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Image: Official portrait of King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

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Viaduct closure

Beginning this Friday morning, April 29, the viaduct will be closed for up to two weeks as Bertha tunnels underneath the structure. The closure will extend from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel. The County is working hard with the City, Port, WSDOT and the Feds to help limit the negative impacts this closure will have on your commute. But it is important that all of us plan ahead, consider adjusting our travel habits and be flexible.

If your bus uses the viaduct, it will be rerouted through SODO. Learn about your bus' reroute at this link. To help address problems that may come up, Metro will have extra buses on standby to help keep the system moving.

For West Seattle residents and folks who live on Vashon and Maury Islands, I strongly encourage you to use the Water Taxi during these upcoming two weeks.

Vashon Riders, we've added five additional runs to serve you during this closure. The new runs leave Vashon at 6:30 am, 7:30 am, 4:23 pm and 5:28 pm and 6:28 pm. Extra runs leave Pier 50 in Seattle at 6:00 am, 7:15 am, 3:55 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm. This brochure will tell you more about the Vashon Water Taxi.

For West Seattle riders, we've secured more parking options to help make the water taxi easier for you to use in the coming weeks.

• Harbor Ave SW will have overnight parking restrictions south of Seacrest Park to ensure there is parking available for your morning commute.
• Parking for about 40 cars will be available on SW Bronson Way, south of Salty's restaurant.
• Finally, the Pier 2 parking lot will securely host 200 cars Monday – Friday. You can drop your car off at this lot between 5:45 am and 9:15 am and then pick it up between 4 pm and 7:15 pm. Cars will not be accessible outside of these hours. A shuttle will be available to take you from Pier 2 to Seacrest Park.

You can read more about the Water Taxi service and parking options here

We're here to help. If you need help determining the best commute alternative for you, you can visit or call Metro customer service at 206-553-3000. You can also stay updated on major traffic and project alerts by following any of the following twitter handles @BerthaDigsSR99, @WSDOT_Traffic, @SeattleDOT, @KCMetroBus, @SoundTransit, @MyCommTrans, and the hashtag #99closure.

By being flexible and planning ahead, we can limit the impact of the viaduct's closure over the coming the weeks.

Taking action to support our neighbors experiencing homelessness

We all rely on a safe and stable place to call home as a foundation in life.

But for a growing number of people in King County, that foundation doesn’t exist.

That is why I joined my colleagues, community members, and Executive Dow Constantine to announce new, significant investments to expand shelter capacity and access, build more housing, and provide supportive services to help people regain and keep their housing. The Council is also working on a strategy for affordable housing that will meet our region’s needs.

This year’s King County One Night Count provided a stark snapshot of our regional crisis of homelessness. The Count shows a dramatic county-wide increase in the number of people without basic shelter, with 4,505 unsheltered people who have nowhere to go. This represents a 19% increase since last year, which itself was an increase of 21% from 2014.

I am committed to reversing this trend. While homelessness affects people across the board, we know that it hits some of our neighbors hardest – veterans, youth and young adults (especially young people of color and LGBTQ youth), survivors of domestic violence, and families. Homelessness is an experience of urban, suburban, and rural areas, and we must be able to help people no matter where they live.

We are putting into action the recently adopted All Home strategic plan, with strategies focused on:
  • Preventing homelessness by addressing the challenges that push people into homelessness,
  • Connecting people to the services that help them to exit homelessness like rapid rehousing, and
  • Building an engaged community to sustain our successes.

Best Starts for Kids also holds the promise of new tools to address homelessness among youth and young adults through the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Strategy. This multi-year effort will focus on preventing young people and families from becoming homeless, and it is one of the first elements of Best Starts for Kids that will be put into action. This means more stability for kids, who would otherwise be at greater risk of disengaging from school or becoming involved in the justice system as a result of homelessness.


In the same way that homelessness has a variety of causes, we must approach it with a variety of solutions. By working together as a community and making smart decisions, we can move closer to our goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and one-time.

Working together to keep youth out of the justice system

I recently joined fellow Councilmembers, Executive Dow Constantine and Superior Court Presiding Judge Susan Craighead to announce a new effort to address racial disproportionality in King County’s juvenile justice system. We appointed the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee, a group composed of community members, leaders, and representatives of schools, courts, faith, and law organizations to begin the work of identifying recommended solutions to address this challenge. 

Over the last few years, King County has taken successful steps to reduce the number of young people involved in the juvenile justice system. While the overall number of involved youth has dropped dramatically, these efforts have not benefited all youth equally – African American, Hispanic and Native American youth are still disproportionately represented in this system. Meanwhile, representation among Asian American and Caucasian youth has gone down. 

Bringing together the voices of community members and leaders, as well as schools, faith organizations, and law organizations, and courts is an important step forward that will help youth and young adults succeed. I invite you to learn about and get involved in these efforts. Please visit the King County Youth Justice webpage to find out more.

A transit option for those who depend on public transportation

Image: Orca Lift program

King County's new $1.50 low income transit fare, Orca Lift, goes into effect on March 1. Orca lift gives residents a cheaper alternative to get to school, work, health appointments and key services they need.

This valuable program will help many residents in our region who are struggling to make ends meet. Some in King County are starting to experience economic recovery from the Great Recession, but many in our region still struggle with rising housing and transportation costs. 

Read more 
of the OpEd I co-authored with Councilmembers Phillips and Gossett.

Budget Committee presents spending plan that prioritizes secure families and communities

Joined by the King County Sheriff and representatives of agencies that serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, the budget negotiation team comprised of four members of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee introduced their 2015-2016 Budget Proposal on November 12. The committee members unveiled a budget plan that will include funding for the investigation of sexual assault crimes. 

The budget makes cuts to better align our revenues with our costs. But it also makes strategic investments to help our King County families and communities be secure. Thanks to key partnerships we propose keeping all ten county public health clinics open into the biennium. This is only a bridge. We will continue working with many partners – and our state Legislature – to find a more sustainable solution for Public Health.

Joined by Committee Vice Chair Kathy Lambert and committee members Jane Hague and Dave Upthegrove, McDermott introduced the budget plan that is the culmination of months of review and negotiations. The result is a $9 billion proposal that is King County’s first biennial (two-year) budget for all county agencies, including those contained within the County General Fund. Read more


Budget Chair Joe McDermott introduces the Council-proposed 2015-2016 Budget on Nov. 11. McDermott was joined by Sheriff John Urquhart; Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove, Jane Hague andKathy Lambert; Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; Merrill Cousin, ‎Executive Director of King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Barbara Langdon, ‎Executive Director of Lifewire.

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