1. History of the Ballard Bridge
1917 – The Ballard Bridge Opens
Work on the Ballard Bridge began in 1915 in conjunction with construction of the Lake Washington ship canal. The bridge opened to traffic on December 15, 1917.
1933 – Deck Replacement
The original creosoted wood deck was replaced with an open-mesh steel deck. A 1934 census counted 12,679 vehicles crossing the bridge over a 15-hour period.
1940 - New Approaches
The original wooden approaches were replaced with approaches made of steel and concrete. The bridge was closed for a year and a half during construction. A parade was held to celebrate the re-opening of the Ballard Bridge.
1969 - Consolidated Control tower
The four original control towers we replaced with a single control tower on the Eastern side of the Southern bascule pier.
2003 - Ballard Gateway
Eight statues depicting Ballard’s Native American and Scandinavian heritage were erected on the bridge's north approach. These sculptures, titled the “Ballard Gateway,” were created by Washington artists Tom Askman and Lea Anne Lake.
2014 - Seismic Retrofits
Funded by the 2006 “Bridging the Gap” transportation levy, SDOT made necessary seismic improvements to 7 bridges, including the Ballard Bridge. The bridge received seismic retrofits to strengthen existing columns.
2014 - Bridge Sidewalk Widening Study
We conducted the Ballard Bridge Sidewalk Widening Study to evaluate alternatives to make travel across the Ballard Bridge more comfortable for pedestrians and people on bicycles. This study informs our rehabilitation concept.
2019 - Ballard Bridge Planning Study
We've launched the Ballard Bridge Planning Study to evaluate how to bring the bridge up to current transportation, functional, and structural standards including improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities and keeping buses and freight moving. The study, funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, will explore feasible rehabilitation and replacement options for the long-term future of the bridge.
HistoryLink Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Ballard Bridge Seattle” Essay 11260 (by Priscilla Long). April 4, 2017.
King County Municipal Archives, Ballard Bridge Photographs. Accessed July 5, 2019.
Ballard Bridge, with original wooden approaches, Seattle, March 13, 1918. Photo by James P. Lee, Courtesy UW Special Collections (LEE254)