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Fairview bridge
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Seattle’s Fairview Avenue Bridge reopens Sunday

The last wood-pile bridge in Seattle has been replaced. (Chris Sullivan/KIRO Radio)

The Fairview Avenue North bridge — a key link between Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood and South Lake Union — opens on Sunday.

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It has been closed since late September 2019 for a complete rebuild, but the wraps finally come off this weekend. The bridge reopens to traffic on Sunday, July 25 after a ribbon cutting ceremony and bike event on Saturday.

“A lot of people want to be able to see the bridge, either on foot or on a bicycle, before it opens to cars,” the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Ethan Bergerson said.

Over the last 20-plus months, crews have worked to replace timber pilings underneath the bridge, some of which had almost completely worn away. Up until its closure, it was the last remaining timber-supported bridge spanning a major road in all of Seattle.

Construction was initially supposed to wrap up this spring, but ultimately took a few months longer than anticipated largely due to pandemic-related shutdowns.

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But Bergerson said this returns a key connection on the east side of South Lake Union, especially with construction shutting down the Montlake Bridge this August. Commuters who typically use the Montlake span will likely divert their trips down Eastlake Avenue once those closures begin.

“It’s a really important time to be getting this open now as we’re starting to recover and workers are returning to downtown,” he said.

The rebuilt Fairview Avenue bridge now features a new protected bike lane and wide sidewalks on either side, with new seismic retrofitting to protect it in the event of an earthquake.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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