Ballard Bridge Planning Study

Investing in the future of our bridges

Updated: June 19, 2019


What's happening now?

We're just getting started! To ensure we develop bridge options that incorporate the broad needs and values of the community and people using the bridge, our first step is to conduct a survey on current and desired bridge use. Share your input on the future of the Ballard Bridge. The survey will be open until Sunday, July 7.

This month, we've been engaging with and touring some of the businesses alongside the existing bridge to ensure we understand their operations and needs. We will also continue to coordinate closely with our partner agencies that have existing properties and ongoing projects along the ship canal, including Sound Transit, Port of Seattle, and BNSF.

Project Overview

The Ballard Bridge, built in 1917, spans the eastern edge of the Salmon Bay and connects Ballard to Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Downtown via Interbay. The 2,854-foot bridge carries more than 57,000 vehicles per day across the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Like the Fremont Bridge to the east, this bridge is a bascule bridge that opens to allow taller ships to use the Ship Canal. 

We perform regular maintenance and frequent inspections on the bridge to ensure it is operational and safe for both road and marine traffic. Due to the age of the structure, more significant rehabilitation may be needed to sustain its current level of operation. Since the structure is still in good condition today, we have an opportunity to plan ahead and look beyond just maintaining its current form and function. So, we've launched the Ballard Bridge Planning Study to evaluate how to bring the bridge up to current transportation, functional, and structural standards including improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities and keeping buses and freight moving. 

The Ballard Bridge Planning Study, funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, will explore feasible rehabilitation and replacement options for the long-term future of the bridge. It is the second of ten studies to help us assess and manage roadway structure maintenance needs and maximize future investments. The studies are a part of our effort to better understand the size of Seattle's maintenance backlog.

The planning study will identify associated costs, risks, benefits, and trade-offs of each option. Through the end of the year, we'll work with our agency partners, advisory boards, and community members to identify needs and values and propose options that meet them.

The planning study begins by screening options based on geometric and traffic constraints and surveying community members on what they need and value. We'll then evaluate cost-effective and constructible structure types. The final, feasible options will be compared using a set of metrics. This study will not recommend a preferred alternative but will provide a comparison of feasible alternatives as we, in coordination with our elected officials, evaluate funding options.

The study also supports other planning efforts, including Sound Transit's Ballard Link Extension, the Washington Stat Department of Commerce's Interbay Property Development, and our upcoming Ballard-Interbay Regional Transportation System Corridor Study pending receipt of state-funding.

Map of Ballard Bridge and surrounding area
Map of the project area with the Ballard Bridge highlighted in orange.

 

Schedule

Ballard Bridge Planning Study Timeline

Funding

This planning study is funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015. The 9-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. Learn more about the levy at www.seattle.gov/LevyToMoveSeattle.

While the City does not currently have any funding to further the design or construction of any of the options evaluated in this planning study, the state has marked $700K in the 2019-2021 budget for further evaluation. Once we receive these funds, we will investigate the Ballard-Interbay Regional Transportation System and provide recommendations to our elected officials on maintaining and improving the capacity to move people and goods along this important corridor. 

Nearby SDOT Projects

Previous Work

In 2014, we conducted the Ballard Bridge Sidewalk Widening Study to evaluate alternatives to make travel across the Ballard Bridge more comfortable for pedestrians and people on bicycles. Learn more about the Ballard Bridge Sidewalk Widening Study.

In 2018, we worked with our City Council and community members and released a Bridge Safety Analysis Report to guide the spending of approximately $5M of Levy to Move Seattle funding. The report provided preliminary design, prioritization, and planning level cost estimates for 9 bridge-related projects across Seattle to improve safety and reduce conflicts for people walking and biking, our city's most vulnerable users.

Of the prioritized safety improvements, 4 of the locations were on or near the Ballard Bridge. We've installed improvements at the 2, higher priority, northern locations near the Ballard Bridge on and off-ramps. The remaining 2 improvements are still under consideration as we spread our Levy funding to other priority locations in the city and look for additional funding beyond the Levy dollars. Learn more about the Bridge Safety Analysis Report.

The designs included in these planning efforts will inform the long-term rehabilitation and replacement options considered in this planning study.

Get Involved

We're committed to keeping you informed throughout the planning study. If you would like more information about the project, please use one of the following resources:

  • Sign up for the project listserv
  • Email the project team at BallardBridge@seattle.gov
  • Leave a voicemail at (206) 775-8894. A project representative will return your call.

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