Bridges of the Cut: Part 2

More quirky and jolly information for you

Thanks for great comments about Part 1 of my history of the bridges. For those who want to know more here’s a splendid video from Vaun Raymond about the history of the drawbridges. If you desire (and who doesn’t) to see more Strauss Heel Trunnion Bascule bridges, look no further

8.    Fremont Bridge - Three bridges have crossed this location. The first, built in 1892, provided access for pedestrians, streetcars, and horse-drawn vehicles. It was upgraded in 1901, damaged in a flood in October 1903 (dam burst) but quickly reopened, and destroyed ten years later. A second temporary bridge crossed the cut from 1912 to 1915. The present bridge opened on June 15, 1917. Total cost $410,000. It is the lowest, longest bascule span (30’ above water). At more than 650,000 times, it is the most opened bridge in the United States. The original color was green, like other bridges. In 1972, the color changed to Fremont Orange but it faded too quickly, which led to a contest in 1984 for new color (choices Pickle Green, Canal Blue, Nutmeg Brown, Pirate Gold, and Sky Gray). Blue won in a vote but a decision was made to keep the accent orange.

9. Aurora Bridge (aka George Washington Memorial Bridge) – Opened on February 22, 1932, completing link of U.S. Highway 99 (as of 1967 SR99). Designed by Ralph Ober, the bridge is 2,945 feet long, 70 feet wide, and rests on 684 pilings on the north  and 824 on the south. The approved height was 135 to 150 feet over center but WSDOT lists it as 155 or 176 feet; a medical study listed it at 164 feet. Sadly, 230 people have died jumping off the bridge, first before the bridge was completed. Last large ship to pass through was the Monongahela (built in Glasgow in 1892, tonnage - 2,782, length - 298.5 feet, width 43.6 feet).

10.    Stone Way Bridge - Opened in 1911 as a wood trestle bridge for $60,000. 2,700 feet long. 25 feet above the water. 90,000 feet of piling (up to 100 feet deep into the murky muck of Lake Union) and 1.5 million board feet of lumber. By 1913, it carried 25,000 streetcar passengers daily. Closed in 1917 and replaced by the Fremont Bridge.

11. Ship Canal or I-5 Bridge – Completed in 1961, but connections not finished until 1962, it is 4,429 feet long and 182 feet above the canal. Not much to say about this bridge except that its hump contributes to traffic problems: I’ve noticed that people for some odd reason like to slow down when they can’t see what’s ahead!

12. Latona (aka Sixth Avenue bridge, Brooklyn Bridge - Originally built by David Denny in 1891 for his street car. Bridge was located directly below where I-5 span crosses the canal. Widened in 1902 for pedestrians and vehicles. Had to be cut open to allow dredges working on ship canal to pass through. A temporary drawspan was added. University Bridge replaced it.

13. University Bridge (aka Eastlake Avenue Bridge or Tenth Avenue North Bridge) - When it opened in 1919, bridge and trestles were made of wood. Engineers deemed this problematic because the bridge often caught fire—22 times in June/July 1930. They described the approaches as “deplorable.” Remodeled in 1932-33 with two additional lanes, steel and concrete trestles, and a steel mesh deck. (42.5’ above water)

14. Montlake Bridge – After first canal was built in 1884-85, photos show a high, rickety footbridge spanning the gap. In 1909, a bridge opened for the streetcar that took people to the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. In typical Seattle fashion it too many elections to approve a bridge across the Montlake Cut. (48’ feet above water)
1. March 1913 - $1.6 million bond, included bridges across Duwamish River (defeated 19,902 to 8,331).
2. June 1914 – more specific vote with specific bridges, Money approved for Ballard and Fremont bridges but not Montlake.
3. March 1917, rejected.
4. March 1919, rejected.
5. March 1921, rejected by 4,000 votes
6. May 1922, approved but not with 60% margin
7. May 1923, approved but later thrown out because of technicality
8. March 1924, approved $500,000 bond. The bridge opened on June 27, 1925, ahead of schedule, for streetcars (a route had been extended specifically to take advantage of the new bridge) and automobiles. In the early 1920s, temporary pontoon bridges were placed in the cut to provide access to Husky football games and various events on the Campus.


Upcoming events of interest to put on your calendar and/or share with others. 
September 18Shaw Island Library and Historical Society – 7pm – I will be chatting with Board member Louis Whitford about Homewaters. Read all about it.
September 19Lopez Island Historical Society and Museum – 3PM – I will be in conversation with Iris Graville about Homewaters. We will meet outside at the Museum.