Spokane St Swing Bridge (Low Bridge) Access

Updated October 18, 2021

What's Happening Now?

Do your part - don't use the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) unless authorized 

Graphic showing when the low bridge is closed to all vehicles

  • Low bridge is closed to most vehicles weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Unauthorized vehicles will receive a $75 ticket for every trip across the bridge.   
  • Low bridge is open to everyone weeknights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and weekends from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.     
  • Low bridge pedestrian path is open all days and all hours for people walking, rolling, using an electric foot scooter, or biking

Low bridge access for people and businesses in West Seattle: In summer 2021, we expanded access to the low bridge on a temporary and limited basis. People must meet eligibility requirements, apply, provide a license plate, and be approved by SDOT before using the low bridge. There is no cost to apply for access.  

Upcoming low bridge changes in January 2022: If you're authorized to drive on the low bridge, we're adjusting your access in January 2022 to prepare for more freight traffic. We're asking authorized drivers to plan to travel out of West Seattle (eastbound) before 10 AM or after 3 PM. If not authorized, please avoid the low bridge and use a detour route.

Apply for access:

Access request form in English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរ (use dropdown at top of form to choose language): https://go.participate.online/lowbridge-access-request

Access request form in af Soomaalihttps://go.participate.online/lowbridge-access-request-somali

Access request form in Oromiffahttps://go.participate.online/lowbridge-access-request-oromo

Language Access: If you need assistance in completing the application or have questions, you can call (206) 400-7511 and leave a voicemail or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov. Provide your name, contact info and language need and someone will return your call.

Application Deadlines: The application for November 1 access to the low bridge has closed. Applications must be submitted by November 15 to be eligible for access on December 1. 

Background

When the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge) closed on March 23, 2020, we also had to restrict access to the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge). Daytime access to the low bridge is restricted to ensure that freight, transit, and emergency response vehicles can travel efficiently to and from West Seattle.

Map of West Seattle Bridge detour

Low Bridge Access Policy

Policy as of April 8, 2021

Read the full low bridge access policy here.    

With public safety as our top priority, low bridge access is restricted to keep the low bridge clear for emergency vehicles, transit, and heavy freight. 

  • Low bridge is closed to most vehicles weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Unauthorized vehicles will receive a $75 ticket for every trip across the bridge.   
  • Low bridge is open to everyone weeknights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and weekends from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.     
  • Low bridge pedestrian path is open all days and all hours for people walking, rolling, using an electric foot scooter, or biking

Graphic showing when the low bridge is closed to all vehicles

Who can use the low bridge weekdays, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

  • Emergency vehicles   
  • Transit vehicles (King County Metro buses and school buses)
  • Freight vehicles (10,001 pounds and higher gross vehicle weight rating; Class 3 vehicle)
  • People walking, rolling, using an electric foot scooter, or biking

The below groups must meet eligibility requirements, submit the access request form, provide their license plate, and be approved by SDOT before using the low bridge. The access request from is now available in these languages: English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរ, af Soomaali, Oromiffa.

  • People traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider required) via West Seattle; includes driving to treatments via the Fauntleroy Ferry. 
  • On-call medical workers (traveling to and from an on-call work shift only).
  • All West Seattle restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies).
  • Rideshare vehicles (vans, shuttles or official carpools with a state-issued rideshare license plate. This does NOT include Uber/Lyft).
  • Employer shuttles
  • Vanpools 
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 members (for trips when dispatched from the SODO Union Hall to terminals on the west side of the low bridge)
  • Maritime and industrial businesses proximate to the low bridge (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies or transport key personnel)
  • Government vehicles (limited to urgent/unplanned trips and includes City of Seattle, King County, State of Washington, local law enforcement, and other government vehicles)

Who cannot use the low bridge weekdays, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m and weekends, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily 

  • No personal vehicles (cars, minivans, carpools, etc.)
  • No motorcycles and motor scooters
  • No taxis and ride-hail app vehicles, like Uber and Lyft

If you believe you are eligible for pre-authorized use based on the lists above, you may complete the access request form linked above. If you have any questions, please email us westseattlebridge@seattle.gov or call (206) 400-7511.

