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SDOT engages technical experts and community advocates to achieve best possible outcomes for West Seattle Bridge and community

Photo by Chun Kwan

Mayor Durkan and The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are pleased to announce today the formation of two West Seattle Bridge advisory groups – our Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and our West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. 

Today’s announcement makes clear that the City is moving forward with the support and network necessary to take on the critical milestones just ahead.  

Mayor Durkan continues to stress the urgent need to reconnect West Seattle and the rest of the city during this challenging time when so much has changed in everyone’s lives. There is a need for economic recovery and community health citywide, but especially in the Duwamish Valley communities.   

These panels will play important, complementary roles in our collective effort to push ahead with urgency and excellence on the best path for the high rise bridge, and to mitigate the impacts of the closure on West Seattle, the Duwamish Valley, and surrounding communities. 

“I want to thank all of the members of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force for committing their time, expertise, network, and voice to this critical issue. While our City faces a number of serious challenges, we will rebuild stronger than ever before,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “With diverse voices and perspectives from the maritime industry to the Duwamish Valley communities, this task force will be instrumental to reconnecting West Seattle. I also want to thank Mayor Greg Nickels and Paulina López, our two co-chairs, for the work they have and will continue to put in for our community to bring the urgency, leadership, and creativity needed.”

“Community voices must be at the table when considering the future of the West Seattle Bridge. The West Seattle Town Hall last month revealed that many residents, those living with the reality of the West Seattle Bridge closure, have good ideas to improve traffic flow and public transit during the closure. I appreciate SDOT’s commitment to, with this task force, considering the thoughtful suggestions of those most impacted in future planning decisions.” Councilmember Lisa Herbold, District 1, West Seattle and South Park. 

Technical Advisory Panel:

The decision to repair or replace the West Seattle High Rise Bridge will be a complex one. 

The formation of the TAP will enable the Mayor and SDOT to regularly convene some of the best and brightest, from a variety of engineering backgrounds, to provide qualitative review, insight, and constructive feedback. 

The TAP will be composed of independent experts with leading experience in bridge design and construction (particularly concrete construction), geotechnical engineering for bridge structures, and marine/maritime expertise.  We anticipate convening the panel at key milestones in the process, including potential participation in briefings for City leadership and elected officials. To align with the urgency of the moment, the TAP will be forward-looking. 

“The state of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge is complex and unique. Through consistent inspections and an expanded intelligent monitoring system our talented team of engineers will have the data necessary to plan next steps. We are grateful to have the experts on our Technical Advisory Panel provide their review and insight to make sure we consider every possible avenue to reconnect West Seattle and the rest of the city. Equally important are the members of our West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force who will lift voices of the community so we can build a stronger, more connected Seattle.”  Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation. 

Confirmed TAP participants include

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force: 

Even in the midst of “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders, the closure of the West Seattle High Rise Bridge has had a dramatic effect on people and businesses throughout West Seattle, the Duwamish Valley, and surrounding communities.  

There are concerns about more cut-through traffic in neighborhoods, availability of transit, pedestrian safety, environmental pollution, and equity. The travel restrictions on the Low Bridge, though absolutely essential, make for longer drives for some, and throughout West Seattle, many continue to wonder what route they will use to get to work once the economy begins to reopen. The bridge also impacts Seattle’s freight and maritime community which supports tens of thousands of jobs along the Duwamish River and across Harbor Island as well as the critical supply chain to Alaska, Hawaii, and across the globe. 

We – SDOT and the City – cannot fully address these issues without thoughtful, broad, and diverse input from the community. 

As we continue to work in the community and on the ground, we are launching the Task Force to ensure that the many voices and concerns of the community are not only heard, but consistently advocated for. 

We took care to select members from all over West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley, including neighborhood groups from the Junction to Georgetown to South Park to Highland Park to SODO.  The group is also comprised of elected officials, West Seattle businesses, and industrial and maritime businesses and their workers.   

Members will help ensure transparency, clear communication, and broad community engagement and understanding around both traffic mitigation efforts and the future path forward for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge as we address new data, public input, fiscal challenges, and many other important factors that will inform consideration of repair versus replace scenarios. 

