West Seattle Bridge problems have city planning for chance of lower bridge evacuation

Apr 21, 2020, 6:38 AM | Updated: 10:45 am
West Seattle Bridge...
West Seattle Bridge. (Seattle DOT flickr)
(Seattle DOT flickr)

There is enough concern that the West Seattle Bridge could fail under its own weight, that the city is drawing up emergency plans for evacuating the area underneath and around the 36-year-old span. Those plans include shutting down the Lower Spokane Street Bridge, which would cut off the 8,000 to 15,000 vehicles a day that are still using it.

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

“We need to plan for every contingency with this bridge,” Seattle Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe told Seattle City Council on Monday. “We are working now to model those potential cracking scenarios and preparing our contingency plans in the event that we do think the bridge is in imminent risk of failure.”

Right now, engineers do not believe it is in imminent risk of collapse, but let’s not forget the engineers didn’t expect to see the cracking take off like it has this year.

The discussion of a possible bridge collapse transitioned into a discussion over money. It’s going to cost at least $33 million dollars to shore up the bridge to even find out if it can be fixed.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked Zimbabwe if that money might better be spent working on a replacement right now. She says her constituents in West Seattle aren’t sold that the city should spend that much with the possibility of getting nothing in return.

“Do we have to do the shore and construction or not?” Herbold asked Zimbabwe.

“We have to make sure the bridge is stable, and it’s a public safety issue,” Zimbabwe answered.

As it stands right now, Zimbabwe says the goal is to repair the bridge and get 10 more years of life out of it. He believes it’s worth spending the requisite $33 million to find out.

Another issue that came up again is the use of the Lower Spokane Street Bridge. It’s supposed to be reserved for transit and first responders right now, but thousands of people are still using it. During peak commute hours, the Seattle Police are enforcing that, but when officers aren’t there it’s being abused.

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

Councilmembers are still asking that health care workers and other essential workers be allowed to use the bridge to and from work. City mobility director Heather Marx said that could lead to a pass system, and they don’t want police checking for ID.

“SDOT shares your concern, both direct and indirect, about requiring people to have any kind of pass, not just for human rights reasons but also because there’s no place to pull people over and check,” she said.

And just to reset the table, the city does not expect that cars will return to the West Seattle Bridge until 2022, if ever.


Coffee Travel...
Chris Sullivan

Free coffee returns to a rest area near you this weekend

The free coffee is back. After a two-year pandemic break, you can finally get a free cup at your favorite rest area.
4 days ago
Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
13 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
18 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
21 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
24 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
West Seattle Bridge problems have city planning for chance of lower bridge evacuation