Montlake Bridge turns 88

Image: v8drvr

Historylink reminds us that the Montlake Bridge opened 88 years ago today — June 27, 1925. Montlake was the fourth and last local crossing of the Ship Canal and was welcomed as the “most beautiful in the city” for its unique Gothic towers. At the opening ceremonies, a streetcar carrying local politicians led the Seattle Police marching band across the span and then…

One of the highlights of the ceremony came when City Council President Bertha Landes (1868-1943), who one year later would become Seattle’s first woman mayor, took two tries to christen the bridge with what, at the height of Prohibition, was described as a bottle of “some effervescing fluid.” On her first swing, the bottle struck the steel superstructure, but did not break. On a second and mightier attempt it did, “splashing her with its contents.”

Happy birthday bridge!

Livable Streets Mayoral Forum comes to Madison Valley, Monday July 1

How will the next Seattle mayor help solve this mess? Image: Central Seattle Greenways via WSDOT

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has put together a Livable Streets forum for Seattle’s candidates for mayor on Monday, July 1st. The event will be 90 minutes of political talk about issues facing city streets: pedestrian safety, the Bicycle Master Plan, safe routes to school, access to transit, greenery, pavement and potholes. Eight candidates are expected to attend: Mike McGinn, Peter Steinbrueck, Bruce Harrell, Ed Murray, Charlie Staadecker, Kate Martin, Joey Gray and Mary Martin.

Coming on the heels of last week’s Bicycle Urbanism Symposium and the mixed reviews bike expert John Pucher gave Seattle streets, it will be interesting to hear how the candidates respond. Pucher praised the Seattle greenway movement — optimizing low-traffic residential streets for walking and biking — but said certain arterial streets were worse than anything in Manhattan. Knowing the candidates’ attitudes toward street improvements will help Montlake residents figure out who best to lead the city through 520 replacement planning, including the $300 million Montlake Lid.

Livable Streets Mayoral Forum — Monday, July 1st — 7-8:30pm — MLK Family, Arts, Mentoring, and Enrichment Community Center, 3201 E Republican St — RSVP here

Bicycle valet available!

Woodpecker fledgling leaves Interlaken Park nest

Images: unionbaywatch.blogspot.com

Union Bay Watch has been following the family nest of Elvis the Woodpecker in Interlaken Park and has posted photos showing the rapid growth of two hatchlings likely born around June 1st. On Monday, one of the youngsters fledged the nest and was seen foraging the forest floor with Papa Elvis, prompting UBW’s Larry Hubbell to send out a dual purpose special alert:

First to let you know to watch for this beautiful little Pileated Woodpecker as you visit the park. Secondly to gently remind dog owners, of which I am one, that this would be a wonderful time to keep your pet on a leash. This young bird is just about the size of a squirrel and could be very attractive to a dog.
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Given that this little fellow hatched out approximately 4 weeks ago and left the nest just two days ago. It simply has not had time to learn about danger in the real world. In addition its ability to fly has not yet reached the skill of a mature bird. Your help in protecting this young bird would be greatly appreciated.
Many more incredible photos showing the hatchlings’ busy little lives here.
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Fire Station 22 to grand marshal Montlake family 4th of July parade

Image: Montlake Flyer

Image: Montlake Flyer

Montlake’s annual 4th of July parade and picnic is ready to roll through the neighborhood again this year. The festivities are set to begin at Montlake Community Center at 10am with bicycle, tricycle and stroller decoration before a “kidical mass” bicycle parade at “roughly 10:30” following an around-the-block route. The festivities continue at 11am with a fire engine visit from Station 22 on Roanoke Ave E and a bring-your-own picnic. Montlake Family Coop will provide decorations and popsicles. All ages invited!

Montlake family 4th of July parade — Thursday, July 4th, 10am — Montlake Community Center

Drunk driver pleads guilty in fatal wrong way crash

Michael Robertson pleaded guilty today to vehicular homicide in the April 4th wrong way crash that killed Seattle’s Morgan Williams, according to KIRO. Police found Robertson at the scene inside his SUV with a bottle of whiskey on the front seat.

