Reconnect West Seattle

Updated 6/16/21 

What's Happening Now?

Community feedback guided the creation of our Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan, which describes initial planned investments for neighborhood mitigation projects, bike projects, freight projects, and projects/services to support mobility. Additionally, it is an iterative, ongoing dialogue that envisions how we can achieve a reconnected West Seattle peninsula. The interactive map below shows each of the projects planned.


The Implementation Plan Quarterly Report provides a summary of our work thus far, as well as next steps. You can also see a list of completed and upcoming projects in the report. 

Construction updates and other information

Crews will be constructing projects throughout 2021. You'll also see work starting for our Home Zones in South Park, Highland Park, and Georgetown. Home Zones include pedestrian improvements and traffic calming for neighborhoods.  Check out the SDOT blog for recent Reconnect West Seattle updates. 

Overview

The unexpected closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge dramatically impacted West Seattle and the nearby Duwamish Valley communities. We have a vision to restore travel across the Duwamish to similar levels seen before the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure. At the same time, we want to reduce the impact of increased detour traffic in the Duwamish Valley neighborhoods like Highland Park and South Park.   

To achieve this vision, we need your help in identifying challenges, prioritizing solutions, and implementing a plan to help people safely ride the bus, bike, walk, or take a water taxi as the phased reopening of our economy continues. Just as there are many ways to get around, there are many transportation partners in Reconnect West Seattle. We have shared the results of this survey and will continue to work closely with King County MetroWashington State FerriesWashington State Department of TransportationSound Transit and the Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance

The Challenge

The challenge for all of us is that prior to the bridge closure, a good portion of people in West Seattle drove cars on and off the peninsula. With the high bridge  closed until mid-2022, there are not enough travel lanes to support the same number of cars on the road. We need people to start thinking about other ways to move around. We want to know what you would need to make that change.
This is the challenge that we must collectively solve to reconnect West Seattle. The closure creates unique challenges in different parts of West Seattle and surrounding communities:   

North: While the north end of the peninsula has a driving capacity disadvantage today, there are promising water, transit and rolling opportunities in 2021

South: The bridge closure and detour disproportionately impacts the south end of West Seattle where communities already face higher levels of pollution, including:

  • Proximity to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site, one of the most toxic hazardous waste sites in the nation   
  • Air pollution from a disproportionate number of polluting industries   
  • Air pollution from surrounding major highways - State Highways 99 and 509, and I-5  

Consequently, people in these southern communities face greater health, public safety, and economic disparities, including higher rates of asthma and lower rates for life expectancy. This is also a race and social justice issue as the Duwamish Valley community is far more diverse than much of Seattle. In South Park, 63% of residents are people of color and 40% speak a language other than English at home.  

The Solution

Community feedback guided the creation of our Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan, which describes initial planned investments for neighborhood mitigation projects, bike projects, freight projects, and projects/services to support mobility. Additionally, it is an iterative, ongoing dialogue that envisions how we can achieve a reconnected West Seattle peninsula.

With help from us and our transportation partners, we need every person in West Seattle to, within their means, consider how they can change how they travel. We need more people to start taking the bus and water taxi, riding bikes, walking, or continue to work from home. Visit our West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Travel Options page to learn about different ways to travel to, from, and through the West Seattle peninsula.

Here is our goal for how people can get around in 2021 during peak commute hours, typically 6-9 am and 3-7 pm, and the change needed to get there:   

Modified mode share goalsThe change needed per hour for hour people get around. 4,600 less people drive. 1,1280 more people take the bus, 950 more people take water taxi, 940 more people ride bike, 1,000 more people telework, 500 more people walk

 

We know that not everyone will be able to change the way they travel. We are doing what we can to help people who continue to drive cars and freight trucks, as well as ride bikes, by updating the markings on the road, adjusting signal timing, and improving road signs. We are also continuing to monitor the condition of the High-Rise Bridge and work toward repair for opening the bridge in 2022.

