FOLLOWUP: West Seattle low-bridge camera enforcement not ready to start yet

(Reader photo)

Since tomorrow is December 1st – once the targeted date to have enforcement cameras operating on the West Seattle low bridge, with a month of warnings followed by official ticketing – we checked with SDOT about the status.The cameras are not installed yet; installation is now expected “the week of December 7th,” according to SDOT communications director Michael Harold. (Back when automated enforcement was first mentioned publicly in June, they were hoping for August, but the timeline has slid at a couple spots along the way.) Activation is now expected in “late December/early January,” so at this point it looks like the “real” camera ticketing, with $75 fines, is unlikely to start before February. Harold says they’ll have a “more in-depth Low Bridge automated enforcement update” later this week, including a briefing when the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meets at noon Wednesday (December 2nd); here’s the link for viewing that meeting.

67 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle low-bridge camera enforcement not ready to start yet"

  • Petert November 30, 2020 (7:38 pm)

    Can we please have the most current update as to the traffic permission schedule on the lower bridge, or a pointer to the same ? Thank you !

    • heartless November 30, 2020 (8:24 pm)

      normal cars 9pm to 5am

  • Kyle November 30, 2020 (7:47 pm)

    Was stopped at the Chelan Way 5-way light the other day, and watched SIX cars all get into the bus only lane, and then proceed to take the low bridge illegally when the light turned green. Was appalled so many people valued their time above others.

    • Sandy November 30, 2020 (8:08 pm)

      As you may know it has been going on since day 1 of the closure. I noticed a photo enforcement sign was added to the big signs on either side of the entrance but in actuality the cameras aren’t even there lol

    • Devil’s Advocate November 30, 2020 (8:11 pm)

      Playing devil’s advocate here, but isn’t it beneficial to have some people using the low bridge? Like the TSA pre check line at the airport. If no one is taking the low bridge, that means everyone is on Marginal, and that’s slower for both the people who would have taken the low bridge and the people already on Marginal. 

      • Amy November 30, 2020 (8:29 pm)

        Well, technically even after the photo enforcement starts they can still take the low bridge. 

        • Sandy November 30, 2020 (11:17 pm)

          True Sandy. I know what you are talking about 😉

      • Sandy November 30, 2020 (11:23 pm)

        I see what you are saying but illegal is illegal.. ambulances may not be able to get to Harbor View as fast if it’s jammed up with cheaters. To be fair, some cars may be in line to take the low bridge who have the pass that was given out to some workers on Harbor Island. The rules have changed a few times so, not sure if the pass is still a thing.

      • Resident November 30, 2020 (11:48 pm)

        So who makes the decision on who gets to take the lower bridge? This is the dumbest argument for breaking the law I have heard. People are doing this to get somewhere more quickly than everyone else because their time is more valuable than those that follow the rules and most importantly they don’t care about community they care about themselves.

    • BW November 30, 2020 (8:47 pm)

      Everyone who thinks they’re winning some sort of moral high ground here is ridiculous and needs something better to worry about in their lives. I wouldn’t think there’d be a shortage.

    • Jason here November 30, 2020 (10:04 pm)

      OMG Kyle – So appalling! ;) Risk v Reward. Take the low bridge Kyle if you are so upset about others doing it. I see people do it all the time and it doesn’t bother me. I also don’t get upset when I see people shoplift and I’m still paying. If they are that much of a jerk and are taking the risk then they must really need to do it – for whatever reason. 

    • Rene December 1, 2020 (10:56 am)

      You could say the same for anyone speeding past you anywhere. “Their time is more valuable”. It’s a choice people make with whatever ethical implications for themselves, and potential impact to others.  

  • Resident November 30, 2020 (8:09 pm)

    Not sure why anyone would follow the rules at this point. They can’t ticket everyone so now is the time to take the low bridge and force the city’s hand. Either enforce the law or just let everyone use the bridge. The current situation is just ridiculous.

