West Seattle Bridge Update, September 11; Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network; Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations Presentation; Good Things Happening in the West Seattle Junction

West Seattle Bridge Update, September 11

Funding update

Through the end of August, SDOT had spent $7.6 million on high-bridge emergency stabilization, bridge monitoring and traffic mitigation efforts and projects. Future work will cost significantly more.

In order to fund work moving forward, on Monday the Council adopted legislation I co-sponsored along with Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation and Utilities committee.  The legislation authorizes the loan of funds in the amount of $50,000,000 from the Construction and Inspections Fund and $20,000,000 from the Real Estate Excise Tax, or REET II, Capital Projects Fund to the 2021 LTGO Taxable Bond Fund for “early phases of work on the bridge repair and replacement project.”

The $70 million will fund:

  • Bridge stabilization work
  • Bridge monitoring
  • Repairs and enhancements to the Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge
  • Traffic and mobility mitigation projects including Reconnect West Seattle project
  • Planning and design of a long-term replacement

The internal city loan will be repaid through issuance of debt in 2021; I thank my Council colleagues for their support.

In addition, SDOT will be applying for a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant in the upcoming cycle; applications are due on January 29, 2021. By this deadline SDOT will have better project definition, which will assist in developing a grant proposal. Thank you to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for her support and advocacy in supporting this application.

Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Wednesday, and received updates on several subjects as follows:

Cost Benefit Analysis

There was an update and discussion regarding the cost benefit analysis, which will inform the decision whether to repair or replace the bridge. Both a replacement bridge and an immersed tube tunnel are being used for the purpose of the replacement option analysis.

If replacing the bridge is chosen, a separate Type, Size and Location study would be needed to evaluate the various replacement options before choosing one.

Here’s SDOT’s timeline for the cost benefit analysis, leading to a decision whether to repair or replace the bridge in October (I asked if the timeline for a decision remained October, and SDOT affirmed this):

Here’s a slide that shows the weighting of various criteria as part of the cost-benefit analysis, by SDOT, the Technical Advisory Panel, and the Community Task Force, as well as the combined total:

Here’s a description of how SDOT and their consultant WSP will incorporate lifecycle costs into risk calculations, while noting a new lifecycle range for a repair of 15-40 years, whereas the previous lifecycle estimate for a repair was only 10 years:

Low Bridge Access Policy

SDOT is forming a subcommittee on access to and use of the lower bridge, consisting of members of the Community Task Force, consisting of business, labor, maritime users, employer shuttles, and schools. I suggested including a resident as well, especially from the northern portion of the peninsula.

Stabilization work

SDOT provided an update on stabilization measures, with images of the post-tensioning brackets inside the bridge:

Reconnect West Seattle

SDOT provided an update on implementation of Reconnect West Seattle projects, noting 23 community-projects for 2020, and 32 planned for 2021 (these projects require more planning and/or community feedback on whether a plan meets community desires). The initial investment for these critical mitigation projects is $6 million.

One project listed for implementation raised objections from former Mayor Nickels, and South Park representation: a northbound freight-only lane on West Marginal. SDOT indicated more community consultation would take place about this.

Traffic Update

SDOT is planning speed radar installations by the end of the month: two along Sylvan Way, two on 14th Avenue SW, and two on Cloverdale in South Park.

The most recent traffic volumes are below, with continued high use on Highland Park Way and West Marginal; the lower (Spokane Street) Bridge, the South Park Bridge and the 1st Avenue South Bridge all also have higher volumes than the pre-COVID baseline:

Here are the most recent travel times:

Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network

Today, in my Public Safety and Human Services Committee we heard legislation related to the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network.  Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins presented the legislation but before he did, his opening remarks addressed the fact that today is an anniversary of a tragic event in our nation’s history.  I share his remarks here, as well as sharing in the sentiment expressed:

“We recognize that today is the 19 year anniversary of 9/11 when our country faced some very difficult times when we lost more than 2,900 people as well as 71 police officers and 343 firefighters.  On that day, the fire service made a commitment that ‘we will never forget.’  SFD had events honoring them.  We read the names of all 347 fire fighters at our fire stations this morning to honor our fire fighters who passed away that day.”

