CLOSURE ALERT: West Seattle ‘low bridge’ closing for at least a week, starting tonight, for ’emergency repairs’

3:38 PM: Thanks for the tip. SDOT has finally just confirmed that the West Seattle “low bridge” will close starting tonight for emergency repairs. So far, just a tweet – we’re seeking more details – sources from whom we heard say it could last for days.

4:03 PM: SDOT has just provided more information, confirming that the closure is expected to last a week or more:

During a routine inspection, our bridge operators discovered a hydraulic fluid leak on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (aka West Seattle Low-Level Bridge).

To protect the safety of travelers and mitigate potentially costly cumulative damages, we will be conducting emergency repairs starting at 8 PM tonight, 6/20/18. The bridge will swing out of commission for a week or more and will be closed to vehicle traffic but open to marine vessels.

The leak is in one of the cylinder seals, shown above. To determine the extent of the damage, the bridge must be swung out in its open position and remain there during repairs.

… It’s hoped the repair will be complete by the middle of next week, but that cannot be confirmed until the cylinder is opened and more thoroughly investigated for damage.

Detour information is here, including word of van service *tonight only* for bicycle riders, to get them across the Duwamish, and detour maps for tomorrow and beyond.

6:07 PM: The detour points are now listed as text bullet points in the SDOT post:

Vehicle Detour Routes will begin at 8 PM and be clearly marked at the following locations:

Chelan Ave SW
1st Ave S
E Marginal

✔ Bike Riders:

From West Seattle:

Detour signs are placed at the West Seattle Bridge Trail, to head south along West Marginal Way; crossing SW Michigan St onto 1st Ave S

From SODO:

Detour signs are placed along 1st Ave S to continue south, to SW Michigan St

6:44 PM NOTE: Since we’ll be heading back from downtown (light-rail meeting coverage) around the time the bridge is scheduled to close, we’ll be going that way for an update on whatever’s happening.

72 Replies to "CLOSURE ALERT: West Seattle 'low bridge' closing for at least a week, starting tonight, for 'emergency repairs'"

  • Jay June 20, 2018 (4:09 pm)

    Do they have a solution/detour for the many, many bicycle commuters that use that span daily?

    • WSB June 20, 2018 (4:13 pm)

      Tonight, a van, since this wasn’t announced until late in the day.
      Beyond – detour maps are in this:

      • a little help please June 20, 2018 (5:02 pm)

        Can anyone see the details of the detour? That picture is grainy and I don’t know that area besides the route I take every day.

        • WSB June 20, 2018 (5:34 pm)

          I called that to the attention of the SDOT communications person who published the details, suggesting she add the info as text too, and she says they’ll do that shortly. I found it hard to read too.

    • Vincent June 20, 2018 (5:17 pm)

      Time to ride the upper bridge.

  • skeeter June 20, 2018 (4:14 pm)

    Please tell me this is a mistake.  This is the only crossing for over 1,000 bicycles per day.

    • Glenn Strieker June 20, 2018 (9:17 pm)

      All bikers…although a major inconvenience, simply stay ‘low’ at the 5 way interchange (by the Chelan cafe) and get on West Marginal for a couple mile detour to the on-ramp of the 1st ave bridge route(bike path on left side of W. Marginal). Once you get onto the bridge route, it will drop you down into a street that you need to head North (right)on for about a city block and then take a right and go under the 1st ave bridge ramp structure. You will then intersect with East Marginal Way – cross it and get onto the sidewalk and head north(left). After a city block, vere right onto 1st Avenue. This will take you into Georgetown, SODO, and downtown.I have taken this route for more than 15 years.Good luck!

      • G S June 21, 2018 (7:34 am)

        FYI – this is a 5.5 mile detour, so you will have to leave much earlier to get to work on time.

        • Colin June 21, 2018 (1:44 pm)

          I haven’t always felt safe riding on 1st, which may or may not be a consideration, too.

  • Jason June 20, 2018 (4:16 pm)

    Looks like it may be closed for a week! More info here:

    • WSB June 20, 2018 (4:57 pm)

      Yes, thanks, we added that info as soon as it appeared at 4 pm – I was in contact with SDOT because we had received a tip about this earlier today but they refused to confirm until that first tweet – TR

  • steve_winter June 20, 2018 (4:25 pm)

    How are volumes on the water taxi these days?  I recall you can have bikes on the boat, but that space is limited.

