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City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations; West Seattle Bridge Update; ST3; OEM Director Appointment Process; Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers; COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations

This week I joined Mayor Durkan and Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins to announce that the City of Seattle will soon begin vaccinating nearly 1,000 residents and staff at adult family homes via two new mobile vaccination teams.  On January 9, 2021, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) approved the City to serve as a vaccine distributor, meaning the City is eligible to receive weekly shipments of vaccine from DOH and can administer vaccine to Seattle residents and workers. Seattle Fire Department has already acted creatively and heroically to provide more than 560,000 free COVID tests for Seattle residents, and now will speed efforts to vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents.

Based on vaccine supply, the City of Seattle can broaden its mobile vaccination efforts during the interim period between the first and second vaccination doses. The City’s expanded effort will likely focus on partnerships with community-based organizations and providers who serve older adults who may be unable to receive a vaccine through traditional health care systems. As vaccines become more widely available to the City of Seattle or other providers in Seattle, the City is prepared to partner and launch mass vaccination hubs, similar to the existing mass testing sites.

Vaccine Phases: The Washington State Department of Health, based in part on national best practices,  determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and when they are eligible. Currently, Washington is in phases A1 and A2.  The below timeline is estimated.  Locally, Public Health – Seattle & King County wants to ensure people with the very highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 have the opportunity to get vaccinated first before we start to vaccinate those who fall into phase 1B. King County has the largest population of healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities in the state, so it may take longer to vaccinate phase 1A here than in other counties with smaller populations.

Additional vaccine information:

It is crucial that we step up efforts to rapidly vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents. The City of Seattle has shown true leadership in the fight against coronavirus from the start, in the absence of federal coordination.  This new effort to speed vaccination will save lives and help us not replicate the unacceptable disparities we have seen in infection rates in BIPOC communities.

West Seattle Bridge Update

Funding update

The City of Seattle is pursuing $15 million in funding from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) for the West Seattle Bridge project. This week the PSRC Transportation Policy Board advanced the request to the Executive Board. A big thank you to PSRC Transportation Policy Board members Council President Lorena González and Councilmember Debora Juarez for their work on this board to move the proposal forward!

The PSRC Executive Board will consider this for final action on January 28.

On Wednesday, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met and heard a number of updates from SDOT.

West Seattle Bridge repair update

Many of you wrote last week asking for a status report on the bridge repair.  Stabilization work on the West Seattle Bridge was completed in December, and the work platforms were removed. SDOT continues to monitor the health of the bridge:

SDOT plans to reach 30% design on the West Seattle Bridge next month. This will set the stage for issuing a Request for Qualifications to select a contractor for repair work for both the high and low bridge. I asked SDOT about this, and they indicated the work involved is similar, and specialized. Consequently, it’s possible this could result in time or money savings.   The goal is to select the contractor by May.

Here’s the schedule shown at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday:

Here’s additional information, including a note that a number of approvals are needed from external parties, and that the contractor will be involved in the design, which can assist with schedule. Estimated costs and schedule will be updated at 30% design, in February. 30% design is what SDOT uses as a “baseline” for costs and schedule.

Lower Bridge Update

Rehabilitation work is also planned for the lower bridge, including control system upgrades and maintenance of the hydraulic drive system, and structural rehabilitation.

Lower Bridge Access Committee Update

SDOT has been working with a variety of representatives from the West Seattle business community, maritime users, labor, and healthcare providers on access to the lower bridge. They have met 11 times, to work on an access policy as camera enforcement began on January 11, and permitted users transitioned from placards to license plates.

SDOT will be monitoring usage with camera enforcement. Camera enforcement of restrictions may allow for loosening of restrictions on use in the future; SDOT will consider adjusting permitted uses monthly. Here are current permitted users:

Although Employer shuttles are authorized; SDOT indicates there aren’t any employer shuttle choosing to operate currently.  Below are the criteria for business, maritime, labor and government. SDOT notes that if you believe you meet the criteria, please contact SDOT at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.

Here are some of the conditions affecting capacity during 2021, including Terminal 5:

Based on usage, SDOT has determined the low bridge can accommodate 450 additional daily trips, beyond current permitted users:

The subcommittee is examining healthcare use, and potential criteria. Healthcare workers have long expressed interest in accessing the lower bridge during the COVID pandemic, and I have requested SDOT consider this. SDOT is working with subcommittee members to develop criteria for potential use; factors under consideration include:

  1. Is capacity available?
  2. What types of health care workers need access. How many trips, and when?

Use of the bridge by time of day has changed, as demonstrated in the August and December traffic volumes shown below:

Here’s SDOT’s evaluation of capacity, and usage by time of day. It in informed by, for example, the frequency of bridge openings, which take place less frequently earlier in the morning, so there are fewer times when traffic needs to “reset” after a bridge opening:

King County Metro has a promotion for its vanpool program; vanpools with 2 or more users can use the lower bridge.

Traffic data, 2021 projects

SDOT has made traffic data available online re: West Seattle Bridge closure impacts on, for example the Spokane Street (lower) bridge, the South Park Bridge, 1st Avenue South Bridge and other metrics. The vertical lines note when SPD enforcement began; status of COVID restrictions;  holidays, and when the low bridge was opened to general traffic overnight:

During 2021, SDOT plans to implement 33 Reconnect West Seattle projects, including Home Zone projects in Highland Park and South Park. Here’s a map showing the projects. SDOT is continuing to collect community input for project ideas for construction in 2022.

SDOT is planning outreach on West Marginal Way over the next month, including a Virtual Open House in mid-February. At Wednesday’s Community Task Force meeting, I asked SDOT if they had decided whether to propose the elimination of a traffic lane for a protected bike lane. SDOT indicated they were engaged in the outreach process described below, and didn’t indicate they had reached a conclusion about what decision they will make under the SDOT director’s authority over use of city streets.