Photo credit to SFD

The Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, otherwise known as PSERN, will be a new digital radio communication system primarily used for emergency response. This system will replace a 1995 analog system at 800 MHz, this older system will still be used by many City departments.

An interlocal agreement between 12 jurisdictions  (Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, King County, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, and Tukwila) will create a new non-profit to own, operate, and maintain this radio network – that non-profit will be called PSERN.

The new network, once completed in 2023, will provide 97% reliability at street level in the King County area. The goal is to have all of the 12 parties approve the interlocal agreement by mid-September. My committee took action today to approve this interlocal agreement for the city of Seattle; another 50% of the cities/agencies have already signed on.  The Full Council will vote on this legislation on Monday, September 21.

Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations Presentation

Also at today’s meeting of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting, the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably presented their recommendations regarding the use of crowd control weapons. I sponsored an amendment requesting this in the Council legislation adopted on June 15. I also sponsored an amendment to submit the legislation to US District Court Judge Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice.

The three accountability bodies sent their recommendations in mid-August; each of the three accountability bodies have slightly different roles and responsibilities as part of the 3-legged stool that comprises our civilian accountability system. Here’s a link to their recommendations:

Here’s a summary chart; while it’s not a substitute for the individual reports, it contains a useful high-level comparison of the recommendations, where they overlap and where they diverge, of the three accountability bodies.

All three bodies note support for allowing for the use of some less lethal options outside the context of crowd control. Both the OPA and OIG propose re-authorizing the limited use of crowd control devices during crowd control situations when violence is present; the OIG indicates any re-authorization should be accompanied by changes in policy and training to reduce risk of harm to non-violent protestors; the OPA proposes conditions to minimize use.

Video of the meeting will be available at the Seattle Channel committee archive.

Here’s background about the court cases regarding use of crowd control weapons; US District Court Judge Robart approved a temporary restraining order on implementation of the Council’s ordinance that was requested by the US Department of Justice. A current motion would see resolution of the case in October.

To allow for further consideration of our approach addressing the issues raised by the DOJ, the Court, and the 3 accountability partners, we have requested a short extension of the current deadlines set by the Court. The court had previously ordered the parties to submit memoranda by Sept 12, “analyzing the interaction of the Ordinance with the Consent Decree, as well as with any SPD policies that the Consent Decree governs”. The court also directed the parties to respond to the reports submitted by the OPA and IG. In light of the necessary work to address the issues raised by the DOJ, the Court, and the 3 accountability partners, we recognize that more time will be needed.

In a separate case, On June 13th, US District Court approved a temporary restraining order sought by Black Lives Matter and the ACLU limiting the use of crowd control devices in protests; the City agreed to extend the preliminary injunction limiting the use of crowd control devices through September 30th.  On August 10th, in response to a motion of contempt by BLM/ACLU, the City agreed to the expansion of the injunction to further limit the use of chemical irritants or projectiles, and specifically called out a prohibition on use against journalists, legal observers and medics, and specified that declaring a riot does not exempt the city from its obligations under the order.

Good Things Happening in the West Seattle Junction

As they always do, the West Seattle Junction Association is working hard to promote our neighborhood business district with a critical emphasis on the need on economic recovery for the small businesses there.  Check out this video commissioned by West Seattle Junction Association to promote our beautiful district.

“West Seattle has its own vibe. We are set apart from the rest of Seattle in a very unique way – and it shows through our community, people, and businesses. Set in the heart of West Seattle is the West Seattle Junction: the center of art and commerce for the incredible people that encompass our neighborhood. Whether you’re looking to visit, or for a more permanent change of scenery – look no further than the soulful, vibrant community of West Seattle.”

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