Policy updates pending for January 2022

If you're authorized to drive on the low bridge, we're adjusting your access in January 2022 to prepare for more freight traffic.

We're asking authorized drivers to plan to travel out of West Seattle (eastbound) before 10 AM or after 3 PM. If not authorized, please avoid the low bridge and use a detour route.  

We are adjusting access to prepare for the opening of Terminal 5, the international marine cargo terminal operated by the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a partnership of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. The new terminal will open in early 2022, significantly increasing the number of trucks that must use the low bridge to reach the terminal.

We're working closely with our partners at the Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance to plan for more trucks on the low bridge, as well as more workers traveling to the terminals for their shifts. We need to continue to manage traffic on the low bridge. That means accommodating more trucks in early 2022, minimizing changes for existing authorized users, and reducing the number of unauthorized drivers who are getting tickets on the low bridge.

If traffic volumes are still high in 2022, we may need to employ stricter enforcements to the low bridge access policy. Our priority is to continue to provide daytime low bridge access for those that meet the criteria until the high-rise bridge opens in mid-2022. Here's the initial plan for January 2022 by authorized vehicle type or user group. 

Vehicle type Low bridge access changes starting in January 2022
Transit and emergency vehicles No changes
On-call medical workers and people traveling to lifesaving medical treatments No changes. We recognize the importance of these trips and the fact that people may have little choice in the time they need to travel. 
Trucks (over 10,001 Gross vehicle weight rating)  If you have flexibility in your travel, please do what you can to travel eastbound (out of West Seattle) before 10 AM or after 3 PM.    
Maritime / industrial businesses near the low bridge   Please do what you can to travel eastbound (out of West Seattle) before 10 AM or after 3 PM.    
West Seattle restaurant and retail businesses  Please do what you can to travel eastbound (out of West Seattle) before 10 AM or after 3 PM.    
International Longshore and Warehouse Union members Limiting trips based on the time-of-day 
Government vehicles We're working diligently with all government agencies to reduce use of the low bridge now, prioritizing only emergency trips between 10 AM and 3PM (for example: crews traveling to repair a gas leak, broken traffic signal or burst water pipe). 

If you're not part of one of these groups with authorization to be on the bridge, you should avoid the low bridge. Please do your part, plan ahead, and use a detour route to help keep the low bridge clear for other users

Policy Goals and objectives

Since automated enforcement began in early 2021, we have monitored traffic volumes on the low bridge and we have taken a hard look at the low bridge access policy, identified goals and objectives, and will continue to adjust the policy as circumstances change.  

Health, life, and safety objectives:

  • Ensure reliable travel time for emergency vehicles at all times of day
  • Prioritize trips that improve patient and provider access to lifesaving medical treatment

Mobility and system operations objectives:

  • Maintain Spokane Street corridor performance throughout the day, including a 1 to 1 recovery time following a bridge opening or incident
  • Prioritize public transit, high-capacity modes, and high-occupancy vehicles
  • Reduce single-occupant travel and detour route congestion

Economic growth and sustainability objectives:

  • Prioritize freight movement to support economic health and decrease detour route traffic
  • Support businesses with critical and urgent needs including businesses impacted by COVID-19

Most trips on the low bridge (except for emergency vehicles, heavy freight, and transit) are conditional and trip targets (number of trips allowed per month) will be updated based on actual use. We can restrict or revoke access at any time. We will notify people in advance if this is the case. If traffic volumes are still high in 2022, we may need to employ stricter enforcements to the low bridge access policy.

The high-rise bridge is anticipated to reopen in mid-2022.  

Automated Photo Enforcement

Automated enforcement on the low bridge allows us to better enforce the low bridge access policy state above. The automated enforcement system uses photographs of license plates to identify unauthorized low bridge users. SPD Traffic or Patrol officers, as well as other localized police agencies may continue to identify, stop and enforce the sign restrictions as part of their normal duties. SPD will mail $75 citations to unauthorized trips across the low bridge within 14 days of the violation.

