W Howe St Bridge Project – Seismic Retrofit

Updated: January 29, 2020

What’s happening now?

We have finished clearing the debris and vegetation under the bridge and last week we measured the bridge gusset plates, which are used to connect the bridge beams and columns. The measurements have been sent to the manufacturer to prepare new steel plates.

As of Monday, January 13 construction on the W Howe St Bridge is suspended while we wait on the fabrication of the plates. Work is anticipated to resume as soon as early March. Access to the bridge will remain open throughout the suspension. We will be in touch with the nearby community to share details before work resumes. 

Photo of the underside of the W Howe St Bridge with the debris and vegetation cleared.

Please note that the construction schedule is subject to change based on site conditions, material and equipment availability, weather, and other factors. To stay up-to-date with the latest project information, sign up to join our project email list.

Project Overview

Earthquakes could have a significant detrimental effect on Seattle’s infrastructure. To address seismic risks to city infrastructure, the City of Seattle established the bridge seismic retrofit program to assess the seismic vulnerability of the City’s bridges and to prioritize limited funding to reduce this transportation infrastructure vulnerability.

As part of the Levy to Move Seattle, 16 bridges were selected for seismic retrofits, including the W Howe St Bridge. The W Howe St Bridge was constructed in 1946* prior to the modernization of the seismic design code. The bridge provides an alternative route across 32nd Ave W to the neighborhood located along the southwest edge of the Magnolia community.

*This webpage had previously stated that the W Howe St Bridge was constructed in 1981, which was incorrect.

Project map

The planned seismic retrofits to W Howe St Bridge will strengthen key bridge components to better withstand seismic events like earthquakes. This work includes:

  • Strengthening existing braced frames, critical connection points, and existing column anchor bolts at the footings
  • Replacing bridge bearings
  • Minimizing movement at the ends of the bridge with beam supports and catcher blocks
  • Painting the bridge
  • Restoring landscaping disturbed during construction

Construction impacts

Construction is anticipated to begin December 2019 and last approximately 1 year. Most of the work will take place underneath the bridge. We anticipate occasional delays or detours for people driving, biking, or walking across the bridge.

We will minimize construction impacts as much as possible. During construction, please expect: 

  • Typical weekday work hours of 7 AM - 5 PM, Monday through Friday
  • 3-4 temporary weekend bridge closures and detours for vehicle traffic. We will post detours and notify nearby homes 72 hours in advance. Access for those walking and biking will be maintained
  • Traffic restricted to 1 lane on 32nd Ave W with a flagger during work hours, 2 lanes of traffic will be available during non-work hours
  • Temporary closure of the staircase providing access from W Howe St to 32nd Ave W
  • Construction equipment staged under the bridge, and at the northeast corner of the bridge by the north entrance of the Magnolia Park parking lot
    • Temporary disruptions to the north parking lot entrance, bike lanes, and the sidewalks while moving equipment and materials
  • Noise, dust, and vibrations during work hours. We will monitor bridge vibrations and minimize noise as much as possible

Project Schedule*

30% Design Complete
60% Design Complete
Final Design Complete
Construction begins Winter 2019

* The schedule is subject to change.


The total project estimate is $4.2 million, and the project is funded through 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.

Get Involved

We're committed to keeping you informed and working with neighbors to limit construction impacts to the extent feasible. Here are some ways to get more information about the project:

Project Materials