TRAFFIC/TRANSIT: Tuesday watch, second week of West Seattle Bridge closure

5:35 AM: The high-rise West Seattle Bridge remains closed today, and Monday’s City Council briefing made it clear it’ll likely be closed for months.

The new Highland Park Way/Holden signal is now in operation. Meantime, the low bridge is reserved for transit, freight, emergency response, and Harbor Island access – the city hopes you’ll honor that.

The main alternative across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) – that’s also the main route to I-5.

You also can cross the river via the South Park Bridge (map).

Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed to see if a bridge is opening for marine traffic.

Metro routes are affected, too – check yours here (the new Reduced Schedule also applies, plus Sound Transit is reducing the 560 schedule). Also on a reduced schedule now: Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route. Taking the Water Taxi? Here’s the schedule (the WT, like Metro, is currently free).

Let us know what you’re seeing on your alternate commute – comment, or text (not while at the wheel!) 206-293-6302.

64 Replies to "TRAFFIC/TRANSIT: Tuesday watch, second week of West Seattle Bridge closure"

  • HPDriver March 31, 2020 (7:28 am)

    Hey SDOT, can we have traffic cameras at holden & highland park way etc please?

  • Nw mama March 31, 2020 (7:48 am)

    The sign about harbor island/freight/emergency vehicles should be orange.  When there are traffic changes we are used to seeing the signs in that color.  

  • Question Authority March 31, 2020 (7:52 am)

    An honor system observed for the Low Bridge has the same odds as receiving a Unicorn for Christmas.  The only way to achieve control over who travels it will be by strick enforcement with progressive penalties.

    • Jort March 31, 2020 (8:33 am)

      Agreed. The ever-growing “It’s OK if I do it” crowd must face serious consequences for their selfishness.

  • Just a dude March 31, 2020 (8:29 am)

    As someone who, for over 60 years, has (almost) always done the right thing, in this instance I’m not sure which route I’ll take when the time comes that I need to head north, the only direction I ever go when leaving Shangri-La.

    Do I really want to drive that far south to sit in that much traffic when Magnolia or the U-Dist is my destination??!!

    Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!

    • Question Authority March 31, 2020 (9:01 am)

      As your contemplating breaking the honor system just chant the secret catch phrase,  “it’s all about me, me, me.”

    • 22blades March 31, 2020 (1:02 pm)

      As someone who, for over 60 years, has (almost) done the right thing, I didn’t bat an eye about staying off the Low Span that’s littered with the same people who cut lines, drive the bus lane or party on Alki. I don’t know of rules that are sorta’. I do know rules that have a good reason with tragic consequences when ignored.Decision? They are not really giving you a choice.

  • Ah March 31, 2020 (8:54 am)

    Some people are just more important than others.         

  • Mj March 31, 2020 (8:59 am)

    Simply incorporate electronic tolling on the Low Level Bridge using the existing Good to Go system.  Essential highly trained Doctors and RN’s could have their GTG passes set to exempt.  Others would be charged a rate based on supply and demand.  Problem solved and revenue raised.

    • WSB March 31, 2020 (9:03 am)

      Good to Go is a state system. The low bridge, like the high bridge, is a city structure.

    • Jort March 31, 2020 (9:25 am)

      Sounds like MJ is advocating for congestion tolling. Interesting. Another way to handle this – much cheaper and quicker – is to simply prohibit private vehicles from the bridge, enforce it, and aggressively force people who for whatever dumb reason insist on driving to take a longer drive. Or, if they want their trip to be shorter, they can instead choose to be socially responsible and bike or take a bus. It’s not complicated. The bridge closure means more people will be forced to stop driving, like it or not.

      • tsurly March 31, 2020 (10:03 am)

        Agreed. It is as good a time as any to start bike commuting; the weather is nicer and there is significantly less traffic. Sadly, I think most folks will continue to scream at the sky and be caught flatfooted when public health restrictions are lifted and people start returning to work.

    • sf March 31, 2020 (9:27 am)

      Again, I’ll ask where is the line of essential healthcare workers.  Without the pharmacists and techs, respiratory techs, dietary, supply chain, lab, radiology, janitorial staff and much more, you have nothing at the hospital bedside except some people who got to drive on a bridge for a (slightly) quicker commute.Everyone…. please quit looking for exceptions and rationalizations.  We are in this together.

    • admiral admiral March 31, 2020 (4:51 pm)

      so the highest payed staff at the hospital get an exemption? those minimum wage peasants who do all the heavy lifting can take the long way round

  • Anne March 31, 2020 (9:04 am)

    Really don’t know just how enforcement could work -without causing a huge slowdown in traffic-where ,how would Police pull offenders over? From comments there are lots of them!

