Seattle Department of Transportation would like to hear from neighbors regarding when the city’s ship canal bridges must open on request.
Ballard, Fremont, and University bridges are owned and operated by SDOT, while the Montlake Bridge is owned and operated by WSDOT. However, the Coast Guard has regulatory authority over the bridges and gave SDOT and WSDOT the authority to limit the opening of bridges on weekdays from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. (The exception is for large commercial vessels of 1,000 tons or more; bridges must always open upon request, regardless of the time of day.)
While the number of bridge openings has remained steady in recent years, traffic has not and the impact of the bridge openings themselves has grown. An average 5 minute bridge opening creates a backup of hundreds of vehicles and takes them longer to clear.
SDOT is strongly considering a petition to the US Coast Guard, seeking to better align the current closed periods to match the rush hour volume peaks.The petition could also ask for a procedure of scheduled bridge openings, similar to the Montlake Bridge which only opens at the top and bottom of the hour during the boating season, thus providing predictability for both boaters and motorists.
SDOT is asking residents to submit their comments by Wednesday, September 30. (SDOT hopes to submit any application by November 1, 2015.)
Comments can be submitted at ShipCanalBridgeOpenings@seattle.gov or via U.S. Mail to:
Ship Canal Bridge Openings
c/o Roadway Structures
Seattle Department of Transportation
PO Box 34996 (SMT-38-00)
Seattle, WA 98124-4996
Visit the SDOT project website for more detailed information about traffic volumes and bridge openings.