Seattle, WA

City of Seattle

2017 - 2019

The Magnolia Bridge provides an important link between the Magnolia community, home to approximately 20,000 people, and the rest of Seattle.

It has been closed to traffic twice in the past 20 years due to natural disasters including a landslide and the Nisqually Earthquake, both requiring repair and replacement of multiple structural elements.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) partnered with SCJ Alliance to conduct a planning study for the Magnolia Bridge structure, approaches, and related arterial connections. SCJ was selected to develop alternatives to replace the bridge, including looking at a previously studied in-kind replacement and multiple alternatives on new alignments.

The existing bridge provides the only public vehicular access from 15th Avenue West to the T91 Cruise Ship Terminal, Smith Cove Park, Elliot Bay Marina, and a National Guard storage yard; therefore, the project included maintenance of access to these areas as well as the Magnolia community.

The project team also considered the future expansion of the BNSF yards, Expedia’s Headquarters, cruise ship operations, and construction of Sound Transit’s Ballard to West Seattle Light Rail Extension. SCJ’s Planning and Design teams created nearly a dozen access options that maintain convenient and reliable vehicular and non-motorized access between the Magnolia community and the rest of Seattle.

Alternatives were evaluated in a two-phase process to consider geometric and operational feasibility, operational performance, environmental impacts, costs, and construction impacts. Public and stakeholder support, facilitated by SCJ, carried significant weight in the alternatives analysis.

This support was solicited through public and stakeholder meetings with SDOT, the Port of Seattle, BNSF, and Sound Transit throughout the project. Ultimately, SCJ’s work narrowed down the alternatives to four viable options, including an in-kind replacement.


“I enjoyed this project because it provided a unique opportunity to design new alignment alternatives in an urban setting. We were encouraged to be creative and approach the problem from multiple angles while incorporating substantial public and agency feedback.” 

Giuliana Joyce, PE
Lead Designer