    • Question Authority March 31, 2020 (9:37 am)

      If you’re in the backup you speak of you’re either part of the problem or you’re affected by it as you travel legally as a trucker, transit or first responder.  Enforcement regardless of where they find room to do it is necessary to reign in and control the self righteous, rules don’t apply to me crowd.

      • Anne March 31, 2020 (10:49 am)

        I get what you’re saying-but if pulling over offenders is causing a backup-who cares if it affects more  offenders —but I think everyone cares if the  backup prevents especially emergency vehicles from getting through. Don’t misunderstand-I think if this continues to be a problem enforcement is necessary-but contributing to traffic backups doesn’t seem logical.I also agree with SJ-health care workers should be allowed same access as freight, transit, emergency -even if it means driving personal vehicles. We need to provide those dedicated people every possible advantage( for want of a better word). Someone mentioned “ pack the busses”- really? How does that fit in with “ social distancing” policy? Would actually be interested in hearing from those taking busses -are they crowded? For many it’s no doubt the only way to get around -if they must go out, but are they worried?

    • C March 31, 2020 (10:41 am)

      You could say the same for bus lane cops – and they still do it. They’ll never get everyone but if people see them handing out tickets regularly it’ll make people think twice. 

    • Jort March 31, 2020 (10:51 am)

      There is plenty of room on either side of the bridge for cops to line ’em up and write ’em tickets while bikes, buses, freight, and emergency vehicles go by. *Plenty* of room. The city is facing a huge funding shortfall in the upcoming months. They could probably make billions from the “It’s OK if I do it, because I’m important” crowd, if they choose to do so. Line ’em up, write ’em tickets. It’s not complicated.

      • Anne March 31, 2020 (3:17 pm)

        sorry just don’t share that opinion.  But am sure something will be figured out if folks keep  breaking the rules. 

        • K. Davis March 31, 2020 (6:04 pm)

          The anti-car fanatics love this … love that the bridge is closed for now and they can rant their rants about expensive tickets for offenders and such.  It helps them feel less impotent.  The bridge will get fixed and we’ll get back to normal.  In the meantime, we deal with both the bridge closure and the fanatics ranting.  

  • Richard March 31, 2020 (9:33 am)

    If you do the right thing then there are no difficult decisions.  No one wants to drive West Marginal to the 1st Ave S. bridge, I did it on Sunday going downtown, but it’s the right thing to do  (Newsflash: the bridge is falling!).  But this is not unlike the people who drive past my house doing 30-35 in a posted 20, with no sidewalks & no streetlights at night … god forbid you drive like that past their house!  And let’s not forget the bike riders who run red lights or do other stupid things.  You will see plenty of drivers using the lower bridge … they’ll have a UW or WSU sticker, or they’ll have a “Baby On Board” sign in the car window. The only decision you have to make … is to be a jerk or not.

    • Adam March 31, 2020 (4:07 pm)

      Wow you seem to have it in for just about everyone with this screed. Is there anyone other than yourself that is acceptable in your book?

    • 120rider March 31, 2020 (5:42 pm)

      yes adam. those of us taking care of your health who use that bridge because we are forced to go to work every day or lose our jobs.  those of us who ride metro don’t enjoy sitting behind your selfish “%$#. and it appears there are other selfish “*&^%$ on here too so you’ve got lots of company.  thanks to you all. the selfishness, wow.

      • Adam March 31, 2020 (6:07 pm)

        You are all over the place. Be well. 

  • beanie March 31, 2020 (9:39 am)

    I know it’s still a mess, but I’m impressed with how quickly the light at Holden and Highland Park Way got installed. Yay?

    • cjboffoli March 31, 2020 (10:16 am)

      Beanie:  Isn’t it impressive what can get accomplished when everyone is on the same page?

  • Mj March 31, 2020 (9:57 am)

    Yes I understand the GTG is a State system, the ORCA card is used by multiple agencies and I am not aware of any reason why the GTG system could not be similarly used.sf – I identified the line, a Pharmicist and Radiologist would meet the definition of highly trained, aka 4 or more years of College training.  Jort – congestion tolling the Low Level Bridge is an option that is worth looking into and is certainly better than the punitive anti car approach you advocate.

  • Hospital workers March 31, 2020 (9:58 am)

    As a Respiratory Therapist at Harborview, what is the stance on taking the low bridge to get to work at 6am? I know I’m not an “emergency vehicle” and that the rules DO apply me but when I took the low bridge last weekend to get to work in the morning it was empty at 6am? I have been going around the long way to get home, as I am not in a rush as I am in the mornings..thoughts? 

