BNSF to build $200M Seattle drawbridge

Written by Railway Age Staff
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The Salmon Bay Bridge was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1914. Google Maps image

Construction of a replacement for a century-old bridge on the Everett-Seattle mainline is expected to cost BNSF about $200 million.

The bascule bridge crossing the Lake Washington Ship Canal on Salmon Bay near Ballard was built in 1914.

“As it goes up and down with a counterweight, what we found was that the trunnion bearing [on which the bridge rotates] was getting fatigued,” said BNSF spokesperson Courtney Wallace. BNSF replaced the trunnion bearings about a decade ago.

About 30-40 passenger and freight trains cross the bridge each day, clearing marine traffic through the Ballard Locks.

For tall ships, the railroad is proposing a vertical lift bridge with 155 feet of clearance.

The company expects the project’s permitting phase to take two years before a new span is constructed parallel to the current bridge, expected to last three years. BNSF will then remove the old bridge.

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