work alone.  I was glad to be an inaugural signatory to their call to action, which includes these declarations:

  • We need the support of a county-wide, broad-based, cross-sector coalition of businesses, nonprofit service providers, academic institutions, healthcare providers, faith communities, advocacy organizations, funders, individuals, government and more.
  • The clear solution is to build, lease, or otherwise provide enough permanent supportive housing to meet the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness in King County.
  • Government alone cannot solve the issue, especially with the strain on budgets as a result of the pandemic. A public-private partnership can fund the level of permanent supportive housing we need.
  • The time to act is now.

If you have ever been concerned about how our region can help more people leave homelessness behind for good, please take a look at Third Door Coalition’s smart ideas and follow their work.

Little Free Pantries Hosts Needed in District 1

Are you looking for a way to help feed your neighbors?  Little Free Pantries volunteers just hand-built eighteen new pantries, and they’re looking for District 1 hosts!  Hosts agree to paint and personalize their Little Free Pantry, securely install it in their yard, keep it stocked and in good repair, and spread the news to your neighbors.  Learn more and ask about becoming a Little Free Pantry host here.

Here’s how LFP founder Molly Harmon describes it:

“Little Free Pantries help neighbors feed neighbors.  They aren’t intended to replace food security agencies or eliminate the need to support them; rather, they work alongside each other to draw awareness to food insecurity and create community through collective action in a neighborhood.

“LFPs bring this issue front and center to our neighborhoods, but in a supportive and caring way.  Micro-communities form around Little Free Pantries and in turn, connect neighbors who otherwise would not have met.  By neighbors stocking their neighborhood Little Free Pantry with non-perishable foods, it keeps the pantry full and helps those needing a meal.   Whether a need for food or a need to give, Little Free Pantries help neighbors feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods.”

Check out this recent Seattle Times article about Little Free Pantries, and follow LFP’s work here.

 

East Marginal Way Project Letter of Support

On Monday I coordinated the Council signing a letter in support of a federal BUILD grant application for the East Marginal Way Corridor Project.

The Council signed a similar letter in February for a separate federal grant.

The grant application is for $20 million; the SDOT Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget listing indicated SDOT was considering approaches for full funding; the earlier federal grant application was for $13 million (an INFRA grant); the Port of Seattle is also contributing $5 million to the project. The funding gap listed in the CIP was $38 million.

The project is important for West Seattle, to improve safety by separating bike commuters from traffic; with the closure of the West Seattle Bridge though at least the end of 2021, this corridor will be increasingly important, as freight uses the lower bridge to West Seattle as well.

East Marginal Way is a major freight corridor that provides access to the Port of Seattle terminals, rail yards, industrial businesses and the regional highway system. The project will Improve safety and reliability in the movement of people and goods in this industrial and maritime area; support freight loads by rebuilding the roadway and promote efficiency through signal modifications and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

SDOT could apply for federal grants for the West Seattle Bridge in the future; for this funding cycle, with uncertainty about which solution to pursue, it wasn’t ready for a grant proposal.


$7 Million in Food Access

Last Wednesday the Mayor announced an additional $7 million in food access program for older adults and people experiencing homelessness. The funding comes from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act and will be dispersed by the Seattle Human Services Department.

Working at the West Seattle Food Bank, and this week at the South Park Senior Center, has given me insight to the enormity of the food access challenge during this crisis. I’m so grateful that food banks and free school lunches are helping children and families, but we know that seniors and those experiencing homelessness need more access. This city’s direct investment of $7 million will ensure older adults and our homeless neighbors don’t go hungry during this pandemic.

 

Emergency Water Main Repair Tonight

Tonight Seattle Public Utilities will begin work on repairing a 16-inch water main that is leaking near SW Holly Street between California Ave SW and 39th Ave SW. The West Seattle Blog has the report here. Repairs will require water to be turned off between 9pm today and 5am on Saturday, May 23. The loudest portion of construction will occur between 8pm and 10pm tonight when crews break up the pavement to access the leaking water main.

Some of you may remember an old drainage issue nearby at California Ave and SW Orchard St, this was not a leaking water pipe, but what’s called “seep” where water naturally surfaces. I had communicated with both Seattle Department of Transportation and SPU to try and effectuate a fix as this was a safety hazard in the winter when the water turned to ice. It wasn’t until late December 2017 when SPU Drainage and Wastewater operations staff discovered an abandoned storm water pipe which allowed SPU to correct the problem of the water collection because that they could use the abandoned storm water pipe as a connection to newly route the water away from the street surface. SPU does not believe these issues are related.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday May 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours to comply with the extended Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Governor Inslee. They will begin at 3pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my schedule Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time. We will be using Skype for Business, and you can either utilize the application or the dial-in number.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
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West Seattle Bridge: May 15 Update; Ferries’ Letter Update; COVID-19 Updates; City Consent Decree Filing; Virtual Office Hours

May 15th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge: May 15 Update

SDOT announced they have completed installing intelligent monitoring systems to assess the condition of the West Seattle Bridge. This equipment includes movement sensors, crack monitors and cameras from Pier 15 to Pier 18. SDOT notes this will:

  • “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.”

Movement sensors throughout piers 15 and 18 will measure expansion and contraction at the expansion joints. Deck monitors, which were activated and have been recording data since late April, measure vertical and lateral bridge movements in real time.

New crack monitors will complement the current crack monitoring equipment installed in 2014, which could measure the width of cracks in four specific locations on the bridge.

Monitoring cameras near the center span will record visible crack growth, and provide quick visual verification if sensors indicate excessive movement.

SDOT notes, “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.”

I appreciate SDOT’s candor. SDOT indicates that after a few weeks’ worth of data, they will have a clearer sense of the stability of the bridge, what work can be done.

Traffic Updates

SDOT has installed additional traffic cameras on Roxbury on 15th, 16th, and 35th, and on 35th at Barton, Holden, and Morgan. You can view the camera feeds on SDOT’s camera page by clicking on the camera icons on the map. Areas with more than one camera in close proximity have a + sign on the camera; when you click on the camera image, you can click “next” to see the other camera (e.g. 15th/Roxbury and 16th Roxbury).

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.

SDOT has installed three dynamic message signs displaying travel route times via West Marginal Way SW, at SW Admiral @ 34th St SW; at Fauntleroy Way SW @ SW 38th Street; and at 35th Ave SW @ SW Snoqualmie Street.

SDOT is coordinating with King County Metro on paving work on SW Roxbury St between 16th Ave SW and 18th Ave SW; they plan to do the paving later this month.

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.
Ferries’ Letter Update
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”).

COVID-19 Updates

Welcoming YouthCare to the Neighborhood

Last Friday, a number of young people experiencing homelessness became temporary District 1 residents, moving into the Southwest Teen Life Center.  YouthCare’s usual shelter building didn’t offer enough space for residents to safely shelter in place during the day, when residents would generally leave for education or work, but were suddenly required to stay indoors. YouthCare worked quickly to find alternate locations, and the young people themselves helped make the decision to move to the Southwest Teen Life Center.

My office has been in contact with our new neighbors during their transition.  The new space requires some changes to their usual program, and we have been helping ensure they are able to keep their clients safe and well-fed in their new home.  Please join me in welcoming these young people to our community!

Starting Monday, Wear a Face Covering When You Leave the House

Starting on Monday, May 18th, Seattle & King County Public Health issued a countywide health directive instructing residents to wear cloth face coverings in confined public spaces – indoors and out.  Specifically, cloth face coverings should be worn while indoors (except for at home), and outdoors in places where maintaining six feet of physical distance is difficult.

You don’t need to buy a cloth face covering – they can easily be made at home with any piece of cotton fabric.  The Centers for Disease Control has these step-by-step instructions on how to make a cloth face covering.

This effort is critical to slowing the spread of #COVID19 in our community. Learn more, including individuals who may be exempted from the order: kingcounty.gov/masks

Additional Emergency Services for District 1

One of my first actions after learning about the closure of the West Seattle Bridge was to request what additional emergency services would be placed in District 1 to ensure the health and safety of my constituents. In 2010 when the Spokane Street Viaduct was closed the Seattle Fire Department added another fire truck to the area to ensure adequate coverage.

Last Friday the City announced the addition of another ladder fire truck with four firefighters-EMTs to be located at Station 37 (SW Holden St and 35th Ave), and another medic unit with two paramedics at Station 26 (South Park). I am grateful that Fire Chief Scoggins placed these new resources in District 1 to help ensure our safety.

Alki Stay Healthy Streets Extended

Alki’s Stay Healthy Streets segment has been extended – see the map below.  In District 1, Stay Healthy Streets are also available in Delridge/Highland Park and High Point.

Stay Healthy Streets are neighborhood greenways that are closed to thru-traffic so people can bike and walk in the road. Local traffic is still allowed on the streets.

Curbside Pick-Up Zones for Retail

As retail stores begin reopening in the coming weeks, look for Curbside Pick-Up Zones!  Starting today, the Seattle Department of Transportation will install temporary curbside priority pick-up zones to support safe, easy, and critical access to Seattle retail businesses that are open for curbside pick-up.  Look for these signs.

Under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan, retail businesses can now open for curbside pick-up orders only.  Curbside pick-up zones are special, temporary 15-minute loading zones to support those retail businesses, similar to restaurant pick-up zones.  The 15-minute time limit gives people a chance to quickly and safely pick up purchases, while ensuring frequent parking turnover so the locations remain reliably available for wide use.

To request a curbside priority pick up zone, contact SDOT at 206.684.ROAD or 684-ROAD@seattle.gov and provide your business name, address and contact information.  SDOT will review requested locations to make sure a new zone will fit within the nearby curb regulations. Generally, they will install one new zone per block, so it may need to be located where it can serve several stores on the block. Curbside Priority Pick-Up Zone signs are not assigned to specific businesses, and can be used among several businesses along the block.

City Consent Decree Filing

Earlier this month the City Attorney filed a motion  to terminate the 2-year Sustainment Plan for the Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and the US Department of Justice.

During Phase I of the Consent Decree, the Monitor conducted  ten assessments over three years, which led to new reforms at the Seattle Police Department. The reports included use of force, supervision, crisis intervention, stops, search and seizure, and community confidence.

In January 2018, based on the Monitor’s assessments, the Court found that the City achieved full and effective compliance with the Consent Decree’s Phase I requirements. The Court then approved the two-year Phase II Sustainment Plan, whereby the Court continues to monitor compliance.

The gains in implementing the Consent Decree regarding, for example, lowering use of force and enhancing accountability came about because of the actions the department–especially police officers– so I thank them for their work for public safety and constitutional policing.  Although the Monitor has said: “Seattle has come to be seen as a national model on how to address fundamental issues relating to use of force, stops and detentions, and bias-free policing” and there has been a 60% reduction in the use of serious force, it is important to me that the City recognize in its filing the continued racial disparity in use of force.   For 2019, 22% of total incidences of use of force were for black men, significantly higher than Seattle’s population of black men, and shown on SPD’s use of force dashboard, which includes use of force data. As part of reforms, SPD now has significantly more online data.

