West Seattle Bridge / Concrete Mixer Driver Strike, Chelan 5-Way Intersection
As the concrete driver strike remains unresolved, many of you have written in response to my articles about this, with different ideas of how the City might find creative ways to address the strike so we do not impact the goal for the West Seattle Bridge to open in the summer. Thank you for sending your suggestions; opening the bridge as soon as possible remains a very high priority.
Specialized concrete is needed inside the bridge for guiding and anchoring the blocks for post-tensioning steel cables that compress the concrete in the bridge structure to prevent cracking.
SDOT noted regarding potential alternatives sources of concrete:
“We have considered finding alternative sources of concrete, however, concrete drivers from other counties are honoring the local strike and are unavailable. Due to the nature of concrete, it is meant to be mixed locally and it can only be transported in a truck for about 90 minutes before it starts to lose strength. Concrete isn’t available within a few hours’ travel time from the bridge construction site. Additionally, mixing small batches of concrete onsite won’t meet the high standards for the repair design since specialized concrete is needed.”
As a result of the strike King County has seen some third-party operators that are not as well-trained. Some have suggested their projects may have concrete failure risks. Additionally, we are seeing “ghost trucks” operate in the County. Concrete companies operate under federal rules which require them to be registered with the Federal government and to display their US Department of Transportation numbers as well as the operating company. The numbers and operating company logo serve as an identifier for compliance reviews, crash investigations, and monitoring safety. These “ghost trucks” often don’t have the USDOT number or a company logo.
Furthermore, as reported by the Urbanist, “Concrete mixer driver is a highly-skilled job that requires not just driving the truck, but also carefully managing and calibrating the mixer during the process so the concrete arrives at the site ready to pour in accordance with the exact specifications of the particular project, as noted in a KUOW’s in-depth report on the strike. This is not a throwaway position in the construction ecosystem easily filled by strikebreakers. Nonetheless, concrete companies appear largely unwilling to meet their demands.”
As we’ve learned from the closure of the bridge nearly two years ago, quality of design and construction cannot be compromised.
The 330 Teamster workers at Gary Merlino Construction Company, Cadman, CalPortland, Stoneway Concrete, Lehigh Cement Company and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel argue that “the concrete companies have long engaged in cartel-like behavior, using their monopolistic grip on the Seattle-area concrete market to set prices and pass through any cost increases directly to customers.”
I have made an inquiry with the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (a CIty department that manages many city contracts) regarding the procedures used for to debarment of contractors, The City Council in 2005 adopted legislation to establish procedures for this, with a new section 20.70 to the Seattle Municipal Code. One of the grounds for disbarment includes “The Contractor has colluded with another contractor to restrain competition.”
Chelan 5-way Intersection Changes
SDOT will be closing the northbound lane at the Chelan 5-way intersection for people turning into Terminals 5 and 7. Construction to implement this change is scheduled for this weekend, weather permitting. This change is being made to help the West Seattle Bridge detour route run more smoothly. SDOT’s update notes:
These changes will mostly impact freight trucks and employees traveling to Terminal 5 and 7. We will be prohibiting the following movements:
- Eastbound left turns from Chelan Ave SW
- Northbound straight-through from Delridge Way SW
- Northbound straight through from SW Spokane St (from the low bridge)
- Westbound right turn from West Marginal Way SW
Why are we making these changes?
We are making these changes to help the West Seattle Bridge detour route run more efficiently. Drivers traveling northbound on Delridge Way SW and wanting to turn right to West Marginal Way SW, at the 5-way intersection have been delayed by train activity. In addition, westbound travelers on West Marginal Way SW have also experienced delays, which together, is causing additional backups and traffic congestion at the intersection for people driving and people biking along the West Seattle Bridge detour route. These blockages have become more frequent and have ranged from just a minute or two, up to 90 minutes. Since this route is a vital pathway for people traveling into and out of West Seattle during the bridge closure, it is important that we keep traffic moving efficiently and safely for everyone using the roadways.
What other ways can freight and employees get to Terminal 5 and 7?
Freight and employees will be rerouted to an alternate route using the Terminal 5 access bridge. This bridge has a designated right-turn lane to Terminal 7 for people driving to that terminal. To access the Terminal 5 bridge, turn onto SW Spokane St and turn left, just before the entrance to the Spokane Street Swing Bridge. The Terminal 5 access bridge travels over the Chelan 5-way intersection and directly to the terminals.
Mask Requirements Changing
I’m sure many of you know that Governor Inslee announced significant changes in mask requirements starting March 12th, and King County is following suit. This is based on updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which emphasizes preserving hospital capacity.
