West Seattle low bridge opens to overnight traffic

Drivers may now cross the lower West Seattle swing bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., while the city considers opening the two-lane span to additional users.

The change takes effect immediately, The Seattle Times reported. It will relieve some drivers from a 4-mile detour using the First Avenue South Bridge.

For the last three months, the low bridge was limited to public transit, freight, longshore workers and emergency vehicles. Police generally patrolled the bridge only at peak commute times, but issued more than 500 citations.

Rapid cracking on the seven-lane, highrise West Seattle Bridge caused officials to close it March 23. Transportation officials restricted low-bridge use to prevent a flood of traffic that would block emergency vehicles.

The Seattle Department of Transportation also said this week that public and private school buses may travel the swing bridge at all times. The slight easing of the restrictions is a prelude to adding other groups this fall, subject to automated camera enforcement that records license-plate numbers, the agency said.