Update: New 4th Avenue S. offramp is officially open!

3 months earlier than expected, the first major component of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project is officially open to drivers, now that a morning media tour and ceremony are over. The 1st vehicles were project trucks, at 10:17 am, applauded by the SDOT onlookers; the first “unofficial” driver came just a few minutes later:

The $42 million ramp starts with one lane at the top, though it’s wide enough for two once the entire SSVWP is done, according to project manager Stuart Goldsmith; by the time you get to the bottom, there are three lanes – one left turn (south), one to go straight or turn right, one turning right. More to come! (P.S. Apropos to the fact some refer to it as the “Costco” ramp since it provides a direct route from The Bridge, a Costco rep was in the crowd to watch.) ADDED 11:47 AM: Prior to our complete followup later with more details and a look ahead – a few images from the “media tour” pre-opening, all by Christopher Boffoli:

That’s the view from the top of the ramp, looking back at West Seattle (obviously those barrels are gone now). Next, the view looking down toward 4th Avenue:

And the crew putting finishing touches on the traffic signals, up till the last moment:

In addition to City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark, plus County Councilmember Jan Drago and SDOT boss Peter Hahn, WSDOT’s leader for the entire Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, Ron Paananen, was there to help cut the ribbon and say a few words about the role this plays in “viaduct replacement” – with an extra path downtown for West Seattle drivers. We talked to CM Rasmussen about that too.

(The “south portal” section of the Viaduct/99 project itself also has an offramp in the stadium vicinity, just before the entrance to what WSDOT still refers to as “the proposed deep-bore tunnel.”)

11 Replies to "Update: New 4th Avenue S. offramp is officially open!"

  • Adrienne August 16, 2010 (10:33 am)

    So exciting! And done early – that’s unexpected from a traffic project! :)

  • RobertSeattle August 16, 2010 (10:35 am)

    Haven’t been there yet – is there anything to help prevent drunk (or otherwise) drivers from turning right onto the ramp from northbound 4th Avenue?

  • Alki Area August 16, 2010 (10:43 am)

    Thanks to all involved. Nice to see a project done faster and cheaper than we expected. See, it CAN be done!

  • Ex-Westwood Resident August 16, 2010 (11:46 am)

    I’m sure there are the obligatory “Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs. Just like at every other similar location. But if your referring to something stronger, like reverse tire spikes…then no.

  • Kathleen August 16, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    So, this is great for my trips to Costco– yahoo! But how do I get back? Are they planning a W-bound ramp from 4th? I am sure it is common knowledge but obviously I have missed it somewhere, somehow. Thanks!

    • WSB August 16, 2010 (12:43 pm)

      We’ll be talking more about that in story #2 later but no, there is no 4th Avenue onramp. The new 1st Avenue onramp will be open by the end of next year, heading westbound – but it’s important to keep in mind that its configuration is different – you will get onto it heading southbound on 1st, no more easy turn onto Spokane as before. We asked SDOT if there’s an “official” way envisioned for people who are heading north (if you were, say, coming from Costco) to get onto that ramp; answer: not so far. (And believe me, we get the pain of trying to come back the other way – going home from the media event, we thought we’d take the 1st Avenue “detour” to the low bridge, and got stuck for 40 minutes on the feeder street in a lineup of trucks by the corn-sweetener-transfer terminal – a line of cars finally broke free out of the queue and somehow made it onto southbound Alaskan Way/1st, so we joined them and made our escape … it looked like truck gridlock in all directions …) TR

  • mrsB August 16, 2010 (6:55 pm)

    Go north on 4th to the I-5 ramp, then take I-5 south to the Bridge! Or, take 4th south to Michigan, then go south on 1st over the 1st Ave. bridge, then take your first right then back north on West Marginal. It sounds worse than it is, either is a reasonable option depending on the time of day and I-5 traffic southbound. 4th north to the ramp isn’t too bad at all, the traffic lights are synchronized quite well. We’ve been doing this since they closed the 1st Ave. onramp to the Bridge.

  • Admiral Janeway August 16, 2010 (7:28 pm)

    I agree with mrsB. Those are my routes to W. Seattle from SODO. It’s unfortunate, but the detour over the low bridge has made the Metro bus schedule completely unreliable for the affected routes.

  • james August 16, 2010 (9:25 pm)

    you can also turn right from north on 4th, and get on the ramp that leads to 5north, and go up the hill toward Columbian way, and then turn around for west.

  • mikahw August 16, 2010 (10:34 pm)

    When the first ave ramp is built, you should be able to go south on 4th, then after the bridge turn left either at Horton or Lander then turn left onto 1st, right? Guess it’s not quite as convenient as a ramp that’s right next to Costco.

    I noticed that the right lane of the offramp has a red arrow. You are allowed to make a free right on those, right? I was going to, but then about 3 cops pulled up behind me so I decided it might not be a good idea.

  • mightymo August 17, 2010 (6:45 am)

    I’m waiting to see if any of the West Seattle-originating Metro routes take the new exit on their way into town at some point. They could then turn left on (lower) Spokane Street and right on 1st northbound and resume their existing route.

    I work in Georgetown so on a non 90-degree day, walking from 4th and Spokane Street doesn’t sound all that bad.

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