Should Ballard Bridge remain closed longer during peak commuting hours?
Today, the Seattle Weekly asked an important question: Should the Ballard Bridge remained closed longer during peak commuting hours? (At least a wee bit longer?)
Well, "asking" might not be the right word. Seattle Weekly writer Ellis Conklin's opening is as brilliant as it is aggressive:
"On an unseasonably warm summer evening last week, the traffic creeping north on 15th Avenue is horrific, per usual. And it will only grow more maddening, for at 6:03, the alarm blasts, the gates come down and slowly the Ballard Bridge groans upward. Forty-four feet below, two sailboats gingerly make their way under the up righted structure. Lucky devils. By the time the time 96-year-old bridge makes it merciful descent, our merry pleasure-seekers, the wind in their hair (a life without care) are happily on the way toward Puget Sound. For the rest of us, it is pure unadulterated gridlock."
As it stands now, the Ballard Bridge is closed to boaters during the weekday peak hours from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. But, as Conklin laments, rush hour is often still at high tide at 6 p.m., yet often a boat will take precedence at the stroke of 6, causing bad traffic to be unbearable traffic.
Conklin reports that the city of Seattle could apply to the Coast Guard to change the rules, but the city has yet to do anything of the sort. When Conklin contacted the city, he received a seemingly reluctant reply stating that it was a "lengthy process."
But, he discovered that anyone can request a change to what time the drawbridge closes. According to U.S. Coast Guard District 13 bridge administrator, Steven Fischer, any citizen can put in a request via Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters.
All one has to do is write to Fischer at:
U.S. Coast Guard
915 Second Ave., Suite 3510
Seattle, WA 98174
Or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the section regulation in full:
§ 117.8 Permanent changes to drawbridge operation.
(a) Anyone may submit a written request to the District Commander for a permanent change to a drawbridge operating requirement. The request must include documentation supporting or justifying the requested change.
(b) If after evaluating the request, the District Commander determines that the requested change is not needed, he or she will respond to the request in writing and provide the reasons for denial of the requested change.
(c) If the District Commander decides that a change may be needed, he or she will begin a rulemaking to implement the change.
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib