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Lower West Seattle Bridge closed for emergency week-long repair – UPDATED

The lower West Seattle swing bridge closed Wednesday evening for emergency repairs, SDOT announced just hours before crews were planning to take the bridge out of order.

The bridge will be in the open position for marine vessels, unusable for people biking, walking or driving for as long as a week.

People biking or walking Wednesday evening will find a van service to help them get around the closure. UPDATE 6/21: SDOT will continue commute-time van shuttles, according to a new blog post: “Shuttle vans are staging at the approaches to and from Spokane St Swing Bridge. Shuttles for bicyclists will run during heavy commute hours: 6 to 10 AM and 3 to 7PM.”

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Other options include taking the King County Water Taxi from downtown to the Alki Trail or biking through Sodo to the 1st Ave Bridge connecting Georgetown to the Duwamish Trail. Buses are also an option, though there are only spots for three bikes on each bus. SDOT says there may be other efforts to improve bike access to West Seattle, but details are not yet available. I will update when I learn more.

The official bike detour requires riding on 1st Ave S, a busy industrial street that, like essentially every street in Sodo, does not have bike lanes. I encourage anyone navigating this detour route for the first time to give themselves lots of extra time to find the somewhat hidden entrance to the 1st Ave Bridge sidewalk (it begins underneath the bridge on S Front St) and in case they feel they need to take the sidewalk. From SDOT:

For those riding around the Duwamish:

From West Seattle:

  • Detour signs are placed at the West Seattle Bridge Trail, to head south along West Marginal Way; crossing SW Michigan St onto 1st Ave S

From SODO:

  • Detour signs are placed along 1st Ave S to continue south, to SW Michigan St


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14 responses to “Lower West Seattle Bridge closed for emergency week-long repair – UPDATED”

  1. Jessi

    Just in time for Swift Campout weekend. Fun!

  2. Merlin R Rainwater

    This does not sound like adequate mitigation for closing a major transportation route! Friends, if you ride the detour please document your experience and report to SDOT. Yuck! I was planning to take an out-of-town friend to West Seattle on Friday…but I don’t want to risk the detour.

    1. asdf2

      It’s an emergency closure, so there’s not time to plan for better detour route. Better to make due with the water taxi and the bus for one week, than to risk permanent damage to the bridge, and multiple years’ closure, while they build a whole new bridge.

      1. Skylar

        Didn’t SDOT take a lane on Westlake within hours after the horrific Aurora Bridge crash?

        That said, I don’t know that I would want to bike up the West Seattle Bridge – it seems pretty steep on the east side even in a bus/car.

    2. Conrad

      The detour route is not easy. Is there a non suicidal way to access the northern end of the first ave bridge?

      1. Benjamin

        I did it this morning. You just need to take your lane. Many people are not comfortable with this, but it is the safest way.

  3. Alkibkr

    There is also ongoing construction of crossing safety improvements at the intersection of Spokane Street and Harbor Avenue where the the Alki Trail turns to parallel Spokane Street. The trail may be blocked and require a detour. It will be great when finished in about 6 weeks. The Water Taxi is a good option, but kind of pricey for families.

  4. Jeremy

    Why not a detour to the upper bridge? Chicago did something similar when the lakefront path was closed for construction.

    1. ks

      Agreed. It’s not as if there is isn’t another bridge right above it.

      1. Law Abider

        How would you propose eastbound cyclists exit the bridge? None of the eastbound off ramps have ample space to accommodate both cyclists and cars. The West Seattle Bridge was designed to get cars downtown via 99 and I-5 as fast as possible, so it would be difficult to accommodate cyclists for such a short time.

  5. Alkibkr

    Ha, ha. my pipe dream of a bike bridge suspended from the West Seattle Bridge connecting West Seattle with SODO/Georgetown and Beacon Hill would be nice to have now.

    1. Benjamin


  6. topddog

    I rode the detour last night and today. Morning commute around 10:00 am and evening commute around 9:00 pm. Be careful during day time I never ride sidewalks but did so during the early commute. My night commute was great! On the plus side found out about the Duwamish trail. I ride from North Beacon Hill to Admiral district for work. SDOT is not always aware of cyclists concerns. Earlier this month they directed traffic into the bike lane up Admiral Hill for pot hole work. Very dangerous to cyclist’s. Be safe, we are the tip of the spear.

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