FOLLOWUP: Here’s the latest on West Seattle low-bridge repairs/maintenance

(SDOT photo, January)

Four months have passed since a leaky cylinder was removed from the West Seattle low bridge (officially known as the Spokane Street Swing Bridge). Soon after that, the bridge reopened to surface traffic after a three-week closure. But the bridge has been running without that cylinder ever since, and that means it takes longer to open and close for maritime traffic; a post-reopening briefing noted that other cylinders would be removed for refurbishment one at a time. So what’s happened since then? We asked SDOT, whose spokesperson Ethan Bergerson replied:

We’re continuing to work on overhauling the damaged cylinder that was removed in January. This involves dismantling the cylinder and conducting a forensic evaluation of each of the parts to determine if there are any modifications that we can consider to improve the life of the cylinder. It will likely be a few months before we complete this overhaul and reinstall this cylinder. When we reinstall the repaired cylinder, we will also remove a cylinder which is currently in service so that we can complete an overhaul of that one as well.

Over the next five days, some other work is planned that will affect maritime traffic (but not vehicles/pedestrians/bicyclists) – here’s the SDOT advisory on that:

Between 1 AM Saturday, May 13 and 1 AM Wednesday, May 17, maritime vessels will have limited access under the Spokane St Swing Bridge to navigate the Duwamish Waterway. We do not expect impacts to people driving, walking, or biking.

During this time, only the east span (side) of the bridge will swing open and closed for maritime vessels on the Duwamish Waterway. We’ve been communicating with the U.S. Coast Guard about this work, which will limit when some larger vessels can pass through.

This work is necessary for us to perform service and inspection on one of the bridge’s hydraulic pumps. The bridge has three hydraulic pump units at each pier to push hydraulic fluid to the bridge’s cylinders, allowing the cylinders to lift and swing the bridge open and closed.

We’re completing maintenance on all the hydraulic pump units for both piers in 2023. We’re starting with the west side of the bridge and will return later in 2023 to work on the east side.

This city webpage chronicles the ongoing work.

2 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Here's the latest on West Seattle low-bridge repairs/maintenance"

  • Spencer May 12, 2023 (11:49 am)

    Love to hear it. I’m still just peached at how well this situation was handled earlier this year. Props on SDOT when they deserve it. :)

    • bolo May 12, 2023 (2:42 pm)

      Yes, looks like they have it figured out pretty well.

      The bridge seems to be operating smoothly on just the one (out of normally two?) cylinders. In fact, it appears to close up the last 3-4 feet noticeably more smoothly than it did in the past. At least to my perception, as a cyclist often stopped at the edge, waiting on the bridge to finish its swing open and closed.

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