From this afternoon’s South Portal Working Group meeting for the Alaskan Way Viaduct project: This group has often received briefings on the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project, and that’s part of what kicked off today’s session, with a focus on effects of the permanent closure of the 1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound (high) West Seattle Bridge. SDOT‘s Bob Powers pronounced Monday and Tuesday as “pretty good” traffic-wise – but noted the congestion was worse on day 2. He says they’ve got observers out watching the traffic flow (and non-flow, “We’re taking a look at that, trying to fine-tune some of the signal timings down there to make it operate as best we can,” and keeping a log of how it unfolds. He mentioned the communication system, using dynamic-messaging signs and Twitter to get drivers advance word, if the “low bridge” has to open for vessels – checking the SDOT Twitter feed, it appears there was one bridge opening Monday morning and one Tuesday morning, but none today, and none during afternoon/evening rush hour since the ramp closed on Monday. “We have a very well-coordinated notification if a vessel’s coming through,” Powers said. Also from SDOT, Trevor Partap chimed in that “We’re calling in more police officers to help (direct traffic through the detour) … Today they (were) at Spokane and East Marginal, which was a little more congested yesterday. We’re continually monitoring, and once things settle down, we’ll look into” signal re-timing, etc. He also explained why lower Spokane Street, eastbound, did NOT open Monday as SDOT had announced it would during a media tour on Friday – and how long it’ll be till it can open – That plus a few other toplines from the meeting, after the jump:
Here’s Partap’s explanation for the non-opening of eastbound lower Spokane St.: The “electrical” problem mentioned Monday turned out to be wires/cables cut during construction work, rendering signals inoperable. Then they discovered that because of work on 1st Avenue just south of Spokane, trucks wouldn’t be able to turn easily – add all that to the staging that is still necessary because of water-main work in the area, and they decided they couldn’t reopen the eastbound 1st to East Marginal stretch of lower Spokane after all.
When WILL they be able to open it? The water-main work will take at least another month, according to Partap, and then they’ll review the status of the street.
Regarding the main focus of the working group – the Alaskan Way Viaduct project – members heard a detailed report from WSDOT’s Travis Phelps regarding the myriad ways traffic/construction issues will be communicated. “We lead with the Web,” he said, but detailed almost every other way imaginable to get the word out, online and offline, on the road and on the phone.
Looking ahead to the next few years of detours, there’ll be a clickable/zoomable map showing exactly how they’ll work – it was shown today as a draft, but WSDOT’s Kristy Van Ness tells WSB that it should be publicly available online next month. She also says official groundbreaking for the South End Replacement Project is likely to happen in late June.
Meantime, while the working group was originally scheduled to take a break till September, a few members including West Seattle’s Pete Spalding said they’d like to meet again sooner – a host of topics were postponed from today’s agenda, including the seawall and ferry-traffic coordination – so it was agreed that a July meeting will be scheduled.