Spokane Street Viaduct update: Dates set for more closures

E-mail asking “what’s that ramp being built alongside the West Seattle Bridge?” reminded us it’s been a while since the last formal update on the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. The first phase involves that ramp you can see while driving the stretch of The Bridge between 99 and I-5; it will bring traffic off the eastbound bridge onto 4th, with one lane turning southbound (toward Costco), the other turning northbound (toward SODO and downtown). When we checked in with SDOT to ask about a construction photo – receiving the ones you see in this story – Marybeth Turner shared the brand-new mailer that should land in 35,000 West Seattle and SODO mailboxes today and tomorrow. In it: Dates are set for some key closures related to the projects – including one that’s happening sooner than first announced:

(date updated at noon) JANUARY 22: That’s when the two-phase shutdown of the rest of lower westbound Spokane Street will begin — first the road will be closed between 6th and 4th Avenues South; then February 1st, the closure will extend to East Marginal Way. SDOT says the closure will continue until the project is complete in 2012; the westbound side is where the new structure, doubling the width of the Spokane Street Viaduct, will be built.

(date updated at noon) JANUARY 22: The second major shutdown is a permanent one – the offramp to 4th Avenue South from the westbound SSV will be closed and demolished.

MAY: The exact date isn’t finalized yet, but this is when the ramp from 1st/Spokane to the westbound bridge will be permanently closed. Once that happens, until the new 1st Avenue South on/offramp is ready in late 2011, you will have to use either I-5 or 99 to get onto The Bridge.

SDOT also says you’ll see lane closures from time to time along the way, and temporary ramp closures such as one coming up January 22-24, 10 pm-6 am each night, from southbound I-5 to The Bridge. It’s not all about shutdowns, though – this summer, eastbound lower Spokane Street will reopen, and this fall is when the new 4th Avenue ramp will be ready to go.

This is all detailed in the flyer that’s just been mailed; if you don’t want to wait for it, you can see the whole thing here. (Our archived coverage of the Spokane Street Viaduct project is here.) NOON UPDATE: The city has sent a formal announcement of all this to media – and has already changed a couple of dates this morning; SDOT now says the 4th offramp and lower Spokane from 6th to 4th will all close on the same date, January 22. Read on to see the latest construction schedule from the news release – and note, these changes were made AFTER the aforementioned mailer went out, so they supersede what you will see if/when you get it:

January 22

Fourth Avenue South Off-ramp: Crews will permanently close the Fourth Avenue South off-ramp from the westbound South Spokane Street Viaduct (upper roadway). Drivers that now use the ramp can still access the SODO area as follows:

* From southbound I-5, exit at South Forest Street (before the West Seattle Bridge exit). Turn right on 6th Avenue South. Turn left on South Lander to access 4th Avenue South.

* From northbound I-5, take exit 163 for the West Seattle Bridge. At the fork, stay right to exit toward Spokane Street/Safeco Field/Qwest Field. Merge onto lower South Spokane Street. Continue until 6th Avenue South and then follow the detour signs to 4th Avenue South.

* From South Columbian Way, head towards I-5. Follow signs for the West Seattle Bridge. Follow the signs for South Spokane Street/6th Avenue South then follow the detour signs to 4th Avenue South.

* Heading westbound on the West Seattle Bridge, take the Harbor Island exit. Follow the “U-turn route” sign. Continue to East Marginal Way.

Westbound South Spokane Street (lower roadway): Starting January 22, crews will close the westbound lane of South Spokane Street between Sixth Avenue South and Fourth Avenue South. This closure is a few months earlier than planned to accommodate essential utility relocations. On February 1 crews will extend the closure to East Marginal Way and the roadway will remain closed until the project is complete in 2012. The contractor will maintain local access to businesses and all businesses on South Spokane Street will remain open during construction.

January 22 through January 23

I-5 Off-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge: Crews will close the southbound I-5 off-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge each night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to install barriers (last closure to end morning of January 24). Drivers headed from southbound I-5 to West Seattle may take the following detour:

* Exit southbound I-5 at South Forest Street (before the exit to the West Seattle Bridge). Turn right on Sixth Avenue South. Turn left on South Lander. Turn left at First Avenue South. Turn right at Spokane Street to access the on-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge.

January 22, 2010 to May 2012

Periodic Closures: Drivers should expect periodic lane closures while crews complete construction work, to include:

* Nighttime closures of the ramp from southbound I-5 to the westbound South Spokane Street Viaduct.

* Occasional nighttime lane closures in each direction of the South Spokane Street Viaduct. At least one lane will remain open in each direction at all times.

* Lane closures of East Marginal Way South, First Avenue South, Fourth Avenue South, Fifth Avenue South and Sixth Avenue South near South Spokane Street when needed.

May 2010

South Spokane Street Viaduct On-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge: Crews will permanently close the westbound South Spokane Street Viaduct on-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge near First Avenue South. Drivers should access the West Seattle Bridge via SR 99 and/or I-5 until the new on- and off-ramps at First Avenue South are completed and open for use in late 2011.

