Spokane St. Viaduct switchover: 5 am Thursday, confirms SDOT

April 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm | In Spokane St. Viaduct project, West Seattle news | 34 Comments

Pilot/photographer Long B. Nguyen shared that view from a few days ago, looking east over the Spokane St. Viaduct, toward Beacon Hill and I-5. This evening we have an update on the plan to move all SSV traffic onto its newly built north side, so that, as part of the SSV Widening Project, the original south side can be repaired and resurfaced before it’s all joined for good. You might have seen the postal-mail brochure that arrived in many mailboxes on Monday (if not, see it here); like the story we published last Friday, it said that the switchover MIGHT happen as soon as Thursday. We have just confirmed with SDOT that it **IS** on for 5 am Thursday (following an eastbound overnight closure). Once it kicks in, travel lanes will be 10 feet wide, so the speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph, both ways. Also, the 4th Avenue South ramp will be closed for two months or so (but 1st will be open).

SIDE NOTE: News just came in about another project you can see in the aerial photo – at lower right, the $52 million East Marginal Way Grade Separation, built by the Port of Seattle, is officially complete and there’s a dedication ceremony at 2 pm tomorrow.

34 Comments

  1. I have a question regarding the East Marginal Way Grade Separation. When I look at it from the bus, the layout of the lanes confuses me. Why is there a large area of concrete on the northern point of the structure that is not part of the travel lane? Were there construction design errors made? Or, is there a plan some day to link the structure to the West Seattle Bridge?

    Comment by Harry Reems — 5:51 pm April 10, 2012 #

  2. I never got one of the cards in the mail on Monday.

    Comment by Darren — 5:54 pm April 10, 2012 #

  3. Harry, I bet it was more cost effective to build what you see instead of the trim neat curves in the mock up.

    Comment by dsa — 8:02 pm April 10, 2012 #

  4. “Once it kicks in, travel lanes will be 10 feet wide, so the speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph, both ways.”
    .
    That makes a lot of sense, since the limit was apparently OK at 45 when there were only two 8 foot wide lanes before. 25 is way too slow!!! I hope it’s only temporary.

    Comment by Almost there... — 8:22 pm April 10, 2012 #

  5. Would be nice if they actually enforced that 25 MPH speed limit….I had a person laying on the horn yesterday tail gateing me the entire zone.

    Comment by coffee — 8:32 pm April 10, 2012 #

  6. Why does SDOT hate West Seattle sooo much?

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 8:38 pm April 10, 2012 #

  7. Well, depending on where you’re heading, 1st Avenue Bridge/Michigan/Albro/Beacon Hill might be a good alternate. I’m unfortunately very much afraid that the four-year-plus pain we’ve endured will not be met by anywhere near the level of expectation we’ve created or been led to believe. Remember, after all is said and done, travel times for West Seattleites via bus, car, bike or on foot, will be up to two-and-a-half times longer than there were at the beginning of this process. Basically we’re being asked to take it on the chin for the betterment of greater Seattle.

    Comment by chas redmond — 9:11 pm April 10, 2012 #

  8. Slowed traffic to 25 mph and no 4 th exit. What a nightmare. Water taxi it is!

    Comment by Lorelee — 9:32 pm April 10, 2012 #

  9. I just can’t wait for it to be finally over.

    Comment by DJ Allyn — 9:51 pm April 10, 2012 #

  10. Alas, DJ, it will never be “over”—none of this solves any traffic issues, and ultimately, when The Tunnel is completed, at 3X the estimated time and $$$, Seattle’s traffic will be worse.
    I guess the downtown merchants/restaurants/theaters/etc. don’t need West Seattle to thrive and survive.

    Comment by ILoveWestSeattle — 10:16 pm April 10, 2012 #

  11. Look in the top photo toward the end of Spokane St viaduct near I-5. Do you notice what looks like an hour glass shape on the viaduct? That my friends is the traffic constraint they are leaving in place. It means that no more traffic will be able to get through that spot than did when they started. It’s discouraging to see that nothing is getting done there.

