As reported last night, the jail-site search that has galvanized the Highland Park Action Committee is in a bit of a slow period, so the latest HPAC meeting tackled other topics too – including a city update on the first major road work that will be affecting West Seattleites in the months/years ahead, the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project (which in about three years will result in what you see above). We brought you an in-depth preview back in May (read it here); then a flurry of driver concern erupted four weeks ago ago when signs went up suggesting the first phase of the work — requiring the closure of eastbound lower Spokane Street from 1st onward (aka “the route to Costco”) — was imminent (here’s our July 28 report). That closure hasn’t happened yet, and last night at the HPAC meeting, project manager Stuart Goldsmith explained why:
First, to recap what this project is all about:
The Spokane Street Viaduct, known once upon a time as the “West Seattle Freeway” — the section between Highway 99 and I-5 — is doubling in width, and changing ramp configurations. The work is starting this fall in hopes it will be done in 2011, before whatever happens to the “Central Waterfront” section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct (supposedly to be decided before the end of this year) starts happening.
The first stage of the work involves closing lower Spokane Street eastward from 1st Avenue South, so that utility-relocation work can be done. Once that happens, you will only be able to turn left (north) when you get off the Spokane Street Viaduct at 1st – the detouring system is going to look something like this:
In our last update in late July, the city was awaiting a “one-week warning” from a contractor – but last night, SDOT project manager Goldsmith told the Highland Park group that “the contractor decided to do things a little differently” and now it looks like the closure will kick in around mid-September.
Once that happens, the eastbound lower roadway will stay closed for two years, as the project proceeds in phases.
The first phase, closing ONLY eastbound lower Spokane Street, will continue until about June, Goldsmith noted last night. Then around July 2009, westbound lower Spokane Street will close too: “We can’t keep it open – we’ll be drilling 100-foot shafts” for the expanded elevated roadway, he explained (which will all be built on the north side of the existing Spokane Street Viaduct).
The eastbound lower roadway won’t reopen till August 2010, right after what Goldsmith says will be the most difficult part of the project, in terms of impact on drivers — from February 2010 through about July 2010, with eastbound and westbound lower Spokane Street closed, existing ramps being demolished, and basically “no way to get off or on (Spokane Street Viaduct) between Highway 99 and I-5.”
But again – that’s A YEAR AND A HALF AWAY. All you really want to focus on now is figuring out how your driving might be affected when EASTBOUND lower Spokane Street closes from 1st to 4th, starting in a few weeks.
The city is continuing to update the information available on its official site for this project (find it here), and also – just in the few hours since we started writing this – has sent the first major bulletin on its Spokane Street Viaduct Information e-mail list (sign up for it from that same city webpage) — though it appears to have outdated info on the closure start, so we are quadruple-checking with the city to be sure nothing’s changed in the last 19 hours.
One more note: We’ve created a coverage category for this project, so you can find everything about it archived here (category links can be found in the right sidebar on all WSB pages).