SEATTLE — Because of increased detour traffic caused by maintenance and repair work on area bridges, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is asking the public to avoid the Low Bridge linking Seattle and West Seattle, leaving the route clear for emergency vehicles, transit and heavy freight. Beginning Jan. 11, 2021, unauthorized use of the bridge could result in a $75 citation for each trip across the structure, according to a Dec. 29 statement from SDOT.
Alternate routes for those traveling to and from West Seattle by car include the First Ave. South Bridge or South Park Bridge. The Low Bridge may be used by those who are riding transit, in a vanpool, walking, rolling, riding a scooter or biking.
In addition to updating markings on the route, SDOT is adjusting signal timing, improving road signs and 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.
According to a statement released by SDOT, the West Seattle 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 attempts to use the Low Bridge, it will create severe congestion and long traffic back-ups, blocking access for emergency vehicles.
Based on data analysis, SDOT has identified and placed a cap on the number of vehicles that are allowed to use the Low Bridge daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. since the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge in March 2020. Vehicle restrictions will be enforced with the help of traffic cameras, which were installed Dec. 10; the cameras are designed to record license plates only.
The automated photo enforcement system will be activated Jan. 11, 2021; unauthorized Low Bridge users will be subject to a $75 citation for every trip across the bridge. Citations will be sent to the mailing address of the registered owner of the unauthorized vehicle that crosses the Low Bridge.
From 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, the following are authorized to use Seattle’s Low Bridge:
- Emergency vehicles;
- Transit vehicles (King County Metro buses and school buses);
- Freight vehicles;
- People who are walking, rolling, using a scooter or biking;
- Employer shuttles;
- Vanpools; and
- Pre-authorized vehicles.
Personal vehicles (including motorcycles), taxis and ride-hail app vehicles (such as Uber and Lyft) are allowed to use the Low Bridge at night, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
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