News Releases

$11.2 million award from Department of Transportation will go towards repairing the West Seattle Bridge as Washington state delegation pushes for further funding

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), released the below statements on a new $11.2 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant for Washington state to repair the West Seattle Bridge.

“The West Seattle Bridge has to be functional if you want to get around the city, and its forced closure has been nothing short of a crisis. We need a fix as soon as possible, so I have been shaking the tree to get results in the other Washington. I spoke directly with Secretary Buttigieg on this matter and made the need for urgent action clear, so I’m glad we’re moving in the right direction,” said Senator Murray. “But the federal government will need to do much, much more if it’s going to do its part to help repair this bridge and the many other bridges and roads across this state in need of repair and rebuilding. I’ll keep working to secure further federal investment, so every Washington family can get to where they need to be as safely and quickly as possible.”

“The stakes are high for both the traveling public and for the freight investments we are making at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5. We need answers now from the U.S. Department of Transportation on real solutions for providing additional federal investment to fix the West Seattle Bridge,” said Senator Cantwell.

“As a West Seattle resident, I know how important it is to our neighbors, businesses, city, port, and regional economy that we quickly and safely repair the West Seattle Bridge,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I am proud to have helped fight to secure this robust $11.2 million INFRA Grant that urgently sends our community critical federal resources to make these necessary repairs possible. I appreciate Secretary Buttigieg’s willingness to partner closely with us as we continue working to make improvements to Seattle’s roads, bridges, transit systems, and waterways.”

The INFRA program is a discretionary grant program to fund transportation projects of national and regional significance that are in line with the Biden Administration’s principles for national infrastructure projects that result in good-paying jobs, improve safety, apply transformative technology, and explicitly address climate change and racial equity. Cantwell authored the program in 2015 as part of the long-term transportation bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).  INFRA is the first-ever multimodal freight grant program focused on freight mobility.

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge was closed in March 2020 after cracks were found in multiple locations on the bridge, and the closure has been devastating for workers, commuters, businesses, and families on both sides of the bridge. Since then, local, state, and federal leaders have worked to address the situation, including Governor Jay Inslee, who declared the bridge’s closure an economic emergency, and Mayor Jenny Durkan, who consistently lobbied for federal support to repair the bridge. Senators Cantwell and Murray as well as Congresswoman Jayapal repeatedly pushed the Biden Administration to provide funding to repair the damaged sections of the bridge, speaking directly to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the issue earlier this year.

“From light rail to buses to repairing our bridges, Seattle has shovel ready projects to create good family wage jobs and boost mobility. Now is the time to move forward on a bold infrastructure plan as proposed by President Biden that addresses challenges like our aging bridges while making major investments in the future of transit like light rail and elective vehicles and buses,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We are working each day to repair and reopen the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge – the pathway to quickly and safely restoring travel. Investments for this important safety project are essential to meeting our aggressive timeline and re-establishing mobility across the region. We greatly appreciate the US Department of Transportation’s partnership to focus on one of the highest priority projects for the region and state.” 

“Strong partnerships?help us?deliver?tangible results for communities. I am grateful to the US Department of Transportation for allocating INFRA grant funding to the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge repair project and the recognition of the critical role the bridge plays in the economy of Seattle and all of Washington state.  With this funding, along with partnership and courage at multiple levels of government, we are in an even greater position to drive this repair forward and reconnect West Seattle in 2022,” said Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe.  

Restoring the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge to full capacity is critical to the Seattle region’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Before accelerated structural cracking forced the City of Seattle to suddenly close the bridge to traffic on March 23, 2020, it was carrying more than 84,000 cars and trucks, along with 25,000 bus riders, every weekday. It connected one-sixth of Seattle’s population and numerous small businesses with downtown Seattle, Qualified Opportunity Zones, Port of Seattle terminals, freight rail yards, industrial businesses, King County’s largest manufacturing and industrial center, and the national highway system.

The City of Seattle currently has a plan to repair and reopen the high bridge and is moving forward with the rehabilitation project to ensure this regional connection can be safely restored as soon as possible, targeting a re-opening date as soon as mid-2022. The repair project will also ensure the structural resilience of the parallel movable West Seattle Low Bridge, maintaining its primary role as a connection for freight and industrial traffic – a connection critical to the ongoing Northwest Seaport Alliance Terminal 5 expansion project that sits adjacent to the West Seattle Bridges. Terminal 5 and adjacent seaport terminals are designed to serve as a trade conduit for 13 states, supporting 28,000 jobs and $8.7 billion per year in business output. Restoring the high bridge to full traffic and transit capacity will also remove traffic detours in place since the closure. The neighborhoods directly impacted by those detours are home to the region’s highest concentrations of people of color, including indigenous, immigrant, and refugee populations and now have significantly increased traffic on local streets during the bridge closure. This has added pollution to communities who already experience greater health, public safety, and economic disparities, including higher rates of asthma and lower rates for life expectancy compared with the rest of the Puget Sound region.

The City of Seattle has already prioritized $100 million in local funding for the projected $175 million total cost of stabilizing and repairing the high and low bridges, and begun engineering work that would allow the repairs to proceed with the infusion of the requested INFRA grant funds for construction. Grant funding for this important safety project is essential to meeting their aggressive timeline and restoring mobility for residents and all travelers in the region.