Living in the Seattle neighborhoods above and below the Ballard Ship Canal and “the cut” that goes from Lake Union to Lake Washington provides a little extra interest in your commute activity, namely that of the possibility that things might be held up for as much as 15 or 20 minutes as a large ship passes through. When that happens, there are several Seattle bridges that function as draw bridges (also known as bascule bridges, if you care), and then one more that is a swing bridge (that one is called the Spokane Street Bridge). The three best known draw bridges are the University Bridge, The Fremont Bridge, and the Ballard Bridge, which is pictured here. There is also the Montlake Bridge, a double-leaf bascule bridge, and the First Avenue South bridge, a pair of double-leaf basclue bridges built in 1956
I was taking photos so it might have seemed shorter, but I thought that this time when the Ballard Bridge was up it took less than 10 minutes all in all, hardly enough to disturb. But if you are late of course, 10 minutes counts for a lot more. This is why motorists are advised to figure in a little extra time if they are crossing one of these bridges on their way to their destination. Actually, according to the city website, a bridge opening averages about 4 minutes from stopping traffic to letting traffic resume.
According to the WA State Dept of Transportation website, The Ballard Bridge was originally built in 1917, having gone through two changes since, and is the last of the bridges to be passed through as ships enter Puget Sound from Lake Washington. The road that goes over this bridge is 15th Avenue NW, which will carry you down from Ballard all the way through Interbay, the western skirts of Queen Anne, and on to the Pike Place Market and beyond.
Two “bridges” that cross the Ship Canal without having to worry about ships getting under them as they are much higher up are the Aurora Avenue (Hwy 99) Bridge and the bridge to the east of that which takes Interstate 5 over the canal. These are great for catching a glimpse of the city and Space Needle as well.