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Seattle's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and More | Seattle, Washington | KING5.com

Detours around West Seattle Bridge can't handle pre-virus traffic levels

The high rise portion of the West Seattle Bridge won't reopen until after 2021, if at all.

SEATTLE — Detours around the West Seattle Bridge won't be able to support the traffic levels seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Heather Marx, the director of downtown mobility for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), said people will need to adjust how they get in and out of West Seattle. 

In response, the city is working with King County Metro to determine where it may need to increase service when social distancing measures are eased.

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

The bridge is the city’s busiest with an average of 100,000 vehicles and 25,000 transit riders daily before the coronavirus pandemic. The bridge's high rise closed on Monday, March 23 after inspectors found cracks rapidly growing along the center section of the bridge.

The cracks, first spotted in 2013, have continued to grow and engineers have been worried about the stability of the span.

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

The bridge's lower span is reserved for transit and emergency needs only.

The high-rise portion of the West Seattle Bridge will likely not reopen until 2022, if at all. SDOT is monitoring the bridge as it begins preliminary work toward stabilization of Pier 18 and shoring construction. Shoring isn't expected to begin until late fall. 

As of Monday, April 20, SDOT was at "0 percent" of repair design. If repair is possible, it could provide up to 10 years of additional use.