As relates to racial disparity in the use of force, the filing says the following:

“The City is not satisfied with simply meeting Consent Decree requirements in this area. SPD has explained, ‘[a]s is reflected in statistics nationwide, racial disparity is of significant ongoing concern, and is an important issue that requires continued discussion and analysis within the limited role of law enforcement but also beyond.’ SPD’s Use of Force Annual Rept. (Dkt. 605- 1) at 9. To that end, SPD has ‘committed to continuing these avenues of inquiry into where disparity is occurring in its interactions with the public, and what the possible causes of that disparity are.’ Disparity Review Pt. II (Dkt. 600-1) at 26.”

The filing leaves one important issue for a later filing: concerns raised by Judge Robart in his May, 2019 Order about accountability and discipline, in which he agreed with concerns raised by the Community Police Commission, and ruled the city was out of full and effective compliance on accountability and officer discipline, and would need to regain compliance. The city’s filing notes the plan to file a subsequent motion by August 1 to address these issues.

It’s important to remember that this process was begun by community groups in 2010, who sent a letter to the US Department of Justice in response to their letter, the US DOJ released findings in 2011 of a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional use of force within the Seattle Police Department. The City and the DOJ entered in to a consent decree in 2012. Included in this was an oversight role by a federal monitor.

As a result of reforms, the City now has a three-pronged accountability structure. The City’s filing notes the City:

“created a powerful Office of Inspector General for Public Safety (OIG) to “ensure the fairness and integrity of the police system as a whole” and “oversee ongoing fidelity to organizational reforms implemented” by SPD under the Consent Decree.

The City established the Community Police Commission (CPC) as a permanent body and broadened its authority to encompass advocacy and engagement related to police-community relations, SPD policies and practices, and police oversight.

The City also increased the effectiveness of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) to further strengthen mechanisms for holding officers accountable, including by bolstering its independence and improving the investigations process.”

As Chair of the Council’s committee overseeing public safety, I regularly meet with and consult with these three accountability agencies.

The City’s press release includes additional background noted below:

  • SPD has reduced the incidence of serious force by officers by 60 percent and virtually all uses of force now meet constitutional requirements, demonstrating that there is no longer a pattern or practice of excessive force.
  • SPD has become a national leader in crisis response training and its rate of using force in crisis incidents is extraordinarily low.
  • SPD does not engage in the “no suspicion” stop-and-frisk tactics decried in other jurisdictions, and the legality of its stops and frisks does not vary by race.
  • SPD and the Community Police Commission have collaborated to design and implement high quality implicit bias training and to study the sources and effects of racial disparity in policing.
  • SPD overhauled its patrol staffing and supervision to ensure that all patrol officers have a consistent, highly trained supervisor.
  • The Office of Police Accountability conducts thorough, complete investigations and has adopted key recommendations from the Monitor and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday May 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours to comply with the extended Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Governor Inslee. They will begin at 3pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my schedule Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time. We will be using Skype for Business, and you can either utilize the application or the dial-in number.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
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West Seattle Bridge: May 8 Update; COVID-19 Update; New Eviction Defense for Renters; Advocacy for Small Businesses; Changes at District 1 Parks; Payroll Tax Legislation/Governor’s Order

May 8th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge: May 8 update

Emergency Response Plan

On Monday, May 4th SDOT announced an emergency response plan developed with a multi-agency task force in the event that the West Seattle Bridge becomes unstable. The plan would entail evacuation of areas near the bridge in the event it becomes necessary. SDOT says “there are currently no indications that we will need to put our emergency response plan into action,” and that the bridge remains stable. The purpose of this plan is to preserve public safety, should the need arise.

SDOT further notes 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 evacuation area would include the lower bridge, part of Harbor Island and the Duwamish, and part of West Marginal Way.

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.

The plan calls for three potential scenarios: immediate evacuation; one to five days notice; and controlled demolition.

The plan notes there are no residences within the area that would need to be evacuated. More information is available here; SDOT encourages people to sign up for Alert Seattle for any emergency notices.

I have asked what SDOT’s plan is for traffic management, should the emergency plan be implemented.

While SDOT indicates the West Seattle Bridge remains stable, cracks continue to grow, though at a slower rate than before it was closed. SDOT has installed real-time monitoring equipment that will allow a clearer picture of whether the bridge can be first stabilized, then repaired.

SDOT’s design consultant, WSP, estimates crack growth rate at two inches per day in the worst cracked section in the south girder wall of the south girder, center span. SDOT’s consultants expect to have results from updated evaluations based on monitoring equipment in mid-May.

Road Work Updates

SDOT is planning to repave the westbound lanes of Roxbury between 16th and 18th Ave SW as early as mid-May, depending on weather. SDOT indicates they are coordinating with King County, which has jurisdiction over the eastbound lanes. SDOT will be doing outreach in advance.

On May 1, SDOT replaced the second pedestrian gate on the lower bridge, which will result in few outages affecting lower bridge openings. SDOT continues to adjust traffic signals.

Traffic Levels

SDOT has reported that citywide traffic levels are now at 50%; until recently they have been at 40%. King County Metro notes that bus ridership is down 75% overall, including 60% on Route 120, and 78% on the C Line, and down sharply for water taxi service.

Though traffic levels are lower than average in most areas, they continue to be two and a half times higher on West Marginal as compared to the early February baseline. The Lower Bridge is 29% below the early February baseline.


COVID-19 Update

Governor’s Phased Safe Start

Governor Inslee announced this week a phased reopening of Washington.  Dubbed Safe Start, the phased approach includes four phases, that will last at least three weeks each. Phase one began on May 5 and continues much of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, but allows for some outdoor recreation including hiking, golfing, fishing, hunting, and boating. Gatherings of any kind are still not allowed. Travel will still be limited to essential travel needs and travel associated with the previously mentioned activities.

Phase one also opens some new businesses including existing construction that meets specific criteria, landscaping, auto sales, retail with curb-side pick-up order only, and pet walkers. Again the below phases will last three weeks each at least, and the Governor will rely on meeting metrics in order to move into the next phase.


New Eviction Defense for Renters

On Monday the Council unanimously passed Council Bill 119784 which creates a defense to evictions for non-payment of rent for six months after the end of the declared public health emergency.  It requires that renters file a certification of financial hardship with the court in raising the defense.

This coming Monday the Council will consider two additional pieces of related legislation. CB 119788, sponsored by Council President González,  would allow residential tenants to make up past due rent in installments. I’m bringing forward an amendment that would allow the payment plans to be a year in length, if more than two months of rent is past due. As crafted the legislation would require that two months’ rent be paid back over the course of six months. However, that burden of such a large payment is concerning to me. If, for example, someone’s rent is $2,000 and they miss three months of rent, they would (under the current proposal) have six months to pay back $6,000 which would make their total monthly payments $3,000 each, which would be incredibly difficult to meet.

The second piece of legislation, CB 119787, sponsored by Councilmember Morales, is related to the use of eviction records and would prohibit landlords from considering evictions related to COVID-19, as part of an application, during and six months after the civil emergency.

Advocacy for Small Businesses

This week, I joined my colleagues in signing a letter requesting additional assistance for small businesses from our state leaders and federal delegation.  Among other things, this letter asks for: forbearance of business mortgage payments; supports to ensure that smaller small businesses have equitable access to funding opportunities; direct grant stimulus to small businesses; and adequate testing and contact tracing capabilities.  Based on concerns I heard from constituents, I added these requests to the letter:

  • Provide technical assistance to all small businesses to help them navigate federal assistance programs.
  • Increase production and distribution of personal protective equipment (such as masks), so that all small business employees can protect themselves.
  • Reform the federal Payroll Protection Plan to set aside funds based on the characteristics of the businesses to be supported, instead of the characteristics of the lender.

The situation for small businesses changes rapidly.  An important resource to keep on hand is is the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED).  They provide technical assistance for small business owners and share information about resources available from multiple levels of government.

Changes at District 1 Parks

This coming weekend will see changes at some of our most popular parks.

Alki Beach, Lincoln Park, and West Seattle Stadium will all close for the night at 8pm (instead of 11:30pm), starting on Friday.  This change is meant to deter the gatherings that have been occurring there in the evenings.  In all, seventeen parks across the city will observe the new 8pm closing time each day.

Parking lots remain closed at major parks, but at Lincoln Park, nine accessible ADA parking spaces (four at lower beach lot, and five at the southern upper lot) will be available.  No other parking will be allowed, and violators will be ticketed.

Stay Healthy Streets will now be closed to traffic 7 days a week, 24 hours a day –  not just on weekends.  In addition to High Point, the City will add Stay Healthy Streets in Delridge/Highland Park, and Beach Drive SW in Alki.  These are pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets, often adjacent to local businesses and amenities, where only local traffic is permitted.  They’re a great alternative to destination parks, which may be crowded.

Mother’s Day is traditionally one of the busiest of the year at Seattle parks.  Please following these  “Keep It Moving” guidelines:

  1. Stay Home. If you need to leave the house, visit your neighborhood park.
  2. Keep it Moving. Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no picnics, no BBQs, no sports, no gatherings at our parks.
  3. Visit at Off Peak. Visit parks, greenways and farmers markets at off peak hours.
  4. Crowded Spaces will mean Closed Spaces. If you see a crowd, go somewhere else.

To report crowding at parks, call 206-684-4075, email pks_info@seattle.gov or tweet @seattleparks. pks_info@seattle.gov or tweet to @seattleparks

Questions about what’s open and closed?  Seattle Parks keeps this list updated.

Payroll Tax Legislation/Governor’s Order

The Council’s Select Budget Committee has recently met twice to consider legislation related to a proposed payroll tax on large businesses, a bill for a related spending plan, and a bill to enact an interfund loan to allow the City to spend the funds on the spending plan priorities before the City collects the payroll tax.

I’ve long believed we need progressive revenue sources and a more fair tax structure.  I have worked on and will continue to work toward these goals. I also strongly believe in the importance of open government as a linchpin to our democratic system of government.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 23rd, Governor Inslee released Proclamation 20-28, “suspending certain statutory requirements in the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and Public Records Act (PRA) for 30 days.” He subsequently extended the order through May 4th, and later through May 31st.

The order a. prohibits public agencies from holding in person meetings and b. prohibits them from taking action as long as meetings are not being held in person  “unless those matters are necessary and routine matters or are matters necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

This proclamation carries the force of law, and notes penalties for failure to comply.