“We applaud Mayor Durkan’s vision for inclusive representation from across the region like the Duwamish Valley in a shared effort to plan for the future of Bridge as well as traffic mitigation. The priority of our communities, however, is not only traffic movement; our priority is also the safety and health of our communities. We are supporting the City and this Task Force while continuing to place the wellbeing and economic security of the Georgetown and South Park communities front and center throughout this process.” Paulina López, Task Force Co-chair and Executive Director of Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition 

“We all understand that our Mayor needs to focus on the health and safety of each Seattleite during this covid-19 crisis. But I applaud her taking this step to prepare to deal quickly and decisively with reconnecting West Seattle as we find our way forward. I pledge that the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will give her our very best thinking in creating a path through the Bridge’s closure.” Gregory Nickels, Task Force Co-chair and 51st Mayor of Seattle. 

“We thank Mayor Durkan for convening this panel, and look forward to continuing to work with the City of Seattle, The Northwest Seaport Alliance, and the broader maritime and manufacturing community,” said Port of Seattle Commission President and Managing Member of the Northwest Seaport Alliance Peter Steinbrueck.  “The impacts to this critical transportation hub highlight our maritime economy’s vital dependency on the free movement of people, goods and vehicles throughout the busiest maritime freight hub in the state.”  

Confirmed Task Force participants include

  • Paulina Lopez, Co-chair, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
  • Greg Nickels, Co-chair, 51st Mayor of Seattle
  • Dan Austin, business owner, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce boardmember
  • Mark Aytch, primary care provider and activist
  • Deb Barker, West Seattle Transportation Coalition Boardmember
  • David Bestock, Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, Youngstown Cultural Arts
  • Ken Bowden, Nucor Steel, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce Boardmember
  • Todd Carden, Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub
  • Marci Carpenter, National Federation of the Blind Washington Chapter, charter member and former chair of Transit Advisory Board
  • Colleen Desmond, neighborhood advocate 
  • Katie Garrow, Deputy Executive Secretary, Martin Luther King, Jr County Labor Council
  • Peter Goldman, Washington Environmental Council Boardmember
  • Erin Goodman, SODO Business Improvement Association 
  • Jolene Haas, Duwamish Long House and Cultural Center Director 
  • Anne Higuera, Ventana Construction, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
  • Amanda Kirk, West Seattle Bridge Now
  • Jill Mackie, Senior Vice-President, Vigor Shipyard
  • Tim McConnell, West Seattle Runner
  • John Persak, Georgetown Community Council
  • Lora Radford, West Seattle Junction Business Improvement Association (BIA)
  • Greg Ramirez, Georgetown Community Council
  • Aley Thompson, South Park Neighborhood Association
  • Bob Watters, SSA Marine, Harbor Island
  • Joe Nguyen, Washington State Senator 34th Legislative District, ex officio member
  • Joe Fitzgibbon, Washington State Representative 34th Legislative District, ex officio member
  • Joe McDermott, King County Council Vice Chair, ex officio member
  • Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Councilmember, ex officio member
  • Peter Steinbrueck, Port of Seattle Commissioner, former City of Seattle Council Member, ex officio member
  • Alex Pedersen, Seattle City Councilmember District 4; Chair, Transportation and Utilities Committee, alternate and ex officio member
  • Thea Byrd, Legislative Assistant to Washington State Representative Eileen Cody, ex officio member
  • Yazmin Mehdi, Deputy District Director for US House Representative Pramila Jayapal (7th District), ex officio member
  • Rachel Smith, Deputy King County Executive, Dow Constantine’s Office, ex officio member
  • Shefali Ranganathan, Deputy Mayor, City of Seattle, ex officio member

We are still waiting on confirmation from a few participants whose names will be added once confirmed.

We are grateful for the experience and expertise that each one of the participants will bring to the TAP and Task Force as the City moves with urgency on the bridge, on the ground, and in the community. Both of the panels will regularly convene, beginning in June. In the current public health context, all meetings of both groups will be held virtually. 

Since late March, SDOT has completed more than 80 projects to mitigate traffic in West Seattle, the Duwamish Valley, and surrounding area. Learn more about what we are doing on the ground and in the community to support people and business during the bridge closure.  

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