One important caveat: Seattle Public Schools are requiring masks until further notice. Read SPS’s statement on masks here: Mask Mandate Remains in Place for Now – Seattle Public Schools (seattleschools.org). Seattle Public Schools operate independently of the City of Seattle; Seattle City Council does not have oversight of their work.
You should also continue to wear a mask for 10 days after testing positive or being exposed to Covid-19, and anywhere that you are asked or required to mask up. Please, always respect the rules of the room.
Free Covid Tests Available
Do you need at home COVID-19 tests for you or your family? Washington now provides up to 2 orders per households every month at http://SayYesCovidHomeTest.org, while supplies last. Each order contains 5 tests. That’s 10 tests every month for people in Washington! If you already ordered, you can order again.
¿Ocupa una prueba de COVID-19 en hogar para usted o su familia? El Say YES! Portal de prueba (SYCT) ahora permite hasta dos pruebas por hogar cada mes, mientras subministro alcancen. http://SayYesCovidHomeTest.org/casa
Statement for Mayor’s Press Event With Law Enforcement Leaders
Today Mayor Harrell convened a press conference with local law enforcement leaders to address coordinated efforts at 12th Avenue South and Jackson Street in Little Saigon, and 3rd and Pine Downtown. My quote in the press release is below:
“The increase in gun violence and violent crime requires a multifaceted strategy and cross-jurisdictional cooperation. I understand that SPD’s plan, in addition to traditional public safety approaches, includes partnership with organizations that prevent retaliatory violence, provide restorative justice, and divert survival-level offenders away from the revolving door criminal legal system and into the healthcare, housing, and support they need,” said Councilmember and Public Safety & Human Services Committee Chair Lisa Herbold. “With King County’s mask mandate lifting, these efforts are critical, as more businesses choose whether and how to bring more employees back to work. In addressing safety for businesses, we must also remember the residents of our downtown neighborhoods and keep the community safety focus after work hours too.”
Mental Health Resources
It’s been a long two years of living with the pandemic. The stress, isolation, and anxiety has taken its toll on all of us. If you find yourself in need of support – or know someone who does – please check out A Mindful State, a free resource for Washington residents.
A Mindful State is a community-built project bringing people together from across Washington to talk about our mental health, to listen to each other, learn from one another, and to support each other. You can find personal stories, expert advice, and mental health resources created or vetted by a panel of experts in mental and behavioral health.
While the County and State have primary responsibility for funding behavioral health services, I’ve been speaking up and advocating for increased access to mental healthcare by securing $500,000 in City funding for behavioral healthcare for students and $500,000 for behavioral health services through the Community Health Partnerships program to pregnant and parenting mothers, vulnerable uninsured populations, and seniors. I have also been calling on the County and State to increase services for all residents.
I hope everyone who is struggling will reach out for help when you need it.
Sound Transit West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group Meeting
Sound Transit’s West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group will hold its fourth meeting on March 8 from 5-7 p.m. The meeting will consider the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
You’ll be able to find the agenda on the “Advisory Groups” tab on Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail website.
Here’s where you can view the meeting.
You can view the previous February meeting here.
CPC/Police Monitor Outreach Meeting on Use of Force
The Consent Decree Monitor and the Community Police Commission will be holding the third in a series of community engagement meetings on Tuesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. The focus of this meeting will be Use of Force.
The Monitor’s website notes:
“The Monitoring Team’s assessment will update the public on statistics related to SPD’s use of force practices, both overall and specifically related to protests in 2020. The report will discuss SPD’s use of force review and investigation systems and statistics on misconduct allegations related to use of force.”
The Monitor will be publishing a Preliminary Assessment of Use of Force, which will be available at the Monitor’s site.
You can access the agenda and login information at the CPC agenda page.
Public Safety and Human Services Committee Workplan
On Tuesday, the Full Council voted to adopt our committee workplans.
These workplans help identify our work products, division of labor, and can be used to hold ourselves accountable for the work we promise to undertake. The Committee workplan is not intended to capture all the priorities I have for the year, only those that will go through my specific committee because they are the responsibility of either the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Fire Department, the Human Services Department, the Office of Emergency Management, the Seattle Municipal Court, or the Law Department, the Office of Professional Accountability, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission.
Seattle Redistricting Commission
As with the state, the City of Seattle must undertake a redistricting process after the census. The Seattle Redistricting Commission is comprised of five members, two are appointed by the mayor, two by the Council, and the final member is appointed by the initial four members of the Commission. Here’s a link to the commissioner “who we are” page.
The Commission has released four draft maps and is taking feedback on those drafts now. There will be several opportunities for comment, with one on March 8th at a meeting of the Commission. You can click here to sign up to participate in the Zoom meeting. Additionally, you can submit public comment online here through the Commission’s survey.
The final redistricting plans must be sent to King County for final submission no later than November 15, 2022.