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Spokane St Swing Bridge (Low Bridge) Access

Updated January 4, 2023

What's Happening Now?

The Low Bridge Access Program has ended 

The Low Bridge Access Program ended after the West Seattle Bridge reopened on September 17, 2022. Any questions about the program can be sent to SDOT Customer Service at (206) 684-7623 or 684-Road@seattle.gov. 

If you are looking for information on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) rehabiliation, visit the project webpage here

Background

When the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge) closed on March 23, 2020, we also had to restrict access to the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge). Daytime access to the low bridge was restricted to ensure that freight, transit, and emergency response vehicles can travel efficiently to and from West Seattle.

With public safety as our top priority, the low bridge access was restricted to keep the low bridge clear for emergency vehicles, transit, and heavy freight. Read the full low bridge access policy here (no longer an active policy as of September 17, 2022).         

    Policy Goals and objectives

    When automated enforcement on the low bridge began in early 2021, we monitored traffic volumes on the low bridge and we took a hard look at the low bridge access policy, identified goals and objectives, and adjusted the policy as circumstances change. 

    Objectives throughout the West Seattle Bridge closure 

    Health, life, and safety objectives:

    • Ensure reliable travel time for emergency vehicles at all times of day
    • Prioritize trips that improve patient and provider access to lifesaving medical treatment

    Mobility and system operations objectives:

    • Maintain Spokane Street corridor performance throughout the day, including a 1 to 1 recovery time following a bridge opening or incident
    • Prioritize public transit, high-capacity modes, and high-occupancy vehicles
    • Reduce single-occupant travel and detour route congestion

    Economic growth and sustainability objectives:

    • Prioritize freight movement to support economic health and decrease detour route traffic
    • Support businesses with critical and urgent needs including businesses impacted by COVID-19

    Automated Photo Enforcement

    Automated enforcement on the low bridge allowed us to better enforce the low bridge access policy. The automated enforcement system used photographs of license plates to identify unauthorized low bridge users. SPD officers reviewed each violation photo, which is required by State law. Violation photos were taken of the vehicle to capture the license plate number, not the person driving, and are prohibited from being used for any other law enforcement action. There is a $75 cap on citations, along with Seattle Municipal Court's community service in lieu of fee and zero-interest payment plans, to prevent citations from causing financial hardship to low-income individuals.

    Materials 

    Low Bridge Access Policy (no longer an active policy as of September 17, 2022).  

      Factsheet about low bridge access: English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

      Frequently asked questions about low bridge access: English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

      West Seattle based-business low bridge use tracking: PDF - English

      Press release, April 28, 2020: EnglishEspañol繁體中文한국어Tiếng Việtភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

      State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Documents

      Transportation

      Greg Spotts, Director
      Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
      Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
      Phone: (206) 684-7623
      684-Road@seattle.gov

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      The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.