  • Jasmine June 20, 2018 (4:27 pm)

    The bridge has been closed for the past half hour. I work on harbor island and had to take a detour home. Causing a husw traffic jam on harbor island.

  • Kathy June 20, 2018 (4:29 pm)

    More business for the Water Taxi.

  • JayDee June 20, 2018 (4:39 pm)

    This will be a knot in the knickers for what I refer to as low-bridge cheaters that use it to cheat the lineup of cars queued for 99-NB. Of course, one of the reasons for a backup of the queue is said low-bridge cheaters.  It will interesting to see what effects it has on the commute.

    • Hold your speed June 20, 2018 (5:07 pm)

      Not sure why that’s cheating, and the tie-up on the upper bridge is never from merging traffic from below. 99 backs up way behind the on-ramp, and the stalled line is for people who have trouble moving while they merge.

    • Peter June 20, 2018 (5:40 pm)

      JayDee, please explain exactly how using a public road over a public road is “cheating.”

    • Ernie June 20, 2018 (6:25 pm)

      You should try going that way sometime if you think they’re “cheating”. There’s no way that it is faster when both routes are backed up. The wait to get through the big intersection and across the bridge can be 10 min or more. 

    • Wsea June 20, 2018 (6:37 pm)

      Says the guy who takes 44th ave instead of 45th to get to the bridge entrance.  ha. I don’t think the small group who enter the bridge from marginal way save a lot of time. I see a lot going north on marginal way. 

    • NotOnHolden June 20, 2018 (6:41 pm)

      Maybe you mean the people that cut over into the 1st & 4th Ave exit lanes to pass everyone on the right and then hop back over into the lanes for I5?  But the lower bridge and what not has specific signage for getting onto 99 I may have just imagined that.  Either way, this closure is not okay for all of the people that bike this route.  There needs to be a better plan in place for long term closure.  

    • KBear June 20, 2018 (9:16 pm)

      JayDee, traffic moves faster when all available lanes are used. Scientific studies have proven this. It is not “cheating” to use an alternate route, or to drive right up to the end of a merge lane. What would make it flow more smoothly is if you would leave enough room for someone to merge in front of you. Zipper merges are efficient. Tailgating and blocking people from merging causes slowdowns in both lanes. 

    • WSgrumps June 20, 2018 (10:18 pm)

      JayDee is completely in the right. These people are both rude and cheaters. Get in line like the rest of us. That route is not meant to be a feeder for 99. It should be closed off and cheaters ticketed to the max!  

      • Preppy6917 June 20, 2018 (10:33 pm)

        ^^^ Username checks out

      • KBear June 20, 2018 (10:56 pm)

        WSGrumps, the low bridge connects to 99. How is it “not meant to be a feeder to 99”? Maybe they should shut down 99, because I-5 is the main route north and people who take 99 are just “cheating”. 

        • ZipperMerge4Life June 20, 2018 (11:21 pm)

          KBear – yes!! You are 100% correct. Using all available lanes is the most efficient including alternate routes. Not looking forward to the drive over the next week or however long it takes to fix the low bridge. 

  • El Pato June 20, 2018 (4:48 pm)

    Any chance that the King County Water Taxi will be able to add additional runs or capacity to carry extra bikes?

  • miws June 20, 2018 (4:51 pm)

    I know this is an unexpected emergency closure, but it seems that they could come up with a van option for bicyclists for the duration, instead of for just tonight. Such a service was provided 30-ish years ago when the swing bridge was being built, and the remaining bascule bridge had been removed in order to do so. I don’t remember for sure, but perhaps only a limited number of Metro buses had bike racks back then, and maybe now with every coach having one SDOT feels that is sufficient? Even if it is, (I have my doubts considering what I occasionally hear of the bike counts going over the swing bridge), but while that may be fine for riders whose destination is in the CBD, or beyond to the north or east, there are only a limited  number of bus options (21 & 50?) for getting to the 1st & Spokane vicinity for those heading south, or into the SODO area. Mike

    • Cyclist-pocalypse June 20, 2018 (10:54 pm)

      Yes, buses only have spots for a few bikes….. But i am so confused by the uproar. It’s a week. Yes, when i read the news, i thought yikes, this is really gonna suck. I agree the bike detour is totally ridiculous and out of the way, even though i don’t totally understand it. But, this is a temporary condition.   Yes, buses only have a few spots for bikes, but why can’t cyclists take their bikes for the whole trip-start to finish!? I know quite a few people that cycle regularly. Guess what? they also take the bus pretty frequently too, 21x, C, 120, 50.. What will happen if cyclists take the bus instead of their bike for a week? I am so confused, will their legs atrophy? 

