Heat Wave: Cooling down our Roads and Bridges

With Seattleites facing record high temperatures this weekend, we will be working to keep our roads and bridges cool and safe. Extreme heat can damage roads and bridges! Thankfully, our crews are standing by to respond quickly to weather related damage like sink holes or fissures. 

SDOT Flusher Truck spraying down one of Seattle’s bridges in Summer 2020.

We are proactively spraying down our steel draw bridges for three days in a row to help keep them cool whenever the temperatures hit 85 degrees or more as part of our ongoing bridge maintenance program. This is necessary because the high temperatures can cause the steel to expand and potentially create problems for opening and closing functions.  

Here’s what our crews will be doing to cool down our bridges: 

  • Starting Saturday, June 26 until Monday, June 27, we’ll be giving the University, Fremont and Ballard bridges occasional cool water showers with water from a cooling truck to preserve the bridges. 
  • To make sure the water is safe for the environment, we also add a small amount of Vitamin C in order to neutralize chlorine in the portable water. 
  • We’ll close each bridge for a few minutes at least twice a day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoon to receive these cool water baths. The work will take place each day from noon to 5 PM.  

Check out a video clip of the Fremont Bridge getting a cool water bath last summer.  

If you’re plan to head out, here are some tips to stay cool and safe:

Biking and walking can be a fun way to enjoy the hot weather, but they can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.  Bring plenty of water and don’t push yourself past your limits. If you’re feeling light headed, please take a break and get out of the sun.  

Tips for driving in extreme temperatures 

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels. Top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout. 

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.  

Plan your travel and route: Before heading out, make sure to check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Don’t rush through your trip, and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely. Always familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system. Let others know your route and anticipated arrival time. 

Have sun protection: Take sunscreen, an umbrella and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing. 

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold. Consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated. 

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows. 

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully. Seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you’re stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire.  

Avoid risky behaviors: You know the rules: Don’t text or drive distracted, obey posted speed limits, and always drive sober.  Both alcohol and drugs can cause impairment.  It’s illegal to drive impaired by any substance in all states – no exceptions. Alcohol and drugs can impair the skills critical for safe and responsible driving. This includes coordination, judgment, perception, and reaction time. 

Stay cool and safe!