More 520 Bridge pontoons pop out of Aberdeen

20130429-045857.jpgImage: WSDOT Flickr stream

The second cycle of pontoons for the new 520 Bridge floated out of the casting basin in Aberdeen early this morning, complete with additional post-tensioning to avoid the cracks that plagued the first cycle last year. “We have now constructed 24 out of the 77 bridge pontoons we need for the new floating bridge,” said Julie Meredith, SR 520 program director. The pontoons will be moored in Grays Harbor for inspections before being towed to Lake Washington when needed.

Despite the progress, it is not clear when the new bridge will be done. Ambitious hope for an early opening in 2014 ended with the Gregoire Governorship. WSDOT’s construction contract with Kiewit General requires a July 2015 completion, yet fixes to the first set of pontoons and additional structure for those remaining are adding unknown cost and time to the project.

WSDOT is in negotiations with its contractors for pontoon issues encountered in spring 2012 and has not made an official determination on any potential schedule effects.

Another cloud of uncertainty hangs over 520 due to the legislature’s failure to pass a transportation budget before the end of session yesterday. That work will be left for a special session, likely to begin in mid-May. Lawmakers will have to decide to press ahead with the piecemeal West Approach Bridge North, scheduled for June 2014, or wait until full funding is secured to complete the Seattle-side of 520. Seeing how an aggressive schedule has so far cost the state $100 million in avoidable mistakes — and the likelihood of a public vote to fill the $1.4 billion funding gap — there’s good reason to think a pause is in order.


Union Bay Watch: Earth Day Ducklings

These first of the year ducklings escape being breakfast for one of our local birds.ImageYou will never guess what type of birds helped them escape their fate. Learn more on:

Union Bay Watch!

Volunteers needed for neighborhood group purchase of solar panels

The same group purchasing program that has brought solar power to hundreds of homes in North Seattle is gearing up to offer the same discounted deal to South Seattle neighborhoods. A few committed volunteers are needed to get the program up and running. From Solarize Washington:

Local non-profit Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) and Seattle City Light are seeking community volunteers for a new Solarize Seattle campaign in central and southeast Seattle area neighborhoods. Solarize Seattle is a community-driven initiative designed to streamline the process of going solar. The program uses an innovative neighborhood group purchase model to achieve discounts on solar electric system installations. Solarize campaign staff work with community groups, individual volunteers, and local solar installers to provide a streamlined process and free community workshops for participants.

To date, Northwest SEED has completed six Solarize campaigns including the Seattle neighborhoods of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Northeast Seattle, and Northwest Seattle. These campaigns have achieved discounts of up to 25 percent off the cost of a solar system and brought about the installation of over 200 residential solar installations in the region.

In order to launch the next Solarize campaign this summer, Northwest SEED is seeking to connect with residents and community groups of Montlake who want to see a Solarize campaign come to their neighborhood. Community volunteers play an integral role in the success of a Solarize campaign, taking the lead on contractor selection and community engagement. Participating neighborhoods will receive assistance from Northwest SEED to competitively select a solar installer, conduct neighborhood outreach and education, implement a series of free workshops, and facilitate the installation of solar PV systems.

The first volunteer orientation meeting will be held Thursday May 2 from 6-7:45pm at the Columbia City public library. Individuals interested in joining the upcoming Solarize campaign as a volunteer should contact Mia Devine at or 206-267-2213.

Montlake Elementary passes landmark nomination | Next step: designation


The Landmarks Preservation Board considers Montlake Elementary School. Image: Montlaker

Montlake Elementary School had its nomination hearing Wednesday with the Landmarks Preservation Board. By a unanimous vote, the board approved the nomination, advancing the school to the next step — the all important designation hearing to be held in June.

During discussion, board members expressed appreciation for the school’s architectural details, architect Floyd Narramore’s substantial contribution to Seattle schools and the building’s stately prominence in the neighborhood. However, a few board members expressed only tepid support, signaling that while they approved of the nomination, they may not support designation.

