(March 2010 photo taken during bridge tour, courtesy City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen)
Three weeks ago, we brought you the letter the city sent to the Coast Guard asking again for restrictions on opening the “low bridge” – this time, because its vehicle usage is about to increase dramatically, especially in the afternoon, with the May 17th closure of the 1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound high-rise West Seattle Bridge. (Here’s the detour map.) At last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, Pigeon Point rep Pete Spalding asked about the status of the request, and SDOT’s Stuart Goldsmith indicated they’d gotten word it wouldn’t be granted. That’s just been confirmed today by SDOT communications manager Rick Sheridan, but he says there’s a “voluntary” plan:
Though we have not received official written notification, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has indicated that it will not support a suspension of peak hour openings of the lower Spokane Street Swing Bridge. In order to minimize traffic disruptions after the First Avenue S on-ramp closure, the parties involved in the decision agreed to a voluntary system for minimizing p.m. rush hour openings of the bridge. Waterway users, the Port of Seattle, the USCG and SDOT have jointly agreed to this. SDOT will monitor the impacts of bridge openings on traffic during this phase of construction and, should a sustained pattern of traffic disruptions occur, the Coast Guard is committed to working with the city to address the issue.
Looking ahead to increased traffic on the low bridge as the Spokane Street and Alaskan Way Viaducts’ construction projects approached, the city asked in 2008 for the peak-hour restrictions, and was turned down (WSB coverage here) without any “voluntary” attempts to make it happen. Meantime, if you’re tracking all the effects of various construction projects in the metro area, including the two viaducts, here’s the latest update from SDOT.