WEST SEATTLE LOW BRIDGE: Big rise in camera citations

(Low bridge as seen from SDOT camera, 5:17 pm today)

With the West Seattle Bridge briefing this week including low-bridge access updates, we – and some WSB readers – wondered about a stat that wasn’t part of the latest briefing: How many drivers are getting ticketed for using the low bridge without authorization during the restricted hours (all times except 9 pm-5 am Sunday night/Monday morning through Thursday night/Friday morning, 9 pm-8 am Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning)? That information is kept by Seattle Police, not SDOT, so that’s where we went with the request. Here are the numbers we received from SPD today. Note the big jump in June:

EB SW Spokane St

February = 4,965
March = 4,790
April = 7,730
May = 5,472
June = 8,731

WB SW Spokane St

February = 7,849
March = 7,457
April = 10,454
May = 10,472
June = 14,643

SPD confirms those are the actual $75 citations, not warnings – SDOT has said that first-time violators get warnings. Note that there’s no breakout of how many unique license-plate numbers are involved, nor how many of those citations have been paid. The most recent public briefing on low-bridge stats was during the May meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force (WSB coverage here), at which time SDOT said the daily number of citations was roughly equal to the daily number of first-time violators getting warnings. Whatever penalties are paid, there are administrative costs for Verra Mobilityformerly American Traffic Solutions – to run the cameras, and a cut goes to the state, as explained last year when we reported on the city ordinance authorizing the cameras:

After paying for administrative costs, half of the remaining funds are to be remitted to the state’s Cooper Jones active transportation safety account, which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. The remaining half of the funds may only be used for transportation improvements that support equitable access and mobility for persons with disabilities.

58 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LOW BRIDGE: Big rise in camera citations"

  • That Annoying Person July 16, 2021 (5:40 pm)

    Sorry to say everybody, but I’m one of those people who go over the low bridge and always cut the line. I have gotten 23 warnings. Not one ticket. My last warning was a week ago. That’s why people keep doing it.

    • Joe July 16, 2021 (6:22 pm)

      WSB I hope you look into this for us. Thx

      • WSB July 16, 2021 (10:01 pm)

        If that person will send us their plate # (which I would of course not publish), we can certainly inquire.

    • That Scrupulous Person July 16, 2021 (6:33 pm)

      Oh hey! I think you passed me at the light the other day. The stench of your insolence lingered a while. Quite pungent.. Stings the nostrils..

    • Eddie July 16, 2021 (7:15 pm)

      22 x 75 is $1650. Just make the check out to City of Seattle, and we won’t charge you any additional interest. Nothing to be proud of.

    • Auntie July 16, 2021 (7:25 pm)

      :-{Really creepy and entitled.

    • Peter July 16, 2021 (7:52 pm)

      Bragging about being a scumbag is a sign of a true sociopath. 

    • Joe Z July 16, 2021 (9:55 pm)

      This person is either lying or there is an administrative error. You only get one warning. 

    • Rolling my eyes July 17, 2021 (9:04 pm)

      It’s a troll you goofballs

  • Chuck Jacobs July 16, 2021 (5:46 pm)

    Remember,  you don’t have to pay the fine if you weren’t driving the car.

    • Peter July 16, 2021 (7:55 pm)

      Which is why the law needs to changes so the fees are assessed on the owner of the vehicle. As far as I’m concerned, owners are 100% responsible for the use of their vehicles whether they were driving or not. 

      • Roms July 16, 2021 (8:37 pm)

        Rental cars anyone?

        • Jort July 17, 2021 (1:58 am)

          Rental cars are very familiar with assessing tolls on renters. It’s not complicated. 

  • dzag July 16, 2021 (5:58 pm)

    Its too bad they can’t create more of a fundraiser out of the small bridge $75×14643 = almost 1.1 million. This could go towards the cost of maintaining and repairing the new bridge.

    • PC July 24, 2021 (12:32 pm)

      Exactly!!! Put the money towards repairing the bridge!!! 

  • Joe July 16, 2021 (6:19 pm)

    The fine should increase by ~25% after every ticket an individual gets.  If people are willing to pay to cut the line, really make them pay and fund worthy programs with the proceeds.  We clearly have rich neighbors who are paying thousands each month to use the lower bridge.  It’s not enough. They can and should pay more.

  • 🤦‍♂️ July 16, 2021 (6:29 pm)

    These fines should be higher or non negotiable. There are way too many so people aren’t paying them or aren’t worried about the amount.

  • Auntie July 16, 2021 (6:46 pm)

    Isn’t it nice that these bridge scofflaws are so civic-minded that they are supporting state and local programs! (which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. The remaining half of the funds may only be used for transportation improvements that support equitable access and mobility for persons with disabilities.)

  • madeline hoover July 16, 2021 (6:49 pm)

    The night-time hours listed are not the restricted hours.   Restricted hours are during the day.

    • WSB July 16, 2021 (7:36 pm)

      Thank you, sorry, I listed the UNrestricted hours; what a difference two letters can make. Fixing.

