West Seattle ‘low bridge’ included in proposed heavy-haul road network

(Click image to see the full-size map on the city website)
An emerging city transportation project potentially involves both the West Seattle “low bridge” (officially the SW Spokane Street Swing Bridge) and lower Spokane Street from East Marginal Way eastward. The proposal to create a “heavy-haul corridor” turned up toward the end of this news release sent by Mayor Ed Murray‘s office late Tuesday afternoon about a “Maritime/Manufacturing Summit” held Monday. The news release included a link to the map you see above and noted, “In cooperation with the Port of Seattle, roads along this corridor will be rebuilt to new heavy haul standards” to “enable permitted vehicles carrying overweight loads to travel on designated routes.”

While described in the mayor’s news release as having been announced at the summit, the heavy-haul-network concept has been under discussion for a while; we’ve found earlier mentions including a letter of support this past March from the city Freight Advisory Board, pointing out that the “heavy haul” vehicles’ per-axle maximum weights would be below vehicles already using city roads, including trash trucks and Metro buses.

For followup questions, the mayor’s office pointed us to SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan. He says that “rebuil(ding)” the corridor means that “SDOT will assess whether some roads in the heavy-haul network would benefit from an additional layer of paving to account for more frequent use by heavy vehicles and the appropriate time to accomplish that work.” As for where the proposal goes next: “The mayor will submit legislation to the city council this summer to establish a heavy-haul permitting system, to include a fee structure and any necessary terms and conditions of the permit.”

7 Replies to "West Seattle 'low bridge' included in proposed heavy-haul road network"

  • Joe Szilagyi May 21, 2014 (1:45 pm)

    No real downside to this on the surface (no pun intended).

  • Lauri May 21, 2014 (3:59 pm)

    Thank you for the news. Is it accurate to assume that “…more frequent use by heavy vehicles” means more vehicles?


    • WSB May 21, 2014 (4:07 pm)

      This seems to be fairly early-stage, but one thing of note that we didn’t even get into – something that turned up in a Port news release the other day, before this, and we’re working on something separate about it – is the proposal to modify Terminal 5, the westernmost side of the docks, to handle the big new post-Panamax ships. http://www.portseattle.org/Newsroom/News-Releases/Pages/default.aspx?year=2014#439

  • Don Brubeck May 21, 2014 (9:55 pm)

    It is not accurate to assume that more frequent use by heavier vehicles means more vehicles. It means heavier loads in the same or more or less vehicles. It means more wear on the roadways, so more costly roadbeds and road maintenance, but for an economic benefit to keep our port and international trade competitive and to keep living wage jobs for people in West Seattle.

    There is a downside for road safety. Heavier, larger freight trucks are more dangerous for other road users. Roadways need to be designed for greater safety. Separated, protected bike lanes like the one on the Spokane Street Bridge and careful intersection design should be part of the heavy haul corridors where bikes and pedestrians must also travel. The cost of these will be a tiny percentage of the necessary rebuild of streets like East Marginal Way for heavier loads.

  • Jim May 21, 2014 (10:31 pm)

    But it is accurate to assume that the modification of Terminal 5 will result in yet more abuse of the neighborhoods. There will be larger cranes, more light, more night shift operations making noise, more train horns in the middle of the night, and even more vibrations coming off those larger ships. There are steps that could be taken to mitigate those impacts. Will the Port take those steps? Unlikely, based on their past attitude towards us. They won’t even comply with the last Environmental Impact Statement they signed for Terminal 5.

  • bolo May 22, 2014 (10:06 am)

    IIRC, That terminal was enlarged in the late ’90s and the main reason the Port gave to calm neighbors’ complaints was that it would greatly reduce local truck traffic!

  • Ken May 22, 2014 (11:21 am)

    Well let’s see what happens. Perhaps sdot and the port will rebuild the roads to handle the already massively overweight loads currently destroying the road on either side of the low bridge. The current pavement seems to have a lifespan of only half a season and the pot holes are epidemic in some spots.

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