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The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met for the sixth time yesterday!

Photo by Chun Kwan

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force is one of the many ways that we ensure the communities’ voices are at the center of our West Seattle Bridge decisions. Community Task Force members represent neighborhoods, industries, government, and services across West Seattle and nearby communities.  

At yesterday’s meeting, we shared progress and solicited feedback on three significant projects that the Community Task Force is involved in this summer: the dynamic Low Bridge Access Policy, Reconnect West Seattle and the cost-benefit analysis that will be used to inform the City’s decision to repair or replace the High-Rise Bridge. 

Low Bridge Access update: 

image of low bridge access placard card.
Example of low bridge access placard card.

At the last Community Task Force meeting, we made an interim update to our dynamic Low Bridge Access Policy to expand access to select users and issue Low Bridge Access Placards. 

Yesterday, we made another update to provide two additional passes for essential healthcare worker vanpools and 13 passes for the West Seattle Chamber and Junction BIA businesses.

Concerns were raised at the meeting about West Seattle’s small businesses needing additional access. The Low Bridge is already at capacity and additional access will have to come from the existing pool of previously distributed placards. Though granting access to small businesses for the first time was greatly appreciated by the West Seattle Chamber and Junction BIA, there was a commitment by representatives from the ILWU and the West Seattle Chamber to explore creative solutions that ensure the needs of both parties are met.  

As of today, the dynamic Low Bridge Access Policy allows the following to use the Low Bridge: 

  • Emergency vehicles 
  • Freight 
  • Public transit  
  • School buses (public and private) 
  • 75 Maritime/industrial users proximate to Harbor Island 
  • 22 Employer shuttles 
  • 10 Vanpools of essential healthcare workers  
  • 113 ILWU 
  • 13 for West Seattle Chamber and Junction BIA 
  • All vehicles at night between 9 pm and 5 am, 7 days a week 

This is a dynamic access policy that we will continue to monitor and adjust where needed and will be adapted in the fall when new automated camera enforcement will be installed. 

Reconnect West Seattle

We are currently analyzing the nearly 17,000 (!!) responses we received from the Reconnect West Seattle Survey and Neighborhood Prioritization Ballots, which closed last Friday on July 31st

Paper ballots, many of which were completed in non-English languages, are still coming in, and we will need time to translate and include those valuable voices before we complete our analysis.  

We were very intentional in making this an inclusive process and hoped to hear from all community members that live or work in West Seattle, Georgetown, SODO, and South Park, and extreme care was taken to ensure that voices traditionally not heard in these conversations were fully engaged and needs articulated.  

In our efforts to reach a broad audience, the Reconnect West Seattle material, including the surveys and ballots, were translated into seven languages – Spanish, Khmer, Somali, Vietnamese, Oromo, Korean, Chinese. We enlisted help from Community Liaisons to conduct outreach to specific neighborhoods. They held virtual meetings​, posted on social media platforms​, conducted door-to-door business outreach​, and socially-distanced in-person conversations. We also purchased Ethnic Media ad space, and we held interviews with Univision, Salaxley TV, and El Rey​. 

Even though we do not yet have our full analysis complete, we have pulled out a few high-level, themes from the Neighborhood Prioritization Ballots and the Reconnect West Seattle Survey that we wanted to share. 

Neighborhood Prioritization Ballots:  

SODO, Georgetown, South Park, and South West Seattle (including South Delridge, Roxhill, Highland Park, and Riverview) are acutely impacted by increased traffic from the West Seattle detour routes. Community members in these neighborhoods were asked to help prioritize which projects they feel would best address the impacts of the High-Rise Bridge closure.   

From the ballots, these are the top themes that people shared they were concerned about, in ranked order: 

  • Traffic & Congestion ​ 
  • Pedestrian Safety & Accessibility ​ 
  • Speeding​ 
  • Environmental Impacts and Pollution  

Reconnect West Seattle Survey: 

The Reconnect West Seattle Survey was an opportunity for everyone who lives and works in West Seattle to let us and our partners know what they need to move on and off the West Seattle peninsula at similar rates to before the High-Rise Bridge closure, but with a significant reduction in travel lanes. 

Here are the preliminary findings from the surveys: 

ModePreliminary Key Findings​ What would make you use this mode more?​ 
Buses​ 29% of respondents would take the bus at least 1 day per week​ Trip was faster​ Bus came more often​ Bus got me closer to my destination​ 
Water Taxi​ 19% of respondents would take the Water Taxi at least 1 day per week​ More parking options​ More frequent trips​ Bus/shuttle/ride home from water taxi​ 
Bikes​ 16% of respondents would bike at least 1 day per week​ 26% of respondents would not bike due to physical distance (too far away) or physical constraints (carry tools for work, children, physical limitations, etc)​ Safer route via bike lanes​ Better weather​ More affordable e-bikes​ 
Working Remotely​ 53% of respondents would telework at least 1 day per week​ Need employers / schools to be more flexible​ 

Mode Share 2019 BaselinePre-Social Distancing (Before)During Social Distancing (Current) After Social Distancing (Future) Mode Shift Goals 
Cars 82% 52% 37% 37% 35% 
Buses 17% 16% 3% 11% 20% 
Water Taxi 1% 3% 1% 6% 10% 
Bike 1% 3% 3% 6% 10% 
Walk No Data — — — 5% 
Work from Home No Data 13% 49% 23% 10% 
Carpool/ Vanpool No Data 7% 3% 9% 5% 
Employer Shuttle No Data 1% 0% 4% 5% 
Other No Data 5% 4% 4% 0% 

The Reconnect West Seattle Survey asked people to share how many days a week they typically used various modes of transportation to cross the Duwamish before social distancing restrictions were in place, today, and their predictions of how they will travel in the future after social distancing guidelines ease.  

