New city detour map for upcoming 1st Ave So ramp closure

As first reported here two weeks ago, the city has set May 17th for the closure of the 1st Avenue South onramp to the West Seattle Bridge, as the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project goes into its next construction phase. Today the city has sent a news release reiterating that date, with a new detour map – read on for both:

The next major milestone in the South Spokane Street Viaduct Project (the structure that links the West Seattle Bridge to I-5) is the permanent closure of the First Avenue South on-ramp to the westbound lanes of the viaduct, tentatively scheduled for May 17. The ramp closure is required to widen the Spokane Street Viaduct to the north by approximately 41 feet. The new westbound on- and off-ramp will be constructed on First Avenue.

In the year and a half during which there will be no access to the Spokane Street Viaduct from surface streets in SODO, vehicles will be detoured to the low level swing bridge to get to West Seattle. Alternative routes are noted in the attached detour map. SDOT will be monitoring traffic flows along the detour routes following the closure to determine whether changes in signal timing or other measures are needed to keep traffic moving.

Beginning March 22, drivers should additionally plan for delays when the First Avenue South off-ramp from eastbound lanes of the viaduct is reduced to one lane for up to five months. On surface streets, First Avenue South, recently reduced to one lane for southbound traffic, will also be restricted to one lane for northbound traffic from Spokane to Hanford streets, also for up to five months. The exception is the weekend of March 27-28, when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed for inspection. During that weekend, two lanes on the ramp and northbound First Avenue will be open to improve access to downtown Seattle.

Here’s another look at the detour map. Though the type at the bottom says Metro reroute details are pending, Metro shared their plan with us by request the same day we published first word of the May 17th shutdown date – that story is here.

26 Replies to "New city detour map for upcoming 1st Ave So ramp closure"

  • birdgeek March 18, 2010 (10:26 am)

    Oh man. Time to blow the cobwebs off the bicycle… and hooray for the water taxi!!

  • T. Phillips March 18, 2010 (10:58 am)

    Will this affect the people who go fishing on the pier there. If yes boy we will have alot of people complaining about that.

  • CMP March 18, 2010 (11:17 am)

    Great, what’s this new development with 1st Ave going down to one lane in each direction for five months?? It’s been horrible trying to get to Spokane coming from Lander lately, with morons not knowing how to merge. Or we merge for no reason b/c two lanes are open but signs are still up instructing drivers to merge. What a cluster. I may have to start testing out the new detours earlier than anticipated. As always, thank you WSB for the heads up!

  • Al March 18, 2010 (11:23 am)

    Will it affect those fishing off the pier? Likely not so much when fishing. However, it will be more difficult to enter/exit, or even get to the pier parking area.

  • dsa March 18, 2010 (11:48 am)

    Those are insults, not detour plans.

  • wseye March 18, 2010 (11:49 am)


  • Eli March 18, 2010 (11:50 am)

    As if my commute to my work place by the stadiums wasn’t bad enough with everything that is going on already.

  • patricia March 18, 2010 (2:01 pm)

    If I read the maps right the only way out of WS will be lower bridge to W. Marginal or upper bridge to I-5 or Beacon Hill. This is going to be crazy at regular times let alone commute time, bad weather, sporting events!!!

  • KT March 18, 2010 (2:55 pm)

    I have lived in Boston, NYC, & Phoenix and I don’t know if I have ever seen a neighborhood cut off like this. I will go to my grave thinking that they could have arranged this construction in a way that would not isolate West Seattle. This isn’t a couple of weeks. This is over a year. When we moved here 7 years ago I was told that West Seattle was the odd man out in Seattle and I now believe it to be true. The usual statement about ‘inconvenience now but it will be wonderful when it is done’ is insulting.

  • Sue March 18, 2010 (3:23 pm)

    I’m with you, KT. I have coworkers who have been looking to move and ask me about West Seattle. I tell them I love it here, but I wouldn’t move here now until the dust settles on all the access issues/construction.

  • Jeff March 18, 2010 (4:33 pm)

    dsa said it best. That’s just insulting.

  • Mike March 18, 2010 (5:01 pm)

    What will be really neat is when the Port’s Terminal 18 truck traffic is backed up from Harbor Island back to E. Marginal, and then up E. Marginal for a mile or two. Good luck getting home to West Seattle. Right now, that truck traffic frequently is backed up onto the Spokane Street viaduct westbound. The Port believes it has the right to use public right-of-way as parking and staging area for its container operations.

  • sw March 18, 2010 (5:32 pm)

    Eastbound from West Seattle will actually be gaining another option. The existing exit ramp to First Ave S. remains, and the new exit ramp to Fourth Ave S. opens later this year. Plus we still have the ramp to Northbound 99. Leaving isn’t the problem – coming home is.