    Comment by dsa — 10:44 pm April 10, 2012 #

  12. Chas Redmond wrote “Remember, after all is said and done, travel times for West Seattleites via bus, car, bike or on foot, will be up to two-and-a-half times longer than there were at the beginning of this process.”

    I use a bicycle to go downtown whenever I can, and it’s a breeze. No delays, bottlenecks make no difference. If I can’t use the bike, I take the bus.

    When you drive your car downtown, you are ‘traffic’. At some point people need to question their ‘need’ to drive downtown.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 11:52 pm April 10, 2012 #

  13. Yeah well, at some point people will need to question their need to go downtown, there are alternatives for most of it.

    Comment by dsa — 12:29 am April 11, 2012 #

  14. So then the orange plastic delineator posts marking the lanes were part of the original design for the Marginal separation?

    Comment by CandrewB — 6:22 am April 11, 2012 #

  15. Another recession will solve everything.

    Comment by Pender — 7:28 am April 11, 2012 #

  16. One reason I hate living in West Seattle and am moving in a couple of months! It looks like they could have made the bridge into 3 lanes going eastbound.

    Comment by Rob — 7:51 am April 11, 2012 #

  17. I don’t get this whole project to begin with?! Why increase the capacity of the viaduct with, what appears to be 4 lanes in each direction, only to be squeezed down to one lane for I-5 N and I-5 S? It doesn’t make any sense to me! Am I missing something?

    Comment by Kenny — 8:25 am April 11, 2012 #

  18. Because 5 isn’t the only place to go. 1st, 4th, Beacon Hill, AND 5. The 4th offramp in particular – which ironically will be closed for the next couple months or so – still isn’t exactly being maxed out, and yet if you commute into downtown, especially the south end, it’s the speediest route.

    Comment by WSB — 8:30 am April 11, 2012 #

  19. FWIW, 25 MPH signs have already posted for *both* directions for a while. I’d join everybody in going 50 MPH through this stretch if I weren’t so against getting a fines-double-in-a-construction-zone speeding ticket.

    Comment by Chris M — 9:13 am April 11, 2012 #

  20. How much time is saved by going 50 mph vs. 25 mph for a couple hundred yards? Driving brings out the worst in human nature.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 10:44 am April 11, 2012 #

  21. I Ponder. I would save roughly 7.2 hours per year by going 50 through that zone versus 25.

    Comment by james — 1:20 pm April 11, 2012 #

  22. 50 mph vs 25 mph would shave twelve seconds off travel time at speed limit (which means, not during morning rush hour). This is about an hour and fifteen minutes per year for the majority of traffic travelling across the bridge twice per day at normal commuting hours, which is, of course, insignificant. If anyone is crossing the bridge enough for it to add 7 hours / year to time behind the wheel, you’re being paid to drive, in which case it doesn’t matter, do your job.

    Comment by Pocket Calculator — 3:42 pm April 11, 2012 #

  23. I think that the 25mph limit is just temporary during the complex construction work. Once the expanded viaduct is complete, the speeds will be adjusted to their final numbers which I think are the same as the ones that were in place before construction began.

    Comment by gatewooder — 3:48 pm April 11, 2012 #

  24. West Seattle is a traffic nightmare! There’s no hospital out here either!!! I’d be curious to know the average ambulance wait time for west Seattleites. Not that it matters—-we are moving out west Seattle this month, hooray!!! Traffic sucks, and it’s only going to get worse as the tunnel starts. What commuter can afford to pay $2600.00 a year to take the tunnel? Not me! Sad to leave this awesome neighborhood but SO glad to escape the bridge backup & daily fight to get to I-5 & onto I-90.

    Comment by Rosanne — 5:01 pm April 11, 2012 #

  25. Now if only those coming from or to West Seattle would get rid of their dyslexia driving that stretch. It says 25, not 52. I can’t count the # of times I’ve been practically pushed from those not reading those signs.

    It’s for the safety getting through that construction not to mention the workers. Slow the heck down all.

