(WSB photo from October 2009)
In ongoing reports about the convergence of various road projects and their effects on West Seattle drivers, we’ve been talking about the impending closure of the 1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound West Seattle Bridge as part of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project, and how that will affect traffic. In particular, it’s going to mean many more vehicles – including buses – using the “low bridge” during the afternoon/evening rush hour (detour map here), with no access to the “high bridge” between I-5 and 99. Knowing this was ahead, the city asked the Coast Guard two years ago to consider restricting openings of the “low bridge” during rush hours; the Coast Guard said no. Now, as anticipated, the city is trying again – and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office has just provided us with the official letter, sent this week. Specifically, they’re asking for restrictions between 3 pm and 6 pm weekdays, starting May 17, when the ramp is scheduled to close permanently (late next year, a new 1st Avenue S. on/offramp will be open), and continuing into 2011. As you’ll see if you read the letter, the city includes an example of how they expect traffic to be affected, for those flowing into the Delridge/Chelan/Marginal intersection on the bridge’s west end: Delays are projected to quadruple, from 40-ish seconds to 3 minutes. As for potential disruption of marine traffic, the city’s letter cites a one-year period in which about 30 vessels that had to go out at high tide went out during PM rush hour, and says those openings could be scheduled well in advance, with advance warning to drivers to plan around the bridge openings. So what next? The city is asking the Coast Guard to expedite review of its request – the request made in 2008 took months to review, but only six weeks remain until the 1st Avenue South ramp closes.
West Seattle, Washington