Checking on the West Seattle Bridge, on 4th anniversary of sudden shutdown

(West Seattle Bridge cracks in March 2020, from

This is a notable date in West Seattle history: Four years ago today, just before 3 pm on March 23, 2020, the city announced it would shut down the high-rise West Seattle Bridge indefinitely because of safety concerns, and did so a few hours later. (Here’s our as-it-happened report on the announcement.) The bridge didn’t reopen until two and a half years later, on September 17, 2022; a pivotal moment along the way was on November 19, 2020, when then-Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the bridge would be repaired, not replaced.

Looking ahead to today’s anniversary, we asked SDOT a few questions. When was the bridge last inspected? It got an in-person inspection back in January, responded SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson, and inspectors found “no notable new developments.” And it remains under continuous electronic monitoring, he adds: “There have not been any new developments since we published our one-year monitoring report this past September saying that the West Seattle Bridge remains safe and strong. The bridge is continuously monitored by an extensive and sophisticated structural-health monitoring system which allows us to detect subtle movements or any growth of existing cracks. This monitoring system runs 24/7 and automatically alerts engineers immediately of any issues that would require further inspection.” (You can read the September update here; it in turn links to this 10-page report.)

Next up, as we first reported earlier this week, is a big project for the bridge’s eastern half, the Spokane Street Viaduct, a separate structure that was not involved in the 2020-2022 closure: Resurfacing its eastbound (corrected: south) side. Bergerson says, “Construction will likely begin this summer and occur over several weekends. Once we select a contractor, we will work with them to schedule the exact dates and notify the public beforehand.” Since the project just went out to bid, it’ll be at least May before that happens.

7 Replies to "Checking on the West Seattle Bridge, on 4th anniversary of sudden shutdown"

  • BillonAlki March 23, 2024 (2:29 pm)

    The Spokane Street Viaduct had many, many potholes even before 2020. Why was it not resurfaced during the shutdown of over two years of the WS bridge?   It would have been a perfect time to employ a lot of folks and keep people busy outside and safe from Covid.  

    • Jradz March 25, 2024 (8:10 am)

      Ummm… because it was the only way for emergency vehicles to reach the west side… Otherwise trips to hospital would have taken 45 min to an hour, rather than 15-20 minutes… At least that was the reason presented to us at the time… 

  • David Feinberg March 23, 2024 (3:18 pm)

    Hmmm …. I think the eastbound portion of the Spokane Street Viaduct is the south side. 

    • WSB March 23, 2024 (3:53 pm)

      I’m sorry, I seem to have a chronic problem with that. Fixing.

      • Ryan March 23, 2024 (6:22 pm)

        WSB should add a comment upvote feature to thank you for these moments 

  • K March 23, 2024 (9:07 pm)

    Man, that comment section from the original closure is such a time capsule.

    • Froggy8 March 24, 2024 (9:06 am)

      Fun reading/passing time while standing in line (for another hour) for some fabulous donuts.

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