SEATTLE - Officials with the Seattle Department of Transportation have unveiled a task force and portions of an emergency plan in the event of a worst-case scenario for the West Seattle Bridge.
Officials stress that this plan's creation was out of an abundance of caution and that despite report cracks on a portion of the bridge, there is no threat of an imminent failure.
"We need everybody to understand that this is something that we're preparing for out of an abundance of caution," said Heather Marx, SDOT Director of Mobility. "No one needs to panic, but we want to make sure that everybody knows that we have made plans in case the worse happens."
The task force involves several agencies across the region.
They include the City of Seattle, Washington State, Port of Seattle, Northwest Seaport Alliance, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In terms of emergency response, SDOT would manage traffic operations to assist emergency response and provide updates to the public.
The Seattle Fire Department will manage evacuation and rescues, if needed near the bridge. The Seattle Police Department will manage traffic control and help in evacuations.
The U.S. Coast Guard will handle any situations in the water, and Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City light will manage utility impacts.
Officials also said there would be an established "Fall Zone" perimeter around the area of concern.
The area spans 225 feet north and south of the bridge, 225 feet west of Pier 15, and 225 feet east of Pier 18, and includes the Spokane Street Low Bridge, parts of Harbor Island, the Duwamish Waterway, and areas on and around West Marginal Way, according to SDOT.
No residential homes are within the "Fall Zone" perimeter.
According to SDOT, the only area of concern is the small, yet tall, section that crosses the Duwamish River between West Seattle and Harbor Island.
The rest of the bridge is relatively stable and is not showing signs of distress, officials said.
Traffic on the High Bridge has been stopped since March 23rd.
"While all the crack growth has slowed substantially, since we took all of the traffic off of the bridge, it hasn’t slowed completely. We are installing all high tech instrumentation along the high bridge as well as the low bridge to monitor the structural health. That will all be done within the next week," said Marx.
The instrumentation will give experts a better guide as to whether the bridge should be repaired or replaced, said Marx.
For people to get the latest updates and emergency alerts, SDOT recommends people sign up for AlertSeattle at www.alert.seattle.gov.