New South Park Bridge Under Construction, May 9, 2014 (wikimedia)

One of the most unappealing traits of many of my South Seattle neighbors is a deep cynicism about any government initiative in the neighborhood. It’s certainly a reasonable reaction to decades of policy veering between neglect and outright malice, but when it raises questions about something like light rail it can stand in the way of progress for the neighborhood.

On the other hand, it’s inconceivable that the authorities* would allow a major water crossing — say, the Fremont Bridge — to simply degrade to the point of uselessness anywhere but South Park. For three years riders on Route 60 from Georgetown to South Park had to endure a costly, time-consuming, congested diversion via the First Avenue South bridge. Fortunately, on Monday morning at 6am the bridge will reopen to traffic. On Sunday afternoon there will be festivities.

More importantly to us, Route 60 will have a more direct route:

The new South Park Bridge on 14th/16th Ave. S. will open for service between South Park and Georgetown at 6 a.m. Monday, June 30. At that time, two bus stops will reopen northbound and southbound on 14th Ave. S. just north of S. Cloverdale St., serving the South Park business community.

When the bridge opens, Route 60 will operate its former routing on 14th and 16th Ave. S. between Cloverdale St. and East Marginal Way S. Route 60 will no longer operate on 14th Ave. S. between Cloverdale St. and Highway 99, and on East Marginal Way S. between the 1st Avenue South Bridge and Carleton Ave S. Operating via the South Park Bridge is expected to save about 5-8 minutes per trip in each direction.

According to Metro’s Rochelle Ogershok, schedules on the Metro website will reflect the reduced travel time on Monday. The data feed to OneBusAway, Google Transit, and Trip Planner will reflect the change on July 5th. Metro is also printing new paper schedules.

Together with the “temporary” elimination of the VA Hospital Loop, the 60 is becoming a reasonably direct route that someone with an alternative might choose to take. With luck, these speed improvements might bring the ridership that would justify more frequency.

See also Brent’s comment in the news roundup for some sample travel time impacts and the fact that Metro cuts may fundamentally alter the 60 anyway.

* This failure is a result of multiple jurisdictions expecting the others to pay for the repairs, but I believe my argument holds that this would never happen elsewhere in the city.

31 Replies to “South Park Bridge Opens Monday”

  1. Yeah they fixed the mercer mess which while inconvenient wasnt broken. The South Park bridge apparently wasn’t worth saving.

  2. After what South Park has been through regarding the bridge, it’s natural that residents’ preoccupation would be just to get life back to normal.

    But what are specifics about both any light rail plans there and neighborhood objections?

    Seems pretty normal that the first time rail is proposed in any neighborhood, first and loudest voices oppose it.

    Incidentally, is the new bridge structured to handle tracks- like the Fremont and I think University drawbridges?

    MD

    1. While the new bridge is a drawbridge, it will open much less frequently than the low cross-canal bridges, as most of its traffic is from a yacht manufacturing facility. With or without the facility, the Coast Guard required that the Duwamish River remain navigable beyond the bridge. For that reason, I think Metro should cruch the numbers on having the 121-123 take Cloverdale/14th/E. Marginal instead of the frequently-opening 1st Ave S. Bridge (or, in the case of the 122, crunch the numbers on providing more frequent direct service to TIBS, instead of diverting through downtown Burien).

      South Park’s neighborhood association hasn’t necessarily been pro-mixed-use zoning, but the crew in charge now are certainly pro-residential-densification, and have always been pro-bike-paths and pro-whatever-transit-South-Park-can-get, but also wisely supported the restructure that meant the 131 and 134 would no longer serve South Park, in exchange for frequency and path improvements on the 132. I would dare say the South Park Neighborhood Association is one of the most progressive in the city, due in part to a much higher level of per capita participation than probably any other neighborhood association in the city. Shout out to long-time President Dagmar Cronn for her leadership in protecting the Neighborhood Center, working with the pols to line up the funding for the bridge, making sure bike lanes were included, making sure sidewalk funds are prioritized for paths to the school, keeping a social justice bent on the neighorhood’s debates (to the extend there ever are debates) on what may be the most subscribed neighborhood listserve in the city (per capita) and now pushing for upzoning so more people can enjoy living in this beautiful neighborhood.

