Fauntleroy Expressway retrofit: Closures, detours ahead, Southwest District Council told

September 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm | In Southwest District Council, Transportation, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Though the $2.4 million Fauntleroy Expressway Seismic Retrofit Project is already under way – that’s what you seein our photo, taken this morning along eastbound Spokane Street under The Bridge – the biggest effects on West Seattle’s already-beleaguered drivers/bus riders/bikers are yet to come. SDOT consultant Josh Stepherson was at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting at South Seattle Community College to deliver the latest words of warning.

We’ve reported on this project before. But in case you’ve missed it, a quick definition: The Fauntleroy Expressway is the half-mile-long section of the high-rise bridge between Delridge and Avalon/Harbor. It was built in 1963, and it needs to be reinforced in case of earthquake. Stepherson called it the “weakest link in the corridor for (potential) structural failure during an earthquake.” (Some work was done in 1994, as explained here, so it’s not completely unreinforced.)

The work under way right now is around three of its support columns. But the really big part of the project will involve lifting sections of the “expressway” to replace its weight-bearing pads – and when that happens, there will be closures and detours.

Stepherson says there’s no exact timetable for it because the contractor will have to try lifting a section to see how it goes and how long it takes. Depending on what they determine, that part of the project could result in at least 15 separate closure periods.

He says SDOT is promising that no closures will happen, at ANY time of the day, during the looming October 21-31 Alaskan Way Viaduct shutdown. When the closures/detours do happen, they are expected to take place during evening/night/early morning hours, to minimize commute disruption – somewhere in the 7 pm-5 am vicinity. Nothing during peak hours, he insisted.

But during those off-peak times, the detours could be significant. While he says the Delridge onramp to The Bridge will remain open throughout, other approaches will be closed at times, and depending upon whether it’s deck-lifting work or under-the-bridge column work, people will be detoured either to Delridge (for example, if the Avalon/Harbor ramp is closed, people will be directed onto SW Genesee and down to Delridge) or, from Admiral, toward The Junction to get on via 35th/Fauntleroy.

You also might notice some lane reductions on Spokane Street under The Bridge as time goes by – right now, the project has taken up a portion of the Park and Ride spaces.

Asked what sort of notification SDOT is engaging in, Stepherson said some door-to-door visits are happening in the project area right now – for those who live near The Bridge, it could get loud. And they’re making the rounds at community meetings. You can read more about the project on its official webpage; according to SDOT, it is expected to be “substantially complete” by June of next year.

15 Comments

  1. Why does the DOT schedule all their traffic-impacting projects at the same time. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do this prior to, or after, the other huge projects we’re facing? Maybe after is a risk because of the pending seismic threat, but they had all of eternity to do this before our roads knot up in October.

    I don’t think anyone at DOT thinks beyond their own dumb desk. Whenever you call them and ask how they get to work, they all take the damn bus. It’s like patronizing a vegan butcher. If you’re a city employee and you’re insulted, good. That’s what I want.

    Comment by DOT == sillies — 3:16 pm September 8, 2011 #

  2. Doesn’t the brain trust at DOT talk to each other about the various traffic-impacting projects? Many of us spend so much time in our cars commuting we may as well sell our homes and live in the vehicles. If I could get to work without three bus transfers and a 1.5 mile walk, taking public transit would be a viable option. The other option is becoming more attractive: sell the house and move out of Seattle – especially after spending 2+ hours per day commuting a 24 miles round trip.

    Comment by margaritaville — 3:36 pm September 8, 2011 #

  3. I’m taking bets that it won’t go smoothly. Takers?

    Comment by Jack Mayne — 3:41 pm September 8, 2011 #

  4. wow- that will be fun-
    it is too bad this isn’t/ wasn’t scheduled for the summer, when there isn’t tons of pathfinder traffic creating backups at Delridge / Andover back to All Star. if more people are detoured to the west seattle bridge via the delridge on-ramp, the stop and go back up would likely extend back to the triangle. the traffic has changed since school started. (especially since SDOT made the crazy change to, seemingly, solely, accomddoate Nucor and their giant trucks. now, if someone wants to go straight up andover and they are stuck behind a giant truck that can’t get on the bridge due to traffic, good luck….)

