the pleasure of attending the South Park Neighborhood Association meeting at the South Park Neighborhood Center, where the much talked about item of the South Park Bridge Replacement / Demolition was the main piece of discussion. I had only previously attended one of the meetings before, which around 10-15 residents of South Park attended; last night totaled over 100.
The room was packed full of business owners, workers, neighborhood advocates, surrounding Seattle residents, City of Seattle Council member aides, King County Department of Transportation, and other Seattle neighborhood representatives. The main event for the night was the much debated issue of the rapidly aging South Park Bridge. On hand to present, or rather update the caring residents was Linda Dougherty, Director of the King County Road Services Division. Dougherty was accompanied by a group of seven other KCDOT (King County Department of Transportation) workers, with Dougherty bravely answering the bulk of the concerns and questions of the residents. The session started at 7:20 pm, and was still going strong when I left at 8:45 PM (I am assuming it went over). The discussion was very informative on this pressing issue. Some highlights:
- South Park Bridge is 78 years old
- Estimated 20,000 vehicles travel on it per day
- Bridge received a 4 out of 100 points for safety from Federal Highway Administration.
- Amount Estimated to replace and demolish is around $120 million.
- King County did not receive the much needed $99 million in TIGER stimulus funds (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery)
- King County will apply for a second - much smaller - edition of the TIGER funds.
- Bridge will close on June 30th
(14th Ave S, Seattle Wa, looking south)
Everyone in that room cared about the bridge but it may be too little too late. Unfortunately the State of Washington received no TIGER funds during this issuance (link to see the awardees), with the majority going to rail related projects. There will hopefully be a second TIGER stimulus issued, however it is poised to be a much smaller pot of money. With the desired amount of money highly unlikely to come from the TIGER funds, Dougherty urged the citizens to project their voices so the the South Park "story" can be heard in the Washington State Government. This situation presents a chance for the neighborhood to come together and make a huge influence at the state and federal levels. The South Park Bridge "Story" is truly an interesting one and can only get richer and more passionate from here on out.