  • TJ November 30, 2020 (8:27 pm)

    I don’t get why people are appalled or surprised some drivers cheat and use the low bridge. It all comes down to a risk/reward decision. Having a good idea you won’t get caught will make a lot of people use it. We all know that’s the case with a ton of other things. I know. I don’t use the low bridge, but take liberties on other things 

    • FixTheBridge November 30, 2020 (8:46 pm)

      Some people just think its their job to police their neighbors. I think when people cry victim over the “low bridge cheaters” its a way to virtue signal. A way to scream to the world “I am a perfect rule following person, look at how wonderful I am and how AWFUL my neighbor is!” I find the low bridge complaining offensive. Look in the mirror, remove every single imperfection of your own character – then start pointing fingers. Except if you do remove all your issues you will have no interest in shaming your neighbor because you will be at peace. 

      • karma llama December 1, 2020 (8:20 am)

        Okay, but just remember this rant, when someone you care about needs an ambulance, and it gets delayed in traffic on the low bridge, on the way to the hospital, due to the many drivers not following the current restrictions and rules.

        • FixTheBridge December 1, 2020 (10:38 am)

          You realize the low bridge a draw bridge.  Right?  Sometimes it’s open to let boats go through for 15 minutes.    Do you think maybe having ambulances use the high bridge would make more sense?  I see cars parked on the high bridge and heavy equipment.  Surely it can carry the occasion ambulance?  Don’t you think we should be demanding SDOT allow ambulances to use the high bridge and cars to use the low bridge and buses and trucks to go around the horn? Food for thought!!!  :)

          • CAM December 1, 2020 (4:55 pm)

            Wait, so people on public transit (who are already making sacrifices for the good of everyone else) and freight drivers (who are spewing exponentially more toxic fumes into the environment with every extra mile they drive) should take the long way around so that all SOV drivers can take the shortest route across? I’m pretty sure you’ve just invalidated any future suggestion you might have for managing transportation systems. 

  • Auntie November 30, 2020 (8:35 pm)

    And how do you decide who gets to use the low bridge? If there was no penalty to use it, most people I know would and then it would just be a parking lot instead of a bridge. The whole idea is to keep it open for essential trips (not to be confused with entitled trips).

    • FixTheBridge November 30, 2020 (9:13 pm)

      “Entitled trips”. Haha. Yeah. Having a working bridge is now “entitlement”. The weirdness and extremism of Seattle has no end. Defund the police, make hard drugs legal, using a working bridge is a sign of “entitlement”. The oddest part is those who would call those perhaps needing a working bridge to keep their job as “entitled” have no idea how offensive and entitled they are to carry the position they do. Open the low bridge to cars only, send buses and trucks around the horn. Plenty of room for ambulances in the middle of low bridge…when its not OPEN to let boats go down the river.  Unreal levels of self congratulation from the low bridge shame crowd. 

      • karma llama December 1, 2020 (8:27 am)

        There are reasons for the restrictions and we all have to take an alternate route and adjust our schedule for this.

        Why would anyone think they are exempt from this?

        The exception I think we could all agree on is if there is a life or death emergency. Then take the low bridge!

        The upper bridge had to close, as a result restriction are needed on the low bridge, and hopefully most people understand the inconvenient necessity of it.

        • FixTheBridge December 1, 2020 (4:04 pm)

          Can SDOT please stop endangering West Seattle by risking our LIVES by sending ambulances to a DRAW BRIDGE?!?! Open the high bridge for emergency vehicles. Now! We need to demand SDOT get heavy trucks and buses off that little bridge before they break another West Seattle bridge!!  

      • Richard Bullington December 6, 2020 (12:30 am)

        Dude, you clearly resent people who value community.  It seems clear that you would prefer Spokane.  They elect militia paranoiacs there.  You’d fit in better.And no mask wearers either!

