KIRO NIGHTS

Residents face ‘scary’ prospect of losing West Seattle Bridge for good

Apr 16, 2020, 12:32 PM
West Seattle Bridge...
The West Seattle Bridge. (SDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)
(SDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

With the Seattle Department of Transportation announcing Wednesday that there’s a chance the West Seattle Bridge might remain closed forever, many residents are worried about what that could mean for the neighborhood.

West Seattle Bridge will be closed through 2021, or forever

That includes Husky Deli owner Jack Miller, whose biggest concern is for commuters who — before the city started staying home during the coronavirus outbreak — used it every day to get to work.

“There’s such a huge number of people that work on the other side of the bridge,” Miller told KIRO Nights. “Every morning the bridge is packed, and I mean, we’d love them all to stay here and shop in our stores, but these people have to work.”

For many living in West Seattle, the bridge is a vital route in and out of the downtown area of the city.

Now, those drivers will all be funneled toward a handful of alternative routes into downtown Seattle, of which there are already precious few.

“There’s a huge concern with the traffic,” Miller noted.

Beyond that, there’s a good deal of fear around what it might mean for the neighborhood to not have the bridge at least until 2021, or possibly never again.

“It’s a scary thought that it could take two years to fix this, or you can’t even fix it,” he opined. “It’s become such a lifeline to West Seattle.”

SDOT has been monitoring cracks on the bridge since 2013. It has accelerated exponentially in 2020. New cracking was discovered on the bridge on March 23, which SDOT said confirmed that growth had quickly increased over the previous two weeks. The bridge was closed to traffic that night.

All Over The Map: Twisted tales of the West Seattle Bridge

The rate of cracking slowed once traffic was removed, but has not stopped entirely. Crews have been inspecting the bridge daily since the closure, said SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe.

SDOT says the next steps are to continue to assess repair feasibility, a timeline, and costs. If repair is feasible, SDOT said it could provide up to 10 years of additional use. Even so, the bridge was originally designed to last 75 years when it first opened in 1984.

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Residents face ‘scary’ prospect of losing West Seattle Bridge for good