SEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced Thursday that the West Seattle Bridge will reopen on Sept. 18, as long as repair work remains on track.
The SDOT's last update on a target reopening date said they plan to reopen the "high bridge" portion of the bridge as soon as the week of Sept. 12.
Meanwhile, the SDOT has also completed one of its most complex stages of repairs this summer, a process known as "post-tensioning."
Steel cables are installed inside the bridge and attached by anchors at each end. The cables were pulled and "tensioned" to force the concrete on the bridge to compress. This is what prevents the concrete from cracking.
For people living and working in West Seattle or those just visiting or doing business there, the repairs can't be done soon enough. Since the high bridge's closure two years ago, it has been a painstaking drive for commuters and visitors alike as drivers are funneled toward detours at the First Avenue South Bridge and the South Park Bridge in order to reach West Seattle.
The "low bridge" is open for public transit, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The low bridge is open to everyone on weeknights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and on weekends from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.
For Evan Leonard, co-owner of Artisan Electric, a solar power contractor with an office in Georgetown, the repairs can't be finished soon enough.
"I'll let traffic get back on it for a few days before I hop on back on it, but very excited just to be able to move our equipment quicker," Leonard said.
Leonard established his business in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood because of its proximity to West Seattle Bridge. A quarter of their business is on Vashon Island, reachable by ferry from the west end of West Seattle.
“Having to move material between Georgetown and Vashon, through West Seattle, has been a nightmare over the last two years," Leonard said.
But Joe Myers, the business's supply chain manager, said he has seen an uptick in business at restaurants and bars because of the bridge closure.
"I'm just meeting people that are peeling off the freeway to kill an hour or two because the traffic's so bad," Myers said.
For two years, traffic has been detoured to the First Avenue South Bridge near Georgetown or farther south on the South Park Bridge for drivers to get to and from West Seattle.
"There's a lot of people who are like, ‘Oh, I didn't even know Georgetown had a bar district you know. This is a cool neighborhood,'" Myers said.