    Hopefully there will be some special emphasis patrols out there. I think the city can help offset budget deficits as well as try to convince folks that it’s not an interstate.

    Comment by LanceR — 5:25 pm April 11, 2012 #

  26. Going to have to agree to disagree on the math. The stretch from 1st ave to I-5 is roughly a mile long so it would take 1.2 minutes going 50 mph and 2.4 mins going 25.

    But all of that is inconsequential. The larger point being that people that want rational speed limits count minutes b/c minutes become hours and hours become days!

    Comment by james — 5:57 pm April 11, 2012 #

  27. The 4th ave south off ramp is the ONLY part of the system working right. Thank god it’s closing so we can fix that glitch.

    Comment by DB — 7:11 pm April 11, 2012 #

  28. To all you who seem to be so offended that I only travel at 25-28 mph where it is clearly marked as Speed Limit 25; I see you flipping me off, hear the honking, watch as you tailgate, and pass with less than a car length at great velocity. Knock it off. Your aggressive, mob-mentality driving is ridiculous and unsafe.

    Oh, the Admiral Way limit is still 30. Both ways.

    Comment by M. — 8:19 pm April 11, 2012 #

  29. M. don’t worry about those nutcases zipping down at 50 – it’s a 25 mph speed limit for safety, and I too take it easy, cruise down the lanes at the legal limit. if someone hits me, I will have video captured and a prosecution won’t be difficult.

    be safe people, you think you’re getting there faster by disobeying the limits, but one day you’ll regret it and land yourself in hospital or on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 9:13 pm April 11, 2012 #

  30. and yes, folks, I am also frustrated by the construction and delays and whatnot, but, please don’t make it worse with road raging at excessive speed.

    thank you.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 9:16 pm April 11, 2012 #

  31. James wrote: “it would take 1.2 minutes going 50 mph and 2.4 mins going 25…minutes become hours and hours become days!”

    And days become millennia.

    I don’t mean to minimize your feelings about the 1.2 minutes you believe have been stolen from you.

    OK, I do.

    The ‘panic in the city’ outlook expressed in some of the comments is amazing. Traffic is actually bad everywhere. It will never be fixed. When gas is $5/gallon there will be less traffic.

    Then people will be screaming for more buses, trains, and tele-commuting.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 9:32 pm April 11, 2012 #

  32. IP has a point about traffic being bad everywhere. This was driven home, so to speak, for me, by my experience today between about 4 and 6 pm, trying to get from Capitol Hill to Green Lake (for reasons that hopefully will never be replicated), with a couple bonus wrong turns along the way. Capitol Hill gridlock, downtown gridlock, I-5 gridlock, 99 gridlock, Elliott Avenue gridlock, approach to the Ballard Bridge gridlock, heading east from Ballard over Phinney down to Green Lake gridlock, Green Lake gridlock … I should have taken out the iPhone and recorded a few seconds of video at every stoplight. (I just kept thinking, well, it’s tough to get out of WS but at least we have awesome scenery [among other things] to balance it …) – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:17 pm April 11, 2012 #

  33. “Would be nice if they actually enforced that 25 MPH speed limit….I had a person laying on the horn yesterday tail gateing me the entire zone.”

    Agreed. Unfortunately I spoke to the SPD about that at a recent W.S. Council meeting. With the construction there aren’t as many spots to wait for speeders so it’s a low priority.

    Don’t give in to the road ragers trying to get you a ticket with their aggressive behavior. It’s their problem they can’t plan ahead or wake up early enough. Not yours. They can miss that meeting. Maybe they’ll learn. Look at the accident this morning. No surprise.

    Comment by JonF — 12:18 pm April 12, 2012 #

  34. They’ve screwed that bridge up beyond belief. I’m all for progress but I spent a ridiculous amount of time on that bridge this morning, the worst it’s been. I can only imagine what’s next, one lane both ways? I better not give them ideas….
    And the toll amount for the tunnel is insane, no one is going to use it. Why not spread it out? Too reasonable?

    Comment by blackwatch — 7:37 pm April 12, 2012 #

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