    • 22blades March 31, 2020 (6:06 pm)

      A big red 12”x12” placard to stick on your car like the congestion placards that they use in London?

  • K March 31, 2020 (9:59 am)

    Setup a red light camera at each end and ticket those that use the lower bridge. Waive for verifiable essential workers. Make the fee steep, like $1000. Repeat offenders get license revoked. Time to get serious. Was using my bike to cross and the number of offenders was staggering. I might go down with my camera and just take pictures to help the City Council have hard data of the problem.

  • Dunno March 31, 2020 (10:07 am)

    Let’s pack the busses.   I’d like to see camera’s on the work being done on the High Rise bridge.   Work must be on going at a hecktic pace day and nite??   In the future, need a weight limit on the high rise bridge.

    • WSB March 31, 2020 (10:15 am)

      They can’t work on it until they know how to fix it. That’s the work happening now, as explained yesterday.

  • 22blades March 31, 2020 (10:25 am)

    Signage is definitely a weak point. I exited I5 instinctually on towards the bridge yesterday but I recall no signage of the restrictions. The signage from the west is pretty poor. Just spell it out…. RESTRICTED ACCESS: Freight, Transit, Official Vehicles Only Beyond This Point. All Other Vehicles Prohibited.PS I turned around & took the 1st Ave Bridge. The Low Span was clogged with… CARS.

  • C March 31, 2020 (10:39 am)

    My Uber Eats driver took the lower bridge last night :X & while I appreciate my sushi arriving 10-15 minutes sooner it makes it clear that everyone is still catching on the new restrictions..  

    • D March 31, 2020 (11:15 am)

      So rather than support a local West Seattle restaurant, you decided to order something that required another vehicle to add to the congestion coming into WS? Smart move.

      • East Coast Cynic March 31, 2020 (12:45 pm)

        If I want good Chinese food, I’ll have no choice but to drive outside of West Seattle, via 1st ave s bridge, since there are no good Chinese Food restaurants to speak of in West Seattle.

        • EntitledMuch March 31, 2020 (1:31 pm)

          How insensitive of the global pandemic and the local transit emergency to affect your palate so egregiously.    

        • D March 31, 2020 (1:58 pm)

          I’am sorry this has been so hard for you.

      • Maria March 31, 2020 (2:03 pm)

        So D, where exactly does your community end?  If I am in Admiral, should I order only from Admiral?   We have businesses that we want to support throughout Seattle that I’m willing to spend money at during these down times.   It’s a different matter if we are at gridlock – for the moment we aren’t.

        • D March 31, 2020 (6:06 pm)

          You can do whatever you want and order wherever you want. However, to go to a blog and complain about being inconvenienced that you now have to drive an extra 20-30 minutes in order to get a particular cuisine of food and take a potshot at the local eateries in the neighborhood comes off as entitled and tone deaf to the thousands who have died and the thousands who are suffering right now due to this terrible pandemic. 

      • C March 31, 2020 (3:30 pm)

        The only sushi places open for delivery at 8 were in other neighborhoods ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • Cera March 31, 2020 (7:54 pm)

          You’re fine, C!  Our traffic problems suck, but we have bigger issues and everyone is allowed to support their favorite places (or whatever is open!), whether they’re in West Seattle or not. Plus, you were supporting your UberEats driver. It’s not your fault they took the low bridge. 

  • skeeter March 31, 2020 (10:56 am)

    I live in West Seattle and commute to Harbor Island.  Between working from home and bike commuting the bridge will likely have little effect on me, but I am curious how we’re going to allow private cars accessing Harbor Island to use the low bridge while prohibiting all other private cars.  I honestly can’t think of any possible system other than giving harbor island workers some sort of big decal that allows access to the low bridge.  Enforcement will be very, very difficult. It’ll have to be strict such as first violations is free and second violation is $1,000 and your car is impounded for 30 days.

    • tsurly March 31, 2020 (1:00 pm)

      What about a shuttle or bus route that goes specifically to Harbor Island?

      • Tdog March 31, 2020 (3:54 pm)

        Great idea!

      • skeeter March 31, 2020 (4:33 pm)

        Currently the bus doesn’t stop on Harbor Island.  It seems to me that Metro should add a Harbor Island stop for the 21 and 120 while the upper bridge is closed and the busses are re-routed.  It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out when everyone goes back to work in a few weeks or whatever the timing is.