  • Andrew November 30, 2020 (8:36 pm)

    Anyone have info on how they came up with 5am to 9pm?  The issue the camera is trying to solve is that too many people are using the low bridge during the day and peak rush hours. One mitigating strategy should be to spread out the peak travel times… for example if someone usually goes to work at 7:15, peak time, they might be willing to go in at 5:45 and workout or get breakfast at the office. But they are not going to go in at 4:45. I think 6am to 8pm would be smarter because I don’t think these hours would clog the low bridge, but would encourage leaving earlier or staying later and this spread the day out. The current hours won’t do that successfully. 

    • BW November 30, 2020 (8:43 pm)

      I 1000% agree with this. It should be 6 a.m.

      • John December 1, 2020 (5:54 pm)

        From anecdotal experience, 6A.M. makes sense. :thumbs:

    • wscommuter November 30, 2020 (9:09 pm)

      @Andrew … Really good idea … I would even suggest 6AM – 7PM.  I have no data to backup my opinion, but I have to believe the vast majority – I’d even guess 95%+ of commuters – fall within those parameters.  Allowing pre-6AM use would incentivize many to leave earlier, taking some pressure off of W. Marginal and Highland Park for morning commutes.  Likewise, opening after 7PM would give non-commuters – especially folks trying to go out in the evening for shopping, dinner, etc. a break while still meeting the goal of minimizing low bridge use.  I’d like to see this idea considered.  

    • Jason here November 30, 2020 (10:01 pm)

      Andrew – you are spot on. I have considered leaving my house at 4:50am to get over the bridge prior to the 5am rule – but really that is a rediculous time for me to get to the office. On the otherhand, per your point, I would happily leave at 5:50am and thus avoid the long drive around to get up to I-90.So – I too back your suggestion of 6am to 8pm.

      • Seabruce December 1, 2020 (12:22 am)

        Can we open it to all cars weekends and holidays, too?

        • Derek December 1, 2020 (1:11 pm)

          Marginal would be faster if we did that. 

    • Lisa December 1, 2020 (1:37 am)

      @andrew 110% agree with you. I have co-workers that  work 12 hour shifts. Days and Nights. Those times adjusted would make it a lot easier to get to work. The bus is not the easiest options for those hours. I would be open for holidays too. I am so tired of seeing people break those rules.  Especially when I’m on the bus.

    • Anne December 1, 2020 (5:47 am)

      @andrew, the task force was told they came up with  them by measuring traffic and calculating how many cars can go on it without impeding emergency vehicles. The hours they chose reflect the times of day when demand is low and making it open is unlikely to create additional demand. Keeping it open for fire trucks and aid cars is the highest priority. 9pm to 5am is still helpful to a lot of people.

  • LuLuBelle November 30, 2020 (8:47 pm)

    Are these camera’s front plate & driver or rear plate also? Also, how much of the $75 will the camera co. get.

  • Joe Z November 30, 2020 (8:48 pm)

    Oh darn, that’s too bad, what a shame…

  • CAM December 1, 2020 (1:00 am)

    It is eternally amusing (not really) to find the days the WSB commenters decide that the “law and order” perspective is not so black and white and that the social contract needs to have greater flexibility so it doesn’t negatively impact them. I hope this same charitable attitude carries over to the next conversation regarding someone committing an offense in another manner. 

    • heartless December 1, 2020 (3:08 am)

      I hope this same charitable attitude carries over to the next conversation regarding someone committing an offense in another manner. “

      Hah, you expect charity from this lot?

      You know perfectly well the ones flouting the traffic rules are the same who rail against protesters walking in the streets, or homeless sleeping in the parks.

      The same people who loudly proclaim support for the police and first responders are in here giggling about sneaking onto the bridge.  It tells you who they are, doesn’t it?

      What’s amusing (not really) is how unable they are to see themselves clearly.

