LOW BRIDGE: Access applications now open for more driver categories

(View of low bridge from SDOT camera, 11:29 am today)

SDOT has opened applications for more categories of new low-bridge access authorization. They were all announced earlier this month; applications first opened for one added category, people undergoing life-saving medical treatments, and SDOT had already approved 27 as of a week ago. The new applications are for less-urgent categories, so applications received by May 15th will be reviewed for potential authorization starting June 1st. From the SDOT announcement:

The following user groups can now apply for access to drive on the low bridge:

*On-call medical workers (only for traveling to and from an on-call work shift; employer verification required)

*West Seattle-based restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies)

*Rideshare vehicles (vans, shuttles or official carpools with a state-issued rideshare license plate. This does not include Uber and Lyft)

And as already announced:

*People traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider required) via West Seattle; includes driving to treatments via the Fauntleroy Ferry.

The application is available here, in these languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Somali, Chinese (Traditional), Vietnamese, Oromo, and Khmer. Questions/problems? Call 206-400-7511 or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov. SDOT also notes, “Access does not begin immediately after receiving confirmation because license-plate information must be processed into the photo enforcement system.”

26 Replies to "LOW BRIDGE: Access applications now open for more driver categories"

  • Flivver April 28, 2021 (12:37 pm)

    Glad a few more people are allowed. But am amazed at how empty the bridge is when i look at the camera. More people really could use it without blocking emergency vehicles. Reality is SDOT will never let that happen.

    • WSB April 28, 2021 (1:50 pm)

      Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the last three times I’ve tuned in to get screengrabs for stories, it’s looked like this. But not around the clock – for example, a little over a week ago, police had to block busy bridge-bound traffic after the 9 pm restriction lift so the medic unit with a shooting victim could have a clear path.

      • chemist April 28, 2021 (4:04 pm)

        They made a decision to control eastbound traffic for EMS transport to the hospital, but I’ve not yet seen any data from SDOT showing clogs during the unrestricted usage times.  The whole 8-9PM hour was like 25% of the 300/hr red line for impeded in the data Marx showed on March 10th, but SDOT didn’t graph the 9PM-5AM hrs on usage.  https://youtu.be/PXt27ebyJ20?t=3915  There is an earlier slide from when they didn’t photo-enforce the bridge, but it still didn’t exceed capacity Eastbound at that time.  https://youtu.be/c_2hwbk_sZg?t=3809 The police probably blocked eastbound Saturday 9PM traffic based on a reasonable request considering a gun shot wound to the neck being what was known, but there’s no expectation of hindered EMS response at that time in the absence of blocking, at least from any data SDOT has shared.

      • Matt P April 28, 2021 (6:09 pm)

        My wife has tried using the low bridge on the way back from work on the East side after 9 pm and between 9 and 10 is gets really heavy so that it’s quicker for her to just go the detour route to get back to our place near Morgan Junction.

    • Brian April 28, 2021 (8:26 pm)

      It’s not just about traffic congestion. There’s also a legitimate concern that too much traffic overall on this bridge will degrade it much like the WSB. Sometimes actions have an effect in aggregate and axle weight is definitely one of those things.

  • Flivver April 28, 2021 (1:56 pm)

    I agree it can’t be open to all full time. At commute time it would be a clogged up mess. However, there could(and should) be more hours it IS open to all. The impression is left that SDOT is unwilling to look at actual traffic counts/patterns to accommodate more open hours.

  • West Seattle Hipster April 28, 2021 (2:05 pm)

    Is there data available to show how much money has been generated by unauthorized drivers using the bridge?

  • ThanksSDOT April 28, 2021 (2:53 pm)

     A doctors note to use a bridge. Pathetic. Can we fire every single person in Seattle leadership yet?

    • bill April 28, 2021 (3:27 pm)

      Go ahead, fire them. How do you feel about the bridge being gridlocked 18 hours a day? 

      • ThanksSDOT April 28, 2021 (4:58 pm)

        It already is gridlocked 18 hours a day to leave WS. I would feel better with new leadership that was capable and responsible enough to do the maintenance required to keep it open in the first place. But that is just me. I value a strong work ethic and think folks should do a good job. I recognize I am in the minority in Seattle. Most think making excuses for failure is a job well done. I hear you. 

        • Lamont April 28, 2021 (6:33 pm)

          The bridge isn’t cracking due to lack of maintenance.  The bridge is cracking due to a design flaw that engineers didn’t understand until after the bridge cracked.  The engineer who did the assessment of the bridge in 2013 after the cracks were discovered now wishes that he’d pushed for re-tightening the mainspan with new steel, but it is a “hindsight is 20/20” problem.  If the engineer that looked at it didn’t know that, though, the politicians certainly aren’t experts in how 30 year old concrete cracks.

          And if you have a heart attack during more or less working hours, you’ll be wanting the lower span free of traffic.

          • Stranded April 28, 2021 (9:09 pm)

            It didn’t help City allowed heavy semis and buses over the weight tolerance plus they never tightened tension bars.  I won’t be surprised if they ever repair it that’ll still be used for freight, transit and emergency use only and maybe just maybe an all access from midnight to 5 am.  And the Michigan bridge, lift it up on rush hour so a sail boat can get through. 

          • JAG April 29, 2021 (10:07 am)

            Maybe the politicians aren’t experts in design and cracks but they sure are in hiding it from the public for years. A reasonable person would conclude that if something is cracking they should start getting a plan together for repair prior to it becoming a huge safety issue.