The survey reports that driving has dropped significantly, down to 37%, and people predict that their car trips across the Duwamish will remain at the same level once social distance guidelines ease. Though these numbers self-reported estimates, 37% is remarkably close to our Reconnect West Seattle mode shift goal that only 35% of trips across the Duwamish would be by car.  

People indicated that they would be more likely to ride their bike, take a water taxi, carpool, or take an employer shuttle after social distancing guidelines ease compared to before. And many people expect to continue working remotely, eliminating their daily need to cross the Duwamish.  

Next steps for Reconnect West Seattle 

Over the next few weeks, we will analyze data from the survey and ballots, develop our recommendations, and confirm priorities with the community. We have meetings scheduled with neighborhood groups to get feedback on our recommendations before they are finalized.

Upcoming neighborhood meetings: 

  • SODO:  August 13  
  • South W Seattle: August 13  
  • South Park: August 17 
  • Georgetown: August 11

Contact Danielle Friedman if you are interested in learning more about the neighborhood meetings.   

At the next Community task for meeting on Wednesday, August 19 from 12-2:30pm, we will share a draft of the Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan and in early September we will begin implementing Reconnect West Seattle projects.

Cost-Benefit Analysis 

At the last Community Task Force meeting on July 22, we introduced the framework of a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) that will help inform the City’s decision to repair or replace the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge. 

In that initial introduction, we outlined six broad concepts of what repair or replace could look like and proposed ten evaluation criteria (also called attributes) to be weighted and help shape the outcome of the repair versus replace decision.  

Yesterday, after the Community Task Force members had two weeks to consider the CBA’s evaluation criteria, ask questions, and provide feedback, we spent time further clarifying information and answering questions.  

There are three phases to the CBA. With the additional review and information, the Task Force was prepared to begin wrapping up Phase 1 and move into Phase two shortly.    

Phase 1: Build cost-benefit analysis structure (June – Early August) 

Narrow down the repair vs replace concepts and evaluate the feasibility of each 

  • Identify evaluation criteria​ (also known as “attributes”) 
  • Gain input from the Community Task Force on the evaluation criteria ​ 
  • Determine the most important criteria to begin the analysis 

Phase 2: Conduct costbenefit analysis (August – Early October) 

Apply the agreed-upon evaluation criteria to the different repair/replace concepts in the cost-benefit analysis. 

  • Score each of the evaluation criteria  
  • Introduce rough order of magnitude (ROM) costs​ – these are ballpark ranges based on preliminary information gathered, and are by no means an exact estimate.  
  • Quantify the results​ 
  • Compare the options through the lens of the CBA​ 
  • Present the results to the TAP for feedback​ 

Phase 3: Analyze cost-benefit analysis results (October) 

Analyze the quantified results and produce a report with the pros and cons of each option and a recommendation. 

  • Present report to the Community Task Force and TAP for feedback​ 
  • Make a final determination on whether to repair or replace the bridge 
Graph showing the Community Task Force's ranking of CBA Attributes. 
Ranked order: Constructability, Safety/Seismic, Forward Compatibility, Mobility, Environmental, Equity, Multimodality, Funding, Regional Business, Maintenance/Inspection & Ops
Graph showing the Community Task Force’s ranking of CBA Attributes.

We are nearing the final step of Phase 1 and are determining which evaluation criteria should hold the most weight.  

After the breakout session and conversations, Community Task Force members were asked to rate the ten evaluation criteria from most to least important. 20 out of 25 present members submitted their ranking during the meeting. Constructability was ranked as the most important criteria for Community Task Force members, closely followed by safety and meeting seismic standards, and forward compatibility. Descriptions for each of the evaluation criteria can be found here.  

This feedback, along with input from the Technical Advisory Panel and our design consultant WSP, will help inform SDOT’s ultimate decision in how to weight each criteria in the CBA.  

A diagram showing the Cost-Benefit Analysis, Type, Size, Location, and Alternative Analysis of repairing or replacing the West Seattle Bridge.

In October, at the end of the cost-benefit analysis, we will know if we are going to repair or replace the bridge.  

If it is decided that we will replace the bridge, then we will conduct further studies to determine the type of replacement.   

There are two studies:  

  • Type, Size & Location – The Type, Size & Location study will  analyze the site and consider the constraints, including environmental, marine, vehicle traffic, property impacts, and utilities. It will also consider the costs and benefits of specific alternatives and compare them to one another.  
  • Alternatives Analysis – The Alternatives Analysis is part of the Type, Size & Location study. It will look at specific types of replace options (also known as alternatives) and help the City decide which one is best for the West Seattle and greater community.  

    It will answer questions such as, if it’s a bridge, what kind? How would it connect to the current road system? Which type can restore traffic the fastest? And, If it’s an immersed tube tunnel, where would it connect to surface streets and where would it be built?  

As we progress in the cost-benefit analysis, we continue to move all paths for repair and replace forward.  

Recording of the Community Task Force meeting on August 5, 2020.  

All Community Task Force meeting recordings, including breakout sessions, are available on our YouTube channel

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