      • Peter S. December 1, 2020 (9:41 am)

        @Heartless:  That is not true, at least not for anyone I know.   There was a time in my life when the less attention the police paid to what I was up to, the happier I was.  I’ve grown up some since then.  I fully support the right to protest, but not those who break laws by blocking traffic or vandalizing property.   Some of the fun goes out when you can’t get to your doctor appointment on time so you have to reschedule, or it’s your stuff that’s being destroyed.  I detest cheaters, because well, they’re cheaters.  It’s a reflection of their character and it’s probably not limited to taking the low bridge when they shouldn’t.  The homeless is a multifaceted problem and we as a society need to work towards a better solution than urban park camping.  Turning a blind eye to the crime that often accompanies those who *CHOOSE* this lifestyle isn’t the answer. While I agree with you about hypocrisy in general, I’d wager that most people who generally follow the rules aren’t the ones giggling about sneaking onto the bridge.  It’s the ones who think the rules don’t apply to them.   

        • heartless December 1, 2020 (1:09 pm)

          Peter: Perhaps you misread my message, or I worded it poorly.

          I am simply agreeing with Cam that many of the most ardent advocates of illicitly using the low bridge normally populate the comment section with pro law-and-order rhetoric.  That’s all.

      • Mike December 1, 2020 (3:15 pm)

        Heartless:  how do you know the sensibilities and political views of the lower bridge cheaters?  Do you have a crystal ball, or are you lazily choosing to ascribe to those you dislike additional negative characteristics? I personally don’t care if people want to take their chances on the lower bridge, I’m sure the cops there issue plenty of tickets and a few escape detection. I’ll bet the “ cheaters” represent many different demographics, not just those I disagree with?

        • heartless December 1, 2020 (4:09 pm)

          Mike: I’ve been reading these comment sections for years; after awhile you recognize the names.

          As for ascribing negative characteristics, I find it amusing that you think pro law and order is somehow more of a negative than happily using the low bridge when you’ve been asked not to (and for a very good reason, at that).

            As for your final point:

          “I’ll bet the “ cheaters” represent many different demographics, not just those I disagree with?”

          The thing is, what I disagree with is the cheating itself, so by their actions I de facto disagree with them.  (The double-standards that many embrace is just the cherry on top.)

          You’ve made it quite clear that you don’t disagree with the cheating, so, uh, good for you, I guess.  

  • Smittytheclown December 1, 2020 (5:49 am)

    I still have not seen a good answer for emergency vehicles not using the upper bridge.  Station people 24/7 at either side to open/close entry.  It would save lives. 

    • Derek December 1, 2020 (1:12 pm)

      Upper bridge is broken…(???)

      • smittytheclown December 1, 2020 (1:51 pm)

        Not for work vehicles.  I see several of them up there every day.  I can’t imagine that it is one ambulance away from collapse, but maybe?  

        • sam-c December 1, 2020 (2:47 pm)

          I think it would be very expensive to have someone stationed at the bridge entries/ ramps to open the gates/ barriers, etc.  Especially when emergencies aren’t planned, like the schedule of the work vehicles arriving and leaving at the start/ end of the work day.  I imagine the emergency personnel/ fire fighters could open the gates, but don’t they have enough on their plates in an emergency ?

          • sam-c December 1, 2020 (4:03 pm)

            (the expense: a drop in the bucket compared to the overall bridge repair costs, obviously, but would that really be where you want your tax dollars to go? 4-5 people to stand around all day, waiting for those 1-2 opportunities per day to open the gate….or divert police officers from other things to escort ambulances through the barricade?)

        • Rumbles December 1, 2020 (3:16 pm)

          In addition to the problem of opening and closing the barricades at either end, you then have the liability of a civilian using a bridge that has been closed.  The workers on the bridge are likely covered under a different classification of liability and/or insurance.  