    Comment by sam-c — 3:58 pm September 8, 2011 #

  5. Can’t wait. I just don’t follow traffic laws anymore. I run red lights, safely. I Turn left on red turn arrows, safely. And when I get pulled over I tell the cop I am from West Seattle and since the city has given us the transportation screwgie so bad that the laws don’t apply to us anymore. Time to Secede!!!!

    Comment by Tim — 4:14 pm September 8, 2011 #

  6. some of you may want to go back and read more than just the headline …
    “He says SDOT is promising that no closures will happen, at ANY time of the day, during the looming October 21-31 Alaskan Way Viaduct shutdown. When the closures/detours do happen, they are expected to take place during evening/night/early morning hours, to minimize commute disruption – somewhere in the 7 pm-5 am vicinity. Nothing during peak hours, he insisted.”
    By all means, let’s wait for it to fall down in an earthquake … that will make it SO much easier cuz no one will be able to drive anywhere anyway.

    Comment by metrognome — 4:33 pm September 8, 2011 #

  7. ha ha you’re right, when I read off-peak, i thought for some reason, that meant times when construciton wasn’t happening. (off-work hours not off-peak ) oh well, the traffic is annoying anyhow.
    i better get back to work

    Comment by sam-c — 4:47 pm September 8, 2011 #

  8. I guess you all didn’t read the part where it said the expressway will NOT be closed at the same time Hwy 99 is closed, and the work WILL be done at night. But, as usual, West Seattleites let their completely baseless persecution complex override all facts.
    .
    @ “DOT sillies” Your broad insult against public employees based on your objection to how they get to work is childish and inane.
    .
    @ “Tim” “Safely run red lights?” That degree of idiocy and recklessness is homicidal. You belong in prison. I just hope they take your license and impound your SUV before you kill someone.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 5:02 pm September 8, 2011 #

  9. If you missed the presentation last night, the same presentation will be given at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting on Wednesday, September 21st. The meeting starts at 7 PM, at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

    Comment by mcbride — 5:02 pm September 8, 2011 #

  10. Since the Fauntleroy Expressway is suffering the same horrific, life-threatening issues as the Viaduct is, it would seem obvious that we dig a tunnel. It’d be relatively cheap, easily done for a paltry half-billion or so. Oh wait…I forgot. That won’t happen because no downtown business will profit from the removal of the Fauntleroy Expressway eyesore.

    Comment by CynicalSam — 6:09 pm September 8, 2011 #

  11. Just wondering, will this affect the cycling route that goes from Harbor Ave. to Spokane St? Because it technically isn’t under the bridge, so I’m just not sure if it would be affected.

    Comment by JN — 7:03 pm September 8, 2011 #

  12. @Peter on Fauntleroy,
    It appears sarcasm is lost on you. Avoid Samuel Clemens at all cost!

    Comment by Tim — 2:27 am September 9, 2011 #

  13. Peter- somehow you didn’t read all the comments, including the one where I admitted my mistake. pot calling kettle black, eh?

    the WS traffic ‘horrors’ (sarcasm) actually don’t bother me that much, since I can walk to work. I just watch the back ups on the bridge and elsewhere from the office window, and am just amazed at how bad it is. if I have to leave work for a meeting beyond WS, usually I can plan it around those peak times.

    Comment by sam-c — 7:01 am September 9, 2011 #

  14. Mr. Stepherson will present this information at the next meeting of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, to be held next Tuesday, 9/13, at the Admiral UCC Congregational Church (4320 SW Hill St. & California)from 7-9pm. Please plan to join us to learn more about this project and have your questions answered!

    Katy Walum
    President, Admiral Neighborhood Association

    Comment by Katy Walum — 9:24 am September 9, 2011 #

  15. Sam – “Pot calling kettle black?” Not so much. Your 2nd comment and metorgnome’s were not up on the site when I posted my comment (you may have noticed there’s a delay before comments go up).
    Tim – Sorry if I dodn’t “get it,” but I see many people run red light both in West Seattle and downtown every single day; it’s an endemic and serious problem in this city.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 10:11 am September 9, 2011 #

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