Robertson’s attorney said he remembers nothing of the incident but that he admits responsibility for the crash, in which he u-turned on 520 near Montlake Blvd and slammed head on into William’s sedan at a high rate of speed. Williams’ family expressed relief at today’s hearing:

Prosecutors recommend a 126-month sentence, including an extra 24 months for a previous DUI violation in Tacoma. Sentencing is expected July 26th.

Construction for 520 ‘West Connection Bridge’ off Madison Park set for next month

The West Connection Bridge. Image: WSDOT

The West Connection Bridge. Image: WSDOT

How do you connect a new 6-lane floating bridge to an old 4-lane highway? That’s the challenge for the next phase of 520 construction set to begin next month — the West Connection Bridge. This will be an interim span allowing the new floating bridge to transition to the existing 520 West Approach near Madison Park.

Mowat-American A Joint Venture will build the 1,330-foot-long structure under a $22.1 million contract. Completion is expected late next summer.

WSDOT has carefully planned the 520 replacement project in phases so that each new section will function until future sections are complete. When the new floating bridge opens, it will merge its 6-new-lanes into 4-old-lanes on the Seattle side. This interim West Connection will keep traffic moving until the next phase is complete.

However, the next phase, the West Approach Bridge North (WABN), has for the moment an uncertain future. The House Transportation Budget in April sought to delay WABN’s construction start from 2014 until 2015, or until tolls are implemented across the I-90 floating bridge. The WABN phase has been unpopular in Seattle, as it would continue the new 6-lane corridor all the way to Montlake Blvd with no funding in place to complete the rest of the $1.4 billion project. Given the dire budget situation in Olympia, Seattleites are leary of a bait-and-switch leaving us with even worse traffic in Montlake.

West Connection phase (blue) with the future WABN phase (orange). Image: WSDOT

West Connection phase (blue) with the future WABN phase (orange). Image: WSDOT

The fate of WABN will be settled just as soon as a budget deal is decided in Olympia (next week?). And while the West Connection is expected to finish next summer, delays with the floating bridge pontoons may push its completion into 2015.

To learn more about the project and its parts and pieces, you can talk directly with WSDOT folks at a series of public outreach events in Seattle next week:

  • West side drop-in event: 5-7 p.m., Monday, June 24 — Montlake Branch, Seattle Public Library, 2401 24th Avenue East
  • West Connection Bridge Project pre-construction meeting: 4:30-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 26 — Madison Park Pioneer Hall. 1642 43rd Avenue East
  • West side drop-in event: 12-2 p.m., Thursday, June 27 — U.W. Magnuson Health Sciences Center, Rotunda Foyer, 1959 Northeast Pacific Street

It has been a busy month for vehicles versus large stationary objects

Image: @jordanilarde

Image: @jordanilarde

June has gotten off to a real bang. There have been no less than three vehicle-versus-large-object collisions in Montlake since the beginning of the month. First, there was a June 3rd collision at the Snohomish Overpass to Hec-Ed on Montlake Blvd (above). Then early Tuesday morning, a car crashed into a house on 24th Ave E just after 1am.

The woman’s boyfriend told KIRO 7 a small animal startled her as she was behind the wheel, and she panicked, causing her to back abruptly from her driveway, through a fence, and into the house next door.

Inside the home, part of the rear bumper was visible through a large crack in the wall.  The impact scattered furniture and other belongings around the living room.  Firefighters put yellow tape across the room to keep the couple out of the area that might have been unsafe.  Neither they, nor the driver were injured.

Image: KIRO 7 News

And today, the Washington State Patrol responded to a truck collision with the Arboretum’s Wilcox Footbridge, a popular place for overheight vehicle strikes. While it appeared no one was injured, the truck’s rack and roof were destroyed.

Image: Montlaker

Image: Montlaker

The 1910 bridge seemed okay. It has seen worse, like this 2008 Garfield High School charter bus collision.

In other large-object-news, Pontoon T, one of the cracked pontoons for the new 520 Bridge, is heading off to dry dock today. Tug boats Solana and Mudcat will guide ‘T’ through the Ballard Locks around 6pm, before overnighting in Shilshole Bay. Tomorrow ‘T’ begins a 4-5 journey to Portland, OR, where it will be retrofitted with post-tensioned tendons and carbon fiber wrap to seal up its concrete cracks. More info on pontoon progress from WSDOT here.