Update: The University Bridge has been repaired and is open to all travelers.

Engineer working to repair bridge electronics.
Engineer working to diagnose and repair bridge electronics.

Update (11/14/2021 11:37 a.m.)

The University Bridge has been repaired and is now open to the traveling public. The bridge became stuck for nearly 48 hours due to an electrical system failure that occurred on the morning of Friday, November 12. Our roadway structures crews and engineers have been working tirelessly since then to isolate and fix the electrical system failure.

Roadway structures crews and engineers brought power back to the bridge and resumed operations at about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. After lowering and raising the bridge multiple times to test the system, SDOT reopened the bridge to travelers around 9:40 a.m. King County Metro buses have also returned to regular routes.

Repairs were complicated by the sheer size and complexity of the electrical system controlling the bridge. Initially, the problem appeared to be due to burnt-out fuses in the bridge’s mechanical system. However, once parts were replaced and the new fuses continued to malfunction, it became clear that there was a deeper electrical issue.

Tracking down the location of the electrical failure was daunting work. The bridge’s electrical system includes thousands of wires, many of which stretch hundreds of feet across the entire bridge and travel through tight spaces that are extremely difficult to access. Electricians had to trace the full length of each wire until they narrowed down the physical location of the short circuit near the motor control panel for the southern span of the bridge. 

We will continue to inspect and check all bridge systems in the coming days to confirm that the electrical issues have damaged no other systems. While there is no reason to believe this is the case, electrical damage can create the risk of unseen problems, so we are being careful to reduce the risk of the bridge becoming stuck again.

We are still working to understand what caused the circuit to fail and will provide updates when more is known. There is no indication that the electrical issue is related to the structural condition of the bridge.

Update (11/13/2021 6:27 p.m.)

Please watch @SDOTTraffic on Twitter or accurate updates. Electrical testing work may cause @SDOTBridges to give false status updates (this account tweets automatically based on signals from the bridge control system).

Update (11/13/2021 2:21 p.m.)

Engineers are making progress to isolate the source of the electric malfunction and identify alternatives to get the bridge operating again. There is currently no estimate for when repairs will be completed.

Original Post (11/13/2021 10:26 a.m.)

Photo of closed University Bridge.

The University Bridge remains closed to all travelers as bridge crews continue to work with extreme haste to repair damaged electrical equipment which has caused the bridge to get stuck, blocking all access for people walking, biking and driving. Crews are working to determine the root cause of the issue, which has resulted in a failed transformer and other electrical complications. The bridge got stuck on the morning of Friday, November 12, and there is currently no time estimate for repairs to be completed.

Follow @SDOTTraffic on Twitter for updates on the bridge condition and other live traffic updates.

With two large events planned for this afternoon, we are very strongly encouraging all event goers to take transit, walk, or bike to the games and to give themselves plenty of time to arrive as streets will be more congested than a typical game day. For those taking light rail, there is free parking at the new Sound Transit Northgate Station about a 5 minute ride away from University of Washington Husky Stadium.

We’re also working with transportation partners WSDOT, King County Metro, and Sound Transit to help people get around the closure. Dynamic message signs are located at key decision points around Seattle so people driving can know to avoid the area. King County Metro buses have been rerouted to accommodate the closure.

Engineers examining mechanical bridge components.
Engineers examining mechanical bridge components.

We have been working to respond to the situation since the bridge became stuck yesterday morning. Initially, the problem appeared to be due to burnt-out fuses in the bridge’s mechanical system. However, once parts were replaced, it became clear that there was a deeper electrical malfunction which engineers are still working to assess.

If you need to drive, please obey all traffic signs and follow detour routes, police directions, or find alternate routes.

Our Travelers Map shows the latest street and bridge closures, and shares camera feeds to monitor conditions. Follow @SDOTTraffic on Twitter for updates on the bridge condition and other live traffic updates.

King County Metro will keep riders informed of transit impacts by sending emails and texts to route subscribers and posting updates on Twitter.