Heritage Corner | The East Channel Bridge

The next time you’re entering I-90 westbound from I-405 imagine how 70 years earlier all that spanned the channel was a wooden trestle. The East Channel Bridge, which opened for traffic on November 10, 1923, was the first major bridge on Lake Washington and garnered headlines in the Seattle Times.

The bridge was 1200’ long, extending from Enatai to Barnabie Point. It had a 245-foot manually operated swing truss that allowed boats through. Seldom used, the truss rusted eventually and became inoperable.

The bridge itself became so unstable that, according to an early story, one school bus driver would make the children get out and walk the bridge, and he would pick them up once he had successfully driven over.

A new East Channel Bridge was built in 1939, and the old one was dismantled in 1940 as part of a WPA project. The new bridge, apparently much more stable than its predecessor, remained in use until the early 1980s.

To learn more about Bellevue and Eastside history, contact the Eastside Heritage Center at 425-450-1049 or visit www.EastsideHeritageCenter.org.

East Channel Floating Bridge looking east, 1937. Photo Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation.