The Montlake Bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge that carries State Route 513 over Seattle's Montlake Cut—part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal—connecting Montlake and the University District.
It is the easternmost bridge spanning the canal. The bridge was designed by Carl F. Gould, one of the original architects of the University of Washington campus. Both the bridge and its control towers were designed using the university's Collegiate Gothic style. There are three other original bascule-type drawbridges over the Ship Canal: the Ballard, Fremont, and University Bridges. Montlake was the last on to be complete, and it has the highest clearance. It's design is based on the Chicago bascule bridge (there are five other bridges based on this design).
Piers and abutments for a permanent bridge were built in 1914 as part of construction for the Ship Canal, but a serious proposal for a bridge at Montlake didn't come until 1916. Before it was build there was a walkway made of barges that allowed football fans to cross for the Washington/Dartmouth game in 1920. This temporary bridge received so much traffic that the need for a permanent bridge soon became obvious.
In addition to the vehicular traffic, the bridge conveys pedestrians and bicyclists across the canal by way of sidewalks on each side of the roadway. The bridge does not open during morning and evening rush hours. It opens at designated times (usually on the hour and half-hour) during the hours just prior to and after rush periods, and on demand at other times.
The bridge openings last for an average of four minutes from when traffic stops to when it resumes again. Most of the openings are for sailboats, as most of the tugs that operate this far east are able to pass under the bridge in its closed position.
The Montlake Bridge is celebrated as the site of boating season's "opening day" festivities the first Saturday in May.
The bridge and the Montlake Cut together are a City of Seattle Designated Landmark, and the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, as well as the Washington Heritage Register. It is owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Cover image by Tom Ringold is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Information courtesy of Wikipedia.