32 Replies to "Spokane Street Viaduct update: Dates set for more closures"

  • jsrekd January 6, 2010 (9:00 am)

    Anyone else feeling a little stranded?

  • velo_nut January 6, 2010 (9:14 am)


  • Slider January 6, 2010 (9:20 am)

    You’ll be able to leave West Seattle but you can’t come back!

  • RobertSeattle January 6, 2010 (9:52 am)

    I’m with Slider – you can get to Costco faster with the new 4th avenue offramp but getting back will still be a pain.

  • JEM January 6, 2010 (9:57 am)

    hmm, so what is Metro’s plan for the 21, 22, 57, 116, 118, 119 etc – buses that service 1st ave to West Seattle? If westbound Spokane is also closed while the 1st Ave ramp is closed then the low bridge isn’t even an easy detour.

  • Dailycommuter January 6, 2010 (10:10 am)

    Some years ago there was some jocular talk about West Seattle seceding from Seattle. This time looks as though Seattle is seriously seceding from West Seattle.

  • Deckard January 6, 2010 (10:17 am)

    I don’t get it? If stuctural improvements can be made to the West Seattle freeway that warrent new construction and additions, why can’t the same type of improvements be made to the Viaduct?!? I’m sure it can be done at much less expense to the tax payer. Boy, if you think a few months of traffic problems will be bad, wait till they start building the tunnel.

  • christopherboffoli January 6, 2010 (10:34 am)

    WSF is newer and built on sturdier ground.

  • old timer January 6, 2010 (10:38 am)

    Does Metro have any comments on the bus routing?
    It’s hard for me to see how service will be maintained
    with bridge access from 1st shut down.

    • WSB January 6, 2010 (10:56 am)

      I recall having talked to them long ago but if that’s so I don’t want to rehash when things may have changed. Great followup, I will check in with them now. – TR

  • Eric Goetz January 6, 2010 (10:55 am)

    I wasn’t able to find anything on the Metro website about bus routing after the westbound 1st ave onramp closure. I imagine the westbound SODO to West Seattle buses will be routed over the low bridge during the closure. Can anyone confirm?

  • toddinwestwood January 6, 2010 (11:38 am)

    “Some years ago there was some jocular talk about West Seattle seceding from Seattle. This time looks as though Seattle is seriously seceding from West Seattle.

    Comment by Dailycommuter — ”

    The West Seattle Liberaation Front will be meeting at it’s normal time and place.

  • Laconique January 6, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    Wow, those changes just suck. Really wondering about the wisdom of buying a house in West Seattle when I commute to SoDo every day… Unless I want to wind my way through torn-up back roads to the low bridge, I have to drive back to the Seneca on-ramp to access the bridge? That’s insane.

  • CMP January 6, 2010 (12:19 pm)

    Look on the bright side Laconique…it’s only the trip home that will be rough. At least the 1st Ave off ramp isn’t being torn down! I’m in the same boat as you and am not looking forward to figuring out the fastest way home.

  • Sage January 6, 2010 (12:33 pm)

    Any word on whether there will be bicycle access to the lower bridge via Spokane Street surface? This is a pretty important bike access route, and no mention whatsoever on the mailer.

  • DaveB January 6, 2010 (12:34 pm)

    In the January 22 info it says “… the west side is where the new structure, doubling the width of the Spokane Street Viaduct, will be built.”
    Did you mean the west-bound side (which is the north side) of the existing structure? Thanks.

  • JoB January 6, 2010 (12:52 pm)

    are they insane or what?
    they will close the 1st av exit before they open the 4th av exit?
    really really bad planning

    • WSB January 6, 2010 (12:55 pm)

      DaveB – That wording does make it clearer so I’ve updated. Thanks! Meantime, on the Metro questions, I’m still waiting to hear back. Will probably turn that into a separate followup at this point – that’s KCDOT info, but I will have to ask SDOT re: the bike question.

  • Al January 6, 2010 (12:59 pm)

    Yes, the bicycle routing will be maintained to the lower bridge. But I don’t think you can use Spokane Street to access it. SDOT has indicated at the Bike Board meetings that bike routing may be different but it will be there (if you encounter any problems please contact the viaduct group at viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov, walkandbike@seattle.gov AND bikeboard@seattle.gov.

    However, be aware that there may be some re-routes involved at various points in time; like after 7:00 tonight you’d have to bicycle down 1st Ave instead of Marginal b/c Marginal is shut down after that between Atlantic & Spokane St. Although it’s unclear whether the sidewalk is still closed (last time I went through there the sidewalk was accessible but not the street).

    Be careful riding out there, the traffic in the area between Royal Brougham to Spokane was pretty horrific last night – lots of drivers very frustrated and 18-wheelers using the center passing lane as a parking strip.

    If people want to even just try riding a bike this spring (if it could be an option for you, it’s not for everyone), hey, just post it on the boards and I am sure someone will offer to ride with you!

  • chas redmond January 6, 2010 (1:20 pm)

    Not that it’s a great option, but continuing down 1st or 4th Avenues does give you access to both the First Avenue Bridge and thence pretty much all of West Seattle using either Highland Park Way or Myers Way. Time to start learning the alternate bridge routes – I’ve even been practicing using Albro Place overpass to get up to Beacon – not that hard once you learn the path.

