Ballard Bridge maintenance work frustrates drivers, more lane closures coming

Update: Next week’s work has been postponed

Earlier: With backups of 30 minutes or more, drivers attempting to cross the Ballard Bridge yesterday and today were met with long lines of cars in both the northbound and southbound directions.
The RapidRide D Line bus experienced delays from the backup, as well.

SDOT crews had closed the curbside lane in both directions to do scheduled maintenance work.

“Who thought doing maintenance on the Ballard bridge in the middle of a work day was a good idea?” wrote one frustrated driver on Twitter. “This is crazy! I waited 30 mins before I turned around and went a different route.”

“Who scheduled this smack in the middle of the day on a weekday?” wrote another. “Can’t this be done off hours or early weekend mornings? There are no signs up alerting commuters that this is coming so we could plan around.”

The closures were a surprise to motorists — as well as My Ballard — so we contacted SDOT to find out what was happening. SDOT said the lanes were closed for maintenance and cleaning until 3 p.m. today, and new maintenance work is scheduled for March 12th through the 16th, closing one of the northbound lanes from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SDOT then issued a blog post this afternoon with news of today’s closure as well as the upcoming maintenance work. “SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is being completed,” it said.

(If you’re ever wondering about Ballard Bridge traffic, check our traffic cameras here.)

Peddler and Populuxe breweries to celebrate their 5-year anniversaries on Saturday

Five years ago, the Ballard brewery scene kicked into high gear. Two breweries, Peddler and Populuxe, opened on the same Friday a few blocks from each other. They joined mainstays Maritime Pacific, Hale’s and Hilliard’s, as well as relative newcomers Reueben’s, NW Peaks and Urban Family in the neighborhood.

“March 8, 2013, was the day this thing really broke open,” wrote Daniel Person in Seattle Weekly back in 2014. “In the eight months to follow, what was once a crowded five-brewery scene became something altogether different: a brewing district that borders on the absurd, where one can walk less than two miles and drink 10 beers by 10 different brewers.”

Now those two breweries are celebrating their 5-year anniversaries on the same day — this Saturday — with respective parties.

Populuxe Brewing is throwing a “Ballard Beach Blanket Bingo” event from noon to 10 p.m. They’ll be handing out free beach balls to the first 100 customers as well as other prizes throughout the day. They’ll have a limited bottle release of the Populuxe Pineapple Sour and “unique kegs and pins tapped throughout the day.” The entertainment starts at 5 p.m. with all ages bingo, and the music kicks in at 8 p.m. More details here.

Peddler Brewing will be celebrating from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and they’ll give away 500 can-shaped glasses commemorating Peddler’s 5-year anniversary. They’ll have a limited one-day release of a special anniversary beer: Le Mont Ventoux Aged Belgian Sour. Live music gets underway at 6 p.m. in the beer garden. More details here.

Sounds like a great excuse to roam Ballard’s breweries on Saturday.

Workers to close some lanes of Holman Road

Starting this Wednesday, Seattle Public Utilities crews will be repairing a sewer pipe along Holman Road between 9th Ave. NW and 12th Ave. NW — and that means some lane closures.

SPU says they’ll close just one lane at a time. When crews are working on the southbound side, they’ll close the curbside lane between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. When they’re working in the northbound side, they’ll close that curbside lane between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The project is expected to take 5 working days to complete.

City moving ahead with plans to reopen Webster School, meeting planned for March 19

Now that the Nordic Heritage Museum has moved out of its old facility at 3014 NW 67th St., the city is working on plans to reopen Webster Elementary School at the same location.

Webster School was built in 1908 — with a new addition in 1930 — and it closed in 1979. The Nordic Heritage Museum opened in the space a year later.

With Seattle’s population growing like crazy, the school district is looking for more capacity. Now the museum has moved to Market St., the plan is to reopen Webster School with room for 450 students in time for the 2020-21 school year.

There’s a lot of work to do in the meantime. The school district plans to build a new gymnasium and covered play area on the west side of the property. It needs to seismically-retrofit the 1908 building, as well as make upgrades throughout. And then there’s the complicating factor that several parts of the school were designated a Seattle landmark, and key features of the facility must be preserved.

To make these additions and improvements, the district is requesting some modifications to zoning regulations for height, parking and noise, to name a few. To ensure neighbors are plugged into the process, the city is inviting residents to attend a community meeting about the project on Monday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St.

January: North Seattle schools to gain from new budget

The deconstruction of Diagon Alley is underway

After one last hurrah over the weekend — a fundraiser for the Phinney Neighborhood Association — Ballard’s Diagon Alley is coming down.

