Spokane St. Viaduct’s westbound 1st Avenue South on/offramp opens August 31

August 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm | In Spokane St. Viaduct project, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

(SDOT photo of the nearly complete offramp side of the new ramp, taken earlier this month)
Just announced by SDOT:

With the project approximately 95 percent finished, major elements of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project are nearing completion.  The combination westbound on/off ramp at First Avenue S and S Spokane Street will open to motorists next Friday morning, August 31. The on-ramp provides the only westbound access to the viaduct and the West Seattle Bridge from SODO, and its opening will eliminate the need for SODO motorists to take the detour across the low level swing bridge. 
 
The old westbound off-ramp at Fourth Avenue S and on-ramp at First Avenue S had to be closed and demolished to make room for the widened viaduct structure. 
 
Construction activity on the upper viaduct deck is also nearing completion, with the permanent barrier between east and westbound traffic installed.  Westbound motorists are now traveling in the final lane configurations, and the eastbound on-ramp from Harbor Island has reopened.
 
The most significant and visible work yet to be completed is the repaving of the eastbound off-ramp at First Avenue and the intersection with S Spokane Street at the bottom of that ramp.  As such, the off-ramp remains closed until late September.   North/south traffic on First Avenue in the construction area has been reduced to one lane in each direction, while the northbound lanes will be fully closed for three nights during the last week of August.

The old 1st Avenue South onramp closed for demolition in May 2010. Unlike that ramp, you won’t take 1st all the way to Spokane to get onto the bridge; the entrance to the new ramp is actually on 1st, more than a block north of Spokane.

ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: For those who asked about buses – yes, they will use this ramp too. The reply from Jeff Switzer at King County DOT:

This construction milestone will be good news for bus riders going to West Seattle. Starting Aug. 31, bus riders will have a faster and more reliable trip using the new First Avenue South ramp to the West Seattle Bridge, and buses will be less likely to face delays due to trains or when the lower Spokane Street bridge needs to open for marine traffic.

Metro buses have traveled a revised route since May 17, 2010, including Routes 21, 22, 35, 56, 57, 85, 116, 118 & 119 traveling East Marginal way to the lower level Spokane Street bridge to get to West Seattle. Opening the new First Avenue South/South Spokane Street on ramp will decrease travel times on these routes. We’re coordinating with the city so that we can revise our bus routes accordingly as soon as the ramp is officially open.

24 Comments

  1. FINALLY! (and thanks WSB)

    Comment by Mark — 5:08 pm August 23, 2012 #

  2. Best news ever! Swear at one point, I thought this was never going to be finished.

    Comment by Colleen — 5:10 pm August 23, 2012 #

  3. Awesome! I’ve been waiting for a long time for this ramp to open and eliminate the need for me to do the Colombian street U-turn. Now I just have to do a 1st AVE U-turn. Much better. With a little better forethought by SDOT, I wouldn’t have to make a U-turn at all, but hey, who am I to complain? It’s not like we all paid for… Oh wait.

    Comment by Bandersen — 5:27 pm August 23, 2012 #

  4. I assume that this means Metro routes #56 et. al. will revert back to going all the way down 1st Avenue S and then getting on the West Seattle Bridge? Any confirmation if these route changes will occur on 8/31 as well?

    Comment by bada-bing — 5:39 pm August 23, 2012 #

  5. Will the 21 (and other Metro buses) use the new on-ramp?

    Thanks for the continuous updates WSB.

    Comment by Harry Reems — 5:47 pm August 23, 2012 #

  6. Just wondering is that on ramp going to go into it’s own lane so there will be no merging like the old system

    Comment by Jim Clark — 5:52 pm August 23, 2012 #

  7. Jim – that’s the reason they said they couldn’t open it sooner, because they needed the merging space, and it wouldn’t be available until the full width of the road was done. I will doublecheck with the project team tomorrow.

