Seattle Department of Transportation identified that the West Seattle swing bridge needs repairs. Thankfully, this news comes in time to allow the bridge to remain operational during construction.
Back in March, the city closed the high-rise bridge linking West Seattle to downtown. They cited similar structural issues. Currently, they project that it will remain closed for at least two years. Officials remain in a state of debate about whether to repair or replace it.
SDOT has made plans to allow traffic to continue throughout repairs. They will post flashing signs enforcing a 25 MPH speed limit. This citywide safety rule should help reduce the impact on the bridge. Contractors will eventually tighten the span with steel cables. By 2022, they will also reinforce those cables with carbon wrap. Director Matt Donahue is currently seeking approval from the Federal Highway Administration for these plans.
So far the city does not yet have an estimated budget. They have acknowledged that they may have to close the bridge within the critical phase of work, as well. This could impact future traffic for commuters. Already, the city has limited access to the bridge. As it stands, only buses, trucks, emergency vehicles, and longshore workers are allowed full access. Officials have limited general traffic to a 9 PM to 5 AM window. They cite fear of overwhelming the bridge’s foundation. Since the high bridge is closed, Seattle runs a risk of gridlock should all 100,000 commuters switch over to the two-lane low-rise bridge.
Cracks first appeared back in June 2019. Thankfully, they have not yet spread since that inspection. Donahue stated, ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre only a few inches deep, they‚Äôre not growing.” Still, he and other city planners recognize the danger of crumbling infrastructure. So be prepared to be a little patient on your commute as repairs go underway.