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Photo Credit
Photo Credit: West Seattle Bridges from Pigeon Hill, 1931. Item 5110, Engineering Department Negatives (Record Series 2613-07)

West Seattle Bridge

A low-level bascule bridge to West Seattle was constructed in 1924. By the 1960s, there was a lot of discussion about how to replace it as the large number of ships in the Duwamish Waterway required frequent opening, causing traffic jams. Plans for a high bridge, without a drawbridge, began in the 1960s. In October 1973, Councilmember John Miller released a statement that read "After several years of planning and hearings, the moment of decision has arrived on the West Seattle Freeway...." Funding had been received from Forward Thrust and the State's Urban Arterial Fund. But the State withdrew its funds in 1976 due to bribery and scandal, and by 1978 the bridge project was considered dead. When the ship Antonio Chavez hit the bridge in 1978, action was no longer optional. Councilmember Jeanette Williams chaired the Transportation Committee and took on the project. Some people wanted to repair the existing bridge, some wanted a curved bridge, some wanted a bascule bridge, some wanted a low bridge and some wanted a high bridge. And some thought a tunnel would be a good idea. In April 1979 City Council approved a plan for the West Seattle Freeway Bridge and after a decade or more of construction the bridge was dedicated on August 9, 1991. It was renamed the Jeanette Williams Memorial Bridge in 2009.

The Transportation Committee approved Resolution 26055 on April 5, 1979; the Full Council approved the resolution on April 9, 1979. It stated the Council's preference for Alternative Number 10 as the final plan for the West Seattle Freeway Bridge. Councilmember Hill was the only dissenting vote.

Citations for Multimedia Segment


  • Transportation Committee Meeting (April 5, 1978), Event 8379, Record Series 4601-03
  • Full Council Meeting (April 17, 1978), Event 4561, Record Series 4601-03
  • Transportation Committee Public Hearing (September 18, 1978), Event 8332, Record Series 4601-03

Moving Images

  • West Seattle Freeway and Bridge Studies; Freeway Models...Traffic Flow, Bridge Opening (September 1973), Item 442, Record Series 2613-09
  • WSF2 - Opening Ceremony (From bridge surface) [West Seattle Freeway] (August 9, 1991), Items 803 & 804, Record Series 2613-09


  • West Seattle Bridge No. 2 (August 30, 1929), Item 73916, Record Series 2613-23
  • West Seattle Bridges Spokane Street #1 and #2 Open and Shut from Pigeon Hill (July 6 1931), Item 5109, Record Series 2613-07
  • Councilmember Jeanette Williams with hard hat by bridge (August 15, 1973) Item 170858, Record Series 4693-11
  • Councilmember Jeanette Williams with hard hat speaking with man in US Army uniform (August 15, 1973), Item 170859, Record Series 4693-11
  • Ship that hit West Spokane Street Bridge #1 taken from fire boat - Chavez (June 12, 1978), Items 73167 and 73168, Record Series 2613-07
  • Councilmember Jeanette Williams with Mayor Royer on West Seattle tour, viewing West Seattle Freeway bridge model (March 8, 1984), Items 170711, 170712, 170713, & 170714, Record Series 4693-11
  • West Seattle Bridge construction, Item 130331, Record Series 0207-01
  • Tug pulling cargo barge under West Seattle Bridge, Item 130333, Record Series 0207-01
  • West Seattle Bridge (April 26, 2005), Item 158585, Record Series 8100-01
  • Construction of the West Seattle Bridge (April 23, 1981), Record Series 2613-25
  • [Seattle City Council] [Jeanette Williams at dais] (1984 - 1985 Estimated), Item 175098, Record Series 1204-04
  • Political Advertisement on bus; Position No 4. (January 15, 1975), Item 170845, Record Series 4693-11
  • Jeanette Williams and Tom Rasmussen at protest on Duwamish. Signs read "High level access for bicycle commuters" and "Bikes and Us are the future" (April 15, 1984), Item 170791, Record Series 4693-11
  • Councilmember Jeanette Williams on occasion of swearing in of Mayor Wes Uhlman (January 14, 1974), Item 51273, Record Series 8200-13
  • Jeanette Williams, Tom Rasmussen, Lori Mayfield, at bridge on Duwamish Waterway (April 15, 1984), Items 170787 & 170789, Record Series 4693-11
  • Councilmembers Jeanette Williams and Sam Smith in Council Chambers (March 15, 1974), Item 170706, Record Series 4693-11
  • Seattle City Council Group Portrait (January 15, 1985), Item 170843, Record Series 4693-11
  • Councilmember Jeanette Williams (January 14, 1974), Items 170855, 170856, & 170857, Record Series 4693-11
  • Senior Citizens Transit Rate Reduction Ordinance. Mayor Uhlman with Councilmembers Smith, Cooley and Williams (December 13, 1973), Items 171502, 171503, 171504, & 171505, Record Series 2613-07

Sources for Further Research

Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.