    Comment by WSB — 6:01 pm August 23, 2012 #

  8. Sweet just in time for the husky game

    Comment by Yikes — 6:29 pm August 23, 2012 #

  9. YaY! Thanks for the update, WSB!

    Comment by anon — 7:03 pm August 23, 2012 #

  10. Great news! We should have one final closure when the project is complete and have a kegger on the new roadway! :)

    Comment by Rumbles — 7:04 pm August 23, 2012 #

  11. The new 1st Ave onramp from SoDo still isn’t as convenient as the old one was, but will be a big improvement over what we’ve had to deal with the past several years! Yay!

    Comment by Emma Peel — 7:18 pm August 23, 2012 #

  12. THANK GOD NO MORE GETTING STUCK WITH THE DARN TRAINS!

    Comment by coffee — 8:31 pm August 23, 2012 #

  13. August 31 of what year? 2012? 2013? :-)

    Comment by Robert — 8:57 pm August 23, 2012 #

  14. YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! A LOOOOOOONG time coming. Open those GoldenGates.. West Seattle here we come!

    Comment by KD — 9:30 pm August 23, 2012 #

  15. A. Bout. frickin. time.

    Yahooo!

    Comment by johnnyblegs — 9:41 pm August 23, 2012 #

  16. Jim Clark I drove the bridge this evening, I could see that the on ramp will be the exit only lane down to harbor avenue. should be better than it was, but still will require a lane change

    Comment by Mark — 9:43 pm August 23, 2012 #

  17. This might be a question already answered somewhere else – so sorry if that is the case. However, why did the project team not repave the Eastbound 1st Ave offramp a few months back when that exit was already closed? That exit closed when eastbound traffic diverted onto the new structure, seems like that would be a great time to kill two birds with one stone.

    Comment by Megan — 10:32 pm August 23, 2012 #

  18. Yay that it is in time for the Husky game, but unfortunate that they couldn’t get it done one day sooner for the Seahawks game.

    Comment by TLS — 10:37 pm August 23, 2012 #

  19. It does seem silly that you can’t access it from Spokane St. But at least its in time for Sonic games.

    Comment by george — 9:03 am August 24, 2012 #

  20. For those who asked about buses, here’s the reply from King County DOT’s Jeff Switzer, which I also will add to the main story: “This construction milestone will be good news for bus riders going to West Seattle. Starting Aug. 31, bus riders will have a faster and more reliable trip using the new First Avenue South ramp to the West Seattle Bridge, and buses will be less likely to face delays due to trains or when the lower Spokane Street bridge needs to open for marine traffic.

    Metro buses have traveled a revised route since May 17, 2010, including Routes 21, 22, 35, 56, 57, 85, 116, 118 & 119 traveling East Marginal way to the lower level Spokane Street bridge to get to West Seattle. Opening the new First Avenue South/South Spokane Street on ramp will decrease travel times on these routes. We’re coordinating with the city so that we can revise our bus routes accordingly as soon as the ramp is officially open.”

    Comment by WSB — 10:27 am August 24, 2012 #

  21. Ditto Megan. And also: why didn’t they leave the ramp from Harbor Island to Eastbound viaduct closed until they can reopen the 1st Ave exit? Cluster!

    Comment by Kim — 10:36 am August 24, 2012 #

  22. Mark, I think you mean the new on ramp will be the exit only lane down to Harbor ISLAND, not Harbor Avenue.
    That said, westbound drivers on the Spokane Street Viaduct will need to be extra cautious starting 8/31 and leave a little extra following distance. We haven’t had to deal with merging traffic along that stretch for a long time.

    Comment by BlairJ — 11:26 am August 24, 2012 #

  23. THERE IS A GOD!! It was delayed for over a year. I was told the fabricators in Montana screwed the job up 3 times??

    Comment by Ryan — 7:06 pm August 24, 2012 #

  24. SDOT allowed into the design a traffic weave of off to Harbor Island (probably mainly trucks) and on bound from 1st Ave.
    .
    Earlier we were challenged to come up with a design that would allow better WS access than has been constructed.
    .
    I wonder how much consideration was given to increasing the north off bound radius at 4th, even to the extent of taking property. That would eliminate trucks from using both lanes to turn. And then rebuilding a new west bound on ramp like the old one at right angles to 4th accessible from *three* directions.

    Comment by dsa — 9:28 pm August 29, 2012 #

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