Seattle’s University Bridge drawspans remains stuck open Saturday morning, because of mechanical problems taking a lot longer than the “few hours” predicted Friday afternoon by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
With a Washington Huskies football game set for today, the urgency for finishing any repairs grows by the hour.
SDOT on Friday began advising the public to take alternate routes shortly before 10:30 a.m. Traffic jams accumulated around the nearby Montlake Bridge on Pacific Avenue, and as far north as University Village.
Crews found that a transformer controlling a braking mechanism for the drawspan had burned out, according to spokesperson Miriam Ali, who at 3 p.m. said repairs were estimated to require “a few hours.”
Bridge maintenance grabbed city officials’ attention in March 2020, when fast-growing cracks forced SDOT to close the West Seattle Bridge. The Ballard Bridge was stuck open twice in December 2019.
The University Bridge is rated in “poor” condition on the National Bridge Inventory. Besides aging drawspan gear, concrete columns in the north approach are cracked and in some cases spalling.
An audit last year found at least $34 million a year should be devoted to maintaining Seattle’s 124 bridges, whose replacement value is $6.9 billion.
The city spent $6.6 million annually this past decade, but boosted that to $9.5 million in 2021. Proposals are circulating to add additional bridge dollars for the 2022 budget — one City Council option would sell $100 million in bonds mostly for seismic work, but also for structures including $9.5 million for bridge maintenance.
Check back for updates.
Staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed to this report.