Friday, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, announced the Salmon Bay Bridge project will receive $25 million from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program, which was created by the Democratic senator from Washington. The 108-year-old Salmon Bay Bridge connects the Magnolia and Interbay neighborhoods to Ballard.

“The Salmon Bay Bridge is a critical piece of freight and passenger transportation infrastructure that is at risk of failure,” Sen. Cantwell stated in a press release from her office. “More than 30 trains and 100 vessels each day depend on this bridge to get freight and commuters where they need to go. These funds will ensure that one of Seattle’s most iconic bridges remains operational for another 50 years.”

According to a press release, the bridge is an “integral rail link for western Washington.” Between 30 and 40 freight, commuter and intercity passenger rail trains cross the bridge each day, including Sounder trains and, when they are running, Amtrak trains. The funds will be used to replace the drawbridge’s mechanical system, extending the operational life of the bridge by another 50 years. Sen. Cantwell wrote a letter of support for the Salmon Bay Bridge grant application to Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg in June 2022. BNSF, who owns the bridge, will provide an additional $70 million in funding needed to complete the project. Originally opened in 1914, the Salmon Bay Bridge is the only direct north-south route to serve the Northern Seattle metropolitan area, northwestern Washington, and Canada. Although currently suspended, Amtrak and WSDOT use the Salmon Bay Bridge for the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail corridor service. Sen. Cantwell recently urged Amtrak board of director nominees to commit to resuming service on this critical route.

The waterway under the Salmon Bay Bridge is integral to moving maritime traffic in the region with the Chittenden (Ballard) Locks located nearby. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates 40,000 commercial and recreational vessels travel under the Salmon Bay Bridge annually, making the Chittenden Locks the busiest navigation locks in the country.

Repairs for the Salmon Bay Bridge are to take place during work windows identified to minimize the impacts to marine life and protect the rich biodiversity in the affected area, including the thousands of sockeye, Chinook and coho salmon that pass through the locks during the summer.

“This project is critically important to Washington’s rail network,” WSDOT Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar said. “WSDOT is pleased to be a part of ensuring the continued operation of this bridge that links both train passengers and freight movements throughout western Washington and beyond. We thank Senator Cantwell for her leadership in funding the needed improvements.”

“The Salmon Bay Bridge is a critical transportation corridor for freight rail and passenger trains, including Sound Transit Sounder North commuter rail service,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “This grant is an innovative solution to ensure the continued safe and efficient operation of this bridge, which is crucial to ensuring our economy can thrive and our people move. We are very grateful for Sen. Cantwell’s tenacious work to secure this funding.”

Sen. Cantwell created the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program in the FAST Act of 2015. The INFRA grant program was the first-ever multimodal freight grant program focused on freight mobility. These grants provide funding for projects of national or regional significance including railway, seaport and highway projects to increase safety and reduce congestion.

The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $8 billion for the INFRA grant program.