Once upon a time, the city had said they hoped the new 1st Avenue South on- and off-ramp for the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct – the now-being-widened section of the West Seattle Bridge between I-5 and Highway 99 – would be open by this fall, maybe even before the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s closure last month. It wasn’t. So many then asked, when WILL it open? We asked SDOT, and were told the contractor was coming up with a revised schedule. Now, that’s in, and our answer has finally arrived from SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan:
While the overall project is nearly 90 percent complete, our Spokane Street Viaduct contractor has not finished constructing the First Avenue S on-/off-ramps due to delays in receiving critical construction materials. Their steel subcontractor has yet to deliver specialized steel girders needed to complete the ramp.
When the girders finally arrive from the fabricator, it will take at least two months to complete the ramps. At that point in the construction schedule, we will need to transfer traffic to the viaduct’s new roadway to resurface the existing deck and cannot safely allow use of the on-ramp. Due to this, SDOT does not anticipate opening the ramps fully until the overall project is completed in July 2012.
We understand that the loss of this access point does create inconveniences for West Seattle residents and businesses. Alternate routes such as accessing the high rise bridge via I-5 or SR-99, the lower Spokane Street Swing Bridge or the First Ave S Bridge will continue to serve as good options for reaching West Seattle. The overall project remains on budget and scheduled for completion by summer 2012.
If that timeframe holds, it will be 26 months after the closure of the old 1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound bridge; just before that closure, we were told the ramp would take “at least 16 months” to build.