          • CAM December 1, 2020 (5:02 pm)

            For all the screaming about people wanting the bridge fixed “NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” there seems to be a lot of repeated conversation about wanting to leave traffic lanes open and passable on that same bridge for emergency vehicles 24/7/365 (and inaccessible to any kind of construction work) so that they don’t have to deal with any kind of inconvenience. It’s almost like people can’t think through the consequences of their own actions. 

          • alki_2008 December 2, 2020 (12:52 am)

            @CAM – What construction?  The repairs aren’t going to start until next year. The stabilization doesn’t require all the lanes all the time.

  • flimflam December 1, 2020 (7:18 am)

    seems like a pretty simple deadline to make – they’ve said Dec 1st for ages now.

  • sgs December 1, 2020 (9:59 am)

    I agree – it’s dumbfounding why some things, like installing cameras, takes so long.  It will fix the problem of people using the bridge when a city policy decided they shouldn’t; I’m not obsessing over the issue, but I find the “risk vs reward” philosophy disconcerting.  Seems we have abandoned our responsibility to live in a community and simply decided to look after ourselves first and foremost.   

  • David December 1, 2020 (10:11 am)

    There have been a lot of comments about ambulances not being able to cross the low bridge if regular passenger cars are using it. I am having a hard time accepting that premise as a reason to close the bridge. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles already have a means to take priority over the roadway. There is plenty of room on the lower bridge for emergency vehicles when every other vehicle moves to the right. By restricting traffic on the low bridge, it causes traffic to back up onto roads where there is not space for regular cars to move aside to allow an ambulance to pass (particularly that stretch underneath the high bridge heading east). There may be reasons to close the low bridge but I don’t buy that ambulance traffic is one of them. If it were then it should be closed to all traffic.

    A reason to close the bridge that does make sense to me is shipping traffic. This is a port city and West Seattleites share the northeast part of the peninsula with the port. When there is a ship in and trucks need to transfer containers they should–as they do–have priority on the low bridge. At any other time, all citizens should have access to the low bridge. I will also say that the fact that trucks have unfettered access to the lower bridge, and completely occupy all of the road space when a ship is in, makes the ambulance argument seem all the more specious and flawed.

    Perhaps there is an argument to be made that the lower bridge should be restricted somehow during rush hours but to close it from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. seems excessive and arbitrary. 

    • alki_2008 December 2, 2020 (12:58 am)

      Yes. The ambulance access is also called into question when motorcycles and scooters are restricted from the bridge. Those transportation types can easily move aside for an emergency vehicle.

      Not to mention that the detour routes are more dangerous for those two-wheeled options, especially scooters (like Vespa’s, not rideshare scooters), than the shorter and lower traffic speed low bridge route. Especially scooters, which were not allowed on the high bridge even when it was open and are not allowed on the 99/509 detour routes because they are not allowed on ‘highways’ or ‘freeways’ due to being slower.

    • Alki December 3, 2020 (10:26 am)

      Emergency services don’t use or need the lower bridge.. it’s a falicy that was already brought up to the councillors. All emergency services are already on the west side of the bridge and don’t need to cross it. Hospital services are in west seattle also although if harbor view is required that means a crossing is necessary.. the numbers when asked for were unavailable.

      • WSB December 3, 2020 (10:53 am)

        That is COMPLETELY false and whoever you picked that up from is thoroughly misinformed. If there is a major emergency callout – suspected building fire, for example, or water rescue, among others – there are multiple units that come from the other side of the bay. SFD added one ladder truck to WS and one medic unit to SP so that MORE emergencies could be handled without a cross-bay response, but by absolutely no means all. Also there are NO “hospital services” in West Seattle. Anyone who has to be taken to a hospital, not just HMC, goes outside WS – TR

  • cjboffoli December 1, 2020 (10:23 am)

    Not all of the selfish cheaters are taking the low bridge. It never fails that when I’m sitting in a half-mile of bumper to bumper traffic, waiting patiently in that right lane on Highland Park Way SW to access 509 and the 1st Avenue bridge, I see an endless stream of VIPs who bypass everyone to go right up to the front of the line and cut in at the last moment.  The sense of entitlement seems to have no limits.

