West Seattle bridge closure declared city emergency, Durkan requests state and federal help

Mayor Jenny Durkan has declared the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure a city emergency in an effort to expedite the monumental task of fixing or replacing Seattle's busiest roadway. 

The 36-year-old bridge was closed in March after photos from the department revealed expanding cracks that lengthened 5 feet (1.5 meters) since August, including 2 feet (0.6 meters) of growth from March 6 to March 23.

In 2019, more than 90,000 people crossed the bridge every day. 

“Though our recent analysis indicates that repairing the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge may be possible, we still do not know how much repairs would cost, how long they would take, how many lanes could be restored, and whether repairs would last long enough to be a worthwhile investment,” the city said in a statement last month. 

City leaders have discussed replacing the West Seattle Bridge with a tunnel or more traditional bridge, but the city has yet to determine a long-term solution. 

The mayor said in a press release that the emergency declaration will allow for the following: 

  • Strengthen funding efforts and flexibility at all levels of government; 
  • Enable critical actions around the High-Rise Bridge—no matter what repair or replacement path is selected—through streamlined permitting, materials and contract procurement; 
  • Support West Seattle Low Bridge precautionary strengthening work; and 
  • Support implementation of mitigation measures in the greater Duwamish Valley communities impacted by changed travel patterns while the High-Rise Bridge is closed 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.