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caption: The sun rises over the Duwamish Waterway as seen from the West Seattle Bridge Trail on Thursday, October 4, 2018, in Seattle.
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The sun rises over the Duwamish Waterway as seen from the West Seattle Bridge Trail on Thursday, October 4, 2018, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Port of Seattle says West Seattle bridge woes may hurt Terminal 5

In 2021, the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 gets the gigantic cranes that will allow it to accept cargo from some of the biggest ships in the world.

But the closure of the West Seattle Bridge means all that cargo will have to flow over the Spokane Street Bridge.

It's one lane in each direction. It's heavily in demand. And now the city wants to put up electronic controls to help the bridge finesse its daytime use.

“Are there moments where usage is way down, where it’s underutilized, where we could enable broader usage?” said Michael Harold, spokesman for Seattle's Department of Transportation.

The city plans to have an electronic system set up to monitor for just such moments, so that residents can use the bridge during the day. Right now, they are only allowed to use the bridge from late night to early morning.

Port officials don't like the sound of that. Last July, the port celebrated the arrival of $500 million to invest in the big cranes and the modernization of Terminal 5. Since then, the bridge everyone expected would be there — the West Seattle Bridge — has been closed after cracks revealed it was in danger of collapse.

Now, freight must use the limited lower bridge, sharing access with transit and emergency vehicles.

Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck says he's aware that many people want access to the lower bridge, but freight needs all the access it can get to make Terminal 5 a success.

“We’re right there in the middle of it, and determined to ensure that we can open that gateway,” he said. Terminal 5 is expected to open next summer.