Seattle’s Fremont Bridge has many distinctions. It is one of four bascule bridges – a bridge over a waterway with two leaves that rotate from a horizontal to a near-vertical position, providing unlimited vertical clearance for marine traffic – spanning the Ship Canal and, at 242 feet, it is the longest bascule span.
It is famous for its orange and blue color scheme – the result of a 1984 popular vote. It also is the lowest of the four bascule spans; when its two cantilevered sections are in their down position to accommodate street traffic, they are a mere 30 feet above the water. That low height also accounts for the fact that the Fremont Bridge is the busiest of the four, opening an average of 35 times a day.
There’s one more thing that makes the Fremont Bridge so distinctive: one of its operators is also a CWB volunteer. Kristan Liechti is a senior bridge operator, responsible not only for all those openings (and closings) but also for bridge maintenance and, like all public sector jobs, a bunch of paperwork.
She will take us behind the scenes with vignettes of the history of all the Ship Canal bridges, including a few insider stories, and a look at her daily routine. A big portion of her day is spent up in the bridge tower, tending to a complex dashboard that sets the bridge cycle in motion but she also can be found greasing gears and “making sure the bridge looks good”.
About the Speaker
Kristan grew up in Kansas and arrived in Seattle in 2010. She shipped out to Alaska, got her captain’s license and found that being away from her adopted city so much was difficult. She looked for a land-based job that would make her “a part of the community” and still wound up on the water. She discovered CWB a while ago and has just recently begun her second time around as a CWB volunteer.
About the 3rd Friday Speaker Series
The Center for Wooden Boats 3rd Friday Speaker Series is a monthly event where a speaker of wit and experience joins CWB to share their special knowledge. It is also an opportunity for CWB members to mingle with other attendees and the staff. The talks take place in the new Wagner Education Center, and just like museum admission, the program is always free.
Snacks and beverages will be available. Donations to help cover costs will be cheerfully and gratefully accepted.