Spokane St Swing Bridge (Low Bridge) Access

What's Happening Now?

We've updated the low bridge access policy to expand access for more people and businesses in West Seattle. 

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

The below expanded user groups can now apply for temporary access via the low bridge access request form:

  • 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)
  • 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. 

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.

This expanded access is on a temporary and limited basis. People must apply, provide their license plate, meet eligibility requirements, and be approved by SDOT before using the low bridge. Beginning April 10, we've extending weekend all access hours. Saturdays and Sundays, low bridge is closed to non-authorized vehicles from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekday restrictions will remain 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.   

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

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

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 (10,000+ pounds gross vehicle weight rating)
  • 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 livesaving 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 Goals and objectives

April 2021 expanded low bridge access

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. We will reduce or revoke access on the low bridge for many groups in late 2021 so that the bridge has capacity for increased freight traffic. 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 

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

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

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 10,000 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/