With three days till the 1st Avenue South ramp to the westbound West Seattle Bridge closes, SDOT invited the media to come see the other side of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project this morning.
As we tweeted while on the tour, which took us and 4 regional-media crews up the new 4th Avenue offramp from the eastbound side, that ramp is now running at least five months ahead of schedule and is likely to open in September. The ramp is complete enough that we were able to walk all the way up; the next major stage is the “closure” to fuse it with the existing structure – and that will cause some eastbound headaches during an up-to-8-week period this summer, because it means that stretch of the eastbound path to I-5 and Columbian Way will be down to one lane. Here’s the section of the ramp that will be fused to the existing bridge – the view is westward toward West Seattle, against traffic:
And if you really want to see the ramp in all its glory, we pointed the camera forward while walking back down (sorry we can’t speed it up to something approximating a car’s pace):
In the meantime, concurrent with Monday’s closure of the 1st Ave. South ramp on the westbound side – slated to be replaced over the next 16 months with a new onramp which will actually be entered from 1st, a ways north of the bridge – we were told during today’s tour that a section of lower eastbound Spokane Street is about to REOPEN: By Monday morning, project managers say, the lower eastbound Spokane Street will reopen from East Marginal to 1st. (That means the questions about “why can’t we turn right from the 1st Avenue South ramp?” are about to be moot.)
Something else that’s happening next week – a stoplight will be installed on 4th Avenue South, where the new ramp ends – while it starts as one lane off the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct, it becomes two lanes midway down, and then splits into three at the end.
So to review:
*1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound West Seattle (high) Bridge closes permanently as of Monday (first thing in the morning).
*It will be demolished and replaced by a new onramp, but that will take an estimated 16 months to build. In the meantime, traffic will be detoured to the low bridge – here’s the detour map again:
*SDOT is expecting advance warning of bridge openings for marine traffic, and will put that on dynamic-messaging signage in the area, and will also send it out via Twitter (follow them at @seattledot – even if you are not a Twitter user, you can use that link to see their updates online).
*Other road projects, of course, continue too (while on our way to the tour, we had to get off on 1st to get to 4th – which will change as of Monday – and then got stuck first in construction slowdowns on 1st north of the bridge, then behind a train while taking an east-west street to cut over to 4th). They’re listed here.
If you plan to follow the low-bridge detour while coming home on Monday, we’d love to hear about your experience – tweet, FB, e-mail us, whatever, with the story of how it worked out.