SDOT: Traffic returns to the West Seattle Bridge; Monitoring and inspection of continuity

The first truck over the West Seattle bridge Saturday evening.

Photo by Patrick Robinson

Information from the Seattle Department of Transportation

Less traffic on bypass roads

Over the past week, we have removed detour signs and started directing people to the newly repaired bridge. Thousands of people have enjoyed much shorter travel times to and from West Seattle, while the neighborhoods and streets along the detour see far less traffic.

Late Saturday night, September 17, we removed our detour signs as we welcomed traffic back to the West Seattle Bridge.

Bridge works as expected

From the outside, the West Seattle Bridge looks almost identical to what it did before the closure. Inside the bridge, a new post-tensioning system keeps the structure’s concrete compact, allowing it to easily handle the return of daily traffic.

We also installed a 24/7 monitoring system inside the bridge, which contains hundreds of sensors that continuously send data to the bridge inspection team. Since the bridge was reopened, data from this monitoring system has continued to show that the bridge is robust and stable, as expected.

Observe the bridge for safety

In the coming weeks, we will be doing visual examinations of the interior and exterior of the bridge. People driving on the bridge at night for the next few weeks can expect some limited lane closures as we continue to install lighting inside the bridge for permanent inspection platforms. The platforms allow inspectors to get a closer look at the bridge’s interior concrete as they monitor the bridge in the coming months and years.

Seattle Utilities Works: Road closure in Sylvan Way SW between Home Depot’s Eastern Access and SW Orchard St

Starting Monday, September 26, Seattle Utilities will begin installing drainage improvements on Sylvan Way SW between SW Orchard St and Delridge Way SW as part of the Longfellow Natural Drainage System (NDS) project.

To perform this work safely and effectively, Sylvan Way SW between Home Depot’s eastern access and SW Orchard St will be temporarily closed to traffic. This closure is expected to last for about two weeks. The road will be closed to traffic 24 hours a day, with local access allowed to lanes east of the closure on Sylvan Way SW. Signs and parameters will be on site to direct traffic.

Performance of this work depends on weather, permits, and other factors. Therefore, this work may be delayed or canceled.

Construction in West Seattle this weekend

This weekend, we are completing paving as part of the Reconnect West Seattle program.

We boot a section of Sylvan Way SW between SW Orchard St and SW Sylvan Heights Dr on Saturdays and Sundays from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Saturday, we will be replacing the concrete slabs at the intersection of 34th Street SW and SW Barton St. We expect to start this work around 7am and finish it by 3pm. On Sunday, we will have traffic control, so that people don’t drive on the new concrete slabs while the concrete is recovering.

We also berth on California Ave SW between Admiral Way SW and SW Walker St. We will complete this work on Saturday and Sunday with work starting around 7am and ending by 4pm each day.

As always with construction, please expect slight delays, drive safely in work areas, and follow directions from signs and banners. Traffic will be maintained in all directions as we complete the work.

Question of the week: What’s the traffic like since the West Seattle Bridge reopened?

Since the bridge reopened, we’ve started to see traffic volumes at West Seattle Bridge return to what they were before the closure. On Monday and Tuesday, traffic volume was about two-thirds of what it was before the shutdown.

We’re also seeing reduced traffic volumes on bypass roads, with some locations down 20 percent from last week to this week after the bridge reopened. Traffic volumes on the Spokane St Swing (Low Bridge) have halved since the High Bridge reopened.

Travel times on detours are reduced by 30 to 50 percent, and trips from the North Admiral district to the city center are 50 percent faster during peak hours.

As the West Seattle Bridge opens, we encourage you to keep looking for ways to turn your trip around. Our online travel options guide will continue to be regularly updated with travel routes to, from, and around the West Seattle Peninsula.

Other news to know: Reconnecting the West Seattle Survey and Seattle Transportation Plan

  • Reconnect the West Seattle poll: In 2020, we asked people who live or work in West Seattle to identify transportation challenges in the wake of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Community contributions have reported on our improvements and we’re now following along to see how these investments have helped you navigate. Please participate in the survey by September 30th.
  • Seattle Transportation Plan: The second stage of engagement has begun. During the first phase of our engagement, which ran from May to August 2022, we asked about your vision for the future of transportation in Seattle. Now we need your help to turn these thoughts into action. Visit the Seattle Transportation Plan Online Participation Center to participate. You can also email stp@seattle.gov or call 206-257-2114 with questions, concerns, or comments about your Seattle transportation plan.

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