4th Ave S Bridge Repair

Updated June 1, 2024

What's happening now?

We are finalizing the design to repair the 4th Ave S Bridge. We expect to have a project update toward the end of Summer 2024.  

Coordination with our railroad partners is taking longer than anticipated. Similar to how we at SDOT are stewards of the right-of-way in the City of Seattle, the railroad companies own the right-of-way under the bridge. Wherever railroads extend under the bridge,  if it disrupts rail yard operations, we need to apply for permits. Permits from each railroad company are required to work around and within their right-of-way.  
A major caveat still exists: Since the permit prohibits construction work on the bridge from taking place from the Argo rail yard below the bridge,  we need to complete most of the repairs from the bridge deck. This arrangement makes the design and construction of the bridge repairs more complex. Thank you for your patience.   

If you want to stay in the know about our upcoming work and the process, you can sign up for email updates here.

Project overview

The 4th Ave S Bridge, or 4th Over Argo Rail Yard Bridge as it's commonly known, was first built in 1933 and  connects Georgetown and Downtown Seattle. In 1985, the bridge lanes were changed to its current configuration of two lanes each direction. Over time, the bridge has experienced higher volumes of vehicles and heavier trucks. These higher volumes and increased loads as well as the bridge’s aging have caused the bridge to deteriorate  over time.  

We inspected the deterioration and concluded that the outside lanes of the bridge could no longer safely support the vehicle loads it was carrying. As always, public safety is our top priority. So in 2017 we decided to completely close the northbound curb lane and restrict large trucks from using the southbound curb lane to help reduce further deterioration of the piers. 

Project Map

Project map for 4th Over Argo

The short-term and long-term solutions

The short-term solution to this situation is to reduce the load on the outer edges of the bridge. This means that vehicles going northbound must merge into the inside lane. People driving passenger vehicles going southbound can still use the curb lane. However, large trucks and buses are required to merge into the inside lane. We expect this configuration to continue to be in place until repairs have been completed.

In the long term, we are planning to rehabilitate the segment of the piers that directly supports the outer edges of the bridge. This work requires extensive coordination with the railroad since the bridge spans across an active rail yard and railroad tracks that support freight trains as well as commuter rail and Amtrak. Our permit with the railroads prohibits us from working in the Argo rail yard below the bridge, if it disrupts railroad operations. Because most of the repairs need to be made from the top of the bridge, these conditions have made the design and construction more complex than anticipated. We currently have a consultant on board to help us finalize the repair plans.

Taking alternate routes

Prior to closing the curb lane, the bridge was seeing nearly 17,000 daily users in both directions. Since the northbound lane closure and southbound restrictions, the number of daily users has decreased by about 25% in both directions. This means commuters have started using alternate routes or taking alternative modes of transportation to and from Downtown and South Seattle.

Please consider giving yourself extra time to travel, working with your employer about changing your work hours, or finding alternative means to get to work such as riding a bike, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, or taking public transit. For more information, please visit: www.seattle.gov/traffic.

When we do begin work on the bridge, we will release alternate routes that you can take. These plans will depend on what our schedule will permit, based on what the rail companies approve. Stay tuned about the schedule and construction-based alternate routes by signing up for our email updates.  

Schedule and construction

We are finalizing the design for the repair of the 4th Ave S Bridge. Coordination with the railroad companies is taking longer than anticipated with two railroad companies having rails below the bridge. We expect to have a project update in late Summer 2024. 

Outreach Materials

  • Coming Soon

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Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.