We’re in this together. Don’t go Low – instead, use the other ways to get to and from West Seattle – to avoid a $75 ticket the easy way.

Help us keep the Low Bridge clear for emergency vehicles, transit, and heavy freight. Photo Credit: Tim Durkan.

Help us keep the Low Bridge clear for emergency vehicles, transit, and heavy freight. If you are not authorized to use the Low Bridge, then you could get a $75 citation for every trip across it starting January 11, 2021. 


Summary 

  • To keep the Low Bridge clear for emergency vehicles – as well as transit and heavy freight – we’re saying, “don’t go low.” Instead, please use alternate routes for those traveling to and from West Seattle by car to avoid a $75 citation. 
  • Alternate routes include the 1st Ave S Bridge or South Park Bridge. The Low Bridge is also open for you if you’re riding transit, in a vanpool, walking, rolling, riding a scooter, or biking! 
  • We’re constantly working on our Low Bridge access policy to keep everyone as safe and connected as possible.  
  • At the same time, we are doing what we can to help people who commute to and from West Seattle. Through our Reconnect West Seattle framework, we are working with nearby communities to prioritize projects that will reduce the impact of increased detour traffic; prioritizing transit connections to and from West Seattle; building new bicycle projects; and establishing and improving detour routes. 
  • To avoid a $75 citation, please only use the Low Bridge if you are authorized to do so. We’ll keep doing our part to make it easier to travel around, too. 

There are many ways to get to and from West Seattle, and we’re working to help make that easier! In the meantime, to keep the Low Bridge clear for emergency vehicles – as well as transit and heavy freight – we’re asking you not to use it unless you are authorized to do so.  

Two people walking away from the camera with a small dog. The people are walking across the West Seattle Low Bridge. To the peoples' right, a Rapid Ride bus is heading towards the camera.
If you can, walking, rolling, biking or taking transit are good alternatives to driving, and you can use the Low Bridge by doing so! Photo Credit: Tim Durkan. 

Alternate routes for those traveling to and from West Seattle by car include the 1st Ave S Bridge or South Park Bridge. Don’t forget: the Low Bridge is also open for you if you’re riding transit, in a vanpool, walking, rolling, riding a scooter, or biking. 

Know that we are doing what we can to help people who continue to drive cars and freight trucks, and ride bikes, by updating the markings on the road, adjusting signal timing, and improving road signs. We are working with nearby communities to prioritize projects that will reduce the impact of increased detour traffic; prioritizing transit connections to and from West Seattle; building new bicycle projects; and establishing and improving detour routes. 

We’re also here to help make changing your commute possible with the new West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Travel Options portal, which is just a starting point for more resources to come. 

There are many reasons for photo enforcement. Importantly, keeping traffic moving on the Low Bridge is important because it allows safe and timely passage for emergency response, transit, and freight.   

The West Seattle Low Bridge viewed from above; the photo was taken from the work platforms on the West Seattle High Rise Bridge. Two buses, two small cars, and one truck are shown crossing the bridge.
Keeping traffic moving on the Low Bridge is important because it allows safe and timely passage for emergency response, transit, and freight. Photo Credit: Tim Durkan. 

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge carried significantly more vehicles because it has seven lanes compared to the two lanes on the Low Bridge. If all the former traffic from the High-Rise Bridge tried to use the Low Bridge, it would create severe congestion and long traffic back-ups, blocking access for emergency vehicles. The problem is especially acute because the Low Bridge is only two-lanes and has no shoulders.  

Based on careful data analysis, we have identified and placed a cap on the number of vehicles that are allowed to use the Low Bridge from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. since the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge in March 2020.  

As a reminder, there are alternate routes if you’re traveling to and from West Seattle! If traveling by car, use the 1st Ave S Bridge or South Park Bridge. You can also get a spot on the Low Bridge if you travel by transit or vanpool, or if you’re walking, rolling, riding a scooter or biking.  

We’re constantly working on our Low Bridge access policy to keep everyone as safe and connected as possible. 

We’re working with a subcommittee of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force to inform this dynamic Low Bridge Access policy and recommend a balanced approach for Low Bridge access. The subcommittee currently consists of members who provide perspectives across these subgroups: West Seattle businesses, the maritime and industrial industry located close to the Low Bridge, other official users, and heath care workers/patients. 

The subcommittee is helping us implement photo enforcement now, and we are discussing ways to expand and restrict the authorized user pool. This will help us ensure that Low Bridge traffic keeps flowing and that we keep everyone as safe and connected as possible. 

We will be monitoring Low Bridge traffic volumes in early 2021 when access will be linked to license plates and photo enforcement begins. The data from January and future months will inform whether we can expand access. 

Now, the specifics: Beginning January 11, 2021, the automated photo enforcement system on the Low Bridge will turn on. Unauthorized Low Bridge users are subject to a $75 citation for every trip across the Low Bridge. 

The cameras installed December 10 will take pictures of  license plates when vehicles cross the Low Bridge between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. each day, both directions. To protect privacy, the cameras will only record vehicle license plates and not the people inside the car. The photos are only intended to be used for enforcing the restrictions on the Low Bridge, and are not intended for other law enforcement action.   

Freight, transit and emergency vehicles are automatically approved to use the Low Bridge and will not receive a citation. Select maritime, government, and West Seattle business vehicles performing nearby urgent work functions have been pre-approved to use the bridge. We’ve worked with these organizations to input their license plates into the system. 

It is currently illegal to make an unauthorized crossing, regardless of the status of the new photo enforcement system. Since the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, unauthorized vehicles have been subject to a citation for every trip across the Low Bridge. Unauthorized Low Bridge users can be cited by Seattle Police Department officers that may be on-site. The new system is supplementary, like the use of red light cameras. This means there is no official warning period for photo enforcement. Citations will be sent to the mailing address of the registered owner of the unauthorized vehicle that crosses the Low Bridge. 

To avoid a citation, please only use the Low Bridge if you are authorized to do so. We’ll keep doing our part to make it easier to travel around, too. 


Who Can Use the Low Bridge

  • Emergency vehicles    
  • Transit vehicles (King County Metro buses and school buses)  
  • Freight vehicles  
  • People walking, rolling, using a scooter, or biking  
  • Employer shuttles  
  • Vanpools  
  • Pre-authorized vehicles*   
  • All Personal vehicles at night (from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily) 

Who Cannot Use the Low Bridge

  • Taxis and ride-hail app vehicles like Uber and Lyft (from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily) 
  • Personal vehicles, including motorcycles, during the day (from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily) 

*Pre-authorized use is currently limited to select maritime/industrial vehicles proximate to Harbor Island, International Longshore and Warehouse Union vehicles, and West Seattle business vehicles. If you believe you are eligible for pre-authorized use based on the description above, please email us westseattlebridge@seattle.gov or call 206-400-7511

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