Creator Jon Chambers posted these photos this morning of the gradual deconstruction of his magical project, which first debuted over Halloween. Over the next four months, Diagon Alley will be taken down, packed up and moved to Camp Korey, a Mount Vernon camp for kids and their families who are dealing with life-altering medical conditions.

Meanwhile, Chambers is still thinking about his next project: building a life-sized version of The Burrow from Harry Potter on a farm in Snoqualmie Valley. He said Warner Bros’ legal department told him he couldn’t build an exact replica, so he’s planning to create his own version of the crooked house.

(Photo by @dummaloop on Instagram)

Have an upcoming project? The new Ballard Tool Library can help

Thanks to the hard work of Sustainable Ballard volunteers, the brand new Ballard Tool Library has opened its doors on 15th Ave. NW near NW 77th St.

Similar to a book library, you pay a small suggested fee, sign a waiver and check out the tools you need for any project at hand. The library has all the usual drills, saws and hand tools, but is also has things like sewing machines, juicers and compost aerators.

This is a bit of a “soft launch” — the official grand opening is planned for next Sunday, March 11th — but the response so far has been great, says Sustainable Ballard President Jenny Heins.

“We have had a lot more people drop in to donate tools than to borrow them,” she told My Ballard. “Now that we have finally found a location, we have gotten about 1,000 tools donated. The majority have come from overstock in other local tool libraries. Seattleites are a very sharing people.”

At the grand opening on March 11th from 12-5 p.m., the Ballard Tool Library will offer snacks, drinks and information on how to become a member and volunteer. If you come before 3 p.m., you can participate in tool demonstrations and lessons.

Located at 7549B 15th Ave NW, the tool library is currently open three days a week: Sunday 12-5 p.m., Tuesday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Thursday 6-8 p.m. More details here.

Ballard chamber orchestra wins first runner-up at national competition

The Ballard High School chamber orchestra, directed by Brittany Newell, placed first runner-up today at the National Orchestra Cup in New York City.

And the orchestra’s viola section took the award for the best string section.

The Orchestra Cup is an annual competition at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to crown the top high school orchestra in the nation. Only 10 schools were selected to attend, and it was the first time Ballard High has been invited to the event.

Congratulations BHS!

Governor vetoes controversial public records bill

What a difference a week makes. Last Friday we reported that state legislators — including all lawmakers from the Ballard area except for Sen. Reuven Carlyle — quickly voted to exempt themselves from the Public Records Act. The move was met with widespread criticism and rare front page editorials in newspapers across the state.

Last night, Democrats in the state House of Representatives wrote Gov. Jay Inslee a letter explaining they “made a mistake by failing to go through a full hearing process.” They urged the governor to veto the bill (SB 6617) and start over. The bill was signed by Ballard and Fremont-area lawmakers, Reps. Tarleton, Frame, Pollet and Valdez. Senate Democrats wrote a similar letter.

“Thanks to extensive communications with my constituents, I came to realize that although this bill was crafted with good intent, its expedited passage was antithetical to the very principles of good governance that I hoped it would preserve,” wrote Ballard-area Rep. Gael Tarleton in a statement emailed to My Ballard. “My colleagues and I invite the public to take an extensive role in the creation of new legislation to provide transparency and oversight at the Legislature.”

Once he had assurance lawmakers would not vote to override his veto, Governor Inslee promptly vetoed the bill last night.

“The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” the governor wrote in a statement. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.”

Nix Auto site will get cleaned up, child care facility planned

The longtime site of Nix Auto Wrecking, the lot at the corner of Leary Way NW and 14th Ave. NW will be getting an environmental makeover.

The city approved plans today to demolish the buildings on the site, remove contaminated soil and replace it with fresh fill.

Once the new soil is stable, the plans call for the construction of a “2-story, 13,000-square-foot child care building (Kiddie Academy of Seattle at Ballard), including new 4,000-square-foot outdoor play area and 20-stall surface parking lot.”

This would make Kiddie Academy’s fifth location in the Seattle area.

Nix Auto Wrecking has quite the history in Ballard. As documented in Vintage West Woodland, original owner Edward Prestek bought the lot in 1939. Over the years, the Seattle Municipal Archives has 36 photos of Nix Auto, some documenting violations that include parking junkers around the neighborhood. Like this one from 1958:

There’s even a story about Prestek — back in the 1950s — driving a car backwards all the way from Ballard to Shoreline and back. Those were the days…

(Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives. Top photo is from Google Maps in August.)