Mayor Durkan declares civil emergency over closure of West Seattle Bridge

Jul 16, 2020, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:59 am
West Seattle Bridge...
The West Seattle Bridge. (SDOT, Flickr)
(SDOT, Flickr)

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday that she is declaring a civil emergency over the ongoing closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

Why is it taking so long to figure out the West Seattle Bridge?

This is the first time a Mayor of Seattle has declared a civil emergency in response to a piece of infrastructure.

Mayor Durkan also signed an emergency order requesting state and federal funding assistance with the repair or replacement, issuing the following statement:

Our cities are facing a series of unprecedented crises, including rising COVID-19 cases and a significant economic crisis. At the same time, residents, workers, and businesses have been deeply impacted by the closure of the West Seattle Bridge — the City’s busiest bridge. As SDOT continues to mitigate traffic impacts and stabilize the bridge while evaluating repair and replace options, this emergency proclamation will give Seattle the tools we need to expedite permitting and procurement, and strengthen our efforts to receive state and federal funding.

The declaration allows the city to speed up the permitting and contract procurement process. It can also ask for state and federal funding for the traffic mitigation plans currently being created to deal with the loss of the high bridge.

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe also released a statement commenting on the move:

Safely restoring travel capacity across the Duwamish continues to be of the highest priority at SDOT. As we continue to work with the speed and urgency this crisis deserves, I applaud Mayor Durkan’s proclamation today declaring the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge a City emergency to bolster our efforts. This is a marathon at sprint pace, and this emergency proclamation elevates efforts to secure the resources and broader state and federal support needed to sustain these efforts for as long as it takes to deliver the best possible outcomes for West Seattle and the surrounding communities.

The city believes the bridge can be repaired, as does the Technical Advisory Panel helping the city, but it has not yet decided if it should be repaired. Repair and replacement options are both being considered. The city does not know how much either option will cost. A cost-benefit analysis is underway and should be completed by the fall.

“We urgently need a regional approach for the replacement of the West Seattle Bridge,” Peter Steinbrueck, Port of Seattle Commission President, Co-Chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance said. “Tens of thousands of family-wage jobs depend on the movement of goods in the busiest freight corridor in the state, which is also adjacent to our largest investment — the Terminal 5 container handling facility.”

History of the West Seattle Bridge

The 36-year-old bridge was closed to traffic in March, after a series of cracks began aggressively expanding. That has left the 100,000 people a day that normally used the bridge scrambling to find other ways across the Duwamish River. The Lower Spokane Street Bridge is being restricted to emergency vehicles, transit, and freight.

Deb Barker, a member of the West Seattle Bridge Task Force praised the emergency declaration, issuing the following statement:

The Mayoral Proclamation of Civil Emergency tells the rest of the City and the region that the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure is a life-impacting event of epic proportion for thousands of people, and that it is not business as usual in West Seattle until the bridge connection is restored. I thank Mayor Durkan for acknowledging the reality of the emergency situation and signing this important document. I urge the City’s partners to think outside of the box as they support the City in this emergency. Thank You Mayor Durkan.

The city is currently working with all the neighborhoods in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley to come up with creative traffic mitigation plans to help with the changing traffic patterns.  The city wants them to cost less than $100,000 each and take less than a year to build.


Chris Sullivan

Major traffic shift coming to I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass

A big change is about to happen on I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass. WSDOT is widening six more miles of I-90 starting next week.
2 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Avoid I-90 for the Seahawks game officials say, with westbound closed at Mercer Island this weekend

Good luck getting to the Seahawks game from the east side this weekend. Westbound I-90 is going to be closed at the west end of Mercer Island.
6 days ago
lane splitter...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: My experience with a lane splitter and why it is still illegal

A question for all motorcyclists today. Do you want to make it home alive? Then don't be a lane splitter.
7 days ago
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT closes parts of I-405 this weekend to repair ’15-foot-deep sinkhole’

You will not want to be using Interstate 405 this Saturday, because construction is going to close the freeway south of Bellevue.
16 days ago
Rose petals in the shape of a heart are left on the sidewalk near the spot where four international...
Chris Sullivan

WA looks for answers as bike, pedestrian deaths hit 20-year high

The numbers are in, and we are not doing a good job behind the wheel when it comes to sharing the road with bikes and pedestrians.
21 days ago
Chris Sullivan

A deep dive on the final stages of repair to the West Seattle Bridge

Load testing is one of the final steps to perform before the West Seattle Bridge can reopen to traffic.
30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Mayor Durkan declares civil emergency over closure of West Seattle Bridge