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.