ST3 Light Rail to West Seattle Cost Estimate Increases

Sound Transit committees have received two recent briefings about cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project.

January 7 Executive Committee

Last week the Sound Transit Board Executive Committee received estimated cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project. Other projects included in the 2016 ballot measure have increases as well.  The Sound Transit Board is engaging in a realignment process, scheduled to run through a decision point on program realignment in July, 2021. The page notes,

“Sound Transit is facing an unprecedented and extremely challenging financial environment caused by two major, simultaneous factors: (1) a pandemic-driven recession that has severely reduced consumer spending and government agency tax revenues; and (2) unrelenting pressures in the real estate and construction sectors of the economy that are continuing to drive costs to levels significantly beyond those foreseen in our plans.”

The agency has commissioned an independent review of its cost assumptions and underlying methodologies.  The estimated cost increase for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project is as follows:

Other projects under development from the 2016 ballot measure also have projected costs increases:

Here’s Sound Transit’s estimates for cost increases for light rail projects by categories, across projects:

Here’s the realignment schedule listed in the Realignment webpage:

Realignment Process

The Board has set the process for capital program realignment, culminating in summer 2021 after gaining input from the public and partner organizations. This will provide time for the financial impacts of the recession to become clearer while we pursue additional funding opportunities. The Board has laid out a month-by-month process: 

January: review project evaluation

  • Board workshop provides common grounding for the 2021 realignment requirements, processes, and decisions. Review project evaluation results, clarify tools available to the Board, clarify project and program elements subject to realignment. Update federal revenue prospects. Provide direction to staff on realignment approaches to develop.

February: discuss realignment approaches

  • Board reviews financial update, previews work on approaches emerging from the Board workshop.

March: define realignment approaches for public feedback

  • Board reviews financial update; discusses public engagement plans.

April: engage with the public and key stakeholders

  • Board asks what is important for them to consider before they make final realignment decisions.

May: discuss realignment options

  • Board hears public engagement results and identifies priorities for a draft realignment plan.

June: develop draft realignment plan

  • Board leadership outlines what they have heard as priorities and requirements for realigned plans. They present and discuss proposals for a realigned plan; identify potential refinements; and direct staff to prepare final plan/action for Board consideration in July.

July: take realignment action

A Sound Transit blog post notes, regarding options to address the funding gap:

The first emphasis in working to close that gap is securing additional financial capacity by seeking increased federal and state funding and employing every creative means that can be identified. 

The Board’s options for addressing whatever gap remains include delaying the delivery of projects to provide longer periods for revenue collection; delivering projects in phases; and reducing project scopes.

The Board also retains the most extreme option, which it has not yet discussed, of suspending or deleting projects if deemed necessary to best realize the region’s critical transit needs within the parameters provided by voter-approved plans.

Additional information is available at the  Sound Transit realignment web page, which  includes presentations from last year, beginning in June. Here’s a link to the presentation heard at the Executive Committee, and  a staff memo.

January 14 System Expansion Committee

This week the System Expansion Committee received an update on cost estimates for construction projects currently in development. The presentation includes additional  information on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions section,  beginning on slide 26.

Here are cost estimate increases for segments of the project:

The presentation includes information about right of way acquisition, property costs, and construction.

Other items germane to the West Seattle segment include:

  • Larger, deeper foundations due to ground conditions in Duwamish and Interbay.
  • Straddle bents/long spans along Spokane St and in Duwamish and Delridge.
  • Drainage detention vaults throughout the corridor.
  • Ecosystems mitigation due to potential impacts in the Duwamish River and Salmon Bay.
  • Archaeological and historic mitigation in Duwamish, CID, Downtown and Ballard.

Tunnel alternatives that go to the Junction are estimated to be closer to the cost of an elevated option than previously:

The presentation provides the following timetable for the independent review of Sound Transit’s cost methodologies:

Here are Sound Transit’s next steps:

OEM Director Appointment Process

Early last year the director of the Office for Emergency Management (OEM) retired. Since then interim director Laurel Nelson has led the department and has done a great job helping the City navigate through the pandemic. On December 4 the Mayor announced a permanent director, Curry Mayer.

On Tuesday, my committee – which has oversight authority for OEM – heard from Senior Deputy Mayor Fong and Director Mayer. Just as with other City departments, the head of the OEM will need to be confirmed by the Seattle City Council. Senior Deputy Mayor Fong introduced Director Curry to the committee and she shared with us some of her background and interest in the position.

I am working with my colleagues on questions for Director Curry for when she returns to my committee meeting on January 26, where we will review and discuss her responses and consider a vote to  appoint her.  If you have questions to submit, please send them to: Alex.clardy@seattle.gov

Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers

Applications are now open for one-time cash assistance from the City’s new Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund.  The Fund will serve low-income, hospitality workers who live and work in Seattle and have lost their jobs or experienced a pay reduction due to employment changes and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet income qualifications, households must make 60% or less of area median income (AMI).

Council authorized the Fund in December as part of a $5 million relief package  for small businesses impacted by the pandemic and economic recession and the workers and their families whose livelihoods depend upon them.

Applications are due Monday February 1st, 2021 at 11:59 PM.  Learn more and apply here

Covid-19 Business Impact Survey

Business owners and nonprofit leaders: please take the Covid-19 Business Impact Survey and help regional partners plan for economic recovery.  King County, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Greater Seattle Partners, and the City of Seattle are coordinating a regional effort to assess the economic impacts related to COVID-19. This is the third round of a regional survey, which will help partners understand trends in impacts faced by businesses. Information collected in this survey will help develop economic recovery strategies and quantify emergency relief programs for small businesses, non-profits and independent workers throughout the region.

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