      • cyclist-pocalypse June 21, 2018 (9:59 am)

        well, geez, that was supposed to say “Why can’t cyclists take the bus for the whole trip- start to finish” ie, ride the bus for this week instead…..

  • Hilary June 20, 2018 (4:51 pm)

    Will bikers be able to commute back westbound before 8pm without the van service?

    • WSB June 20, 2018 (4:54 pm)

      Theoretically- the bridge is supposed to not close to non-maritime traffic until then.

      • DK June 20, 2018 (4:57 pm)

        Metro Route 21 from 1st Ave S/S Hanford St to S Spokane Park and Ride under the bridge OrMetro Route 50 from 1st Ave S/S Hanford to Delridge & Andover

  • Kathy June 20, 2018 (4:55 pm)

    For years we’ve been trying to get better bike routes between the peninsula and other parts of Seattle. Yet we still have the “missing link” at the north end of the West Duwamish Trail in Riverside. And bike routes through the East Duwamish industrial area and Georgetown connecting the 1st Ave South Bridge with downtown are still scarce and confusing.  I don’t find the “bike detour” offered by SDOT very enlightening.At least this should increase Water Taxi ridership.

  • skeeter June 20, 2018 (4:59 pm)

    The lower bridge is open to car traffic as of 4:59 on Wednesday afternoon. 

  • MJ June 20, 2018 (5:08 pm)

    Bike commuters are getting screwed, especially this time of year with many more bike commuters.It seems shuttle vans should be provided during the closure.

    • Peter June 20, 2018 (5:43 pm)

      MJ, if the bridge needs to be fixed, the bridge needs to be fixed. Or do you have any evidence that this is somehow an attack on cyclists?

    • Scott June 20, 2018 (6:16 pm)

      MJ,I don’t get why you think cyclists should be given some special accommodations?  This is an unplanned event for a relatively short period of time.  This will cause many bridge users headaches.   There are options.

      • Tsurly June 20, 2018 (7:47 pm)

        I bike commute everyday and agree with you 100%. Having to detour for a week is not that big of a deal, and asking for special concessions is ridiculous. Suck it up and take the detour or ride the bus or water taxi. 

      • Bill June 20, 2018 (7:59 pm)

        MJ’s comment may be a bit whiney, but this is a huge problem for cyclists. Saying there are “options” is disingenuous. The 1st Ave and 14th Ave bridges are far out of the way for a cyclist, and northbound biking from those bridges is terrible. You should try it. You may become an advocate for special accommodations.

        • Tsurly June 20, 2018 (8:31 pm)

          Bill I have done it, many times, on both my road bikes and 70 pound non-electric cargo bike, in the dark and pissing rain. Is it inconvenient, sure, but it is doable, especially for a week.

          • Mommy cyclist June 21, 2018 (9:50 am)

            It may be for a single rider but consider all the other cyclists out there. I ride with my three kids and this detour is not as secure and safe a route. There are other considerations beyond just the extra miles. 

          • TSurly June 21, 2018 (3:53 pm)

            I ride with my kid, on a long tail, everyday as well. Today we rode the bus, and the sky did not fall.

  • GF June 20, 2018 (5:20 pm)

    Any update on the Alki trail closure – speaking of bike detours

    • Scott Keiper June 20, 2018 (6:17 pm)

      I went thru there today and the detour is confusing and incomplete.

  • NW June 20, 2018 (5:26 pm)

    Anyone else recall using the van and trailer that cyclists mounted their bikes to in order to cross the Duwamish when the low bridge was being built back in the late 80s? 