  • Lisa January 6, 2010 (3:03 pm)

    Do you have any info from Metro on how this will impact bus service into downtown (54, 55, 21, 22 and I’m sure plenty of others)?

  • WSB January 6, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    Metro (via KC Department of Transportation spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok) tells us they do NOT have final word on how buses will be affected – but hope to “within weeks” – I have a followup back out to her, asking if there is still any public comment wanted, will there be informational open houses, etc. – TR

  • westseattledood January 6, 2010 (6:49 pm)

    West Marginal can be easily accessed from south of 1st Ave. Bridge interchange. So Alki, Admiral, Alaska folks can head back up north in about three to four minutes. Middle WS peeps could go up Highland Park Way, proceeding on to Holden. South WS folks could go onto Myers/Roxbury.

    Highland Park (aka the Other Gateway to WS).
    Plus, the new Portside Drive-thru Espresso stand is waiting at W. Marginal and HP Way for everyone’s commute, so there’s always that to look forward to? :/

  • TBMR January 6, 2010 (8:25 pm)

    The water taxi is looking better and better…

  • West Seattle Sun January 6, 2010 (9:51 pm)

    I appreciate the helpful recommendations regarding alternative routes. The can do spirit will help us overcome the short term challenges while the WSB is retrofitted.

    This is a process that is going to happen so it’s more productive to plan ahead than piss and moan.

    I also plan on working flex hours or telecommuting when possible to reduce my commuting foot print.

    All the best!

  • JJ January 6, 2010 (10:54 pm)

    For those living in the north part of WS, the huge bottleneck will be on all sides of the lower bridge. It’s already a complete mess there, backed up in all directions many times, especially with the commercial trucks. Busses will fill the westbound lanes slowing everyone’s commute down to snail’s pace. So yes, going south to the 1st Ave S bridge is an option, except that there will be an additional 20,000 vehicles on it as soon as they close the old opening bridge under it for it’s rebuild.
    Going back north then on West Marginal to the interchange on the west side of the lower bridge will definately take way more than the “three or four minutes” that WestSeattledood suggests during rush hour. I’ve sat literally through three to four changes of that slow light just to get through that intersection!
    I find it laughable that the official viaduct recommendation is to go back into town & take 99 south, or head east to I-5 to go south, to go back west, all for the next 18 months…this is really going to be fun!

  • mar3c January 7, 2010 (6:22 am)

    a couple of things will get better before they get worse.
    the whole atlantic street project west of first ave will be wrapping up soon; it’s for utility relocation for the south end of the viaduct.
    I-90 will exit at 4th and atlantic for southbound traffic, and northbound traffic will continue to use that big curving ramp by qwest field.
    wsdot will be adding on- and off-ramps to 99 between king st. and royal brougham.
    the port is in charge of improving the lower spokane street bridge across harbor island. looks like they’re doubling capacity for freight to get to and from e. marginal and harbor island.
    i’m sure glad martin selig and greg nickels shot down that stupid, expensive monorail. it would be open by now.

  • austin January 7, 2010 (8:10 am)

    Water taxi won’t be back running soon enough.. Can’t wait to get back on the boat.

  • frog baseball January 9, 2010 (8:48 pm)

    i take fauntleroy to the bridge, get off the first ave exit and go to work in sodo. when will the first ave exit be closed? what should i do instead? get on I-5 north and use something up that way?

    going home now i go down first ave, use the 1st ave entrance to the west seattle bridge and then to fauntleroy. what should i do and when will that change?

    • WSB January 9, 2010 (9:10 pm)

      None of the timelines call for the closing of the eastbound 1st Ave exit.
      I will doublecheck, though, on whether that means they intend to keep the 1st/Spokane intersection open throughout construction or whether there’s a time you’ll get off at 1st but have to detour to get to work.

  • FrogBaseball January 9, 2010 (9:46 pm)

    thanks for the answer. i thought i read about that exit being closed but i might have misread it as the 4th ave exit. information overload!
    they should allow people to make right turns onto first ave from that exit since spokane is closed for some extensive roadwork.

  • Sara January 13, 2010 (11:46 am)

    Yes FrogBaseball, they should allow that RH turn onto 1st Ave S! I do it anyway, because I HAVE to, what with the mess of 99-south entry for West Seattle-ites. It’s a mess.

    2 Questions if anyone can help:
    1) How will I get to 509-South with all these closures? I prefer to take 99-South and then merge on, but today the entrance to 99-S was closed by a huge baricade and there was a huge lineup of cars. After 15 minutes I left, no idea what was going on there. We will still be able to go underneath the bridge and access 99-South? Can we take 1st Ave. S exit and turn R to get to 509? I need help :(
    2) The road is a mess between that section of road between E Marginal Way and the 99-South merge. It literally feels like my tires are going to pop, they’re hitting so hard with all the bumps and holes (there’s a bunch of trucks on one side and a road on the other). Will this be fixed?
    And does anyone know why the 99-S on ramp was closed this morning from E-Marginal Way?

Sorry, comment time is over.