Happening now: Spokane Street Viaduct overnight EB closure

(12:01 pm Tuesday note – Live bridge-cam picture moved up to newer story in the lane closure)
ORIGINAL 10:39 PM REPORT: We’ve put up the “live” bridge cam tonight as a reminder that the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct – the section of the West Seattle Bridge between 99 and I-5 (which doesn’t have a live cam, but this one will show any resulting backups) – is completely closed all night tonight, due to reopen by 5 am. The closure that was supposed to kick in at 9 pm hadn’t taken effect by 9:20 pm, when we went over to take a look, but it’s in place now, according to SlickPix Photography‘s David Rosen. When the road reopens, it will be only one lane wide eastbound between 1st and 4th Avenues, round the clock, for up to six weeks, while the new 4th Avenue offramp is connected to the existing outside lane. (Tonight’s detour details are here.)

21 Replies to "Happening now: Spokane Street Viaduct overnight EB closure"

  • Dale July 20, 2010 (1:04 am)

    I hate to bellyache but why did the LANE have to be closed again if nothing was going on? I went by there w/bound at 8:50 PM and didn’t see any equipment or people looking like repairs were about to start…just a few straggling signs. Why close the lane if nothings going to happen?

  • JayDee July 20, 2010 (7:57 am)

    Any updates from the field regarding when it backed up? At 6:30 the camera looked fine…not so now.

  • Jeff July 20, 2010 (8:20 am)

    I hit the bridge at 6:15 and it was just a tiny backup(2 mins). A lot of folks were heading under the bridge to get southbound.

    I could already see that people grazing in the right lane (going as far as they could before getting over) were going to cause slowdowns. Be courteous and merge before you hit the road block!

  • bsmomma July 20, 2010 (8:32 am)

    I left the Admiral area at about 7:10. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing untill I hit 1/2 way up the WS Bridge/Fwy. Then it took me 20/25 minutes to get to the 1st Ave/Spokane st. Exit. Traffic was built up behind me very quickly!

  • GR July 20, 2010 (8:57 am)

    You are better off driving down to Roxbury for 6 weeks.

  • bsmomma July 20, 2010 (9:07 am)

    Does anyone know if the road work is done going North on 1st just before Spokane? I tried doing Roxbury/1st Ave Bridge once. It was a breeze untill I hit the construction on 1st. Took longer to get through that mess than it did to get there.

  • Thomas July 20, 2010 (9:07 am)


    Late merging actually gets more cars per minute through a closed lane backup. Here’s a good roundup of some of the latest commentary and science on the matter:


    I’m sure this will stir the pot, but the late merge is the right thing to do for everyone on the road.

  • ugh July 20, 2010 (9:18 am)

    It was ugly at 8 am. Please don’t listen to Jeff, use all the lanes that are available. I so don’t get this Seattle phenomenon of merging a mile or so before a lane ends. Refusing to use the road that is open does not save time, it just creates the backup farther back.

  • Jack Loblaw July 20, 2010 (9:43 am)

    People who don’t merge when they have the chance then race up an empty lane and stop traffic while they beg to be let in annoy the $h1t out of me. Every day on the viaduct people stop traffic in the middle lane in order to beg their way in to the Western Ave exit. What makes people think that they are so special that traffic should stop just for them so that they can avoid the back up ? If everyone used their manners by letting just one car in and if the cars that needed in would stop being pushy and take their turn one at a time life would be better on the road. Much of this mess is a direct result of Gridlock Greg’s monorail decision – had we actually built the monorail that we voted on and paid taxes for we would be gliding above this mess.

  • Guidosmom July 20, 2010 (9:52 am)

    It was really bad by 8:30AM, and it didn’t help that the 35th and Avalon traffic light was blinking.

  • MB July 20, 2010 (10:13 am)

    It sucked at 7:15am today and I could see that it sucked even worse when I came back across at about 10am. Yay, I get to do it all over again in a couple of hours :(

  • carterbiosea July 20, 2010 (10:21 am)

    I went the lower bridge/Spokane surface street route, wasn’t too bad. I don’t think many people realize that the surface option is open. I haven’t tried the Roxbury option, maybe I’ll give that a go later this week.

  • hj July 20, 2010 (10:28 am)

    @Jack: In my mind, there are two types of merge. In the example you gave, people who don’t merge over early do indeed block traffic behind, no question.

    I think the situation on the Spokane Street viaduct is different: in that case, the lane just ends and there is nowhere else to go. In this case it makes sense to wait until the end. Since the lane is ending anyway, you’re not bringing traffic behind you to a halt by waiting. By having a single merge point, you don’t have ripple effects of people abruptly stopping as other people try to merge in wherever they want. Since the merging is going to happen, we may as well do it in the most orderly way possible.

  • Smitty July 20, 2010 (10:54 am)

    Fewer car lanes.

    More sharrows!

  • supernova72 July 20, 2010 (11:23 am)

    At 6:45am it was much better than expected (maybe a 2 minute delay from the two lane version).

    Sounds like if I would have waited another hour it would have been ugly.

    A couple of right lane grazers that seemed surprised the lane ended (really??) as they drove the entire way until they almost hit the merge barriers.

    All in all not too bad at all.

  • ugh July 20, 2010 (11:29 am)


    That annoys me too, but that’s not the situation we’re talking about here. This is two lanes merging into one. An exit isn’t a merge.

  • CMP July 20, 2010 (12:16 pm)

    And that’s why we have so much traffic: a lot of people don’t know the difference between a merge and yield sign, and an Exit Only lane designation. I suggest bad drivers who think they are good drivers should read a book by Tom Vanderbilt called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About Us. It might be an eye-opener for some drivers out there.

    As for the backup, it wasn’t too bad at 6:45 am, but there was definitely more traffic than usual at that time. Not looking forward to the next six weeks. I just love having backups on the way to work (the viaduct and 1st Ave South construction) and then trying to figure out which route to take home from SODO. Thanks SDOT!

  • GR July 20, 2010 (1:05 pm)

    curious what the experience was on lower Spokane, since it is allegedly open all directions now.

    • WSB July 20, 2010 (1:24 pm)

      GR, it’s open eastbound 1st to 4th (and then 1 lane to 6th), I checked that last night. I believe we have one response somewhere from someone who tried that and reported doing OK.

  • Helen July 20, 2010 (2:16 pm)

    I came down the high rise at 10AM and it took 12 minutes to get to the 1st Ave exit. Really wanted to take I-5N but wants to be on the bridge for 20 minutes or more?!

  • DaveB July 20, 2010 (5:56 pm)

    CMP: excellent suggestion. I changed some of my driving habits because of that book. Should be required reading for all drivers and doubly so for anyone who works in highway/street engineering.

    My vanpool is leaving 15 minutes early (6:45 instead of 7) and we lost about 5 minutes in the clog. So not to painful but there are many weeks to go.

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