The State Attorney General offered the following guidance for this order:

“As a result, we suggest that an agency will want to keep in mind the OPMA’s open government cornerstones. These cornerstones would support reasons to temporarily limit a governing body’s usual business during this outbreak and for it to focus instead on only those matters necessary and routine, or those needed to deal with the outbreak, until the public can again fully attend all OPMA meetings, including in person if they choose.” (underline added)

In person governance is a critical aspect of open, democratic governance. This was starkly highlighted for me in a digital town hall on the West Seattle Bridge I co-hosted on April 22nd, when 3,200 people viewed the town hall. I couldn’t tell if anyone shook their heads in disappointment, frowned or nodded, booed or clapped.

Due to my concern about two of the bills, CB 119722 and CB 119774, not meeting the standard of the Governor’s order and the Attorney General’s advice, I declined to participate in the discussions of the Select Budget Committee about these bills. I sent a letter to Council President González expressing my concerns about two of the three proposed bills not meeting the standard in the Governor’s proclamation.

I proposed two alternate paths for the Council to consider for moving forward on consideration of legislation: 1) to scope the bills so that they complied with the Governor’s order to address needs arising from the COVID-19 public health crisis, or 2) taking up the proposed legislation after the restrictions on in person meetings in the Governor’s order expire.

In response to the letter I sent last week, yesterday Council President González sent a memo to the Council.  In it she thanks me for my ongoing conversations with her about my concerns and my clear communication to the Council.  She explains her intent to strictly comply with the Governor’s order and the Open Public Meetings Act.  She goes on to say that she too has serious concerns about whether the package of bills meets the standard of “necessary and routine “ or “necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”  She concludes by requesting the Council Chair of the Select Budget Committee, Councilmember Mosqueda, to cease deliberations on these bills through at least May 31st.  Councilmember Mosqueda has agreed.

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West Seattle Bridge: May 1 Update; Washington State Ferries; Sexual Assault Survivors; Small Business Owners; West Seattle Farmers’ Market; Friday Night Lights; March Constituent Email Report

May 1st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge: May 1 Update

Contractor Hired for Bridge Stabilization

SDOT announced they have hired a contractor, Kraemer North America, to carry out stabilization work needed for the West Seattle Bridge.

Cracks have continued to grow on the bridge, albeit at a slower rate than when traffic was on the bridge. For this reason, the bridge would need to be stabilized in order for repair work to proceed.

SDOT’s announcement notes the company “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.”

SDOT further notes that Kraemer will conduct repairs designed to stop further cracking in the bridge’s most vulnerable sections, then, and only if determined to be structurally feasible, Kramer will 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.

Bridge Monitoring

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.

Road/Traffic Update

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.

Help Is Available for Sexual Assault Survivors

As Chair of the Human Services & Public Safety committee, I was proud to bring forward a Proclamation declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month at this week’s Council meeting.   The single most important message I have for survivors of sexual assault, who may feel that what happened to them is not important during this time of emergency:  Your experience matters.  Support is available.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please let them know that help is still available.

  • The 24-Hour Resource Line is available at 888.99.VOICE (888.998.6423), run by King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. Every hour of the day, trained advocates will answer your call, provide crisis intervention, information and referrals, and on-going support, 7 days a week. In-language service is available.
  • Si usted o alguien a quien ama ha sido afectado(a), nosotros podemos ayudar. Dando Voz proporciona servicios confidenciales y gratuitos a víctimas de abuso sexual y a sus familiares en la comunidad hispana. Para mayor información en español, por favor contáctenos por teléfono al 425-282-0324 o por correo electrónico a dandovozstaff@kcsarc.org.
  • Medical exams are available to survivors of sexual assault at Harborview, UW Montlake, Children’s, Valley Medical Center, Virginia Mason and Swedish First Hill. Their counseling and advocacy services are all available through telephone and telemedicine.
  • Home is not a safe place for everyone. If you are not safe at home, the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation specifically encourages you to leave your home and find a safe alternate location.  It’s OK to leave home to find safety.

One in 4 women, and one in six men will be affected by sexual assault in their lifetime.  That figure is much higher among specific communities, including American Indian and Alaskan Natives, people with disabilities, those living unsheltered, transgender women, and transgender women of color.  Over the course of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order, more people are calling sexual assault hotlines regarding the distress they are experiencing related to COVID-19.  Please reach out for help.

I’m grateful to Idabelle Fosse, MSW, and the Seattle Women’s Commission for their leadership on the proclamation, and to API Chaya, Coalition Ending Gender Based Violence, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Harborview Abuse & Trauma Center, and the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault for their support and assistance.

Technical Assistance and Language Interpretation For Small Business Owners

Last week, the federal government approved a $484 billion relief package, including additional support for small businesses:

  • $320B to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • $60B to replenish the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance program (EIDL).

These funds will likely not last long, so businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.  Applications for the PPP became available on Monday.

The City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) is helping small business owners with their applications.

  • Learn about four funding options from SBA to help you overcome the economic disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • For technical assistance – available in multiple languages – call (206) 684-8090 or email OED@seattle.gov
  • Join OED’s weekly webinar for small businesses, where these and other programs are discussed and questions are answered. Sign up here.

West Seattle Farmers’ Market Reopening

This Sunday, May 3rd, the West Seattle Farmers’ Market is reopening, but will need to operate under strict guidelines that have been worked out in partnership with Seattle-King County Public Health. The Market is asking everyone to follow the new guideline and consider taking the Farmers’ Market Shopper Oath.

Additionally, you might think about signing up for the Ripe & Ready Newsletter, which will announce the list of May 3 vendors accepting pre-orders.

There will be modifications to the market itself which include:

  • Modified layouts to ensure 10’ between vendor booths to allow for greater circulation and distance.
  • Market entrance at Alaska & California to control the capacity and foot traffic. You can expect a line to enter the market.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided at Market Manager tents, with public hand washing stations available in the market.
  • There is no sampling or prepared food until further notice.
  • No music, entertainment, cooking demos, or public seating areas.

The West Seattle Blog has a short write-up and the full release from the West Seattle Farmers’ Market here.

Please remember to wash your hands regularly or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, wear a facemask if you have once, avoid touching your face, and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Friday Night Lights

On Friday, May 1 (today!), and for at least the next two weeks, the Seattle Firefighters will be back for #FridayNightLights! This is an effort to honor all #EssentialWorkers for doing their part to keep us healthy and safe including healthcare workers, utility personnel, pharmacy and grocery store employees, first responders and more.

You can “join” them by looking out through your window or coming out onto your doorstep between 6:30pm and 7:30 pm. To see if you’re in this week’s area see the yellow highlighted areas on this map here (zoom in to see street addresses).

March Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in April, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in April related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.  Please note the new COVID-19 row highlighted in yellow.  These are a mix of case management services to get individuals the help they need in this crisis as well as emails answered in response to constituents contacting my office about Emergency Orders and emergency legislation related to COVID-19 response.  I have a debt of gratitude to the work being done by my team to respond urgently to people in crisis in this difficult time.

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West Seattle Bridge: Digital Town Hall, Update; SDCI Legislation Update; In-District Office Hours; COVID-19 Updates; #LightItBlue for West Seattle Healthcare Workers; Summer Fest Cancellation

April 24th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge: Digital Town Hall, Update

On Wednesday Councilmember Pedersen and I co-hosted a digital Town Hall on the West Seattle Bridge with SDOT. If you missed it, you can watch the forum on YouTube. The Q&A starts about 35 minutes in.

There were over 3,300 RSVPs, 1,000 questions submitted, and 4,600 views. This is testament to just how critical the West Seattle Bridge is to those of us who live in West Seattle, and the overwhelming desire of community members for updates and participation.

Thank you to everyone who participated, and sent questions or suggestions. I am also encouraged by the number of people who have contacted my office since March 23 with their ideas for how best to address this crisis. There were a lot more questions than could be answered during the event, so my office will be organizing the questions and suggestions by subject area, and hope to share them next week.

My office will work hard to get you updates and ensure that SDOT considers your suggestions seriously – whether they are suggestions about traffic management needs along alternative routes, suggestions for new or expanded transit, repair and replacement ideas, or your recommendations about process and oversight.

Thank you to SDOT for participating in the forum, and to Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation & Utilities committee. I appreciate the attention he is giving to this.

SDOT published a number of updates on the SDOT blog during the last week.

SDOT noted they are drafting safety plans for the areas around the West Seattle Bridge, in case the bridge becomes unstable. This would involve potential removal of traffic from the low bridge and surrounding areas; SDOT notes they are “creating an emergency traffic plan with our partners that would re-direct transit, freight, and emergency vehicles, as well as personal vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians.” SDOT said this plan is for a worst-case scenario; they noted this week they do not believe the bridge is in imminent danger of collapse. SDOT has installed real-time monitoring equipment on the bridge.

SDOT also provided an update about Pier 18, and the problem with the lateral bearing. It explains what a lateral bearing is, the role in plays in the bridge, and what work needs to be done to address the problem. The post includes a visual showing the part of the bridge that needs to be repaired:

SDOT also announced they are planning to repave the 5-way intersection underneath the bridge this weekend and reconfigure parts of it.

SDOT will also be adding a new bus lane from Andover to the lower bridge:

SDOT has added traffic monitoring at a number of locations. In some places, counts are lower than usual due to COVID-19; that will change in the future as traffic resumes normal patterns; citywide, it’s 40% of average, and bus ridership is down over 70%.

That said, there are two locations where traffic counts show higher than usual traffic in the most recent count: Highland Park Way SW and West Marginal Way SW (up 38%), and West Marginal Way and SW Idaho Street (up 142%):

This will need to be closely monitored, as traffic counts are likely to increase significantly in the future.

Traffic counts on the lower bridge are roughly at baseline levels. SDOT is restricting use of the bridge to transit, freight, and emergency vehicles.

I have advocated for allowing access for, for example health care workers during the COVID-19 emergency, or opening the bridge to general traffic overnight. Another emerging issue is shuttle buses for companies that provide them, such as Amazon and Microsoft. Others have mentioned school buses once classes resume.

SDOT has so far not been willing to provide further access to the lower bridge; they note that once SPD stops enforcing the restrictions, some vehicles return. Abiding by the limitations will make it easier to advocate for allowing other uses.

SDOT is also making signal updates to 35th Avenue SW, and will be upgrading signal controllers to 35th and Roxbury to allow SDOT to control the signals remotely.

On Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC).  Earlier that day the WSTC sent a letter of requests to SDOT.  SDOT was able that evening to provide an initial response to many of the requests.

WSTC Letter: Actions Taken

  • Managing SODO and the Spokane Street corridor diversions
  • Worked with WSDOT to manage I-5, SR 99 and SR 509 diversions, and use other statewide notification modes
  • Installed oversized signs to highlight high- bridge closure and re-route requirements in key Peninsula centers
  • Installed signal at SW Holden and 9th Ave. SW-SW Highland Park Way
  • Improved signal timing and operation on all anticipated detour routes
  • Initiate SPD traffic patrols over the low bridge and authorize violation fines
  • Coordinated a short-term detour for commuters from Vashon and 
Southworth-Kitsap who drive through Fauntleroy
  • Prominently sharing information through our website, blog, and email.
  • Simultaneously sharing information with the West Seattle Blog, Westside Weekly, and other news outlets.