SPD officers will review each violation photo, which is required by State law. Violation photos are taken of the vehicle to capture the license plate number, not the person driving, and are prohibited from being used for any other law enforcement action. There is a $75 cap on citations, along with Seattle Municipal Court's community service in lieu of fee and zero-interest payment plans, to prevent citations from causing financial hardship to low-income individuals. If you have received a ticket, additional information can be found on the SPD community policing web page.

Materials 

Low Bridge Access Policy (Final Policy, June 2021)

Access request form 

Factsheet about low bridge access: English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

Frequently asked questions about low bridge access: English, Español, 繁體中文, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

Lifesaving medical treatment authorization form: EnglishEspañol繁體中文af Soomaali한국어Tiếng ViệtOromiffaភាសាខ្មែរ

West Seattle based-business low bridge use tracking: PDF - English

On-call medical worker form: EnglishEspañol繁體中文af Soomaali한국어Tiếng ViệtOromiffaភាសាខ្មែរ

Press release, April 28, 2020: EnglishEspañol繁體中文한국어Tiếng Việtភាសាខ្មែរaf SoomaaliOromiffa

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Documents

Frequently Asked Questions

When the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closed on March 23, 2020, we also had to restrict access to the Low Bridge - a critical detour route for many. The High-Rise Bridge carried significantly more vehicles because it has seven lanes compared to the two lanes on the Low Bridge. If all the former traffic from the High-Rise Bridge tried to use the Low Bridge, the resulting congestion and delay would block the efficient movement of emergency response, transit, and freight. 

Signs notifying people driving that the Low Bridge is closed except for buses and authorized vehicles, as well as detour signs, are posted at multiple points at either end of the Low Bridge.  

There are many ways to get to and from West Seattle, and we're working to help make that easier. Alternate routes for those traveling to and from West Seattle by car include the 1st Ave S Bridge or South Park Bridge. The Low Bridge is also open for you if you're riding transit, in a vanpool, walking, rolling, riding a scooter, or biking.

Know that through our Reconnect West Seattle framework, we are doing what we can to help people who continue to drive cars and freight trucks, and ride bikes, by updating the markings on the road, adjusting signal timing, and improving road signs. We are working with nearby communities to prioritize projects that will reduce the impact of increased detour traffic; prioritizing transit connections to and from West Seattle; building new bicycle projects; and establishing and improving detour routes. We're also helping make changing your commute possible with the new West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Travel Options portal, which is just a starting point for more resources to come.

The Low Bridge remains open to pedestrians, including people who use mobility devices, and bicyclists.

Under the existing low bridge access policy, a freight vehicle is defined as a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds and higher (Class 3). 

The below graphic shows the classification of freight vehicles. Graphic courtesy of the Alternative Fuels Data Center

Gross vehicle weight rating chart courtesy of https://afdc.energy.gov/

The low bridge is open overnight for everyone. How do I get there?

The low bridge is open to all drivers from 9 PM to 5 AM weekdays and 9 PM to 8 AM on weekends. Some map apps may not show the bridge open during these times. Here are directions to help you reach the low bridge at night.  

To access the low bridge via I-5:

  1. Take exit 163 A (West Seattle Bridge/Columbian Way) 
  2. Keep right at the fork to follow signs for West Seattle Bridge and Spokane St
  3. Take the Harbor Island/11th Ave SW exit    
  4. Keep left, following signs to West Seattle/Terminal 5 
  5. Stay right to continue on S Spokane St, which eventually leads to the low bridge 
  6. Continue on Spokane St SW until you reach the 5-way intersection (Delridge Way SW, Chelan Ave SW, West Marginal Way SW, SW Spokane St).    

To access the low bridge via southbound SR 99, take the Harbor Island exit and merge onto S Spokane St, which eventually leads to the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge).  

To reach the low bridge from West Seattle:

  1. From the 5-way intersection (Delridge Way SW, Chelan Ave SW, West Marginal Way SW, SW Spokane St).  
  2. On Chelan Way SW, follow signs for Harbor Island / Terminal 5 overpass (this lane is marked as a bus only lane)
  3. On Delridge Way SW, follow signs for 99 South / Harbor Island (this lane is marked as bus only lane)
  4. Continue across low bridge

It may be helpful for you to reference this GPS pin location, which marks the approach to the low bridge on the West Seattle side.