Our recent heat waves are having a surprising side effect: it’s causing the Ship Canal bridges to malfunction. The most recent headache was on Wednesday, when the Ballard Bridge was stuck open for over an hour. As it turns out, extreme heat can cause the steel components to swell and misalign, which can create issues for raising and lowering.
The Seattle Department of Transportation says crews will be watering the Ship Canal bridges twice daily to keep the components cool and fend off more issues.
This phenomenon isn’t just in Seattle; bridges in Chicago get stuck during summer heat waves. According to Popular Science, firefighters had to hose down the DuSable Bridge in Chicago after the steel surface rose to more than 100 degree Fahrenheit last month.
Photo by Stephen Roach