WSTC Letter: Actions In-process

  • Creating individual street plans and detour signage, to reduce or eliminate cut-through traffic impacts on West Seattle neighborhoods
  • Working with King County Metro on the following:
    • Increasing West Seattle Water Taxi service if demand warrants, expanding parking for Water Taxi commuters, and coordinating 773/775 with new sailing schedule, expanding 773/775 service to Morgan Junction, for the duration of the High Bridge closure; 
adding midday bus service for Admiral area residents, who are most effected by the closure

WSTC Letter: Actions Not Taken

  • SW Delridge Way and 21st Ave SW, to allow L & R turns onto Delridge, and ease pressure on SW Holden from SW Highland Park Way
    • SDOT: Not encouraging additional traffic to 21st Ave SW because of intersection geometry and lack of traffic signal
  • Allow (1) registered King County Van Pool vehicles and (2) medical staff vehicles to use the low bridge
    • SDOT: Low Bridge restricted to freight, transit, and emergency response vehicles

One final update for this week on the West Seattle Bridge, the City Council received an answer to a question my office asked March 23rd about SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s Bridges (CM Pedersen’s office asked as well): the updated answer is copied below, including a link to the 2019 bridge ratings.

“Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).

Each year SDOT updates the NHS Bridge Project Rating Criteria List (PRC) based on the previous years’ bridge condition data and rating factors that account for City of Seattle priorities, including equity and transportation system impact. With the 2019 SDOT NHS Bridge Project Rating, based on the May 2019 inspection, the West Seattle High Bridge was ranked 40, the same as its ranking in the 2018 SDOT NHS Bridge Project Rating. 

The process of reranking bridges in the PRC happens annually in Q1 of each year based on the previous year’s inspection data. If we were to rerank the PRC based on inspections from February and March 2020, then the 2020 NHS Bridge Project Rating will place the West Seattle High Bridge on the top of the list.

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge inspection reports from 2013 through 2020 are posted on our website. We share these important reports to provide transparency to the documents that informed our decisions over the years.  

We believe the reports show our careful, proactive monitoring effort that put into place the systems necessary to make sure we could act quickly to preserve life and safety. Additionally, they show that during our frequent inspections of the West Seattle Bridge over the past several years, there was no indication that the bridge was unsafe for ordinary use or that maintenance needs would impact normal use of the bridge. These concerns emerged only very recently after continued inspections identified accelerating deterioration.” 

My earlier newsletters about the West Seattle Bridge and related issues are @ March 25, March 27, April 3, April 10, April 17. SDOT has a project website where you can sign up for e-mail updates.

SDCI Legislation Update

Last Monday the Council voted on CB 1197689 which would:

  1. Allow development projects that would normally be reviewed by the Design Review Board to be reviewed by SDCI staff through Administrative Design Review for the next six months, unless the department can transition all board reviews to virtual meetings or safely return to in-person meetings before then.
  2. Expedite the production of affordable housing by exempting publicly-funded affordable housing projects from Design Review if the project applicants are ready to submit a complete building permit application within the next six months, and allow the SDCI Director to waive or modify certain development standards for those projects.
  3. Allow developers preparing for Design Review to conduct their required Early Community Outreach via electronic or digital methods instead of in-person outreach methods.
  4. Allow developers of proposals for planned community development packages to conduct other types of public outreach instead of having in-person public meetings.
  5. Allow DON staff to review requests for certain alterations/modifications of City landmarks and buildings within Special Review Districts, Landmark Districts, and Historical Districts, as well as requests for development standard departures for City landmarks and controls and incentives agreements for City landmarks in instances where DON staff and the owner are able to reach written agreement.
  6. Allow DON staff to review requests for flexibility from development standards by public schools.
  7. Suspend the following board/committee reviews and extend any associated review timelines for 60 days:
    1. Nomination/Designation of new City landmarks.
    2. Requests to approve new buildings and larger alterations/modifications of City Landmarks and within Special Review Districts, Landmark Districts, and Historical Districts.
    3. Controls agreements for City landmarks where staff and owner are not able to reach written agreement.
    4. Major Institution Master Planning processes.
    5. Various other public meetings that are required as part of the land use process.

I am generally supportive of this legislation, given the fact that in-person meetings required by law are not allowed under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order.  I had a number of amendments to this bill, but of all of the amendments I proposed, the one I believed was most important was removal of the section of the bill exempting affordable housing projects from the Administrative Design Review (ADR) process. I have been a stalwart advocate of affordable housing for more than 30 years of my life.  Under different circumstances, if the Administrative Design Review process is a proven barrier to the production of affordable housing, I would be amenable to reform in this area to increase the speed of affordable housing development.

My concerns about this section of the bill stem from the Governor’s Proclamation 20-28 and the subsequent guidance from the State Attorney General, which prohibits Council actions that are not either: (1) “necessary and routine,” or (2) “necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and current public health emergency.”

This section of the bill (number two above), appears to be a policy discussion unrelated to COVID-19.  Many people have written and testified that ADR has been – before the COVID-19 crisis – a barrier to affordable housing production.  Though the policy discussion is worthy of having at the Council, these statements make clear to me that the problem has not been created by COVID-19 and under the Governor’s order I am concerned that the Council would be violating the law as it does not appear to me that expediting affordable housing that will be built in a year addresses the CURRENT public health emergency caused by COVID-19, which I believe is what the Governor’s order requires.

At a time when government on all levels is seeking the cooperation of the public in adhering to Emergency Orders, I believe it is incumbent on the Council to adhere to the Emergency Order directed at lawmakers, Proclamation 20-28.

I sponsored an amendment to strike this section of the bill; that amendment unfortunately failed 5-4.

I also sponsored two amendments that Councilmember Strauss incorporated into a substitute version of the bill and included a modification to address concerns about language access requested by Chinatown/ID stakeholders.

  • Modify the suspension of meetings of the Landmarks Board and other regulatory review bodies from 60-days to the earlier of (a) 60-days, (b) when virtual meetings are possible, or (c) when in-person meetings resume. This clarified that meetings could be held earlier than 60 days, if possible. Historic Seattle wrote in support of this amendment.
  • Add a new section to the bill to provide a limited authorization to the Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) to negotiate controls and incentives agreements prior to the Landmarks Preservation Board’s consideration of a landmark designation at a property owner’s request. This would keep the process moving forward for projects that have already been nominated, but are not yet designated, by allowing the staff to commence negotiations. Historic Seattle also supported this amendment.

To pass, because the bill is emergency legislation, it required a three-fourths vote of the Council. Ultimately it failed with three votes against it.  In voting against the legislation, I was joined by Councilmembers Pedersen and Morales.  Although I was supportive of much of the bill, I voted against it due to my belief that, with the section exempting affordable housing from Administrative Design review included, the Council would be violating the Governor’s order.

The bill is now scheduled to be reconsidered on Monday.

In-District Office Hours

On Wednesday April 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours to comply with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Governor Inslee. They will begin at 2pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my schedule Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time. We will be using Skype for Business, and you can either utilize the application or the dial-in number.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, May 29, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

COVID-19 Updates

West Seattle Chamber Gets Action for D1 Restaurants

On April 14, the day after San Francisco enacted an Emergency Order capping the service fees on 3rd party service delivery apps, I was contacted by a D1 business owner to urge Seattle to do the same.  Today, I’m very pleased to share this announcement:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Council President M. Lorena González, and Councilmember Lisa Herbold today announced a new Emergency Orderto impose a 15 percent commission cap on third-party delivery services. The necessary statewide ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order has caused restaurants to rely solely on delivery and takeout services for revenue, and many restaurants use third-party delivery services to meet the needs of their customers and keep their staff safe. The 15 percent commission cap will remain in place until restaurants are allowed to offer unrestricted dine-in service in the City of Seattle. 

“We know that so many of our small businesses are hurting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that delivery services have been a lifeline for our restaurants during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately, some third-party delivery services are charging exorbitant commission fees, which exacerbates the financial hardship many restaurants are already experiencing,” said Mayor Durkan. “This commission cap will be critical to ensuring that delivery and takeout remain viable options and don’t cause increased financial hardship. At the City, we’re doing everything we can locally to support our small businesses during this unprecedented moment in history. We’ve identified millions of dollars to invest directly in our most vulnerable small businesses and are working with our partners across government and in the private sector to help many who are struggling. With many of our neighborhood restaurants still open, we can support our small businesses by ordering pickup or delivery during this time.”

“Our beloved main street restaurants are reeling from this economic crisis and exorbitant delivery service charges further threaten their ability to weather this storm. Restaurant owners across Seattle have adapted their business models to delivery or takeout only service, resulting in the unemployment of thousands of service industry workers and even thinner margins for these important small businesses. With tight margins, every dollar paid to an app-based delivery service is a dollar taken from our local restaurants, economy and workforce. We know some of these corporations are imposing inflated fees and profiting from this crisis on the backs of our main street. We cannot allow that to happen. This Emergency Order will provide much needed relief and establish a system that is more fair and equitable to our restaurants,” said Council President M. Lorena González

Councilmember Herbold, representing Seattle’s District 1, thanked the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce for their early advocacy on this issue and recognized that the West Seattle Chamber shared their members’ experiences of these apps unfairly charging local businesses 30 percent on deliveries. The West Seattle Chamber has written that these apps have been “using this opportunity during the COVID-19 challenge to tell consumers that using their services are helping small businesses when the only one benefiting from these programs are these corporations.”

Restricting restaurants to takeout and delivery service disproportionately impacts small, independently-owned or minority-owned businesses that already operate on thin margins, adding to financial pressures in the industry that predate the current public health crisis. Many residents support local restaurants by using third-party, app-based delivery services, and these third-party platforms charge commission to restaurants based on the purchase price. Each service agreement between restaurants and third-party companies varies, but some include commissions that are 30 percent or more of the purchase price. These unregulated charges place an undue burden on small business owners and require some of them to turn over a significant percentage of their badly-needed revenue to a third-party. 

To further protect delivery drivers who, as independent contractors, are often shut out of federal unemployment relief, the Emergency Order requires that 100 percent of tips go to the drivers, and it includes provisions to make clear that it is illegal for a third-party platform to reduce driver compensation rates as a result of this order going into effect for the duration of the order. 

“Marination and Super Six currently rely on takeout and delivery in order to have an opportunity to survive in this new economic environment. Because so many of these platforms charge such high fees, we have started to handle all takeout and delivery orders in-house. But this commission cap will allow us to transition to a third-party delivery service without facing further financial stressors and allows third-party platforms and restaurants to do what they do best,” said Kamala Saxton, co-owner of Marination and Super Six.

