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Spokane St Swing Bridge remains closed while SDOT repairs machinery damaged after ice storm

Closure for people biking, walking, and driving and freight traffic will last a minimum of 2 weeks.

SEATTLE (December 27, 2022) – The Spokane St Swing Bridge (Low Bridge) will remain closed for at least two weeks while Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews continue working to repair mechanical issues that intensified after a power outage during the ice storm on Friday, December 23.

SDOT engineers and crews are working as quickly as possible to develop a repair plan and schedule, and SDOT will update the public as soon as more information is available. The bridge is currently open for maritime traffic and is closed to all vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian travel.

Detour routes:

  • People traveling by car may use the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge.

  • Freight and people operating trucks headed to Terminal 5 in West Seattle may use the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge or West Marginal Way SW.

  • People riding King County Metro buses are not affected because transit does not use the Low Bridge during normal operations. SDOT is coordinating with Metro to plan for potential snow storms, as the Low Bridge is a part of the transit snow network.

  • King County has expanded its Water Taxi service this winter with sailings seven days a week. The Water Taxi serves people walking, rolling, and biking unless sailings are canceled as a result of high winds and waves. The Water Taxi is not scheduled to sail on Sunday, January 1, or Monday, January 2.

  • People biking may also use the 1st Ave S Bridge.

Federal law gives the U.S. Coast Guard authority over maritime travel on the Duwamish Waterway and requires SDOT to keep the waterway accessible for ships. The east channel's bridge remains open, connecting Harbor Island and Terminal 18 to Sodo and the Spokane St Viaduct.

The problem initially appeared to be associated with a computer issue that occurred while the bridge was powering back up after a power outage. Once the computer issue was resolved, engineers found previously identified minor issues with the hydraulic system that moves the bridge had intensified.

SDOT completes regular inspections of the Low Bridge and had existing plans to repair these aging components in 2023. However, after the power outage, it was discovered that previously manageable small-scale issues had escalated into more severe problems. Until these components are fixed, the bridge cannot be reliably moved without risking more severe long-term damage.

SDOT engineers are working as quickly as possible to analyze repair options. While there is not yet an estimate for how long bridge repair will take, SDOT expects the closure to last for at least two weeks.

SDOT is working to minimize effects on the traveling public to the extent possible and communicating with its regional partners, including King County Metro, the freight community, and the Port of Seattle.

Based on the evaluation results, additional Low Bridge closures for repairs may be needed in 2023, along with closures associated with planned capital improvements to the bridge next year.

SDOT has been proactively working to maintain the Low Bridge as part of ongoing bridge preservation efforts. In addition to the immediate work to resolve this hydraulic system issue, SDOT has several planned and recently completed improvements to the Low Bridge, including:

  • Structural rehabilitation, including carbon-fiber wrapping and epoxy crack fillings, which is complete

  • Bridge communications and control system upgrades (planned for 2023)

  • Bridge lift cylinder rehabilitation on east side of the waterway (planned for 2023)

Please stay tuned for updates via @SDOTTraffic on Twitter, the SDOT Blog, or sign up for email updates.



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