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.