Truck collides with Ballard Bridge

About 4:30 a.m. a truck smashed into the lower Ballard Bridge at 45th St.

Firefighters sawed off the canopy to extract the driver, who sustained very serious injuries. No other vehicles were involved. (Thanks Rob for the photo.)

Update: We’ve heard from several sources that this appears to be a suicide attempt, so we’ve closed the comment thread.

Barge briefly closes Ballard Bridge

Update 5:50 p.m.A barge headed to the I-90 work project briefly closed the Ballard Bridge just before 6 p.m. today.

The closure was not as long as some were fearing — just six minutes before it passed through, headed on its way to Fremont and then Lake Washington. The barge is carrying two 65-ton steel joints and a huge crane.

The 75-foot-wide barge barely squeezed through the Ballard Locks, with just a few feet of clearance on either side.

Views from the Ballard Bridge

With the sun shining, we took a stroll across the Ballard Bridge.

And snapped some photos, like this one of Salmon Bay. Many more below…

A boat crosses underneath with Magnolia in the background.

Workers busy at LA Fitness.

The big empty lot that will soon become home to Ballard Blocks II. In the meantime, it’s home to a lake of standing water.

Bicyclists weave through the center of the bridge.

One of the eight sculptures adorning the north side of the bridge. They were reinstalled a few months ago after sustaining damage in a wind storm.

A zoom shot of Fishermen’s Terminal.

This is looking east toward Fremont.

Birds frolic in the water.

At its highest point.

LA Fitness is hard to miss heading north over the bridge.

The ride over the bridge. Some bicyclists say the low wall is dangerous, and the city is facing a lawsuit after an accident in 2007.

The home of the bridge operator.

A ship at the Terminal towers over a car parked at the dock.

By the way, we’ll be shooting photo essays like this one from time to time.

Ballard Bridge suffers mechanical problem

Update 7:30 a.m. The Ballard Bridge is now open and traffic is running smoothly, but last night around 11:30 p.m. it was closed due to a mechanical problem. We walked up the side of the bridge and spoke briefly to an engineer who said it wasn’t closing all the way down (although it looked down).

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, we saw a couple Twitter messages from people who said the bridge was closed to traffic, but it was apparently able to open by the evening commute. (Thanks Ann for the tip!)

Bicyclist injured on Ballard Bridge dies

Back in July of last year, Terry McMacken was bicycling across the Ballard Bridge when he bumped into the low concrete barrier and rocketed into traffic. He was hit by a car and ended up losing his right arm. Today the Seattle PI reports that McMacken died from injuries sustained in the crash. He was 51. The McMacken family, who lives in Magnolia, has sued the city of Seattle over that concrete barrier, which you can see here in this photo. Some bicyclists have complained to the city that it poses an unnecessary risk. (Thanks Brian for the link.)

Crews reinstalling sculptures on Ballard Bridge

Back in February 2006, eight sculptures were removed from the Ballard Bridge after a fierce windstorm damaged the anchors that secured the public art in place. After a long repair and reinforcement process, the artwork will be reinstalled today and tomorrow. From 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. today, SDOT crews will close the northbound right lane to install the four sculptures on that side of the bridge. Then in the same time span tomorrow, they’ll finish up the other side of the bridge.

The 10-foot-tall aluminum sculptures were designed by Tom Askman and Lea Anne Lake to reflect Ballard’s Scandinavian and Native American roots. It was funded by city art funds, neighborhood matching funds and contributions raised by the Ballard Gateway Committee.

Bicyclist sues city over Ballard Bridge accident

Last summer Terry McMacken was riding across the Ballard Bridge next to that low concrete wall when he was thrown into traffic and struck by a car. He lost his arm in the accident, and now he’s suing the city of Seattle, reports the Seattle PI. McMacken’s attorney says the city had received prior complaints that the Ballard Bridge guardrail is too low to protect cyclists. The city has not yet responded to the suit in court. (Thanks Nina for the link!)

Busy bridges on opening day

Saturday is the opening day of boating season which reminds us that summer is just around the corner. As with any opening day, the Fremont bridge and Ballard bridge will be going up and down more than usual. Boats are beginning to line up for the annual parade at 8 a.m. with the actual parade of boats going from noon to 2:30 p.m. Expect the most bridge activity before and after the parade. The Locks will also be pretty busy, so if the weather holds it may be a fun day to take the kids.

‘Seattle polite’ on the Ballard Bridge

We’ve all experienced this scenario: you’re sitting on 15th waiting for the Ballard Bridge to go down. Finally, traffic starts moving. Wahoo! You’re on your way, but there’s all those folks trying to merge on from Leary. The merge usually creates a “zipper” of sorts where one car on 15th goes, then a car from Leary, then 15th, and so on. Sophie asks in the PI’s “Getting There” section if this “zipper” is mandated by the law or if it’s just our Seattle/Ballard politeness. Turns out we’re just a bunch of nice people (most of the time) because the law doesn’t require you to let anyone in front of you.

Update: In comments below, John Eddy links the state law that says drivers who are merging into traffic “shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard.” In other words, if nobody lets them in, they’re supposed to sit there until there’s a natural opening.