West Seattle Bridge under construction. Photo credit: SDOT Flickr.

Information from the Seattle Department of Transportation

by Katie Olsen on August 31, 2021

The US Department of Transportation has approved the city of Seattle’s request for “priority hire,” requiring the contractor who repairs the West Seattle Bridge lease from local economically troubled communities to reopen the bridge by mid-2022.

“Our top priority is to support our residents and neighborhoods that will be hardest hit by the bridge. Through Priority Hire, we can now support our communities in other ways by providing quality access to a career in family business and direct opportunities to small businesses that have been disproportionately affected in the past year. ”

Mayor Jenny Durkan

“We are grateful to the US Department of Transportation for this appointment. Hiring local workers will bring direct and tangible relief to communities in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley. Additionally, access to federal funding will ease the city’s financial burden as we repair the bridge and advance our economic recovery from the pandemic. ”

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe

“Our economy should work for everyone in this city, and USDOT approval to have Priority Hire on West Seattle Bridge will help make that happen. We are also increasing awareness and access to the jobs that Priority Hire offers. The recent investment in community efforts will help residents take advantage of the opportunities offered by the project and move to family jobs that are so important to our communities. ”

Calvin W. Goings, director of financial and administrative services whose department oversees the city’s priority hire program

This week’s Priority Hire announcement provides an important opportunity for economically troubled communities affected by the tall bridges being closed.

The project is relatively large and highly visible compared to other public works in the city, with many communities being directly affected by its closure, emergency work and ongoing construction. Priority Hire is designed so that the construction has a positive impact on the community.

The city of Seattle has already secured $ 37.7 million in federal funding, of the estimated $ 54.8 million needed to build the construction to complete the final phase of repairs on the West Seattle Bridge. We continue to hit key milestones that keep the West Seattle Bridge repair process on schedule and remain on track to reopen the bridge in mid-2022.

Priority Hire began in late 2013, which resulted in $ 45 million in construction wages flowing back to low-income communities by 2020, $ 20 million more than would have been made without the program. Nine of the 31 economically troubled areas prioritized under the West Seattle Bridge program are in locations affected by the closure.

Approximately 5,800 construction workers live in the affected areas and could be among those preferred for the project. These communities could earn an estimated $ 600,000 to $ 900,000 in direct wages, in addition to social benefits, from working on the project. Without priority hire, those same churches could only earn half that.

Since the West Seattle Bridge closed in March 2020, transportation and access to regional work and employment opportunities, local small businesses and the freight network have become more difficult. Local communities have also lived with increased bridge detour traffic on local roads during the bridge closure, increasing pollution in communities that have long experienced increased health, public safety and economic inequalities.

We’re running a number of smaller projects to promote local security and mobility in these neighborhoods, but believe that direct economic opportunities will provide these communities with additional support as they weather the deepening pandemic and bridge-building crises.

If you or someone you know is interested in a job in construction, check out the apprentice guide: www.bitly.com/lehrgangsführer