In addition we are: 

  • Working with neighborhoods like Highland Park, South Park, Georgetown, and SODO to prioritize projects that will reduce the impact of increased detour traffic through their communities.
  • Prioritizing transit connections to and from West Seattle 
  • Building new bicycle projects §  Establishing and improving the detour routes through revised traffic signal timing, signage, and real-time information

Want to dig into more data? You can see the data behind our mode share goals in our Reconnect West Seattle Framework

How we got here 

A flow diagram graphic showing the Reconnect West Seattle process by Action.    Actions 1&2: MAR - JUN Community Decides Projects for SDOT to Consider  The flow for this Action: Public Input - Revise Concepts - Identify and Prioritize Projects  Next Step  ACTION 3: JUL 10-31 SDOT Updates and Confirms Project Prioritization  Top Projects Shared with Community SDOT collects input on comprehensive list of proposed projects, prioritized by the community  Next Step ACTION 4: SEPT 9-2020 -WE ARE HERE Begin Building Project and Starting Programs  Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan Prioritized projects assigned to one of three categories: 1. Project already underway/ongoing 2. Scheduled for 2020 implementation 3. Advances for project development for 2021 implementation  Next Step ACTION 5: 2021; ONGOING Ongoing Work with Communities on Impacts and Priorities  SDOT and community work together to confirm priorities, scope projects and evaluate results. SDOT reports quarterly on project implementation status.  In parallel to this flow is the Mobility Action Plan projects and programs implemented with agency partners, and Ongoing detour route management and implementation of larger, long-term projects.

Your responses to the Reconnect West Seattle Survey also informed us on which projects communities wanted to focus on. Read our full Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan here

Community surveys and ballots - summer 2020 

Neighborhood projects

In order to deal with the major increase in traffic on the detour routes, we looked to the community to help us prioritize what transportation projects we should put in place. We compiled a list of transportation projects in SODO, South Park, Georgetown, Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge and in the summer of 2020, asked these communities to prioritize projects that would be most helpful to improve safety and traffic outcomes.   

We received nearly 17,000 responses. See the survey results and each community's project prioritization list by clicking on the links below. 

Freight projects

The closure of the high rise bridge and increase of traffic along freight routes has greatly impacted 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. Maintaining the free movement of goods is critical to the economic health of the region and will be even more essential as we better understand the financial implications of the new economy. We have heard and gathered proposals and feedback directly from freight community members who are deeply and rightfully concerned about how they will move goods on, off, and through the peninsula and Harbor Island. The Freight Network Prioritization Process portion of the Reconnect West Seattle framework aims to fill gaps in the freight network and build needed connections. Access to Terminal 5, Terminal 18, and other key locations in the Spokane Street and West Marginal Way corridors will be a focus of this effort.   

Bike projects

We have heard and gathered proposals and feedback directly from bike community members who are deeply and rightfully concerned about how they will bike on, off, and throughout the peninsula. The Bike Network Prioritization Process aims to fill gaps in our existing bike network in West Seattle so more people feel safe and empowered to bike commute, if able. We know not everyone can substitute a bike for all or even a portion of their trips to and from West Seattle. For those who can, however, it will be essential that they explore this option. 

This portion of the Reconnect West Seattle framework enables the bike community to lead and prioritize which projects you feel, as a community, will best mitigate the impacts of the High-Bridge closure and corresponding detour routes.  

The list of potential projects was generated from ideas we have received from community, along with some of our own ideas, and projects from existing transportation and neighborhood plans, like the Bike Master Plan, Transit Master Plan, and the Pedestrian Master Plan. While a much larger mix of projects remain on our radar, we recognize the need for immediate action. Therefore, the lists include projects that can be completed quickly and cost less than $100,000.  

PRIORITIZED AND PLANNED PROJECTS

Community feedback guided the creation of our Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan, which describes initial planned investments for neighborhood mitigation projects, bike projects, freight projects, and projects/services to support mobility. Additionally, it is an iterative, ongoing dialogue that envisions how we can achieve a reconnected West Seattle peninsula.

The list of projects was generated from ideas we have received from the community, along with some of our own ideas, and projects from existing transportation and neighborhood plans, like the Bicycle Master Plan, Transit Master Plan, and the Pedestrian Master Plan. While a much larger mix of projects remain on our radar, we recognize the need for immediate action. Therefore, the lists include projects that can be completed quickly and cost less than $100,000. We should note that as we better understand the financial implications of the new economy, we'll continue working with the neighborhoods to right-size the project list to fit the challenges we all face.   

For a map and current status of these projects, see the RWS Project Status Map in the "What's Happening Now?" section at the top of this page.   

