Ballard Bridge Planning Study

Investing in the future of our bridges

Updated: November 1, 2019

What’s happening now?

Oct 24, 2019 Drop-in Session at Peddler Brewing

Thank you all who attended our drop-in sessions! We appreciate your feedback on the alternatives being considered.

If you were unable to attend a drop-in session, you can still learn more about the Planning Study and submit feedback through our online open house. The open house survey will close at midnight on November 15, 2019.

Through the end of the year, our technical team will continue to refine the costs, feasibility, mobility impacts, and constructibility around this important land and marine passageway. We expect to compile a comparison of the alternatives in a final report this winter. After sharing our results with SDOT directors, the Mayor's office, and other elected officials, we plan to post the final study on our website in early 2020.

Project Overview

The Ballard Bridge, built in 1917, spans the eastern edge of 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 (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 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 planning study also supports other planning efforts, including Sound Transit's Ballard Link Extension, the Washington State 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

EventsActivityTimingPurpose
  • Online survey
Online Survey (complete) Spring 2019 To introduce the project scope and schedule and to better understand behaviors for users of the Ballard Bridge
  • Technical screening
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Community involvement
Stakeholder meetings Spring 2019 To introduce the project scope and schedule, and to better understand behaviors for users of the Ballard Bridge
  • Advisory board briefings
Advisory Board Briefings Spring-Summer 2019 To involve and seek assistance from Bike, Pedestrian, Transit, and Freight advisory boards
  • Stakeholder meetings
Drop-in Sessions & Community Events Summer-Fall 2019 To describe the Ballard Bridge history, review evaluation process, present analyses and collect community input
  • Technical screening
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Community involvement
Community Councils & Other Community Group Briefings Spring-Fall 2019 To inform the public of the study purpose and progress, and to provide more opportunities for community comments and questions
  • Alternatives analysis
  • Share results
Finalize Alternatives Analysis and Share Results Fall-Winter 2019 Finalize and share results with SDOT directors, the Mayor, and our local, county and state elected officials

Key

IconMeaning
Technical screening Technical Screening to identify viable alternatives
Advisory board briefings Advisory Board Briefings
Online survey Online Survey
Alternatives analysis Alternatives Analysis
Alternatives analysis Stakeholder Meetings
Share results Share results
Community involvement Community Involvement

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.

Project Library

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