The 15 percent commission cap will take effect immediately and will remain in place until restaurants are allowed to offer unrestricted dine-in service. Violating the 15 percent commission cap is a misdemeanor offense and would be prosecuted by the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Restaurants who wish to report a violation of the commission cap should call the Seattle Police Department’s non-emergency line at 206-625-5011. 

D1 Service Providers Call:  Last week, leaders of about 15 nonprofits serving the people of District 1 joined me for a phone call to share how their work is changing in the public health emergency.  We discussed how COVID-19 is impacting the people they serve, their staff, and how they have changed their programs or services as a result.  Some of the common themes we heard:

  • COVID-19 is impacting everything about their work, and they are building new models to serve people in real time
  • The needs are greater than ever, in particular for food and rental assistance
  • Lack of masks, gloves and other protective equipment is making it difficult to serve people and protect their health
  • There is a need for more information and supplies among the Spanish-speaking community

I am incredibly grateful to everyone who participated, and who is serving their community during these difficult times.  If you are a service provider and would like to be included on the next phone call, please email my office.

Rapid Testing for Shelter Staff:  Shelters that serve people experiencing homelessness are seeing increased cases of COVID-19 among staff and guests right now.  One of the challenges they have to keeping people safe is the length of time it takes to receive coronavirus test results – an average of 4-5 days.  During that time, employees with suspected COVID-19 cannot report to work, leaving shelters short-staffed during this crucial time.

My office has been working with Seattle Fire Department to help shelter staff access their quick-turnaround testing site.  Now, employees at two major shelters can get tested at the SFD’s own testing site, and get their results within a day.  This will help keep everyone safe and healthy.  I’d like to express my gratitude to Chief Scoggins for making SFD’s additional testing capacity available to this crucial group of frontline workers.

Bench Closures at Alki: Last weekend, crowds continued to congregate at Alki Beach despite the Mayor’s Keep It Moving guidance.  Parks ambassadors were capturing data about park usage, and report that of all the 15 parks they monitored last Sunday, fully 1/3 of the people counted were at Alki.  No other parks reported this high usage and crowding.

Instead of closing Alki entirely, Parks is taking the step of closing down specific benches, as well as all picnic tables and shelters, to encourage people to keep moving through the park.  Many constituents have written to express their concern that seniors, people with disabilities or people with injuries will not be able to use park at all, without a place to rest.  Parks has assured me that some benches will remain available to people who need to rest during their exercise.  I have asked for more details about how many benches remain available, and their locations.

Parks has indicated that they will monitor usage at Alki this coming weekend, and I will follow up to see what they learn.  In the meantime, please follow the Keep It Moving guidelines, and consider discovering a new neighborhood park to help avoid overcrowding.

#LightItBlue for West Seattle Healthcare Workers

Inspired by the nationwide #LightItBlue campaign that lights up blue landmarks for health care workers, the Junction had an idea to show support for the people on the frontlines during COVID-19. The West Seattle community tree that sparkles with lights during Hometown Holidays, was the perfect choice to show support on behalf of West Seattle community members.

Located in Junction Plaza Park on 42nd Ave SW in the heart of the West Seattle Junction, the merchants worked with Flemings Holiday Lighting, who lights up the Junction in December and many spectacular events throughout the year, to take the charge on lighting up the tree blue.

The Junction wants to thank Nucor Steel for the financial support of this West Seattle #LightItBlue project. A neighborhood supporter, Nucor immediately stepped into the idea with a resounding “Yes!”. The Seattle Parks and Recreation staff jumped into the idea too, allowing for this campaign.

The iconic tree will be lit up blue throughout the pandemic showing West Seattle 24/7 support. Thank you healthcare workers from West Seattle you are our beacon of hope!

Photo Credit: Westside Seattle Patrick Robinson

Summer Fest Cancellation

After much discussion, the Junction has made the safest decision for the community – to cancel the 2020 Summer Fest – July 10-12th.  We are saddened but hopeful we will rise like a Westside phoenix to bring back Summer Fest stronger than ever July 2021.

In the meantime, they’re developing a plan for a block party style community gathering that will be announced as soon as they’re confident it’s safe to bring people together. Current events and info from King Co Public Health give us hope for a late August date.

We’ll continue to monitor all health regulations, and sincerely hope the Junction merchants can show appreciation of the outpouring of community support by bringing you one day that celebrates all the West Seattle goodness we’ve stored up through this pandemic.

Stay tuned, stay healthy.

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West Seattle Bridge Digital Town Hall Wednesday at 5 p.m.

April 21st, 2020

Councilmember Pedersen and I will co-host a digital town hall with SDOT on the West Seattle Bridge and traffic management in West Seattle while the bridge is closed. The town hall will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 on Wednesday, April 22nd.

RSVP for the Town Hall

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe will be presenting, and available for your questions.

You can sign up to participate here; you’ll receive the link to the meeting an hour or so before it begins.

SDOT’s presentation to the City Council from Monday morning is linked here; you can watch the Seattle Channel meeting video here.

Councilmember Pedersen is Chair of the Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee.

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West Seattle Bridge to be Closed through 2021, at Least; COVID-19 Updates

April 17th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge to be Closed through 2021, at Least

On Wednesday we received the news none of us wanted to hear: the West Seattle Bridge will be closed through at least 2021, if it ever re-opens.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact this will have on West Seattle.

The bridge opened in 1984, and was designed to last 75 years.

I’ve heard shock and anger from residents and businesses about how disruptive this will be. So many West Seattle residents leave the peninsula each day for work; small businesses are already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 virus.  West Seattle residents were the most affected by the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct during 2019. The West Seattle impact during the squeeze lasted about 8 months and approximately 30,000 transit rides on bus lines travelling routes that went to West Seattle.  The bridge closure will have a threefold impact both in time and number of commuters impacted.

I’m working to schedule an electronic town hall with SDOT soon and will let you know as soon as it’s scheduled. In addition, SDOT will present to the City Council at the Council Briefings meeting on Monday at 9:30 a.m. You can watch the meeting live at the Seattle Channel website or afterwards on the meeting archive.

We will need additional work to manage traffic and mobility: every option must be on the table. We will need to work with other governments and the private sector. It’s clear that what we are doing today to provide alternative routes will not be sufficient once traffic returns to normal levels. Below I’ve listed suggestions I’ve heard from constituents.

Here’s a summary of what SDOT has done in recent weeks to adjust signals and monitor traffic:

SDOT adjusted signals at the following intersections and dates:

Here’s information on traffic counts:

Traffic volumes on the lower bridge decreased from a high of over 15,000 or April 2nd and 3rd, to around 8,000 on April 8 and 9, when SPD began enforcement of restrictions on the use of the bridge.

SDOT 4/15 UPDATE

The SDOT presentation from Wednesday doesn’t include any good news.

SDOT notes that they do not yet know if repair of the bridge is feasible technically or financially. If repair is feasible, it could provide up to 10 years of additional use. So the West Seattle Bridge will need to be replaced, the only question is when.

SDOT proposes three phases for work the bridge: 1) slow or halt deterioration, 2) shoring, and 3) repairs.

SDOT notes that the cracks on the West Seattle Bridge continue to grow, though at a slower rate than when vehicles were on the bridge. SDOT has installed real-time monitoring equipment, and is inspecting the bridge daily.

Slowing or stopping bridge deterioration is needed due to the ongoing cracking, and the compression of bearings on Pier 18, creating additional pressure which affects the whole bridge.

The second potential phase of work is shoring the bridge, to add temporary support to the bridge to preserve its integrity and enable repairs.

The third phase, repair, depends on resolving whether the bridge can be stabilized before further deterioration makes repair infeasible; permitting; and whether repair is technically or financially viable.

SDOT is creating a Technical Advisory Panel with experts on bridge design and construction, geotechnical engineering for bridges, and marine/maritime expertise.

SDOT estimates a $33 million budget through Phase 2, shoring. This does not include the cost of repairs, which have yet to be estimated, and would likely be significantly more expensive.

As more work is done, it will become clearer whether it makes sense to proceed with shoring and repair, or if moving to replacement is a better choice. SDOT has said the bridge is not in imminent danger of collapse, though with cracks expanding, this must be monitored. Some of this work may be needed to ensure the bridge doesn’t collapse.

Sound Transit’s ST3 plan for light rail to West Seattle includes a bridge to either the south or north of the West Seattle Bridge, with a planned opening date of 2030, so this will need to be kept in mind moving forward.

Developments on social distancing re: the COVID-19 virus may affect the use of public transit; that’s another relevant factor moving forward.

I’ve expressed concern to King County Metro about ongoing cuts to service on the water taxi, and bus service in West Seattle. They note that ridership levels are currently very low; I appreciate their collaboration moving forward, and planning for adding back service.

SDOT has a West Seattle High Rise Bridge Safety Project webpage; you can sign up for e-mail updates there, and report road conditions at 206-684-7623 or by e-mail at 684-Road@seattle.gov.

Earlier updates from my newsletter are linked here: West Seattle Bridge Closure (March 25), West Seattle Bridge Update (March 27), West Seattle Bridge Update (April 3), West Seattle Bridge Update (April 10).

In the context of the bridge, a number of constituents have asked about property taxes and the center city streetcar. The King County Assessor sets home values that serve as the baseline for your property taxes. Here’s a link to the Assessor website, which also includes information on how to appeal property valuations. Here’s my blog post from 2018 with information about how property taxes are set.

COMMUNITY SUGGESTIONS

Thanks to all the community members who have proposed potential actions for time when the bridge is closed. Below are a few of the suggestions my office has received so far:

  • More express buses/more buses, especially to employment centers
  • Access for company shuttles to use the lower bridge (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft)
  • Ferries: re-directing some ferry traffic from Vashon/Southworth to Downtown, or adding trips from Fauntleroy to Downtown
  • Water taxi: adding trips, and other locations in West Seattle, and adding destinations beyond Downtown (e.g. Ballard, Expedia), similar to the “Mosquito Fleet” of yesteryear
  • Adding bus access to the water taxi throughout the peninsula
  • Emphasizing biking and walking on the lower bridge (especially e-bikes)
  • Creating a “park and ride” on the east side of the bridge for residents, to park their cars so that they could bus ride or walk across the bridge, then access their cars
  • Speeding up work on the East Marginal Way project to separate bike traffic between West Seattle and Downtown from freight
  • Better traffic control on West Marginal Way, safety at Roxbury/Myers Way at 4th, Sylvan Way, adding a left turn light on 16th Ave SW at Holden, and repairing pavement on Roxbury
  • Maintain telecommuting

COVID-19 Updates

Show Your Favorite Small Business Some Love

West Seattle Junction Association just launched its Small Business Relief Fund, a fundraising campaign to help small businesses throughout West Seattle cover their costs while business is down or doors are closed.  The Junction will cover processing fees, so 100% of your donation goes to your favorite small business.  Neighbors have already given more than $11,000.  #WeGotThisWS

South Park and West Seattle Community Support

If you need help, want to volunteer, or want to give to assist your Covid-impacted neighbors, try one of these community resource exchange websites:

Visiting Your Neighborhood Parks

With more lovely weather expected this weekend, many of us will want to visit our favorite parks.  Parks and Rec staff will be monitoring parks through the weekend and will close parks that become too crowded.  It’s OK to visit your favorite park, but keep moving while you’re there.  Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no gatherings at our parks.