It is significant that this nomination is community driven. The nomination report was submitted and presented by BOLA Architecture and Planning, funded by the Montlake Community Club. A representative from Seattle Schools testified to the board that the District had no formal position on the building’s landmark status. In this case, at least the property owner doesn’t oppose designation (as is often the case).

Given Seattle’s long history of neighborhood character, identity and naming being tied to its public elementary schools, Montlake’s 1924 school building stands a good chance with the Board, even with a few hints of less than full support. A simple majority vote is needed for landmark designation.

Union Bay Watch: Wood Duck love is in the air


Who could possibly resist the charming sweet nothings of this handsome fella? For a case study on how NOT to pick up ducks, check out this week’s Union Bay Watch. Here’s a preview:

Celebrate Sunday library hours with a fancy new check-out card


It’s the Montlake Branch’s turn to celebrate Sunday hours — guess when — this Sunday from 2-3:30pm. Stop by to join the fun and pick up one of SPL’s snazzy new library cards. Rumor has it SPL will also be selling heavy duty “Montlake” book bags for $15.

Each branch with new Sunday hours will host a special celebration on a Sunday (dates and locations listed below) from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. between Jan. 6 and May 5. Each celebration will feature a children’s craft activity, refreshments and an opportunity to participate in the Check-Out Sundays Challenge.

Check-Out Challenge

To participate in the Challenge, patrons just need to visit any location of The Seattle Public Library on Sunday and get their card stamped before they leave. Patrons with 15 stamps can enter a prize drawing. Patrons who attend Sunday Branch Celebrations also receive commemorative stickers for their Check Out Cards.

Prizes include Booklovers Baskets and lunch with City Librarian Marcellus Turner. Drawings will take place in May. Patrons do not need to be present at the drawings to win prizes.

For more information, call the Library at 206-386-4636.

Two teens arrested in U-District following gunpoint robbery at Boyer & Edgar

If you heard police sirens Thursday night, here’s why (via SPD Blotter):

Two robbery suspects are now in custody following armed robberies last night in the Central District and Montlake neighborhoods.

Last night, at 9:50 pm, a woman was robbed at gunpoint while she was walking in the 1700 Block of 24th Avenue.  According to the victim, the suspects, described as two black males, approached her and took her purse before fleeing northbound on foot.  The victim was not injured and was able to call 911.

About 15 minutes later, 911 received a call regarding two suspicious black males in front of a residence in the 300 Block of 22nd Avenue East.  The suspects matched the description of the earlier incident.  Officers responded along with a K-9 team and conducted a search, but did not locate the suspects.

While officers were investigating the two incidents, a second armed robbery occurred at Boyer Avenue East and East Edgar Street at around 10:30 pm.  A woman was approached by two black males and robbed of her wallet and cell phone at gunpoint.  The victim was not injured.  She did tell officers that at least one of the suspects was riding a bicycle.  Again, the suspects left northbound.

Realizing that the suspects were generally headed in a northbound direction, several East Precinct officers headed up to the University District to search for them.  About 10 minutes after the Boyer robbery, an officer saw two black males riding bicycles in the area of 42nd Avenue and Roosevelt.  Both suspects matched the physical description provided in the earlier robberies.  The two suspects were stopped and identified.  One suspect had a BB gun in his waistband and the other admitted that he had a BB gun in his backpack.

The suspects were detained while the victims were brought by and they positively identified both males as the correct suspects.  Both suspects were then arrested.  During a search of the suspects, the victim’s stolen property was recovered.  Officers were also able to recover the victim’s purse from some nearby bushes.

The suspects, ages 18 and 16, were interviewed by Robbery Unit detectives.  Following the interview, the 18 year old suspect was booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Robbery and the juvenile suspect was booked into the Youth Services Center for the same charge.  Robbery detectives will be responsible for the follow up investigation.