SEATTLE — The West Seattle Bridge off-ramp reopened early Tuesday morning, less than a week after a hole in the road caused the closure.
The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Traffic said crews completed work on the SR 99 northbound on-ramp from the West Seattle Bridge just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday. WSDOT officials initially said on May 3 that the on-ramp would be closed 10 days for repairs, but warmer temperatures over the weekend allowed crews to finish work four days earlier than anticipated. Crews poured concrete on the hole in the road on May 6, according to a tweet from WSDOT.
The 5-by-4 foot tire-busting pothole was discovered around 10 p.m. on May 2 after several drivers had to pull over on the side of the roadway to replace their tires.
WSDOT said the ramp was inspected Aug. 9, 2022, and showed no indication this would happen, but noted the road is more than 60 years old.
Potholes have been a recurring issue throughout Seattle.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews said in February they filled 23,000 potholes throughout the city in 2022, the most filled in the last five years. Maintenance crews filled 50% more potholes in 2022 than they did in 2021, according to the city.
"It's not your imagination," SDOT said in its February release. "There were more potholes than usual last year."
Why do potholes keep happening?
The SDOT said potholes re-appear year round, especially during the winter when severe storms are likelier.
Rain, snow and ice damage streets, as water sneaks through cracks in the pavement. When temperatures drop low enough, the water freezes and expands into ice, creating cracks and eroding streets from the inside out, according to SDOT.
As new potholes form, cars, trucks and buses worsen the street's condition and eventually cause large chunks of concrete to break off.
Winter repairs don't last "forever," SDOT said because asphalt does not bind to pavement quite as well during cold weather. That means pothole repairs today may need to be repaired again until the weather warms.
SDOT called potholes a "continual challenge year-round."
But maintenance workers can prevent frequent potholes with larger paving projects to replace the damaged pavement. Filling potholes is equivalent to putting a band-aid on a larger problem, SDOT said.
How to report a pothole in Seattle
The public is urged to send reports of new potholes as they form throughout the city. There are several ways to report a pothole in Seattle:
Additionally, drivers can file a claim for damages with the state here.
Check the map below to see the repair status of a pothole near you.