If your usual park is too crowded or closed, discover a new park in your neighborhood.

Questions about what’s open and closed?  Seattle Parks keeps this list updated.

Alki Beach will have some special restrictions to discourage crowds and keep people moving:

  • Parking lots at Seacrest and Don Armeni remain closed
  • Fire pits and picnic shelters are closed
  • No beach activities allowed

It’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from others – and avoid groups – whenever you’re outside your home, including when you visit a park.  If you see crowds forming, let Parks know:

Stay Healthy Streets in High Point this weekend:

Select streets in High Point will be open to pedestrians and cyclists this weekend as part of a Stay Healthy Streets pilot.  These car free streets were selected to amplify outdoor exercise opportunities for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out.

After an initial evaluation, the City plans to convert approximately 15 miles to Stay Healthy Streets in the coming weeks. They will continue to re-evaluate after this weekend’s pilot and work with community and stakeholders on additional suggestions and recommendations.

Emergency Childcare

Everyone’s schedules have been become topsy-turvy because of Covid, and some parents may be struggling to find childcare.

If you are a healthcare worker, first responder, grocery store worker, or pharmacist, the City of Seattle is providing emergency childcare for your children ages 3 through 12.  Check with your employer for a direct link to access the program, or request emergency childcare here.

If your child is younger than 3, if you require childcare outside Seattle, and for all other parents who may need childcare, contact Child Care Resources for assistance.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; COVID-19 Update; SPD Crime Dashboard; March Constituent Email Report

April 10th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

With the length of the bridge closure uncertain, but not short, ensuring good access to fire and EMS services in West Seattle is of vital importance.

My office inquired with Fire Chief Scoggins about Fire and EMS response in West Seattle during the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Chief Scoggins noted in an update,

The Seattle Fire Department is currently conducting a comprehensive GIS analysis of the impacts on fire and EMS response times due to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. We expect that analysis to be completed by April 17.

The analysis includes a review of response times before and after the bridge closure, how often and when the lower bridge opens for marine traffic as well as the delays caused by rail traffic.

During the Spokane Street Viaduct construction project another ladder truck was added in West Seattle with funding provided by the Seattle Department of Transportation. This deployment model is just one of several options we will be considering.

In response to the observations of many District 1 residents of inadequate signage at the lower bridge about the restrictions on the use of the bridge and enforcement of those restrictions, SDOT has added new signage to emphasize that access to the bridge is limited to emergency vehicles, transit, and freight. The Seattle Police Department began enforcement earlier this week. I appreciate these steps.

Some restrictions are clearly understandable and necessary. In the days after the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, emergency response vehicles were stuck in traffic.  The upper bridge handled around 100,000 vehicle trips daily, and the estimated capacity of the lower bridge is a maximum of 20,000 trips. So there’s no way all the trips can fit, or even come close to fitting.

That said, I will continue to lift up the voices of West Seattle residents in advocating for traffic management improvements during the bridge closure.  I hope SDOT will re-evaluate the decision they are announcing today that they do not intend to relax restrictions, if the new signage and enforcement result in significantly lesser volumes of people using the bridge, especially during times of day when use is lower, but some people work (e.g. overnight), and for health care workers during the COVID-19 emergency).

That said, there’s a necessary note of caution: once traffic patterns resume normal levels, additional use of the lower bridge will be more difficult. SDOT estimates citywide vehicle traffic is currently 40% of normal, and King County Metro has curtailed service, with reduced ridership 72%.

Two of the buses that are rerouted on to the lower bridge are the C Line and Route 120; both are among Metro’s top 10 routes for ridership; both have some trips cancelled currently.

SDOT Traffic Reports indicate the other east/west access points to the peninsula, Highland Park Way SW, combine for an average of 50,000 daily trips (19,400 for Highland Park, 31,400 for Olson).

Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee and I have convened biweekly meetings with SDOT to review progress.

SDOT has released inspection reports for the West Seattle Bridge from 2013 to 2020. You can access them at the project webpage or an SDOT blog post.

The Seattle City Council Insight website did a review of the reports, with an explanation of some of the technical terminology.

The March 20, 2020 report is sobering, noting “Since our initial recommendation, our biggest concern has become the extent and rate of cracking near the quarter points of the main span could lead to collapse in the near future if strengthening is not implemented quickly.” The February 21, 2020 report had recommended reducing use of the bridge to two lanes in each direction.

It’s clear the City Council should have been informed about these issues earlier.

One report I’ll be requesting additional information about is the 2014 consultant report, which raised the possibility of a permanent remedy to cracking (based on information known at that time). If you have questions about the reports, please let me know.

The Seattle Times reports that a report on collapse risk should be available in a few weeks.

The Council requested reports on the West Seattle Bridge, regarding congestion management, in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2015 former Councilmember Rasmussen commissioned a West Seattle Bridge/Duwamish Waterway Corridor Whitepaper, and obtained funded for studying the recommendations in the 2016 budget. This led to a May 27, 2016 Progress Report.

Later in 2016 I sponsored  funding in the 2017 budget for studying additional recommendations in the Whitepaper, one of which touches on the challenges at the 5-way intersection underneath the bridge. This led to a March 2017 Congestion Management study.

Neither the 2016 Progress Report nor the 2017 Congestion Management study mention issues related to cracking in the bridge.

To report current conditions on roads and traffic, ask questions, or make recommendations to SDOT, please e-mail 684-ROAD@seattle.gov or call 206-684-ROAD. I’m happy to pass on question and suggestions as well.

At the March 31st City Council Briefing meeting, SDOT indicated an estimate on costs and length of closure was 3-4 weeks away. SDOT has indicated that the bridge must be shored up as a first step, before repairs can proceed, and design for shoring the bridge is currently being worked on.

Below are questions SDOT has sent replies about; the Council hasn’t yet received a report assessing overall condition of bridges in Seattle.

What is the role of the state and federal government as it relates to the WSHB?

Our bridge inspection program is supervised by the WSDOT Local Programs group.  This group is part of the WSDOT Bridge Preservation Office (BPO).  At the federal level, every state DOT is assigned an FHWA Division Bridge Engineer for Washington. At this point their responsibility is to monitor how we handle the situation and comment if they think we need to do something differently.

The reference to pile-driving nearby (Terminal 5 as I recall) as a possible cause or factor in the cracking problem raises the issue of the need for forensic engineering work. I realize the primary engineering task before us is to stabilize and repair the structure. At the same time, it seems that some analysis to figure out what action(s) caused or contributed to the problem would be in order. Is SDOT contemplating or doing such work?

SDOT and the Port of Seattle are confident that impact on the WSHB by pile driving operations at T5 is extremely unlikely.  This is because any vibrations caused by the pile driving activity at T5 attenuate to a negligible amount before reaching the nearest part of the WSHB foundation system which is nearly 1800 feet away.  Moreover, if vibrations from the pile driving at T5 were significant enough to have affected the WSHB, we would have seen significant damage at other building/facilities between T5 and the WSHB.  We are not aware of any such damage.

Questions re: technology used in monitoring

We will be deploying instrumentation on the bridge to measure the distribution of stress throughout the bridge and for movement of specific bridge components. These instrumentation techniques are far more accurate and useful than video instrumentation, since range of visibility from the video instrumentation is limited by comparison.

COVID-19 Update: Small Business Assistance, Hygiene Access, Rent Assistance, More Parks Closures

Looking for help for a small business? 

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has created a detailed list of resources and relief available to small businesses from the city, state and federal governments.  Please share this resource widely.

OED also holds a weekly call for small businesses to share new information and answer questions, every Wednesday from 11am – Noon.  Sign up for the next call.

On Monday, Council will discuss and vote on my legislation to help small businesses and nonprofits weathering coronavirus-related hardships.  CB 119766, co-sponsored by Councilmember Tammy Morales, will restrict increases in rents for small businesses and nonprofits during the public health emergency, and require payment plans that will allow such tenants to pay rent due over a longer period of time.  A coalition of small business owners recommended rent payment plans as a way to help their businesses survive the drop in revenue.

I know that many landlords are going above and beyond to help their small business and nonprofit tenants stay alive during this crisis, and I am grateful for their proactive work, especially as they, too, are likely feeling a financial burden.  Unfortunately, we are also seeing some landlords refuse to work with tenants right now – even some who clearly have the ability, but refuse to be flexible during this unprecedented crisis, as highlighted in this Danny Westneat Seattle Times article.  Unless we act now, more of Seattle’s beloved small businesses and essential nonprofits will be forced to close their doors.  We can’t let that happen.

Limited hygiene access for people living unsheltered

From the earliest days of the coronavirus, we have been told that the best way to stay healthy is to wash your hands – frequently and with soap and water.  Yet for the almost 6,000 Seattleites struggling without homes, washing their hands or otherwise staying clean and healthy is increasingly out of reach.  With most businesses and community centers, and all libraries shut down, it is distressingly difficult to find an available toilet or sink stocked with soap.

At Wednesday’s Select Committee on Homelessness, which I Vice Chair, we heard from service providers sharing the fear and desperation their clients feel at not being able to clean their hands or relieve themselves during this public health emergency.  Other West Coast cities have been able to quickly add dozens and even hundreds of hygiene facilities as the Covid19 crisis hit, but so far, Seattle has added only 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations for the thousands of people living unsheltered.

I have long pushed for increased investments in public hygiene facilities, including leading the Council in adding $1.3M in the 2020 budget to purchase and operate 4-5 mobile pit stops.  On Wednesday, I asked the Mayor’s Office to join the Council in addressing this problem with a sense of creativity, urgency and determination.  Seattle’s response to coronavirus has been singled out nationally for our effectiveness in “flattening the curve,” but in this instance, our support for those who are struggling the most lags far behind.  We can do better.

New Rental assistance available through United Way of King County

If your household has lost income due to coronavirus, you may be eligible for rental assistance.  This new program will help King County residents who are late on their rent, have experienced a significant reduction in wages as a result of the public health crisis, and whose income is at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI).  $5 million is available, including $1 million from the City, and is expected to help up to 2,000 families stay in their homes.  To apply, call 211 or fill out this online application.

Parking Enforcement Changes

SDOT has announced changes to parking during the COVID-19 epidemic. Payment is not required to park on streets, and hourly time limits are not being enforced outside of Residential Parking Zones.

The City earlier suspended enforcement of 72-hour parking, and added temporary restaurant loading zones.

