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Seattle mayor suggests light rail as potential long-term solution to West Seattle Bridge

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is suggesting a planned ST3 light rail line could be used to help replace the now cracked and closed West Seattle Bridge.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is suggesting a planned light rail line could be used to help replace the now cracked and closed West Seattle Bridge.

A West Seattle line is part of the voter approved ST3, and is going through a design and review phase now, but is still years away from becoming an actuality.  In an interview with KING 5, Durkan said, “I'm going to talk with Sound Transit. We know we have to build a bridge for Sound Transit. Is there a way to combine those two bridges?”

On Wednesday, Durkan and city transportation leaders announced the bridge would be closed until at least 2022. The cracks, first spotted in 2013, have continued to grow and engineers have been worried about the stability of the span. Prior to the pandemic, the bridge carried 100,000 vehicles a day, and 25,000 transit riders. It's Seattle's busiest bridge. 

WATCH: Full interview with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

RELATED: West Seattle Bridge won't reopen until 2022, if ever, says transportation officials

“It’s utterly stunning,” said King County Council member and long time West Seattleite Joe McDermott. He says no one briefed, or warned him about any potential problems until a couple hours prior to the closure announcement last month.  

“I wasn't aware of anything until i got a call from the Mayor's Office on March 23rd,” he said.  McDermott said he believes the plan to build a long term replacement should begin now. 

The then-West Seattle Freeway opened in 1984 after years of debate.  The old bascule bridge would often prompt significant traffic delays, and was permanently damaged by a freighter.

McDermott believes the bridge should receive priority for funding, given its connection to the State Ferry System and international freight at the Port of Seattle.

Durkan says, for now, the lower span will be reserved for transit and emergency needs only, and that engineers are also concerned about long term load capacity for that span.

RELATED: Canadian expert warned Washington state about West Seattle bridge cracking