Spokane St Swing Bridge (Low Bridge)

What's Happening Now?

We're in this together, West Seattle. Help us keep the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) clear for emergency vehicles, transit, and heavy freight. Don't go low - instead, use the other ways to get to and from West Seattle.

The automated photo enforcement system on the low bridge was activated on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. If you are not authorized to use the low bridge, then you could get a $75 citation for every trip across it. Read the full press release here or in one of the languages linked below.  

Spanish  Low Bridge enforcement info - Chinese

Low Bridge enforcement info - Korean  Low Bridge enforcement info - Vietnamese

Low Bridge enforcement info - Oromo  Low Bridge enforcement info - Khmer

Low Bridge enforcement info - Somali

Environmental

SDOT has determined that the Spokane St Swing Bridge Access Project will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. As a result, SDOT issued a Determination of Non-significance (DNS) on January 28, 2021. This decision was made after review of a completed environmental checklist. Public comments on the DNS and checklist will be accepted until 5:00 pm, February 11, 2021, and the appeal deadline is February 18, 2021. Please see the DNS for more information on providing comments and submitting appeals. 

Background

When the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closed on March 23, we also had to restrict access to the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) - a critical detour route for many. Access to the low bridge was immediately restricted to freight, transit, and emergency response vehicles. Since then, we've been adjusting our low bridge access policy to safely accommodate additional users. 

Low Bridge Access Policy

Policy as of January 11, 2021

With public safety as our top priority, low bridge access is restricted primarily to ensure efficient emergency vehicle access across and around the bridge.

Who Can Use the Low Bridge

  • Emergency vehicles   
  • Transit vehicles (King County Metro buses and school buses)
  • Freight vehicles (10,000+ pounds gross vehicle weight rating)
  • People walking, rolling, using an electric foot scooter, or biking
  • Employer shuttles
  • Vanpools
  • Pre-authorized vehicles*
  • All personal vehicles at night (from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily)

Who Cannot Use the Low Bridge 

  • Taxis and ride-hail app vehicles, like Uber and Lyft (from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily)
  • Personal vehicles, including motorcycles, during the day (from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily)

*Pre-authorized use is currently limited to select maritime/industrial vehicles proximate to Harbor Island, International Longshore and Warehouse Union vehicles, and West Seattle business vehicles.

If you believe you are eligible for pre-authorized use based on the lists above, please email us westseattlebridge@seattle.gov or call (206) 400-7511.

Low Bridge Access Policy Subcommittee

We're working with a subcommittee of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force to inform this dynamic low bridge access policy and recommend a balanced approach for low bridge access. The subcommittee currently consists of members who provide perspectives across these subgroups: West Seattle businesses, the maritime and industrial industry located close to the low bridge, other official users, and heath care workers/patients. 

Automated Photo Enforcement

Since we closed the High-Rise Bridge on March 23, 2020, Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers have been ticketing or turning around people using the Low Bridge who are not authorized to use it under the current low bridge access policy.

Automated enforcement on the low bridge allows us to better enforce the low bridge access policy state above. Th 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. 

Materials 

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.

At this time, healthcare workers are not authorized to use the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge).

We recognize the critical need to provide low bridge access to medical providers who live in West Seattle and need to travel to work for specific, emergency circumstances.  We are currently working with healthcare institutions to determine how we could potentially expand this access to healthcare workers. This access would only apply to certain on-call positions that require an employee to report to work within a specified amount of time (i.e. 30 minutes for an emergency surgery). This would not apply for healthcare workers commuting to work for a regular, scheduled shift.  

There is an interim option for providers at your organization who live in West Seattle and who receive a citation after traveling across the low bridge for an on-call shift, where they have to respond within 30 minutes or less.     

Declaration of Non-Responsibility Process 

This policy applies to health care providers who are:   

  • On-call, and   
  • Live in West Seattle, and  
  • Receive a call-out notification to a hospital east of the Duwamish and must cross the low bridge to respond. 

The Declaration of Non-Responsibility does not apply to workers commuting to regular, scheduled shifts.  

To apply for cancellation of this citation, the owner may submit a Declaration of Non-Responsibility, accompanied by proof documentation on official letterhead (or electronically with official logo) stating:  

  • The subject of the citation is an employee of [institution named on letterhead/logo]   
  • The employee lives in West Seattle  
  • The employee was on-call on the date of infraction and the employee was called in at approximately the time shown on the infraction; alternatively - the employee's call schedule for this month is attached  
  • Proof documentation must be signed/e-signed (not typed) from by institutional official with authority to confirm 

The citation mailed to the employee will include instructions on how to submit this information via a Declaration of Non-Responsibility. This documentation will be sent to the City of Seattle Municipal Court for review and determination if the citation will be waived.   

We know the process for a Declaration of Non-Responsibility may be an intensive process for healthcare workers who are already severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our goal that in upcoming weeks, we can work with healthcare institutions to better understand healthcare worker needs and develop a policy for on-call workers and the low bridge access.  

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 10,000 pounds and higher. 

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/