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Taking action on the ground and in the community to mitigate impacts of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure has had a dramatic effect on the West Seattle and Duwamish Valley communities, and on Seattle as a whole. 

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) does not take this lightly. Every day since we removed traffic from the bridge, we have been planning and implementing solutions to keep people moving, soften the impacts of the bridge closure to the best of our abilities, and preserve public safety.   

Having already met with over 20 stakeholder groups across the region, here is a sample of the responses and actions we have already put in place: Letter to Highland Park Action CommitteeLetter to Georgetown Community CouncilLetter to Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and there are more responses in the works. This is urgent, and as you can see, we are responding as such, but this is just the beginning.   

Read on to learn about what we are doing on the ground and in the community right now.

SDOT is focused on six concurrent West Seattle Bridge priorities to make progress on the bridge, on the ground, and in the community:

On the bridge

  • Stabilizing and shoring the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge
  • Continuing to assess repair feasibility, timeline, and costs for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge

On the ground

  • Traffic mitigation to help residents and businesses while the bridge is closed
  • Closely monitoring and maintaining the low bridge

In the community

  • Clear communication and transparency
  • Public safety

Recently we have shared a lot about what we are doing on the bridge itself.

As we have been working with great urgency on the bridge, we have also been engaging with the community and implementing projects on our streets and sidewalks.

Since late March, we have completed more than 80 projects to mitigate traffic in West Seattle, the Duwamish Valley, and surrounding areas.

Our work in the community and on the ground go hand-in-hand.

We are actively meeting with and listening to West Seattle, Georgetown, South Park, Harbor Island, Duwamish, and neighboring communities to determine traffic mitigation solutions that support community needs, all the while prioritizing safety and lifting up voices of historically underserved people.

To ensure all voices are heard, we formed a West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force of elected officials and representatives from West Seattle businesses, regional neighborhood groups, as well as industrial and maritime businesses and their workers.

In addition to our Task Force, we are committed to meeting with any organization in West Seattle or South Seattle that requests a meeting. That commitment has already enabled us to meet with over 20 stakeholder groups. We are proactively soliciting participation and have sent outreach letters to 100+ community groups and businesses asking for input and offering to meet at their convenience.

These community connections inform our work.

So far, we have implemented or have committed to implementing more than 100 community requests and plan to commit to many more in coming weeks.

Here are some of the projects that we have recently implemented.

5-way intersection near spokane st low bridge

We are working to keep increased traffic on arterial streets moving.

  • We installed six new traffic monitors. These monitors measure traffic volume to give us a better understanding of how many people are driving on the streets, predict where backups may occur, and plan for street improvements. 
  • We adjusted signal timing at 25 intersections on detour routes to keep traffic moving. 
  • We installed three travel time displays to help drivers plan their routes. 
  • We have accelerated planned construction projects to support increased traffic at the intersection of S Spokane St and 6th Ave S and will be working on SW Roxbury St this week. 
crew installing 25 MPH signs

We are working to improve safety on streets with increased traffic.

  • We are continuing to reduce speed limits to 25 MPH. This work is especially important right now because about a quarter of the time we spend sitting in traffic is due to crashes. In other parts of the city, we’ve seen as much as a 35% – 45% reduction in crashes after installing 25 mph speed limit signs on comparable streets, so we expect that these 25 mph speed limits will be an essential part of our plan to keep West Seattle moving.  

    To reach our Vision Zero goal of no serious injuries or fatalities, Seattle is reducing speed limits to 25 MPH across the city. Since the bridge closure, we prioritized West Seattle, South Park, and Georgetown streets, and in April and May we reduced speed limits along 42 miles on over 50 streets. See which streets have had their speed limits lowered on our city speed limit map
  • We continue to invest in long-term safety projects that help build an even stronger, connected, and more livable West Seattle and are moving forward with a much-needed project along Delridge Way SW to add a new rapid transit line, improve safety, enhance bike infrastructure, and repair roads in poor condition. 
Paving work at the 5-legged intersection of Delridge Way SW, Chelan Ave SW, and W Marginal Way SW.
Paving work at the 5-legged intersection of Delridge Way SW, Chelan Ave SW, and W Marginal Way SW.

We are supporting reliable access to transit.

  • We restricted traffic on the Spokane St Low Bridge to prioritize transit, freight, and emergency vehicles.  
  • We added a bus-only lane on northbound Delridge Way SW from SW Andover St to Chelan Ave SW.
Keep Moving Street on Beach Drive near Alki. Photo by Dongho Chan
Keep Moving Street on Beach Drive near Alki. Photo by Dongho Chan

We are improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

  • We added 5.2 miles of Stay Healthy Streets in the Delridge Highland and High Point neighborhoods and turned a section of Beach Drive into a Keep Moving Street. These streets are closed to thru-traffic and opened for people to walk, run, roll, and bike safely in the street while maintaining proper physical distancing guidelines. 
  • We replaced pedestrian and bike gates on the Spokane Street Low Bridge in increase safety for people biking, walking, and rolling over the bridge. 
  • Next month we break ground on the Delridge Way SW – RapidRide H Line project with King County Metro, starting the transformation of a major arterial into a safer street with new bike facilities, bus lanes for soon-to-come RapidRide service, street trees, and pedestrian crossings.   
  • We are improving the neighborhood greenway network between the West Seattle Bridge Trail and SW Juneau St. This includes new speed humps, traffic diverters to calm traffic and prevent cut-throughs, and a new route to avoid a staircase.   

This work is just the beginning.

We will continue engaging with the community and implementing new projects.

We are in the process of developing Neighborhood Mobility Strategies; we are developing plans for freight and bicycle priorities; and we continue to work very closely with our transit partners. We will share more information about each of these projects throughout the month of June. 

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