SDOT is finally commenting on what’s wrong with the West Seattle low bridge (Spokane Street Swing Bridge), four days after it was closed. According to SDOT, the bridge won’t reopen for at least two weeks because crews need “to repair mechanical issues that intensified after a power outage during the ice storm on December 23.” They’re still working on a “repair plan and schedule.” Here’s their explanation of what’s wrong:
The problem initially appeared to be associated with a computer issue that occurred while the bridge was powering back up after a power outage. Once the computer issue was resolved, engineers found previously identified minor issues with the hydraulic system that moves the bridge had intensified.
SDOT completes regular inspections of the Low Bridge and had existing plans to repair these aging components in 2023. However, after the power outage, it was discovered that previously manageable small-scale issues had escalated into more severe problems. Until these components are fixed, the bridge cannot be reliably moved without risking more severe long-term damage.
SDOT engineers are working as quickly as possible to analyze repair options. While there is not yet an estimate for how long bridge repair will take, SDOT expects the closure to last for at least two weeks.
Based on the evaluation results, additional Low Bridge closures for repairs may be needed in 2023, along with closures associated with planned capital improvements to the bridge next year.
In the meantime, the low bridge is being kept open for maritime traffic, but closed to vehicle, bicycle, and foot traffic. The bridge is 30 years old.