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All cars can now use West Seattle Low Bridge overnight

Cars can now use the West Seattle Low Bridge between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. School buses can use the route anytime.

SEATTLE — Overnight access to the West Seattle Low Bridge has been expanded to include all vehicles.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced Thursday that effective immediately the lower bridge would re-open daily between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to all cars. Public and private school buses will have access anytime.

The agency says this policy allows broader use without compromising public safety.

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force agreed with the recommendation during a Wednesday meeting.

RELATED: No decision yet on to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge

SDOT restricted West Seattle Low Bridge access to emergency vehicles, freight and transit shortly after it closed the high-rise bridge on March 23 due to cracking. Officials noticed an uptick in low bridge traffic and restricted travel over concerns that emergency vehicles might not be able to make it through.

The low bridge can handle 400-500 cars per hour in both directions before causing backups, according to analysis from the city.

Before the West Seattle Bridge closure, low bridge traffic volumes hit that threshold during rush hour traffic but typically hovered around 200 cars per hour during other times of the day. However, the week after the high-rise bridge closed and all drivers could still use the low bridge, SDOT found traffic thresholds would have impeded emergency vehicles nearly all day.

RELATED: Traffic worsens around West Seattle Bridge closure as coronavirus restrictions ease

Overnight traffic remained near pre-closure levels.