    • WSB March 18, 2010 (5:35 pm)

      The 1st offramp on the eastbound lane is about to lose a lane for 5 months … look for the update I’m publishing in a few minutes … TR (don’t blame the messenger)

  • Chad Maglaque March 18, 2010 (6:28 pm)

    West Seattleites are professional bellyachers when it comes to this stuff. ’cause the other option is always to just keep the Spokane Viaduct the way it is…

    Chad, Alki

  • Mike March 18, 2010 (7:51 pm)

    It is obvious that none of the decision-makers live in West Seattle! Think about the line that will be waiting at the East Marginal/Chelan/Delridge five-light intersection during evening rush hour, or after sporting events. Throw in some semi trucks for good measure! Obviously, West Seattle has no clout when it comes to the city road engineers!
    And just think we used to have a 1st and 4th Avenue Westbound entrances to the WS Bridge!

  • Chad Maglaque March 18, 2010 (8:30 pm)

    Um last time I checked the eastbound off ramp to 1st is a one-lane exit with a two lane catchment area. So the solution to that problem is to adjust signalling down on 1st which SDOT has said they will monitor. Personally, given the scope of the improvements being made (you know things that will make our lives better and improve traffic flow), the plan seems remarkably well thought through.

  • Donald March 18, 2010 (9:13 pm)

    Hey guys this has happened before. We had that detour around the steelmill and up Avalon for five years. The traffic would back up enough that a wrecker was on standby all the time. This was for the “Big Bridge”. Since then we have at least doubled the number of cars that have to get in and out. So they have to do all this to let them do their 99 North “Big Dig”. I would like to know how long that will take? Another five year deal? Wonder if I can look forward to reduced taxes as the real estate market goes to the bottom.

  • chas redmond March 18, 2010 (10:33 pm)

    Maybe we should begin a metrics analysis of what we would consider to be West Seattle gridlock. Is it “1 hour to get from High Point to Pioneer Square” or is it “2 hours to get from High Point to Pioneer Square?” What if the path to Columbian Way and the North Beacon “back-way-into-town” route is clogged, your opportunities to bail at 1st Ave and take Holgate become somewhat more limited. Today that bypass will get you from High Point to the Beacon Link station in 30 minutes whereas a straight shot up Columbian Way only takes 15. Is it gridlock when the Columbian Way route takes an hour and the Holgate alternate takes two hours?

    Come on, this could actually be fun. We could help define the benchmarks of a traffic disaster ahead of time. This is where satellite radio might come in handy.

    • WSB March 18, 2010 (10:52 pm)

      Actually, Chas, one of the hot trends in news is to have a game designed so people can work out some topic or issue. We discussed it in a group at the regional Journalism That Matters conference at the UW a couple months ago. If I could just find the right developer … maybe something like “Help (whomever) Get To Work In Less Than An Hour!” As others have suggested, swimming might ultimately be involved. Better yet, telecommuting for all …

  • dsa March 18, 2010 (10:33 pm)

    Donald – The detour around the steelmill and standby wrecker was a true construction detour plan as they are supposed to be done. The detour route was specially paved, marked, and signaled to handle the traffic.

    The lines they’ve shown on maps for this are just that, lines.

    Chad – I think you know that they are talking about the 1st ave off ramp “catchment area”. When that storage becomes only one lane, congestion will pile up on to the viaduct.

    And there will be no improvement in traffic flow once the Alaskan Way viaduct is gone.

  • Al March 19, 2010 (9:37 am)

    The bike route will be preserved throughout the construction. Cyclists will have to contend with more traffic for sure, but the cycle lanes will still be available. From downtown, it’ll still be about a 40 minute ride home, barring any lower bridge openings as usual. So you could swim, water taxi, kayak, boat, or bike (gasp!) as an alternative if you don’t absolutely need to have your car at work or after work. It takes less than an hour to get from West Seattle to downtown, or Queen Anne, or SODO, or Pionoeer Square, or Eastlake, or Westlake…by bike.

  • Andrew R March 19, 2010 (10:37 am)

    If you are interested in biking to work but are inexperienced cycling in traffic and/or you do not know the route, I am happy to help. See my ad on Craigslist…


  • Al March 19, 2010 (1:30 pm)

    Yeah, I am also willing to help out newbies, I go through downtown to South Lake Union/Eastlake area. If anyone is interested in biking, I’m sure a post in the forum would also get a response. I may post a “willing to help bike” post in April.

  • Bob Loblaw March 19, 2010 (8:24 pm)

    What about the bus routes? Assume they will be affected by this, but haven’t heard from Metro chiming in (Need to look harder for info). If so, Water Taxi looking better and better. And increased routes to the dock would be much welcome.

  • WSB March 19, 2010 (8:46 pm)

    Here’s our story about Metro’s plan, from when we asked them two weeks ago:

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