• Should Aurora Bridge have fewer lanes and traffic barrier?

    By: Graham Johnson


    SEATTLE - The fatal collision between a Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle and a tour bus is raising questions about the safety of the Aurora Bridge.

    The bridge, built in 1931, is classified as functionally obsolete and its six lanes are notoriously narrow.

    City information about the width of the lanes, current as of 2012, reveals the outside lanes are the widest, at 10 feet. The middle lanes going each way are the narrowest at 9 feet, and the two inside lanes are 9.5 feet wide.

    Current federal standards call for arterials to have 11- to 12-foot lanes.

    There's no barrier between north and southbound traffic, so is it time to reduce the number of lanes and build a barrier?

    Here's how Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly responded to a reporter's question Thursday night: "We want to understand what happened with the investigation but that's definitely something we're going to take a good hard look at in the coming days and weeks."

    The narrow lanes are a challenge for Ride the Ducks drivers.

    Video taken this summer shows an amphibious vehicle taking up more than one lane.

    "The duck boats are large, the buses are large there's other traffic. Again, that's an issue that we'll look at going forward, no question," Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole said.

    Ride the Ducks President Brian Tracey said this about the protocol for crossing the bridge: "Normally when we go over the Aurora Bridge we put the flashers on and slow down, so we don't know what happened."

    The city manages traffic on the bridge but the state owns the structure.

    The state is spending $23 million over the next two years to paint the bridge to help preserve it.

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