    • bolo June 20, 2018 (11:25 pm)

      Yep, sure do. Every day commute. Lash down the bike on the big wood platform flatbed trailer, then climb thru the crowded van full of other stinky sweaty bikers to find a seat.

      One time the van did not show up for evening return. A few others and I decided to bike the upper bridge. Never again. Worst biking experience of my long biking career. And that was then, when traffic was MUCH lighter and drivers were generally more courteous/attentive. To the person above who mentioned biking the upper bridge: DON’T DO IT!!!

      The reroute using 1st avenue S bridge is not great either. Poor signage, many dangerous transitions, and almost certain flat tires are part of that route (north of the bridge).

      We bikers are– face it– spoiled by the swing bridge and its “bikeaduct.”

      • NW June 21, 2018 (6:38 am)

        I was in my teens so I did not use it that often but recall using it quite a few times. 

  • JCW June 20, 2018 (5:30 pm)

    For those of us towards the South end — does anyone take the sidewalk over 1st Ave/509? Is there a trail connection there? I’ve seen it as an alternative bike route off the peninsula, but it doesn’t look like a friendly ride. 

    • Kathy June 20, 2018 (6:49 pm)

      Dear JCW, West Seattle Bike Connections has an informal Bike Buddy program You can contact us via our Facebook page  West Seattle Bike Connections . Maybe somebody in the group will be able to ride with you and show you a route or at least can offer you a written description. It’s a bit confusing at the north end of the 1st Ave S. Bridge. The SDOT description needs to be improved. Probably they are confused, too, because this is a part of the city that has been neglected for walking and biking routes for a long time. Duwamish Valley Safe Streets is advocating for improvements in this area.

  • miws June 20, 2018 (5:33 pm)

    NW, Yes! That’s what I was referring to in my above comment but had forgotten about the trailer! I was just picturing the bikes being loaded inside the van. And Skeeter pretty much confirms my thought on the daily bicycle count being very high. Mike

  • JCW June 20, 2018 (5:38 pm)

    Anyone with a pontoon boat want to schlep a few bikes & people across during rush hour? I’d pay a few $$ for the trouble. This is a frustratingly short stretch of my 9mi bike commute to not be able to traverse. 

  • Low Bridge June 20, 2018 (5:53 pm)

    It’s not really all that bad of a detour on a bike to go down W. Marginal and across the 1st Ave bridge, then continue north up 1st. All in all, more time on the bike—not a terrible thing this time of year.

    • Sna June 20, 2018 (6:45 pm)

      Sure, but that route looks like a good way to die.  There’s no separated bike path on 1st and I’m guessing it’s quite busy in the morning, right?

      • West Sea Neighbor June 21, 2018 (8:13 am)

        It was quite busy this morning, and cars drive quite fast on 1st ave North. Didn’t feel very safe at all (this coming from a 9000 mile a year cyclist). There was no way to get back over to the bike lanes on E Marginal north of Spokane either due to a freight train blocking the crossings.

  • JayDee June 20, 2018 (6:26 pm)

    OK, “Hold Your Speed”:  Just like the right lane on Admiral SB, yes it is legal to zoom ahead and merge to beat the traffic (except for speed limits that most passers ignore).  Most of the people taking the “low-bridge” are doing so to cut the line. They likely come from Avalon or Admiral which both have an option to merge with the West Seattle Bridge merge with 99NB way before the 1st Ave South/NB 99N on-ramp. If they stayed on the merge with 99 there would be a smoother “zipper” instead of a clot of what I referred to as “cheaters” who had a chance to take the West Seattle bridge but didn’t.  As my imagined “Burma-Shave” type-signs would say on Admiral and the low bridge “What’s the rush?/It’s only your friends and neighbors/ You are trying to beat”. I’ve been observing this for many years and the sudden clot of low-bridge people delay everyone who has been lined up for NB-99. My two cents.

    • KBear June 20, 2018 (10:25 pm)

      JayDee, taking an alternate route is not “cutting the line”. YOU are also free to choose which route works better for you. The low bridge connects to northbound 99. That’s a legitimate route. Now BACK OFF and let people merge. 

