Ramp-closure countdown: County warns of possible bus delays

We’re counting down this week to the closure next Monday of the 1st Avenue South onramp to the westbound (high) West Seattle Bridge, which will route WS-bound traffic to the “low bridge” unless you get on from 99, I-5 or Beacon Hill, while a new ramp’s being built as part of the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. We’ve reported Metro’s reroute plans before, but they’re out again today with a few routes added to the latest official “buses may be delayed” warning – so we’re publishing that in its entirety – read on:

Buses heading to West Seattle, White Center & Vashon Island may be delayed by big construction project starting May 17

Work on Spokane Street Viaduct expected to last more than a year

Bus riders heading to West Seattle, White Center, Harbor Island and Vashon Island, should be aware that transit service will be disrupted for up to a year by the city of Seattle’s project to widen the Spokane Street Viaduct between Interstate 5 and the West Seattle Bridge.

For King County Metro Transit customers, the key part of the project is the closure of the on-ramp from First Avenue South to the West Seattle Bridge via the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct. Because a new ramp won’t open until the fall of 2011, several bus routes will be detoured over the low-level drawbridge across the Duwamish Waterway.

This routing is expected to add several minutes to the travel times of buses heading south and westbound, when traffic levels are light or normal. Buses could be slowed even more by trains crossing Hanford Street or openings of the low bridge for marine traffic.

Buses being rerouted are:

21 Local – Arbor Heights
22 – Alaska Junction, White Center
35 – Harbor Island
56 Local – Admiral District, Alki
57 – Genesee Hill, Alaska Junction
85 Night Owl – Admiral District, White Center
116 – Fauntleroy (new bus schedule times starting Monday, May 17)
118 – Vashon Island (new bus schedule times starting Monday, May 17)
119 – Vashon Island (new bus schedule times starting Monday, May 17)

This will primarily affect bus travel to West Seattle, but related congestion could affect traffic and transit in downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, SODO, and even connecting bus routes to Ballard and North Beach.

Here’s some tips from Metro:

* Check out the info provided by Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation to see if your regular travel patterns will be affected;

* If you are a bus rider, sign up for Metro alerts;

* Consider commuting on the West Seattle Water Taxi;

* Have a plan for traveling through the construction area, and have a back-up plan for those days when traffic is really congested.

14 Replies to "Ramp-closure countdown: County warns of possible bus delays"

  • Jeff May 12, 2010 (4:28 pm)

    “may be delayed”

    What ridiculous sugar coating.

    • WSB May 12, 2010 (4:44 pm)

      Anyone who rides one of those routes, maybe consider timing it this Friday and next Monday for comparison, and let us know? – TR

  • ZS May 12, 2010 (4:42 pm)

    I can say with conviction that King County Metro SUCKS! It is run like we are in an underdeveloped country.

    I regularly have buses pass me at the bus stop without stopping and I rarely see buses running even remotely close to their schedule. I love when two buses of the same number pull up to a stop at the same time (rather often during rush hour), makes a lot of sense. And once I asked a bus driver what time schedule he was supposed to be on and he said he had no idea.

    My point: bus delays and misery are part of the system so don’t know how much worse it can get. Oh, and our mayor and building codes discourage driving yet provide no viable alternative to allow us to function as productive workers in the Puget Sound area.

  • JEM May 12, 2010 (4:46 pm)

    Where’s my monorail?!?!?!

  • Rick May 12, 2010 (5:07 pm)

    I agree with Jeff. “May” be delayed. That goes along with “We’ll get you there” (Notice they never said when.)

  • KT May 12, 2010 (5:07 pm)

    This is not the usual couple of weeks but for close to a year-and-a-half! Ridiculous.

  • BadwolfZanda May 12, 2010 (5:22 pm)

    I work in SODO and have already started coming home via downtown. Today I walked to the SODO Link station and rode in to University Street. When I surfaced at 3rd and Seneca, there was a 54 just coming into the stop there. I actually have more choices to come home from downtown.., and so am managing not to be angry:)

  • jiggers May 12, 2010 (5:30 pm)

    JEM..If I recall correctly, voters voted the monorail down behind some heavy political backings who didn’t want it built. The cost was estimated to hover around $11 billion as estimated by a notable consulting firm that was appointed by Nickels group(I think). That estimation sounded pretty reasonable to me a couple of years ago for a first class monorail system. Now, it will cost probably around $18 billion if it goes back to a vote. The monorail would have gone in all directions connecting the City with greater ease and efficiency than the current system Metro has. Now you will have these idiotic streetcars that will do nothing except slow traffic down. Rapid Ride will make its debute in W.S. soon. It won’t be as efficient or as fast as the numbers 54 or 55 route either. I’ll put a wager on that. A lot of $$$$ going to waste. I also just rode Light Rail back for the first time from the airpot last week. it is a joke. It is a long haul to walk thru the airport garage from the terminals baggage claim to the otherside with your luggage in tow, after you’ve been drained on a 5 plus hour flight. To top it off. The line stopped short at Safeco, where we were cattled off onto another Metro street bus. That will be the last time I get on the rail from the airport to downtown. I know there was the 560 S.T. bus that goes straight to W.S. available and should have done that, or just waste the $30 on a cab. Seattle really slacks in public transportation efficiency still.

  • wisepunk May 12, 2010 (5:32 pm)

    They need to have traffic officers at spokane and marginal from 7-930am and from 4-6pm. That would be of more help than anything else. But they will probably be looking for speeders in stop and go traffic.

  • Greg May 12, 2010 (9:42 pm)

    I’ve been taking the 56/57 to commute to Sodo daily since I moved to West Seattle a few years ago. I actually plan on taking my car once this change takes affect so I can hop on I-5 at Royal Brougham.

    Sorry, metro. It was fun while it lasted.

  • kr May 12, 2010 (10:40 pm)

    WSB, or anyone – has Constantine or the KC Metro been asked about adding more runs to the water taxi? I’d love to take it more but the every forty minute schedule is set at just the wrong times. With a new boat and faster loading, at least from what I experienced so far this year, they could easily add another run per hour.

    • WSB May 12, 2010 (11:06 pm)

      Right now, the focus is on figuring out whether it can be funded to run year-round – I just checked with the exec’s office on that yesterday and there’s no new news, just that they’re “working on it.” But I highly recommend sending your feedback on the schedule to everyone imaginable – the King County Ferry District, the King County Executive, and also current King County Councilmember Jan Drago, who is the head of the Ferry District Board and Transportation Committee – http://kingcounty.gov should have all the contact info you need – TR

  • newnative May 12, 2010 (11:29 pm)

    I have lived in cities/counties with much worse mass transit. This is a wonderful system, in my opinion. I can’t afford a car, barely can afford the bus some days, but I appreciate it when I need to go to the City. I will check out the time comparisons.

  • austin May 13, 2010 (7:07 am)

    I agree with newnative about the bus system. Complaining that riding the bus isn’t as convenient as taking the car is a pretty self entitled point of view. When I came to Seattle ten years ago I moved from a city in which I was a forty five minute walk from the closest bus stop. Talk about suck bus from an undeveloped country. Seattle commuters are spoiled.

Sorry, comment time is over.