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Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) closing to people driving, walking and biking: October 7 – 14

The Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) is a vital connection across the West Duwamish Waterway, particularly for people biking or walking and for truck drivers and workers accessing Terminal 5. The structure was built in 1991 and opens for marine vessels around 1,500 times yearly (an average of four times per day). The low bridge is just one example of our city’s transportation infrastructure. To keep that transportation infrastructure safe and operational, we regularly inspect, monitor, and refurbish critical components of these structures.

As part of our proactive maintenance efforts, we carried out the initial phase of the Spokane St Swing Bridge Rehabilitation Program from 2020 to 2022. These efforts included injecting epoxy resin into existing cracks in the low bridge and adding carbon-fiber wrapping in several locations on both interior and exterior surfaces to strengthen the bridge.

The next step in the maintenance process is to reinstall the turn cylinder that was removed from the low bridge’s east pier housing last winter for refurbishment. When the east pier’s cylinder was removed last December, preparations to overhaul all four of the bridge’s hydraulic turning cylinders were actually already underway as part of our comprehensive repair and maintenance effort. When the unexpected damage to the cylinder occurred, the planning work we had already completed enabled us to quickly jump into developing a response plan and likely allowed us to complete repairs sooner than if we had been starting from scratch.

The turn cylinder overhaul work will replace or repair these parts so that they can continue to function as originally designed, and can be readily replaced if needed, as part of our ongoing preventative maintenance work on this bridge.

From Saturday, October 7 through Saturday, October 14, 2023, crews will reinstall the repaired turn cylinder inside the east pier housing that was removed in early 2023. The remaining three turn cylinders will also be rehabilitated in the future. This operation will require us to close the low bridge for people driving, biking, and walking for approximately one week. Our work will be vital to keep the bridge reliably in operation for today and the future.

Turn cylinder removed in January 2023 for refurbishment.

Although you won’t be able to travel using the Swing Bridge, we have compiled a list of other options and methods to reach your destinations. If you are part of the Duwamish Valley community and are traveling to and from West Seattle while the low bridge is closed, here are some options to get around during the closure:

Riding the bus

The bus provides a reliable option to get to many destinations on both sides of the Duwamish Waterway. Buses travel via the high bridge and can be used by people walking, riding conventional bikes, and in wheelchairs. Buses are the fastest way to get across the Duwamish Waterway without driving. We’re offering free credits for trips on the bus during the closure. See below for details.

We encourage you to visit King County Metro’s trip planner page to find the latest bus route and schedule information for your trip.

Riding the Water Taxi

King County operates the West Seattle Water Taxi, which provides direct service from West Seattle to downtown Seattle, with full service 7 days per week through the winter, except for select holidays. Their large vessels can store up to 26 bikes at a time. We’re offering free credits for trips on the water taxi during the closure. See below for details.

Driving or carpooling on the West Seattle Bridge (high bridge)

The high bridge remains open to drivers and offers a direct connection for many travelers to reach their destinations. There are currently no restrictions on vehicle access. This bridge is not accessible to pedestrians or people biking. Signs are posted in various locations stating this.

Freight and business access to Harbor Island and Terminal 5

Truck drivers, Port workers, and other people who need to access Harbor Island and Terminal 5 are still able to do so, though they need to be aware of the route before making their trip. Access to Harbor Island remains available from the east via SW Spokane St, before reaching the Spokane St Swing Bridge, as shown in the map below. For those traveling to Terminal 5 from the east, please use alternate routes, such as the West Seattle high bridge.

Map of the route that people should take to enter Terminal 5 during the closure.
Map of the route that people should take to exit Terminal 5 during the closure.

To support travelers impacted by the closure, and to help make transit access easier and more affordable, we’ve partnered with King County Metro to make it even easier to ride the bus or West Seattle Water Taxi  with Transit Go Tickets throughout the closure. This offer will provide a daily round trip over the Duwamish while the bridge is closed. To access the offer, follow the directions below using the Transit Go Ticket app and rewards code LOWBRIDGE. The fares are funded by the Seattle Transit Measure, which was passed by voters in 2020.

How to access bus and water taxi credits during the low bridge closure:

  1. Download the Transit Go Ticket app and create an account. 
  2. Click on “Rewards,” select “More,” then tap “Rewards Code” and enter code LOWBRIDGE.    
  3. Tap “Claim” and then the “Redeem” tab; you will see “Low Bridge Closure” tickets available for King County Metro Bus or King County Water Taxi.   
  4. Select the ticket of your choice and tap “Redeem for Free” and “View Ticket.” You can see your tickets any time under “Use”. 
  5. When you are ready to ride, tap on your ticket and then “Activate”; show it to your transit operator.   
  6. Visit “Redeem” to follow these steps again for your reverse trip. 
  7. Once you’ve used this code, it will allow you to redeem two tickets for each further day the bridge is closed (while supplies last).  Just visit Redeem tab in Rewards for those additional tickets. 

Bridge closures are a real challenge, and we appreciate your patience as we complete this critical repair work. Over the next two years, we will be doing additional maintenance and upgrade work on the low bridge that will require short-term closures of the bridge to vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, including control and communications system upgrades and lift cylinder replacement. We will share more details about the timing of these closures as planning efforts continue.