The NEXT bridge crunch; bike/pedestrian path alert; more, @ Viaduct South Portal Working Group briefingFebruary 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments
(Spokane Street Viaduct construction photo, from presentation at Wednesday meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Get ready for another traffic crunch on the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the West Seattle Bridge. That was one of the toplines from Wednesday’s meeting of the South Portal Working Group, an advisory group convened mostly on behalf of the ongoing Alaskan Way Viaduct/Tunnel work, but typically briefed on other major road projects affecting our side of the city, so we usually cover this group’s quarterly meetings as a place to get MEGA-EARLY heads-up.
First – if you want to cut to the chase, here’s the entire 42-page presentation given to the group, covering the north and central area progress on 99 as well as components of more interest here. Tons of information.
Now, back to that aforementioned crunch: According to SDOT, sometime next month, all Spokane Street Viaduct traffic will have to be shifted onto the new north-side structure, so that work can be done on the old south-side structure for at least six weeks. When that happens, there will be three traffic lanes – one eastbound, and two westbound.
More on that – and other toplines from the meeting, including some discussion of last week’s eastbound bridge-closure backups, ahead:
That temporary constriction is part of the ongoing Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. Asked again when it will be done, SDOT said that the deadline for the contractor is end of July, and that they’re pushing right up against it – in other words, not likely to finish early. Regarding the long-awaited 1st Avenue South on/offramp in the westbound direction – which we most recently were told wouldn’t be fully complete till summer – the current expectation is that it will be available as an offramp, perhaps this spring, before it’s usable as an onramp too.
As for the work on 99 – several aspects of potential interest include:
-WSDOT says working on what will be the northbound elevated section in SODO, parallel to the one carrying all the traffic now (which will eventually be the southbound section), will be “very challenging.” Some overnight closures are likely “later this spring.”
-The South Atlantic overcrossing work will start this summer.
-The bike/pedestrian path along the Alaskan Way South detour will go through some changes in the months ahead as work proceeds. Here are “before” and “after” maps from the Wednesday presentation:
Don’t expect anything to “get back to normal” for a VERY long time; WSDOT’s Matt Preedy explained that for the purposes of the 99 project, the detour “will be in place till late 2013/early 2014″ – and by then, the seawall project should be ramped up enough to keep the detour in place.
-Alaskan Way will be widened this spring between Yesler and Spring, taking out the old waterfront-streetcar tracks and paving over that part of the right-of-way.
-Viaduct strengthening work will start next month and continue through August. From the presentation:
March through August, project managers say, “crews will reinforce sections of the viaduct to withstand limited settlement due to tunneling.” They’ll put several hundred “micropiles” – steel pipes – into the ground to do that.
LAST WEEKEND’S BRIDGE CLOSURE: SDOT offered some “observations” – first, they “competed with ourselves” regarding messaging for the Mercer Street work happening that same weekend. Mercer got citywide media coverage, the West Seattle Bridge did not. They also acknowledged that with the Fauntleroy Expressway Seismic Retrofit Project continuing, “We think we may have confused some people regarding what was closed at night and what was closed all weekend.” One of two West Seattle reps at the meeting, Pete Spalding, told the officials that the signage was “one of the biggest” problems – “There was nothing indicating that the roadway was closed ahead … it gave the time to get to Highway 99, and that was it.” SDOT’s reply: “We agree with that.” (This wasn’t the full official report we’re still expect from SDOT – it just happened to be one of the topics at Wednesday’s meeting.)
MORE ONLINE COORDINATION: This was also a recurring theme in the WSDOT presentation – that they would promise to coordinate project information and online updates between agencies and departments even more than it already is.
HIGHWAY 99 TIMBER BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT: It’s still on the horizon, but no new details were shared. This is the timber-based elevated section of 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge, and it is slated for replacement. (Last meeting of this group in October also featured a similar message.)
FUTURE MEETINGS: Viaduct project boss Linnea Laird announced this group will meet May 2nd, August 1st, and November 7th, all at 4 pm at the Sound Transit board room downtown.
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