Information on the parking policies, as well as a parking program for healthcare and human services working is available at the SDOT COVID-19 Parking page.

More Parks Closures

The Mayor has announced the weekend closure of Seattle’s 15 largest parks and beaches: Alki, Arboretum, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Green Lake, Golden Gardens, Kubota Garden, Lincoln, Magnuson, Seward, Volunteer, West Seattle Stadium, Woodland.

We must continue our collective effort to promote physical distancing and prevent what has been on-going gatherings in major parks.  Other cities across the nation, like Austin and Los Angeles are also closing major parks for the weekend. The change is effective Friday, April 10th at 11pm and parks will reopen on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am.

Over the weekend, Seattle will have Seattle Police Department and Seattle Parks and Recreation Ambassadors in those parks to remind individuals to comply.   If you see people gathering in Parks that are closed this weekend, you are encouraged to:

SPD Crime Dashboard

The Seattle Police Department Crime Dashboard is now again fully online.

It now allows for searches at the precinct level (e.g. SW Precinct), then at the level of micro community policing plan neighborhood areas (MCPP).

SPD also has a Calls for Service Dashboard.

March Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in March, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in March related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.  Please note the new COVID-19 row highlighted in yellow.  These are a mix of case management services to get individuals the help they need in this crisis as well as emails answered in response to constituents contacting my office about Emergency Orders and emergency legislation related to COVID-19 response.  I have a debt of gratitude to the work being done by my team to respond urgently to people in crisis in this difficult time.

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COVID-19 Update; King County Metro Service; Census Day; West Seattle Bridge Update

April 3rd, 2020

COVID-19 Update

Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order Extended

The Governor has extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May 4. The order still allows you to get outside and take walks or enjoy your local neighborhood park, as long as you’re practicing proper social distancing.  That means staying at least 6 feet away from others at all times and avoiding groups.

For more information from King County Public Health, you can check out their dashboard here which has information on testing and results, and a clickable map showing the rate of positive test results by zip code and by city.

Council President González, earlier this week, extended the order for the Legislative Department to work remotely through April 24. Given the Governor’s announcement, I expect this to be extended again through May 4.

The Council passed a few new bills in response to COVID-19:

  • Legislation to create a new $5 million grocery voucher program to support low-income families facing food insecurity because of the response to COVID-19. The vouchers will be worth $800 and sent to 6,250 low-income families to purchase food, cleaning supplies, and other household good at any Safeway in Washington. My amendment to the legislation will encourage partnerships with stores in addition to Safeway.
  • Legislation to create a COVID-19 Donation Fund which creates a structure to expedite the receipt of donated private funds prescribed for emergent needs. My amendment to this legislation requires that the reporting on how donated funds are spent includes an accounting across priority uses.
  • A Resolution that requests the Governor impose an immediate moratorium on rent and mortgage payments, and calls on our federal delegation to do the same. Note: there is no rent moratorium in place.

Prohibition on Evictions for Renters, Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Prohibition on Some Foreclosures

Since it’s the beginning of the month, and many people have rent due I want to remind readers that the Mayor, on March 14, issued an emergency order to prohibit residential eviction, and the Council subsequently approved the emergency order. So although there is no rent moratorium in place, there is a prohibition on evictions.  The current eviction moratorium is in place for 60 days. The moratorium says that your landlord “shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.  Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium.”

The Courts are not hearing eviction cases right now so even if your landlord issued an eviction notice in violation of the moratorium, there would be no court to hear the case.  Even if the courts were to resume hearing eviction cases, the moratorium gives you another protection because it states that “It shall be a defense to any eviction action that the eviction of the tenant will occur during the moratorium, unless the eviction action is due to actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.”

Finally, the Sheriff of King County has also agreed to cease execution of eviction orders during the moratorium.

The City of Seattle has funded about $3.3 million for our own eviction prevention programs. The State also has rent assistance programs.  We are working to update program qualification criteria to allow a. renters with a billing statement as described in this eviction moratorium Q&A to access rental assistance funds (without an eviction notice as previously required).  For information about how to get help with your rent, you can contact 211.

Additionally, this article from the Seattle Times has a lot of great information about how to approach your landlord and discuss possible payment plans.

Finally, if you would like to share your story you can email CD19_rent@seattle.gov or fill out this form.

Finally, evictions for small business commercial tenants and non-profit tenants are prohibited as well and there are protections in place for people with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Homeowners can look up whether their loans are backed by the mortgage companies through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s websites. Fannie Mae’s online form can be found here, and Freddie Mac can be found here.

Looking for ways to help?

Blood supply is low in Seattle, and blood donation centers are open and need your help.  In order to ensure social distancing, you can make an appointment ahead of time.  Find a location and schedule your donation here.

Want to volunteer or find an organization to support?  United Way of King County has a special online COVID-related volunteer clearinghouse.  At this week’s District 1 Community Network meeting, Phil Tavel shared another similar emergency response effort online to connect individual volunteers and community organizations with local needs:  WestSeattleCovidRecovers.  The platform works much like the United Way platform, but is focused on West Seattle.  The United Way Platform is Citywide, but still allows you to search by zip code, to find something close to your home.

King County Metro Service

King County Metro noted earlier this week that bus ridership is down 72%.

With significantly lower ridership during the COVID-19 epidemic, Metro reduced service on most routes on March 23rd.  Metro announced today that they will further reduce service as well on April 6th. This Metro Matters post explains the workforce impacts of COVID-19, and decisions about which routes will continue, and which will be suspended.

Metro has a webpage showing which bus trips are cancelled for each bus route.

Census Day

Wednesday, April 1 was Census Day! If you haven’t already I encourage you to fill our your Census form at www.my2020census.gov. Happening every 10 years, and mandated by our Constitution, the Census has last effects. A complete Census count ensures that we receive our fair share of federal resources for federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

For more information about Seattle’s efforts to ensure a safe and accurate count, please visit www.seattlecensus.org.

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge remains closed, and the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge is open for only emergency vehicles, public transit, freight and access to Harbor Island.

The West Seattle Bridge normally carries 100,000 cars daily, and 17,000 transit riders.

SDOT has said the maximum traffic the lower bridge can handle is 20,000. Normal traffic on the lower bridge is 10,000 vehicles; a traffic count last week showed 15,000.

SDOT has indicated it will be placing better, larger signage in the approach to the bridge about permitted uses; with current signage, it’s difficult for some drivers to see they aren’t permitted until it’s too late.

I have asked about potential enforcement action; SDOT is considering this, though one challenge with enforcement is how to do it without slowing traffic.

Current traffic on Seattle roads is significantly lower than usual. During the last week SDOT has estimated that citywide traffic volumes have been between 33% and 40% of normal. King County Metro is running fewer bus trips than usual. Once traffic increases, there will be more pressure on the lower bridge, as well as on southern access points to the peninsula, the 1st Avenue South Bridge, and the South Park Bridge.

SDOT continues daily inspections of the bridge, and is working on a plan to shore up the bridge before proceeding to repairs. They don’t yet have a timetable for the duration of the closure; earlier this week, they estimated they would know in 3-4 weeks. SDOT has said the closure will not be of short duration.

A number of constituents have asked about what happened on the bridge, and what led to the problems with cracks. The website Seattle City Council Insight, which covers the City Council, has an informative post, What Happened to the West Seattle Bridge?, with background on the design of the bridge, the physics of the bridge, and the location of the cracks.

A question I and others have asked SDOT to examine is about piling work at Terminal 5, which was being done during the last quarter of 2019, and is continuing.

You can sign up for e-mail updates at SDOT’s West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project website, which includes links to SDOT blog updates. An FAQ has been posted as well.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Capital Projects Watch List Resolution; Map of Restaurants Open for Delivery and Takeout; Representative Jayapal Telebriefing on Federal COVID-19 Relief Bill April 1; SDOT Answers to Council Questions on the West Seattle Bridge

March 31st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

On Monday, March 30th, SDOT presented an update at the Seattle City Council’s Briefing meeting, one week after the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

Here’s a link to the SDOT Presentation; you can watch the meeting at the Seattle Channel meeting archive.

I emphasized to SDOT Director Zimbabwe the shock in West Seattle at the sudden closure, and universal support for the quickest action possible. While not to downplay the importance of the COVID-19 emergency, the bridge closure is yet another emergency for West Seattle; its importance cannot be overstated, on a peninsula with limited access points to the rest of Seattle. It carries as much traffic as the former Alaskan Way Viaduct.

In response to Council questions, SDOT Director Zimbabwe said SDOT does not yet have an estimate for how long the bridge will be closed, or the cost of repairs; he estimated 3-4 weeks before this information is available, and he said that the closure won’t be of short duration. SDOT indicated that the bridge must be shored up as a first step, before repairs can proceed. A likely option is to use carbon fiber wrap, as was used for the Alaskan Way Viaduct in the years before it was removed.

I emphasized I was willing to assist however possible, be it through championing funding, expediting any permits needing Council approval, authorizing alternative design and construction methods, or other actions. I also emphasized the need for transparency with the public moving forward.

I asked if SDOT will consider opening the bridge to limited traffic (e.g. 1 lane in each direction) before full re-opening, and Director Zimbabwe said they can consider, but depending upon the result of monitoring traffic volumes on the lower bridge.

I appreciate SDOT’s quick action to install a temporary stoplight at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street; I’d like to see similar action in addressing traffic management, which will become more difficult after the COVID-19 epidemic abates, and traffic volumes increase.

SDOT provided a timeline for bridge inspections, which the federal government requires every two years. Beginning in 2014, SDOT performed annual inspections, and noted moderate crack growth in August, 2019. Inspections in October, November and December showed ongoing growth in cracking.

On February 21st, SDOT’s engineering consultant recommended limiting the bridge to 2 lanes in each direction. On March 19, the consultant recommended closure. An SDOT engineer inspecting the bridge the morning of March 23rd recommended closing it that day.

This SDOT Blog post includes a time-lapse graphic of the growth of the cracks, and the significant expansion in March.

I appreciate the action on behalf of public safety, in particular and the willingness of SDOT Bridge Group Supervisor Matt Donahue to act quickly and call leadership from the bridge on March 23rd. However, notice should have been given to the Council and public earlier.  In the best case scenario, the Council and general public would have been notified during the last three months of 2019, when monthly inspections started; this should also have been included in the 4th Quarter capital projects report to the Council. I appreciate the Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee Chair, Councilmember Pedersen, focusing on this issue, which is relevant throughout the city.

At the very least, I believe that the Council and the public should have been notified on February 21st, when SDOT’s engineering consultant recommended limiting the bridge to 2 lanes in each direction.

SDOT reported that any repairs that take place in the section of the bridge above the Duwamish navigation channel would trigger a requirement for Coast Guard approval, in its federal role with jurisdiction over marine waterways. That would likely add additional time to the closure.