    2. On the tracks question, I don’t know. But I have never seen a plan that involves tracks across the bridge, either streetcar or light rail.

      1. Am I wrong that the drawbridges at both Fremont and the University District were build with car tracks installed?

        Still curious about how anybody in South Park is standing in the way of light rail. While I think a car line would help the recovery of the neighborhood, it’s hard to imagine any current plans to put one there.

        MD

      2. I am unaware of any opposition to light rail in South Park. The plans that I am aware of involve having to cross the Duwamish to get to a station. I am aware of some grouchiness that the southeast alignment won out.

        What streetcar path do you have in mind?

  3. On the other hand, it’s inconceivable that the authorities* would allow a major water crossing — say, the Fremont Bridge — to simply degrade to the point of usefulness anywhere but South Park.

    Oops…

    The Fremont Bridge did go through a major rehabilitation project just before the South Park Bridge was declared unsafe and closed. The irony/insult was clearly understood by everyone in the south end.

    1. The problem was largely jurisdictional. The South Park Bridge crosses from Tukwila on one side to Seattle and a sliver of unincorporated King County on the other (fondly referred to by locals as “the sliver by the river”). Everybody wanted somebody else to take responsibility for replacing the bridge. Then-County Councilmember Dow Constantine got the bridge into the roads & transit package that voters (including a majority of South Parkers) rejected. After that, he flew back and forth to DC to secure federal funding. Every other politician was late to the party, but Dow did everything he could.

  4. I’m agnostic on the question of whether the 60 should end up going to Beacon Hill Station or Othello Station after the proposed February restructure. In terms of travel time, though, I’m pretty sure the path to Othello Station will take slightly longer, unless Metro assumes the VA knot will be reinstated in the future if the 60 goes near the VA. The VA knot still existed when Metro devised the February cuts proposal.

    I think it is cool to connect heavily southeast Asian White Center with heavily southeast Asian Othello District. I also suspect the ridership on the new (not restored) direct 60 path will be a huge draw for downtown commuters tired of the 132 slog (which, although about as straight as possible to SODO Station now, is still circuitous, with no way of making it less circuitous). That said, the only sets of commuters in play are those coming to and from South Park and Arrowhead Gardens. The 60 has a better walkshed, serving the area east of Highway 99. If the 60 path to Beacon Hill Station stays (with no VA knot), and hours expand to the same as the 132’s, I could foresee the 132 becoming a peak-only route.

    1. Another variation on the theme would be to go through with the 60 restructure to Othello Station, and re-path the 132 across the South Park Bridge, following the path the 60 will be following for at least the next seven months. A peak-only route could serve the industrial northeast corner of South Park, perhaps as a counter-peak direction route. Having the 132 cross the South Park Bridge should bring joy to lots of Boulevard Park residents who would like to connect to the rest of civilization in less than half an hour.

      1. I think the biggest issue for south Beacon Hill/Georgetown riders is the 3 seat ride between the Cleveland HS area and Broadway with the 107 replacing the 60. If Metro re-routes the new 60 to RBS via the current 106’s route (Beacon Ave > Carkeek Drive > RBS) would it be possible to route the new 107 via MLK > Othello > Beacon and save enough time to extend the new 107 to Jackson St. and eliminate one of the transfers?

      2. Wouldn’t having the 60 go to RBS use more hours? The 107 won’t just serve South Beacon Hill, but also north Skyway. I also don’t see nearly as much ridership on the 60 if it goes to RBS instead of Othello.

        For everyone unhappy about losing the 1-seat ride to Broadway on the 60, I think there will be many more riders from Cleveland HS rejoicing at having a new 1-seat ride to south Beacon Hill. That said, the trip to south Broadway is one reason in favor of keeping the 60 on 15th Ave S, so the combined frequency of the 107 and 60 would be 36-like.

