CHOKEPOINTS

What you need to know about month-long Montlake Bridge closure

Aug 3, 2021, 5:07 AM | Updated: Aug 16, 2021, 10:56 am
Montlake Bridge...
The Montlake Bridge will be closed to vehicles for 26 days starting Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, until Sept. 3. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

Drivers now have to figure out an alternate way to get into and out of the University District with the Montlake Bridge closed for a month. The closure started Monday, Aug. 9.

Seattle to have busy construction summer ahead in Montlake

We’ve been warning drivers that the Montlake Bridge would be closing since early March. Now, it’s go-time for your backup plans and detour routes.

The bridge was built in 1924, and its deck consists of metal grates. The grates have not been replaced since 1998, and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Joe Calabro said it’s time for some new ones.

“This is an aging metal grid deck with panels that are essentially falling apart,” he said.

Workers have been called out seven times this year to make emergency repairs. They were called out nine time in 2020.

WSDOT will replace all 84 deck grids and add support beams for extra strength. Expansion joints will be replaced, and both bridge approaches will be repaved. It’s a long list of repairs, and that’s why the bridge will be closed 24/7 for 26 days (Aug. 9 – Sept. 3). The state picked this time because it’s after Seafair and before Labor Day, when University of Washington football returns.

Calabro expects to see long delays and extra traffic through the surrounding neighborhoods as people navigate the closure.

“We really need people to plan ahead and think carefully about how they’ll travel during this closure,” he said.

Bus service will also be re-routed while the bridge is closed, but bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to use the bridge because the sidewalks are going to remain open.

Boat traffic through the Montlake Cut will have some new rules too. Most boats that require openings, like sailboats, won’t have much of a problem. Bigger boats will need advance warning.

“One side of the bridge will open on demand for boats that need it,” Calabro said. “Double leaf openings, full openings of the bridge, will require 24 hours notice to the bridge operator.”

The neighboring 520 Bridge project, which is currently finishing up the Montlake lid over the freeway, is taking advantage of this closure to do some of its work too. Workers there will be removing contaminated soil from the old gas station. That project was going to require its own series of lane closures, but now those closures will be folded into the bridge closure. Two projects of gain for only one closure of pain.

Once this closure is over in early September, the state will still need five weekends of work to spruce up the mechanical systems on the bridge. We’ll have updates on those closures when the schedule is out.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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What you need to know about month-long Montlake Bridge closure