In response to a question my office asked last week, SDOT indicated the assessment of bridge condition ratings for bridges in Seattle will be ready this week.

SDOT’s presentation also included updated information about the lower (Spokane Street) bridge.

SDOT indicated the daily capacity of the lower bridge is 20,000 vehicles, which is stop-and-go traffic.

Last week a traffic count showed 15,000 vehicles; EMT vehicles were stuck in that level of traffic.

In response to written questions regarding the use of the lower bridge overnight, when traffic is lower, and for emergency responders such as nurses, firefighters and police officers, SDOT has noted they are limiting access to emergency vehicles, freight, and transit, and has replied, “We are monitoring traffic on the Low Bridge 24-hours a day from our Transportation Operations Center.  As new traffic patterns develop, we may be able to adjust access.”

SDOT is requesting residents honor the limitations on bridge use.  If residents do not observe these restrictions, SDOT says that they will work with the Seattle Police Department to enforce them.  In addition, Director Zimbabwe seems to be suggesting that the ability of anyone to use the lower bridge could be at risk in the future, if drivers do not observe these restrictions.  “To enforce the lower bridge restrictions, SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said ‘we have support by the Police Department,’ along with signs, but enforcement might need to increase. So far, there’s been little or no traffic policing. ‘If we have everybody trying to use the lower bridge, nobody will be able to use the lower bridge,’ he said.  See today’s Seattle Times article for more.

SDOT will be completing a load rating study of the lower bridge, which opened in 1991, and will inspect the bridge weekly.

In response to my question about addressing the 5-way intersection below the bridge, SDOT indicated they are using data to adjust traffic signals on a daily basis.

SDOT noted that in the fall of 2020, they plan to begin a study on the West Seattle Bridge’s remaining useful life; they noted a similar study has been ongoing regarding the Ballard Bridge. The West Seattle Bridge opened in 1984.

SDOT has a project webpage for the West Seattle Bridge, where you can sign up for updates. SDOT also posted a summary of the March 30 meeting on the SDOT Blog.

I am sending all constituent questions and suggestions to SDOT. SDOT’s answers to Council questions to date are included below.

Capital Projects Watch List Resolution

The Council adopted Resolution 31942 I sponsored, along with Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee. The resolution adds work related to the West Seattle Bridge to the 2020 Capital Project Watch List for enhanced reporting.

Map of Restaurants Open for Delivery and Takeout

The City of Seattle has developed a map showing restaurants that are open for delivery and takeout. To use the map, enter an address or zip code and search, or select the pin icon to the right of the address box, click on the map, and find all the available restaurants nearby. Once you select a restaurant, they can place a takeout or delivery order directly through the app or can receive directions to the restaurant.

If you are a business owner and would like to be added to the map, please contact supportsmallbiz@seattle.gov.

Background information is available here.  This is part of the City’s campaign to support small businesses during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Representative Jayapal Telebriefing on Federal COVID-19 Relief Bill April 1

US 7th District Representative Jayapal will host a tele-briefing on the federal emergency COVID-19 relief bill, and what impact it will have in Washington State, on April 1 at 5 p.m.

You can watch at https://www.facebook.com/RepJayapal/, or dial in by phone at 855-286-0292.

Additional information on federal assistance is available at her COVID-19 website.

SDOT Answers to Council Questions on the West Seattle Bridge

SDOT has answered some of the questions sent by my office and the City Council. Here’s a link to responses from SDOT so far. Below are highlights:

Has SDOT received word from the Coast Guard about flexibility re: times the bridge can remain open w/o or with limited closures?

The Coast Guard has broadcasted a notice to non-commercial vessels with a request to time transit and requests for openings during non-peak commute times. We are making a deviation request for am/pm peak close periods that, if they are not objected to by local mariners, can last for 180 days. Additionally, we can request an official rule change for a close period, but that is a 6-month process and subject to any objection from the local maritime community.

Can SDOT allow vehicle traffic on the lower bridge overnight? I have heard from more than one person whose work shift begins at 3 a.m., when traffic is lighter.

We understand the inconvenience the closure of the High Bridge poses to the West Seattle community.  In light of the current public health emergency, our top priority is emergency access to hospitals and protecting the supply chain, so we are reserving access to emergency vehicles, freight, and transit, and working with our partners at SPD, SFD, the Port, and Metro to determine the extent of the access limitations.  Detour signs are posted and SPD officers are stationed at either end of the Low Bridge to direct GP traffic away from the bridge.  We are monitoring traffic on the Low Bridge 24-hours a day from our Transportation Operations Center.  As new traffic patterns develop, we may be able to adjust access.

I have heard from several COVID-19 first responders (firefighter, ER nurse) who must leave the peninsula for work, and from an immunology researcher at UW working on COVID-19. Could the lower bridge be opened for them?

We acknowledge it is critical for doctors, nurses, researchers and first responders to get to their jobs.  At the same time, we must reserve access to the Low Bridge to emergency vehicle transporting critically ill patients.  Many people who live and work in West Seattle serve many kinds of essential functions – we need to maintain equity for all of them. The Low Bridge is currently open to essential workers who get to work by taking transit, walking, and biking. It’s also open to essential workers who need access to Harbor Island and T-5 and people using emergency vehicles and transporting freight as part of their jobs. For essential workers who are driving private vehicles, they are directed to the 1st Ave S Bridge.

Please explain SDOT’s procedures for providing information the Council regarding ongoing inspections for potential significant problems that could lead to closure of major roadways or structures.

SDOT regularly conducts inspections of bridges in keeping with Federal requirements. These inspections are programmatic in nature, and generally identify preventative maintenance and repair actions, while also tracking the evolution of the bridge structure over time. The load rating project for the West Seattle High-Pass Bridge started in 2019 indicated that the cracking problem was more serious than originally reported in the consultant study we commissioned in 2014 after cracking at post-tensioning anchorage points was first discovered in 2013. We performed an in-depth analysis through the consultant doing the load rating work. As part of this analysis we needed more accurate mapping of the cracked bridge sections near the anchorage points so we inspected the bridge via Under Bridge Inspection Truck (UBIT), interior inspections of the box girders at the anchorage points and additional exterior inspections in October and December of 2019 and again in March of 2020.  As the analysis was coming to a conclusion in March 2020 it indicated that there was a serious load carrying capacity issue with the bridge, we simultaneously noticed that the rate of cracking was increasing at a concerning rate just within the month of March 2020.  This rate of increase was unexpected compared to previous months and gave us reason to close the bridge for safety.

The closure of the bridge, while abrupt, followed SDOT’s commitment to transparency and timely communication with the Mayor, City Council and the public on all issues that will or are quite likely to negatively impact their constituents. What led to the short window of time between alerting the Council and the public and the closure of the bridge on March 23 was the rapid acceleration of cracking within an extremely short period of time.  

Please provide a timeline of SDOT’s inspections of the West Seattle Bridge that lead to this decision.

We regularly inspect our bridges. The events of the past few days is a notable example of why those efforts are critical and why we take this responsibility so seriously. During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our bridge inspectors discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We’ve inspected the bridge every year since then; twice as frequently as required by federal guidelines. Since then, we’ve closely monitored and managed the cracks. In 2014, we installed real-time data collection equipment to aid in these efforts, which allowed us to remotely monitor the width of existing cracks on the bridge. At this time, we also began conducting more frequent inspections and implementing best-practice maintenance and repairs. Those annual inspections did not indicate a need for repairs that would significantly disrupt standard use of the bridge. During a 2019 assessment of the bridge’s ability to carry heavy loads, our structural engineering consultant mapped the cracks in the bridge and discovered that they had grown since the previous year’s inspection. We and our engineering consultant continued to closely monitor these cracks and carry out critical maintenance by injecting epoxy into them to protect the steel reinforcements. In late February 2020, our engineering consultant recommended that the rate of deterioration made it necessary to consider traffic restrictions to ensure public safety. As we came to the same conclusion late last week, while we were drafting a lane-reduction plan and preparing to initiate conversations with City leaders and the community, our structural engineering consultant notified us that they had conducted new analysis raising larger concerns. We conducted several observations over the next few days and on Monday, March 23, we found significant new cracking. This confirmed that cracking had rapidly accelerated to the point where there was no other option but to immediately close the bridge.

(in response to a question about 2013, 2016 and 2019 changes to federal bridge load rating standards):

Federal guidelines require that bridges in the National Highway System be inspected every two years (see National Bridge Inspection Standards in 23 CFR 650C). During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our structural engineers discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We have been closely monitoring these cracks since then, installing real-time data collection equipment in 2014 allowing us to remotely monitor the bridge condition, and began conducting more frequent follow up inspections in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

In an unrelated process, the FHWA issued new requirements in 2013 that DOTs reevaluate all bridge load ratings by 2022 due to the growing use of heavier trucks for specific kinds of emergency response and construction vehicles. This required SDOT to re-evaluate the maximum vehicle weight that 69 bridges could safely support. We began these load rating revaluations in 2015 and started the West Seattle Bridge reevaluation in mid-2019, according to our planned schedule.

Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).

Each year Roadway Structures updates their Project Rating Criteria List based on the previous years’ bridge condition data and rating factors that prioritize local concerns including equity and transportation system impact. The 2019 Project Rating Criteria for SDOT’s bridge inventory is being updated and will be ready the week of 3/30.

Can traffic signals at the 5-way intersection at West Marginal Way, Spokane Street, Delridge Way be adjusted to better serve new traffic patterns? One constituent said they had to wait through 5 light cycles to get to Spokane Street from West Marginal during the afternoon with relatively light traffic.

We know the 5-way intersection has been a challenge even prior to the High Bridge closure. The current intersection design is intended to maintain all potential movements and separates each leg to remove potential conflicts. With increased demand on the intersection as a result of the High Bridge closure, SDOT will re-evaluate the intersection to see whether any design or operational changes can help address congestion while maintaining safe operations.

This signal is on our high priority emergency list to be upgraded so that the signal system is interconnected to our central system. This will allow for us to adjust signal timing actively based on new traffic patterns.  These upgrades also include improved detection to better facilitate new priority movements. This work will be prioritized after our work on Highland Park Way & Holden and our target is to complete it within the next 2-3 weeks.

What was the original design vehicle and what would we use today?

The bridge was originally designed for a design live load commercial vehicle designated as HS-20 (like a large commercial tractor-trailer truck but slightly less axel load than an articulated bus). Since the bridge was brought online in 1984, the size and loading of commercial vehicles have continued to increase as indicated by the much larger HL-93 design loading that is used to design new bridges today. Note that HL-93 loading is not a specific commercial vehicle type, but rather a requirement to choose the worst load combination presented by combining either an HS-20 or Heavy Tandem Trailer with a distributed lane load. The ‘93’ refers to the year that this loading type was adopted as the governing load combination for bridge load rating calculations. This load combination captures the loading of the larger articulated buses that are in use today.

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