Reconnect West Seattle Outreach Materials

Letters to community groups:

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When are you going to build/implement these projects?

Construction of Reconnect West Seattle projects began in 2020 and will continue into 2022. Please refer to the RWS Project Status Map at the top of this page for up-to-date status of individual projects.

How are you managing traffic?

SDOT is providing several alternative routes during the high-rise bridge closure. We need to be careful not to direct drivers to prefer any one route to encourage traffic to spread throughout the system and avoid congestion as much as possible. 

The Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and medical first responders are aware of the closure and planning detours. Our traffic control plan uses streets that accommodate the emergency response network to connect communities to hospitals as they are today.    We're also working to minimize the impact of increased traffic along the alternate routes. The project map above includes projects that will help calm traffic, reduce environmental impacts, and improve safety for everyone.     

Through the Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan, we aim to move as many people on and off the peninsula as possible despite significantly reduced travel lanes, while also reducing the impact of increased detour traffic through neighborhoods such as Highland Park, Georgetown, and South Park.  With limited bridge capacity, SDOT and our agency partners need to provide alternatives for the traveling public that greatly reduce demands on the road network. This includes prioritizing bus and water taxi service, providing appropriate infrastructure for cyclists, and acknowledging the different options available to the various neighborhoods of West Seattle. 

What is SDOT doing for bicycle facilities during the bridge closure?

We understand increasing bike trips across the Duwamish Waterway is necessary to meet our Reconnect West Seattle goal of accommodating just as many travelers across the Duwamish as we did before the High bridge was closed. Our goal for people riding bikes is nearly 1,000 additional bike trips during the morning peak. We acknowledge that this requires making it safe, comfortable, and efficient for more people to bike. The projects on the West Seattle Bridge Trail, as well as the W Marginal Way SW, and E Marginal Way S corridors are the initial steps toward that goal. Further, SDOT understands that a safe network will require many projects beyond these.  

We also understand the challenges caused by the bridge closure will not be solved by these first projects alone, but we wanted to make sure we moved forward on the community's top priorities instead of waiting for a longer project list. Just like the neighborhood and freight plans, SDOT focused our evaluation/implementation planning efforts on the top 10 surveyed bike projects. Due to similarities and locational proximity among many of the top bike projects, the improvements on the West Seattle Bridge trail, East Marginal Way S, and West Marginal Way SW constitute the top 18 bike projects.   

What are you doing to improve water taxi service and bus service?

We will also continue to work with other transportation agencies to do everything we can to find holistic solutions to this challenge. We do not expect to make a single announcement on this subject and be done with it. Instead we plan to continuously work to find solutions on an ongoing basis for the foreseeable future and will make both small and large improvements wherever we see the opportunity.

King County Metro is incrementally increasing passenger limits on buses, while maintaining and strengthening safety protocols. The King County Water Taxi also began its spring/summer service schedule, which adds midday and weekend service. 

What is SDOT doing to address potholes?

We continually work to fill potholes throughout the year. Our goal is to fill 90% of potholes within three business days of when they are reported to us. Whenever we receive a report, our crews will also check the area for any other potholes to fill. We filled 18,000 potholes in 2019 and 11,000 potholes from January 1 to July 31, 2020. That includes nearly 1,200 potholes filled in West Seattle and the other nearby neighborhoods this year. 

While we are always doing the best we can to respond to potholes quickly, we face a big challenge in that new potholes are continuously appearing throughout the year. Winter weather, such as rain, snow, and ice all cause significant damage to our roads as water finds its way into cracks in the pavements and literally erodes the pavement from the inside. We work year-round to fill these potholes; however asphalt doesn't bind as well to the surrounding pavement when it's too cold or wet. So many of the potholes we fill in the winter often degrade over the coming months, which is why we also see so many new potholes develop in the same spots during the spring and summer.   

This is why it is so important for the public to let us know when they see a new pothole, because filling potholes is an ongoing task season after season. You can report potholes online, by calling 206-684-ROAD, emailing 684-ROAD@seattle.gov, or by using the Find It, Fix It app. You can also check our progress as we continue to repair our roads on our interactive pothole repair status map.  

I have suggestions for other projects, how do I share those with SDOT?

You may share your input on traffic concerns or ideas for other projects with the SDOT team at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov

Who can drive on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) and how do I request access?

Please visit our Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) webpage for more details.