  • Eddie July 16, 2021 (7:10 pm)

    This bold faced level of scofflaw-ism makes me sad.  Don’t like the rules, get them changed, don’t just ignore them and flaunt it.

    • Jason July 17, 2021 (12:54 am)

      *taps head*Can’t change the rules if the city doesn’t listen ;-)

    • Smittytheclown July 17, 2021 (10:08 am)

      Seriously?  The last entire year has been spent by people protesting rules and regulations and funding they don’t like. Masks.  Police.  Insurrections.   Midnight protests at people homes.  Elections.  Just add this to the list.  

  • Arby July 16, 2021 (7:26 pm)

    I can’t blame people for doing it. People are sick of sitting in traffic and don’t care about a ticket. I haven’t done it. But I get it. Just hope those who need to get to the hospital are getting there quick. Put that money towards the bridge expense. 

  • flimflam July 16, 2021 (7:34 pm)

    That’s a strange breakdown on how funds from tickets are to be used…

  • Lara July 16, 2021 (7:50 pm)

    Franky, I’m totally fine with folks cutting the line and taking the lower bridge. We all know this is a huge problem. If some folks are willing to pay for a ticket to help ease some of the volume, great!

  • HarborIslandWorker July 16, 2021 (7:56 pm)

    Yes that is a strange breakdown of how the funds are being used. The Low Bridge restrictions are technically because the west Seattle Bridge is shut down. And unlike most of West Seattle the Low Bridge restrictions have displaced certain members of West Seattle particularly west Seattle resident who work on Harbor Island and parts of Sodo. I feel like the funds should go to those particular areas seeing how we were the ones that used the low bridge but can’t anymore. Or funding for the west Seattle Bridge if it’s absolutely necessary to complete the project. Just my opinion but what do I know?

  • That Annoying Person is an AH July 16, 2021 (8:27 pm)

    The POS “annoying person” is why I go to great lengths to never let anyone in in front of me when queuing up to get in and out of here. Sure, go take on the city and use the low bridge when you are not supposed to but you will not get in line in front of me. 

  • Orb July 16, 2021 (8:51 pm)

    All the fine money us going toward paying for the bridge repair, right?

  • Authorized July 16, 2021 (9:27 pm)

    I wonder how many of the citations are legit? I have the authorization to use the lower bridge and have received warning and citations. Then have to print and mail a copy of their e-mail authorizing me to use the bridge. Wasted time, wasted stamps, wasted paper! 

    • 🤦‍♂️ July 16, 2021 (10:13 pm)

      I was wondering if this was going on. I was willing to bet it was. Thanks for your comment.

    • HarborIslandWorker July 16, 2021 (10:32 pm)

      Authorized…… well it’s not for committing purposes which is most likely what you’re doing. They are bound to notice when someone uses it at the same time every day Or goes over their allotted limits. 

      • Authorized July 17, 2021 (11:27 pm)

        I have authorization for month of July and now August and have used the lower bridge three times one way and received warning and citation for two of the three trips.It’s obvious the system is faulty so I no longer use it. I prefer taking the long way 

  • John July 16, 2021 (9:39 pm)

    Open the lower bridge to everyone and stop punishing people for trying to get out of West Seattle.

    • Reed July 17, 2021 (9:14 am)

      It is open to everyone willing to walk, ride the bus, or ride a bike.

    • Jort July 17, 2021 (9:48 am)

      Nope! You’ll be stuck in traffic and if you don’t like it, take the bus or ride a bike. There are no shortcuts. Get back in line.

      • Derek July 20, 2021 (9:30 am)

        And what about disabled people Jort? 

  • Sherri July 16, 2021 (10:07 pm)

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that they are able to quickly install cameras to fine people, but are unable to identify the problem with the bridge and fix it within a reasonable timeframe? What is the hold up?! 

  • psps July 16, 2021 (10:25 pm)

    I have to take the low bridge to provide service to my clients.  It’s my livelihood.  The nature of my work allows me to usually take the low bridge during non-restricted hours. But, when that’s not an option, I treat it as a toll bridge and I add the fine to my invoice. My clients are happy to pay it. They know how Seattle works and, like many aspects of Seattle, it’s just the cost of doing business.

    The Verra Mobility/ATS outfit in Arizona that runs the cameras gets half as their vigorish so they’re living quite high on the hog. Preying on captives is a big and lucrative business!

    • Auntie July 17, 2021 (9:37 pm)

      I wonder what you do that is so vital, besides the fact that is the way you make your living – like every other working person on the peninsula. And why your clients would foot the bill for a $75 fine when you could just go to the 1st Ave S Bridge and take a little bit longer. Guess you and your clients are all very special and have money to burn.

    • Jerry Stein July 21, 2021 (11:32 am)

      Verra Mobility does not get half the revenue. The City pays a flat lease amount per camera. State law prohibits tying traffic camera vendor payments to ticket volume.