        • Jort April 29, 2021 (1:44 pm)

          Just as an FYI to perhaps help you process some of your frustrations: there is nothing, ever, that will “solve” the congestion and traffic problems that you’re speaking of. The issue with traffic, of which you, presumably as a driver, are a part, is that you are the traffic. The only way to reduce “traffic congestion” is to reduce the number of cars driving. That means you stop driving. Nobody wants to hear that, but it’s the truth, and there is nothing on this planet, past present or future, that is going to change that flat fact.

    • AMC April 28, 2021 (9:17 pm)

      You might feel differently if that “doctors note” was so you could get more quickly to radiation treatments when you are dying from pancreatic cancer and trying to just add a couple more months to your life so you can be with your small kids. But you don’t need to worry about that with your strong work ethic.

      • Dani April 30, 2021 (2:12 am)

        AMC, I’m so sorry you have to go through this. There really aren’t even words. Everything I could say would fall short. Cancer took my best friend and the love of my life three months ago. I live close to the Junction. If there’s anything I can do for you, or any way I can help, please reach out & I’ll get you my contact info. And if you already have a solid support group and are well provided for, don’t even worry for a second about responding to this. A year ago, my husband put up a note that reads “You’re not average. You’re not a statistic. Get up. Keep moving. You’re still here.” I keep it taped to our front door now. You’re in my thoughts. 

  • Mel April 28, 2021 (4:59 pm)

    To the people wanting it open to more people, I get it, it’s annoying. I don’t like going around (as someone who lives in the admiral district, it takes forever). That being said, I also want it open in the event I ever need emergency medical transport. I’ve seen the line backed all the way up admiral and those are just people trying to go w marginal. If it were open more hours/ to more people that would make the backup even worse. I’m glad they’re allowing people seeking medical treatments the ability to use it, but I think the rest of us just need to suck it up.

  • Ulrike Langer April 28, 2021 (6:42 pm)

    @Mel We live in Alki. It takes forever from here too and I 100% agree with you. We need to suck it up until it’s over.

  • Pregnant April 28, 2021 (9:18 pm)

    Is heading to the hospital in labor considered a life saving medical treatment? Genuinely curious. Pretty freaked out about being pregnant on the north end of west Seattle. I know I can call 911 but I’d rather my husband drive me. 

    • WSB April 28, 2021 (9:48 pm)

      That’s been asked at numerous meetings. Ultimately it would be up to a Municipal Court judge to decide whether to waive the citation. SDOT’s informal answer was, in case of an emergency, “For Pete’s sake, use the low bridge.”

      P.S. Wishing you a safe and happy delivery!

    • Vic April 29, 2021 (5:23 am)

      If it were an actual emergency I’m sure you could get it waived (or just pay the fine). But in my experience, labor doesn’t always happen so quickly. Many people spend hours of early labor at home waiting until it’s time to go in. Good luck!

  • Dani April 28, 2021 (10:38 pm)

    This news still makes me so angry. I wish the council in charge of the West Seattle Bridge had opened transport to people receiving life-saving care months ago. West Seattle restaurants & businesses making urgent supply runs qualified before patients receiving life-saving medical care. HOW does that makes sense to put commerce before life-saving care? My husband languished in the car on the way to chemo treatment in SLU. He had terrible carsickness, he’d pass out from lightheadedness, and it tore me apart to watch my best friend suffer additional pain unnecessarily because we couldn’t use the quicker route via the low bridge. Sometimes we’d get stuck at the intersection of Marginal and Highland for 45 minutes in bad traffic. I pleaded with a representative I spoke with back in November to make an exception. I was told I couldn’t speak with anyone on the council- or know their names, or even know with any certainty that our situation would be discussed during the next meeting. The whole conversation was frustratingly vague.  Five months later, I received a call informing me we qualified to use the low bridge for life-saving medical care. Three months after the love of my life died in my arms at UWMC. I explained in the few words I could muster that it was too late, and was given a mumbled apology and a promise to receive no further calls.The best I can hope for is that this change will help alleviate the suffering of some other family experiencing the unthinkable. But it’ll take me a long time, if ever, to get past the council’s much delayed decision to include access to the low bridge for people receiving life-saving care. 

    • Sunflower April 29, 2021 (6:11 am)

      I am so sorry you went through this experience and for your loss. Your story has me in tears. I hope some positive changes may come from your sharing. 🙏

    • Christine Vicino April 29, 2021 (9:44 am)

      I am so sad to hear this happened to you and your husband.  Sorry for your loss.

  • wetone April 30, 2021 (11:01 am)

    What I find so interesting is no talks about how vehicles will even access the high-rise or swing bridge from I-5 or getting to I-5 these days as basically Port of Seattle has been given priority over all. The exit from I-5 is backed up onto I-5 almost daily now and WILL get worse as T5 opens. Another example of extremely poor planning  by City and Port leaders when they pushed this plan years ago…… saying how area would not be impacted….. The weight and numbers of trucks using this section of roadway is/has done extreme damage to surface and structures of area. It sure seems City and SDOT are doing very little  these days maintaining things, maybe they think this might help with vote coming up;)  By the way swing bridge is wide enough for a third vehicle to squeeze through in emergency situations if 2 go to curb side. Doubt me ? go measure ;)    

  • alki_2008 May 2, 2021 (11:36 pm)

    Meanwhile, vehicles classified as “mopeds” per the RCW are not allowed on the low bridge – and have to take the more dangerous routes to just get to SODO.  Mopeds are not allowed on the 1st Ave bridge and the low bridge (not the high bridge) was the usual route out of West Seattle. A moped that’s less than 2 ft wide is not going to impede emergency vehicles.

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