      3. Yes, you’re right, the 107 would have to go Othello > Swift > 15th S.; but extending the 107 to Jackson almost seems mandatory. I think there are many more riders negatively impacted by the proposed 107 than the number of 60 riders that would be inconvenienced by sending the new, crosstown 60 to RBS.

      4. The notion of extending the 107 to S Jackson (and, in all political likelihood, ID Station, since it is just a few blocks more) brings up an important missing nuance in the language of the city-only bus proposal: Seattle should be able to add service to the Seattle portion of a route — in the form of paying to extend the route’s length — without having to enter into a regional partnership.

      5. GoBH, that 3-seat ride is horrid, but also very temporary. Once U-Link opens in about 18 months (less than a year after the 107 is scheduled for restructuring) the ride to Broadway would be a 2-seat affair (107 -> Link) that would be faster on a good day than the current 60.

    2. As a frequent Costco shopper I’d hate to lose 15-minute service on the 131/132. Is there any place to reroute the 132 to while keeping it on 4th Avenue South?

      1. Does it have to be the 132? Couldn’t the 124 be restored to 4th Ave S, at least from S Industrial Way north?

        What do you buy at Costco that you can carry on a bus?

      2. Brent, come on. There are lots of items that you can purchase at Costco that you can carry on a bus. Don’t make it sound like it’s some abstract notion.

        Pasta
        Coffee
        Breakfast bars
        Cereal
        Books
        Movies
        Clothes
        Prescriptions
        Health Care items
        Liquor
        Stationery Supplies
        Gift Cards
        Breads
        Produce
        Milk

      3. Groceries, once every week or two. I only buy certain things at Costco; other things I get elsewhere. Sometimes I take the 131/132; sometimes I take a tunnel bus and walk from Spokane Street (10 minutes). For big heavy stuff I used to go with a friend, but last time I took a Zipcar and that worked well; I’ll probably do that two or three times a year for the major runs.

      4. Costco’s nothing. I saw one guy on the bus with a 12 foot piece of stove pipe.

      5. One concept that is abstract is the notion of the 131/132 combining to provide 15-minute headway. Maybe it is getting better, but my experience is that, at least going south, the two lines aren’t timed with each other at all.

        Carry-your-backpack-to-Costco-on-the-bus man, you’re one of us! Pemco salutes you!

      6. The 131/132 still “show up at random” as you once said. They’re 11-20 minutes late most of the time according to the real-time signs at Pike and Spring. Last time I went it said “-3 (11 minute delay), 8 (6 minute delay)” or such. But still, two tardy buses scheduled every 15 minutes is better than one tardy bus scheduled every 30 minutes. My effective wait is usually 10-20 minutes. If I’m up to walking I take a tunnel bus to Spokane Street, which is more reliable.

      7. I’d be fine with the 124. It never made sense to me that Metro rerouted it to a less-used area.

      8. There’s no reason the 132 would have to be routed off 4th Ave S to use the South Park bridge. The challenge with such a routing is that the 132 would serve only the edge of South Park, which is just big enough that an edge routing puts a lot of residents a long walk from the downtown bus.

        I’m in the advanced stages of making a revised version of my FNP. I looked very closely at combining the 124 and 132 into a single 10-minute route that would provide edge service to Georgetown, South Park, and Boulevard Park while being much faster than either the current 124 or 132. In the end it just didn’t make sense, because either it left too many people too far from the bus or I had to screw up the routing enough to destroy the speed advantage. The final product has 15-minute routes corresponding to the current 124 and 132, both with routing revisions (the biggest of which is that, as Brent has wanted for a long time, the 132 would end at TIBS).

  5. I can’t wait for the new South Park bridge to open. What are some of the changes? Bigger? Longer?

  6. On the question of the 60 or 107 extending to S. Jackson St., consider this: The 36 has far more capacity than it needs south of Beacon Hill Station. All the density is north of the station. Extending the new 107 or a 60 continuing to serve west Beacon Hill to S. Jackson St. enables some frequency reduction on the 36. North Beacon Hill needs lots of frequency/capacity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the 36.

    A variation on this theme is to split the 36 at Beacon Hill Station, but good luck getting the neighborhood associations to go along with that!

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