  • Darin206 July 16, 2021 (10:33 pm)

    This whole bridge upper/lower fiasco is idiotic- I have zero issue with folks using lower bridge or jumping the lines. Dog Eat Dog…

  • Mj July 16, 2021 (10:35 pm)

    The capacity of the low level bridge is significantly greater than what SDOT is allowing.  A variable toll would have been a better with very high tolls during peak times and lower tolls during off peaks and on weekends.  I’ve seen little traffic using the bridge midday weekdays and especially on weekends.

    And it would have been nice to see the traffic fee money going towards say enhanced bus service to WS to provide alternative options for people.

  • zipda July 16, 2021 (11:34 pm)

    How bout just getting the nightmare bridge fixed once and for all.

    • Marcus July 17, 2021 (7:28 am)

      I know this 23 citation guy.  He is the same guy who tailgates, rolls through stop signs, passes by “shooting the gap”.  He is the guy that will stab you in the back at work and generally brag at every social function how wonderful he is and how many friends he has.  He is just being true to himself.

  • Boinsted July 17, 2021 (7:21 am)

    iPhone Maps used to route directions to avoid the bridge. A couple months back my entire family noticed that Maps would route you over the bridge at any time of day. We were aware that the rules hadn’t changed and continue to take West Marginal, but I hypothesize that others may just follow their GPS (Maps) without realizing they are committing an infraction. Heck, people have driven into bodies of water because their GPS told them to.  

  • iwyyzpcpbatssadfqi iwyyzpcpbatssadfqi July 17, 2021 (7:41 am)

    82,563 total citations for a total of $6,192,225, “which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. “And all we got out of it is a lousy 1/8 mile bike lane to replace an arterial lane and further restrict people’s ability to get to work.For how profitable for the city it is for the bridge to be down, I don’t think anyone should expect it to reopen.

    • Jort July 17, 2021 (1:01 pm)

      Thank you for doing the math. That’s a lot of revenue. I’m curious how much is actually paid. I’d hate to assume most people are committing perjury and LYING about driving their cars across the bridge because they’re sociopaths. 

    • bill July 18, 2021 (10:36 am)

      Actually we’re not getting a bike lane. Delaying it is the first step to killing it. That’s been Durkan’s process all along and unless the next mayor is an over the top bike fan I absolutely do not believe the lane will be built. Leadfoots rejoice, you can continue endangering the rest of us in the 1/8 mile speeding lane.

  • Smittytheclown July 17, 2021 (7:43 am)

    I’ve actually noticed some vehicles in that turn lane (heading east) that have no plates or a temporary paper one in their rear windows.  I wonder how many people just take their plates off or just put up a fake temporary in their window?

  • Essentail bridge access July 17, 2021 (2:00 pm)

    Do the Math- Retail businesses & restaurants were allotted 225 round trips max per day on the lower bridge, but each business is limited to 10 RT total per month (ave. 1RT every 3 days). So, SDOT could actually approve a total of 675 retail/restaurant businesses (225 x 3), but as of July 14th they have reported only granting 147 passes. So, potentially 528 more businesses should be able to get access permits, but SDOT is currently denying access for any retail business which does not have a “storefront”, despite SDOT’s own access policy which reads only, “All West Seattle restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick up equipment or supplies.”  The policy does not state the retail business must have a storefront. This denies most smaller blue collar mobile retail businesses critical access to the lower bridge when needed in their “essential” role. This is not equitable, as they are retail businesses also, according to the City of Seattle and WA state rules.

  • Sharon July 17, 2021 (4:28 pm)

    Why can’t we get cameras like this on 520 car pool lanes? You’d make a hell of a lot more money, as soon as traffic resumes to pre-levels.

  • 22blades July 17, 2021 (7:31 pm)

    Cameras are OK but I’d rather see the 5-way staffed with a Traffic Enforcement Officer. Blatant offenders like That Annoying Person should be unable to renew their Driver’s and/or Vehicle license. That’s not a careless act. That’s a willful act.

  • JNuevo July 18, 2021 (11:03 am)

    I would like to know how much this Verra Mobility – formerly American Traffic Solutions – get paid to run the cameras, and how much of a cut goes to the state? Where is the report made last year? This company is being over paid.

  • Matthieu Marescaux July 18, 2021 (9:57 pm)

    That’s is a about 80000 fines at $75 each that brings $6 Miillions, still a drop in the bucket for what it costs to repair but some money to fix it a I see ut

  • Crash July 19, 2021 (9:17 pm)

    More than a few times I have seen somebody drive east across the bridge and pull over at the bottom of the hill. The guy jumps out of his car, then removes the fake plate covering his license plate. Tosses it in the back seat and drives off- No fine.  Seems like a greater crime to falsify a plate!

  • anonyme July 20, 2021 (6:59 am)

    How pathetic that being a dishonest, lying, arrogant, entitled cheat has become something to brag about.

    • E Nigma July 21, 2021 (2:06 pm)

      Not everyone can afford a 75$ fine, regardless of your feelings. Being financially stable does’nt give you a moral highground- people gotta do what they gotta do to get by.

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