  • NotOnHolden June 20, 2018 (6:45 pm)

    Maybe you mean the people that cut over into the 1st & 4th Ave exit lanes to pass everyone on the right and then hop back over into the lanes for I5?  But the lower bridge and what not has specific signage for getting onto 99 I may have just imagined that.  Either way, this closure is not okay for all of the people that bike this route.  There needs to be a better plan in place for long term closure.  

  • Dale June 20, 2018 (7:19 pm)

    South Park bridge.  Problem solved.

    • Trickycoolj June 20, 2018 (7:43 pm)

      You haven’t been over the South Park Bridge lately during rush hour. My commute is 6 Miles to the office on the corner of East Marginal and 16th and it takes 10-15 to get through South Park most days.  Expect to crawl from Trenton to East Marginal and hope the bridge doesn’t open. Sucks to be the one car trying to turn south onto East Marginal not north. 

  • ST June 20, 2018 (8:26 pm)

    The only bike detour signs I saw on the ride home today were at 22nd ave sw and andover.  Are  these related to this closure?

  • Orca June 20, 2018 (8:35 pm)

    No one has even mentioned those who use the lower bridge to walk/jog downtown.  There are a lot more than you may think.The 1st Ave South bridge or South Park bridge is simply not an alternative for joggers/walkers.  The detour would add an additional 4-5 miles to an already long route.Why is the only concern for bike riders?

    • Wolf June 20, 2018 (9:17 pm)

      Orca, the concern for cyclists over pedestrians is that pedestrians can take a bus where as only 2 cyclists can fit on a bus w bikes and therefore have to take the detour.

    • Bill June 20, 2018 (9:59 pm)

      Orca – Because we cyclists are a whiny lot. ;)  Very cool that you walk or jog that distance. I’ve only walked to West Seattle once, during Snowpocalypse. I made the mistake of driving that afternoon. Walking back that night was magical. Actually, I alternated walking and jogging to keep warm. It would be wonderful if Metro would add bus service during this closure, but I doubt the leadership of SDOT and Metro have the imagination and verve to address this problem with alacrity.

  • Wsresident June 20, 2018 (10:21 pm)

    I completely understand that this unplanned, emergency REPAIR of the lower bridge may be an inconvenience for cyclists, but would you prefer they not close the bridge and it collapse on your commute next week? Food for thought, public transport or driving ONE week won’t kill anyone.

    • West Sea Neighbor June 21, 2018 (8:16 am)

      Agreed, WS resident. This may be the one-week ounce of prevention that saves us from a much longer pound of cure. And at least it is in June and not December…

  • TM7302 June 20, 2018 (11:04 pm)

    I wonder if you all have disaster kits at home?  Seems as if a little inconvenience has got a lot of you all bent out of shape.   A good earthquake would put Seattle out of business for a lot longer than the one week repair of the Spokane St Bridge, so what would you do to survive then?  Just say’n…

    • KM June 21, 2018 (3:22 pm)

      I have a disaster kit at home for my family (week+) and think SDOT has failed to provide adequate support and detouring (yet again) to cyclists impacted by this (which I am not).  I can also walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • Mommy cyclist June 21, 2018 (9:45 am)

    Well as someone who has a long tail bike and three kids who have doctor apts and lessons downtown weekly I can say that this is a major inconvenience. Not only do buses have limited bike rack space, not all bikes are able to go on the bus, like my long tail. And an extra 5-10 miles on your commute is a lot on a bike. And people have tight schedules as it is with daycare and work. This is just another way that cycling is still not considered as important a way of transportation as cars. Grow up Seattle and think of cyclists as the new emissions free way if the future. 

  • Kathy June 21, 2018 (10:40 am)

    I noticed SDOT took that useless bicycle detour map off of their information link. The fact is there is no clearly marked, safe for all ages and abilities bicycle route connecting  the north end of 1st Ave S. Bridge with destinations to the north and south. This area is horrible for people both walking and biking and it is high time SDOT (and WSDOT ) put some priority on making this area safer. 

  • AlkiRider June 21, 2018 (2:47 pm)

    There is a railroad bridge next to the lower bridge that would get us to Harbor Island and then from there we could get back on the trail. Drop the rail bridge and put a bike trail on it!

  • WSB June 21, 2018 (3:40 pm)

    Just being sure everyone still following this Wednesday thread has seen today’s updates:

Sorry, comment time is over.