11 days and counting: Another 1st Avenue S. ramp-closure alert

It was one of the hottest topics on last night’s Southwest District Council meeting – the upcoming closure of the 1st Avenue South ramp to the westbound West Seattle Bridge, as part of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. The closure’s now 11 days away – Monday, May 17th – and project manager Stuart Goldsmith got some tough questions last night at the SWDC meeting after taking some tough questions: What about West Seattle traffic after the closure? he was asked, as SWDC co-chair Erica Karlovits of the Junction Neighborhood Organization pointed out that trouble on The Bridge can back up traffic all the way into The Junction, or well into North Delridge. Goldsmith said SDOT would keep an eye on that. Meantime, the department has just issued another official reminder tonight of the impending ramp closure (which will mean almost a year and a half with no access to the westbound bridge between 99 and I-5), along with the official detour map (above) – read on for the full text:

In less than two weeks, on May 17, the First Ave S on-ramp to the S. Spokane St Viaduct (the elevated structure that connects I-5 with the West Seattle Bridge) will be closed and prepped for demolition. It’s the next major milestone in the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) project to completely rebuild lower Spokane Street, construct new access ramps, and widen the upper roadway 41 feet to the north.

In the sixteen months during which there will be no westbound access to the Spokane Street Viaduct from surface streets in SODO, southbound vehicles approaching Spokane Street on First Ave S will be detoured to the low level swing bridge to get to West Seattle. To reduce the expected congestion on this bridge during construction, SDOT is working with the Port of Seattle, U.S. Coast Guard and maritime community to reduce bridge openings during the heavy afternoon commute, and to provide advance notification when possible of openings that must occur. Alternative routes are noted in the attached map.

Meanwhile, the newly constructed eastbound off-ramp at Fourth Ave S is ahead of schedule and expected to open for use in late summer or early fall. Once utility work and paving are completed this summer, crews can then join the new ramp to the existing elevated structure. This is the final construction step in the creation of the new off-ramp, requiring the closure of the eastbound right-hand lane of the viaduct between First and Fourth avenues for up to eight weeks.

The 60-year-old S Spokane St Viaduct carries 65,000-70,000 vehicles daily between I-5 and the West Seattle Bridge. Once this project is completed, the elevated roadway between Sixth Ave S and E Marginal Way will have wider lanes and shoulders, a new westbound acceleration/deceleration lane, and an additional eastbound lane between First Ave S and Fourth Ave S. The project also includes seismic strengthening of the viaduct, and a new 10-foot wide sidewalk on the north side of lower S Spokane Street that can accommodate pedestrians and bicycles.

11 Replies to "11 days and counting: Another 1st Avenue S. ramp-closure alert"

  • Jim May 6, 2010 (8:11 pm)

    “Erica Karlovits… pointed out that trouble on The Bridge can back up traffic all the way into The Junction.”

    That’s pretty rare. I’ve never seen it back up to the Junction except maybe a couple times in a few years. That’s the type of situation that people should learn to deal with, but not one that the system should be designed around. Otherwise we should all just expect freeways from our houses directly to our offices.

    Also backups from the Bridge to the Junction cannot be affected by this ramp closure–that’s traffic going in another direction entirely. However, this will back up SODO 1st ave traffic like a mother****er, especially on game days.

    Still, we all have to put up with our fair share of inconveniences to live in a world where someone else maintains our highways and bridges for us, right?

  • Commuter May 6, 2010 (8:55 pm)

    What a disaster! The lower bridge is often backed up by semi-carriers – and that is without bridge openings! And then there will be difficulties trying to get to I-5 from West Seattle. Traffic is already backed up on the upper bridge due to the closure of one lane on the 1st Ave S exit. Now they will also take away the right lane past that for eight weeks. And the only way to get on the bridge heading west will be from I-5 will be to sit in hours of traffic from the Mount Baker tunnel to the bridge. Basically, the DOT has us coming and going.

  • Ken May 6, 2010 (10:12 pm)

    Is there any reason why the holgate to Beacon to s-spokane st route is not considered on this map?

    Or is that the super secret route we are not supposed to talk about…


  • SomeGuy May 6, 2010 (10:47 pm)

    Better make one last Costco run, enough to last us through 2014.

  • Ken May 7, 2010 (12:49 am)

    NOT looking forward to this…

  • KT May 7, 2010 (8:13 am)

    Wow. Not a good time to be in West Seattle. Might as well vent here because there isn’t anyone in Seattle City Government who cares how this isolates a community. The spokesman saying SDOT would keep an eye on backups means that they really haven’t thought about what to do or he would have said. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

  • CDinSeattle May 7, 2010 (8:13 am)

    Here’s the metro bus revised route link:
    For questions regarding how Metro Transit bus routes will be affected during this construction period, contact King County Metro Transit directly: by phone at (206) 553-3000; email at Customer.Comments@kingcounty.gov; or visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/metro for route information. Specifically, riders of routes 15, 18, 21, 22, 56, 57, 118, 119 are most likely to be directly impacted. If you would like to receive King County Metro e-mail route alerts, you may sign-up for them at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/rr/alertscenter.html.

  • CMP May 7, 2010 (8:23 am)

    Just wait til the South Park Bridge closes in late June…I thought they were directed to take the 1st Ave South Bridge instead so that will add to the traffic. I’m glad I’ll be on vacation the first week of the on-ramp closure!

  • Spana May 7, 2010 (8:27 am)


  • mtnpeak May 7, 2010 (9:39 am)

    Sure looking forward to this work being completed, and to having a shiny new Spokane Viaduct to boot. For the time being I guess I’ll be riding my bike a lot more than I have been, since bikes never get stuck in traffic.

  • Valerie May 8, 2010 (7:37 am)

    Just the push I needed to finally get serious about taking the bus to work!

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