Social Justice Alert: RIP South Park Bridge

The bridge is up for the last time and, quite frankly, this sucks.

south park seattle bridge closing

The 79-year-old bridge is damaged beyond repair- a fact that has been known for almost a decade when it sustained further damage in the Nisqually earthquake (2001).  Despite the knowledge that it needed replacement, funding was not secured by any governmental agencies to rebuild.

Racism and classism rear their ugly heads.

South Park is located at the southern tip of Seattle proper and butts up again unincorporated King County (White Center) and the neighborhoods of West Seattle, and Georgetown.  It’s inhabitants are more likely to be poor, working class, of color and/or multi-lingual/english as a 2nd language than in other neighborhoods (in Seattle).  South Park also borders the Duwamish River.

A  river that is a designated Superfund site.  Oh yes, years of industry have caused this river to be deathly to those in/near/around it.  From the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition:

The key issues of the Lower Duwamish include:

  • The Duwamish sediments contain a “toxic stew” of industrial carcinogens like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); oil and other hydrocarbons; mercury, lead, and other heavy metals; dioxin; pesticides; arsenic; and even raw sewage.
  • PCBs are found in nearly all salmon in the River.
  • Many of these pollutants have the potential to pose serious health risks by building up in the tissues of fish and shellfish, and passing through the food chain to eagles, seals, Orcas, and people. People who regularly eat fish and crab from the River are at the greatest risk through their diet. Concentrated toxins also occur in some Duwamish river-bottom mud and people should avoid daily contact.
south park seattle bridge closing

here is south park on the ol' ruined river

So, we take groups of already marginalized individuals and families that are living on a polluted-disease causing river.  And no one in power anywhere gives a crap enough to get a new bridge before this one goes defunct.  Not Boeing. Not Port of Seattle. None of the other agencies/companies that caused it to become a Superfund site.  Think Boeing (a chief polluter) couldn’t spring for a bridge?  Since their workers use the bridge to get to work and they destroyed the environment?  And the bridge essentially drops people off at their doorstep? Of course not!

south park seattle bridge closing

from the bridge and downtown Seattle in the background

It will be years before a bridge is completed, if that.  After the closure was announced some money came forward.  About half of what is necessary.  Too little too late I say.  If this were a wealthy neighborhood you can be damn sure this wouldn’t have happened.  If access to Magnolia, Fremont, Ballard or Mercer Island were to be affected there would be a plan. A plan before a closure.

south park seattle bridge closing

nope, wouldn't happen in Fremont

And that, my friends, is a way the already marginalized get further marginalized.  Many have jobs that they depend on getting to on the other side of the bridge.  You know, like at Boeing. Or many of the other big polluting industries over there. By bus they are looking at 40 minutes to 1 hour extra travel time each way.  And heaven help you if you have 2 jobs you are trying to juggle and have to add up to 4 more hours of bus commuting on to your day.  Or trying to pick your child up at daycare before it closes.

south park seattle bridge closing

Local businesses will suffer as there is no direct traffic flow from most places now.

south park seattle bridge closing

Bike commuters will be unable to commute by bus any longer to/from many areas.

south park seattle bridge closing

commuters showing their solidarity

People that do drive will need to drive a lot further daily.  More gas. More oil. More cars on the road.  More traffic everywhere.

People who commute by scooter to other south Seattle neighborhoods will no longer be able to do so.

The bridge is closed.  And that is a tragedy of justice.

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

nope, I don't know them

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

there was a wake

south park seattle bridge closing

with lots of people

south park seattle bridge closing

and dancing

south park seattle bridge closing

and mural painting galor.

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

south park seattle bridge closing

up forever.

south park seattle bridge closing

Shame on you Seattle

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2 Responses to Social Justice Alert: RIP South Park Bridge

  1. Meemaw says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful, informative, and insightful piece on the loss of this bridge. You are so right. Any other part of Seattle and it would have been replaced already! Keep up the social justice work!

  2. taylorgirl6 says:

    This was painfully accurate. Painful. Seriously. And you are so correct about wealthy communities and their bridges. We’re a city of bridges. One goes out and everything gets thrown into chaos. I lived in Magnolia for a very short time, and the discussion about the Garfield Street bridge was rampaging long before I arrived. I haven’t lived there since we bought our house nearly three years ago, and that bridge is still standing, as is the debate. “Bot how will we get to work? This is going to cripple Magnolia!” People, honestly, there are three bridges to get you back to the mainland from your comfy little island. THREE (3). Get over yourselves.

    Side anecdote – Magnolia is about six miles in circumference. You can walk from one end to the other in twenty minutes, which is a leisurely pace. Once, when I was walking the dog, I overheard three women discussing going to the village (the heart of downtown Magnolia) for coffee at Starbucks. They each got into their Land Rovers and drove the 1.3 miles to the village. *dramatic sigh*

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