A note of thanks to West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Communities

Dear West Seattle and Duwamish Valley communities,  

It’s been a tough year. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll around the globe, your communities suddenly faced another major challenge: the emergency closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge on March 23, 2020.   

Here we are. One year later. 

While closing the bridge was a necessary step for public safety, the effects of the closure have been widespread and undeniable. All of you have been affected. Your trips have taken more time; your routines have been disrupted. Traffic patterns have changed, with detours sending people driving onto neighborhood streets that weren’t intended for so many cars. 

We’ve taken steps – and will continue to do so – to help ease some of the strain. Later this week, we’ll talk more about where we’ve been over the past year and where we’re headed. We remain laser-focused on repairing and reopening the High Bridge in mid-2022 so the closure no longer weighs heavily on your day-to-day life. 

But this message today isn’t about what we at the City have done. It’s about what you and your neighbors have endured. Today, we simply want to thank you for your perseverance over the past year. 

A year later after the West Seattle Bridge closure as we struggle to keep our communities safe and healthy from road traffic and additional emissions for both of our communities Georgetown and South Park, I am pleased to say we have been centering community voices and concerns prioritizing equity and environmental justice and will continue to make sure this is a key element moving forward. Thankful for our community and our SDOT partners.” Paulina Lopez, West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Co-Chair and Executive Director of Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition  

“Thank you for your patience as we work to repair this critical piece of Seattle’s infrastructure. We know that the bridge closure has deeply impacted communities and business, and we appreciate your flexibility in learning new ways to get around. Thank you to all the community members who have helped guide our efforts, through emails, surveys, and public meetings. You have helped set us on a path to success.” Mayor Jenny A. Durkan

“It has been a long, hard year for folks in West Seattle and Southwest Seattle. But finally we see a light at the end of the bridge.” Greg Nickels, West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Co-Chair and Former Mayor of Seattle 

Better days are ahead. After successfully completing stabilization measures on the bridge late last year, we’re preparing to hire the construction team that will rehabilitate the bridge and work to reopen it to traffic. As that work proceeds, you’ll continue to see us in the community telling you what’s happening, humbly asking for your feedback, and steadfastly making improvements.” Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation 

This remains a long emergency and remain committed to staying on schedule and reopening a safe bridge as soon as possible. Still, we recognize that this is one of many losses you may have endured this year, and you’ve had to look for new and novel ways of coping and coming together as a community. We hear you and we will continue to do everything we can to return the bridge to service and supporting all of the communities affected by detour traffic. 

Sincerely,  

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe and your neighbors at the Seattle Department of Transportation