        • WSB March 31, 2020 (4:44 pm)

          If you haven’t already, contact County Councilmember Joe McDermott to advocate for that.

    • Question Authority March 31, 2020 (3:01 pm)

      What I find interesting about the Harbor Island worker quandary is there are roads to access every business on that island and by not crossing the actual low bridge span.  

      • tsurly March 31, 2020 (3:26 pm)

        Yes, only if you drive all the way around.

        • Question Authority March 31, 2020 (3:46 pm)

          As everyone should who even works on the island, unless they are delivering freight, driving a bus or a first responder.  

  • Jackie March 31, 2020 (12:55 pm)

    Why don’t you have special tags or stickers for the cars that are medically essential and allowed. Plus I am very concerned that a emergency ambulance will get stuck on the lower bridge trying first.hill . As a ccu nurse i can tell you in that situation minutes can count in someone’s life. Why should.people die because some.jerks want to sneak on it  Police presence needed

  • JAG March 31, 2020 (1:07 pm)

    How is it that a bridge that was suppose to last 70 years only lasts 30ish? I think we can definitely point to the over development of West Seattle for cause.  They over developed West Seattle with no plan for keeping up with the traffic loads and transportation. Sound Transit is over a decade away or more. From what I heard last night they don’t even know how, when or even if the bridge can be fixed. This is going to cause a huge quality of life problem for a lot of people once traffic returns and property deflation. This could take years. What party is responsible for allowing unlimited expansion that caused this to happen? I want names.

    • WSB March 31, 2020 (2:09 pm)

      We don’t know that the bridge was over the capacity for which it was bridge. But if you want the names of the city leaders who upzoned the heart of West Seattle, where the redevelopment still has barely begun, you can look to community and city leaders from 30+ years ago. Sorry, I don’t have names handy. From HistoryLink:

      In 1981, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Junction Merchants Association, and Trusteed Properties organized the Junction Development Committee, which advocated raising height limits along California Avenue between Alaska and Edmunds from 60 feet to 160 feet. At the time, the tallest buildings in the Junction were about 35 feet high. The single exception was the 90-foot-tall Alaska House, a rent-subsidized apartment building for the elderly, constructed in 1979 under a variance granted by the city. Opponents said tall commercial buildings would ruin the small-town character of the Junction. The Seattle City Council took a middle course in March 1986 by voting five to four to adopt an 85-foot limit.

  • Jackie March 31, 2020 (1:08 pm)

    One other question why do trucks get priority on the.lower bridge?  Are the port shipments so much more important than the people who live in West Seattle?  Really? I know truck drivers would like priority  (their time is money..yeah, I know) But so is ours! These are extraordinary times.for all of us. Why not only.allow.truck use during non.rush hours? Why not insist that the southbound I 5 trucks take the Michigan detour? The port should tell them and.police watching could.enforce it

    • WSB March 31, 2020 (2:00 pm)

      Trucks bring things TO the people in West Seattle, too.

    • 22blades March 31, 2020 (6:10 pm)

      They’re trying to fill those empty shelfs you see in stores.

    • Ice March 31, 2020 (6:26 pm)

      Making sure that food arrives to the various stores in a timely manner is a lot more important than whatever you do with your time, I assure you.

    • bolo March 31, 2020 (8:54 pm)

      Want your TP Jackie? Better let the trucks thru!

  • Dunno March 31, 2020 (4:10 pm)

    How long has this problem been known.   So solutions are only being planned now?  I’ve heard that the problem has been known for quite a while now.   We need the best expertise in the world to help solve this asap.  When we get on the other side of this Pandemic, we will have a huge jam on our hands.  At least, when the High bridge was being built, there were 2 lanes each direction on what is now the lower bridge.   Hasn’t WS population almost doubled since then, or is about to, with so many apartments on line soon?

  • Mj March 31, 2020 (4:49 pm)

    Dunno huge traffic jam is an understatement, and no TP to clean up the poop that has hit the fan!

  • Joey March 31, 2020 (4:59 pm)

    Curious if the bridge has further deteriorated after closing. Sounds like the cracks were spreading rapidly just before closure and removal of cars only relieved 20% of the weight… Has anyone heard an update on this? 

    • WSB March 31, 2020 (5:04 pm)

      That’s one of the questions I have out, awaiting written responses and/or an interview.

  • MJ March 31, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    Joey it’s not just the weight, the traffic causes vibration. You do not feel it when you are in the car, but if you were standing on the bridge deck you certainly would.

    I hope that a good fix can be determined and conducted expeditiously.

Sorry, comment time is over.