  • JAT December 1, 2020 (12:09 pm)

    I’m trying to understand the mental processes of those who pass by  the Bridge Closed signs.  I’ve read the risk/reward analysis, I’ve seen the  questioning of how these rules were arrived and at and how offensive the virtue-signalling of those who object to the regular drivers who continue to use the bridge is, but that’s just kind of noise.

    What are those happily driving in lanes clearly marked Bus Only thinking as they line up next to others who are going to follow the marked detour the long way around thinking?

    Suckers and Losers.

  • WSres December 1, 2020 (12:26 pm)

    I agree to change/update the times.  6am-8pm & Holidays for sure.   Weekend hours could be changed too.  I work south- so taking WM is normal for me- however, the length of time has considerably been extended due to the traffic.  I would love the opportunity to take the low bridge during the weekends/Holidays w/o being ticketed.   I wish that would be taken into consideration.  As for people monitoring and shaking their fingers- give me a break.  Do you not have any other things to worry about- then focusing on other peoples mistakes?  Stay in your own lane.

  • namercury December 1, 2020 (5:13 pm)

    Does Lisa Herbold and other high ranking officials have special dispensation to use the low bridge?  Or do they have the same limitation of the rest of us peasants?  

    • WSB December 1, 2020 (5:29 pm)

      Same limitation. Asked that a long time ago. (The city is still mostly WFH anyway, FWIW.)

  • LuLuBelle December 1, 2020 (5:30 pm)

    WSRES. AMEN. I’m betting that the complainers “forget” they change lanes or turn without using their turn signals; follow too close; don’t yield right of way; talk on their cell phones.  Not excusing any body’s actions behind the wheel but am ALWAYS amazed at the # of bad drivers that hold halo’s over their head!!

  • AB84 December 1, 2020 (6:40 pm)

    For all the people whining about how come they don’t get to use the Low Bridge. I have some questions for you.1 Did you use the Low Bridge before the upper bridge was shut down? 2 Did you use the low bridge to access Harbor Island? 3 do you have any business being down in that area?if you can’t answer yes to at least one of these questions then I really don’t want to hear why you think you deserve to use it.The lower Spokane Street bridge was built to connect West Seattle to Harbor Island…… if anybody should have priority over that bridge that drives a passenger car it should be the people who always used it. it should be the people going to Harbor Island and it should be the people that have business being down in that area. Bottom line I shouldn’t be getting threatened with tickets simply because I’m trying to access my job location. But thanks to all the people that got it taken away from Harbor Island workers. thanks to all the people who use it that have no business being down in that area. Thanks I’ll see you in traffic 👌

    • alki_2008 December 2, 2020 (1:05 am)

      #1 – Yes.  Riding a scooter (Vespa) to get into SODO and downtown was not an option on the high bridge. Speeds were too fast on the high bridge for scooters. The low bridge was normal route.

  • Jeff Wilson Jr December 1, 2020 (9:43 pm)

    Here’s an idea. Why not open the lower bridge for traffic leaving WS in the am (one lane only) and for traffic coming back in the pm (one lane only). This allows emergency vehicles to pass if needed as they will be able to drive in the unoccupied lane.Problem 1/2 solved. Your welcome. 

  • patrick December 2, 2020 (8:11 am)

    As I have not followed the photo enforcement aspect of this traffic situation, I am not familiar with how it is determined when a citation is issued.  If I remember correctly, certain ‘essential’ workers are allowed access to the bridge at all times.  So, my question is, how does a camera know whether an individual inside a car is/is not one of these workers?

  • Kalo December 2, 2020 (4:07 pm)

    I’ve lived in WS all of my life, and this is the first photo I’ve seen showing both high and low bridges and how they are both the same! (Except, of course, for the height differences)

Sorry, comment time is over.