The University Bridge in Seattle remained closed to traffic Sunday morning, despite a rogue city transportation Twitter account that alerted the public Saturday night that the bridge had reopened, a transportation spokesperson said.
“That Twitter account is automated,” said Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Ethan Bergerson on Saturday night. “Somehow, when we were doing electrical work, we must have triggered that account and it tweeted that the bridge had reopened. We’re working to delete that tweet and correct that now.
“But the bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic,” Bergerson added.
As of Sunday morning, no projected time for reopening has been announced.
The drawspan got stuck in the open position Friday morning, with an electrical problem that confounded crews hour after hour and left a critical pathway shut down Saturday, as big crowds were headed to Husky Stadium.
At 5:12 p.m. — a little more than an hour into the Huskies game against Arizona State — @SDOTbridges, one of the city transportation department’s Twitter accounts, tweeted: “The University Bridge has reopened to traffic at 5:12:31 PM.”
When initially contacted Saturday evening about the tweet, Bergerson was surprised to hear the bridge had opened. “No one’s told me that,” he said.
Minutes later, Bergerson called back to report: “That’s not accurate; the bridge is still blocked … I need to alert people that this Twitter account is going rogue.”
SDOT quickly updated its website Saturday evening.
“Engineers are making progress to isolate the source of the electric malfunction and identify alternatives to get the bridge operating again,” the update said. “There is currently no estimate for when repairs will be completed.”
Bergerson also asked people looking for social media updates on the bridge to follow the @SDOTtraffic Twitter account, which he said is “run by a human being, 24-7.”
Because the other Twitter account is automated, with its tweets triggered by signals from the bridge control system, Bergerson said he couldn’t readily shut it down and ongoing electrical work may cause it to continue tweeting wrong information.
The ongoing closure came on a tough traffic day. Along with the Washington Huskies hosting Arizona State at 4 p.m., the Kraken met the Minnesota Wild at Climate Pledge Arena at 7 p.m.
Those events prompted SDOT to plan for “worst-case scenarios,” Bergerson said Saturday morning. Some fuses on the bridge had been changed, he said, but the “root cause” of the problem and how to solve it remained elusive.
Agency officials advised the public to use light rail, walk, bike and leave plenty of extra time to reach their destinations. King County Metro had already adjusted its routes Friday to get around the bridge.