Traffic alert: Next phase of Viaduct work about to affect 1st Ave S.

We’re just days away from the next major phase of Alaskan Way Viaduct work, which will have major effects on a section of 1st Avenue South in the stadium zone. If you drive 1st in that area – or if you use the Viaduct on- or off-ramp in the stadium area – you’ll want to read the WSDOT news release that’s after the jump:

In less than a week construction crews working to replace the southern mile of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct will reduce First Avenue S. to just one lane in each direction between S. Royal Brougham Way and S. King Street around-the-clock through April 1.

The long-term closures are necessary to give crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation the space they need to safely demolish and relocate the First Avenue S. on-ramp to the viaduct.

The ramp demolition is a sign of things to come for the south end of the viaduct. Crews working for WSDOT and contractor Skanska USA Civil will demolish the rest of the seismically vulnerable viaduct between S. Holgate and S. King streets in 2012.

Closure information
* Monday, Jan. 3 – Crews will close both directions of First Avenue S. between S. King Street and S. Royal Brougham Way and the SR 99 on- and off-ramps at First Avenue S. between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. to restripe the roadway and set up the work zone.
* Tuesday, Jan. 4 – Friday, April 1 – First Avenue S. will be reduced to one lane in each direction between S. King Street and S. Royal Brougham Way around-the-clock.

“We understand this is very inconvenient for everyone who uses this ramp or First Avenue South,” said Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Administrator Ron Paananen. “We will need drivers’ help to keep traffic moving as we race to complete this portion of work before the start of baseball season.”

Once the lane closure is in place crews will begin building the support structure for the new SR 99 on-ramp. In February the existing on-ramp will close for six weeks while it is demolished and rebuilt in a new location. When this work is complete, the ramp entrance will be on S. Royal Brougham Way to the west of First Avenue S.

Drivers can also expect to see the southbound SR 99 off-ramp moving to S. Royal Brougham Way in late winter. The new ramps will connect to a new north-south street now under construction between S. Royal Brougham Way and S. Atlantic Street.

The ramp work is the first step in building a four-lane construction detour that will connect the viaduct to the SR 99 replacement roadway between S. King Street and S. Royal Brougham Way until the waterfront viaduct replacement opens to traffic.

Drivers’ help needed to keep traffic moving
Drivers can help during these construction closures by planning ahead to find northbound routes that will best get them to their destination while the on-ramp is closed.

For more information about the SR 99 – S. Holgate Street to S. King Street Viaduct and Seawall Replacement program, visit For more information about the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Project visit

24 Replies to "Traffic alert: Next phase of Viaduct work about to affect 1st Ave S."

  • redblack December 28, 2010 (9:35 am)

    wow. brace yourselves.
    SB aurora is going to get ugly, since that little exit at the south end of battery street tunnel will be the last exit until the WS bridge.
    fortunately, it looks like they’re working on construction of the new ramp and demolition of the old ramp at the same time, so hopefully the new ramps will open pretty quickly.
    i also hope SDOT is on top of the signal timing on 4th avenue. the new ramp from spokane street and 4th ave will be carrying a lot of west seattleites through downtown soon.

  • james December 28, 2010 (9:41 am)

    I’m confused. Why are they doing major viaduct work when they’re planning to tear the whole thing down in a few years?

    • WSB December 28, 2010 (9:43 am)

      This is the SOUTH END of The Viaduct, which they have revised from “South End Replacement Project” to “Holgate to King,” for some reason. It is being rebuilt starting pretty much now. That’s separate from the “Central Waterfront” section of The Viaduct, the part that currently is supposed to be replaced with The Tunnel.

  • james December 28, 2010 (9:43 am)

    Redblack… isn’t the southbound Battery Street exit already the only exit until WS bridge? I believe the on-ramp affected in this project is northbound, correct?

  • Sage December 28, 2010 (9:57 am)

    Does Metro plan on continuing to run buses like the 21 down this stretch of 1st? They seem to not particularly care if the 21 runs even vaguely on time, but this could get a little ridiculous.

    • WSB December 28, 2010 (10:12 am)

      We published the Metro service changes recently and your question reminds me they should be linked to this. Will go find the link and add it.

  • Andy December 28, 2010 (10:19 am)

    My office window is about 10 feet from the entrance to the northbound on-ramp, directly between it and the North end of Qwest field. This demolition will be interesting. They’ve surveyed our building, put some sensors on the outside, but as close as we are going to be to this thing, they are not moving us out.

    Construction down here over the past year or so has caused a lot of creative route planning, and some serious traffic headaches, especially when the train sits across the tracks at Royal Brougham for what feel like hours. This should be fun.

  • ws mavrick December 28, 2010 (10:37 am)

    so I guess there will be no tunnel since they’re fixing the viaduct. If they still tear it down, woow what a waste of money. thank gregoire

    • WSB December 28, 2010 (10:39 am)

      Again, to be clear as possible – The Viaduct has two sections. Central and South. The south is being replaced, and that’s long been planned, funded, etc. That is from Holgate St. to King St. THEN the Central Waterfront section begins – and that’s what the tunnel is supposed to replace. The south end replacement, once done, will be where the tunnel begins/ends, depending on which direction you’re traveling.

  • redblack December 28, 2010 (10:41 am)

    james: they’re doing both the northbound on-ramp from 1st ave to 99 at qwest field, and the southbound 99 off-ramp to 1st (the left-hand exit after columbia); which is essentially the same structure.
    check out the links provided in the article. WSDOT’s animation is pretty informative. and easy on the eyes – if not on the brain – once you see the spaghetti bowl they’re designing.
    the real PITA will be that there will essentially be no on-ramps to northbound 99 – except for the one from the WS bridge – during this construction.
    if 99 is heavy or blocked north of spokane street, the best viable options are 4th ave NB or I-5.
    i think i’ll be heading for work at 6 a.m.
    andy: do you work in that new (fake) brick triangle-shaped building that starbucks is leasing? that thing is built to withstand some heavy seismic activity. deep-bored concrete pilings with post-tension concrete slabs and concrete core structures.
    no worries! you might be in the safest building in the city. and with a great view.
    or do you work in the newer one, south of pyramid? i never worked on it, but it looks like it’s similar in structural integrity.
    i imagine both buildings would have to be: the engineers who designed it knew that the viaduct would be demolished, and they knew what would happen to the ground beneath it as a result.

  • Andy December 28, 2010 (10:49 am)

    redblack – no, I work in a very old bulding, used to be the studio for Bill Nye The Science Guy, or so they tell me. I was not exaggerating above when I said I am about 10 feet from the very bottom or entrance to the on-ramp to Northbound 99. A block or south of that new faux-brick monstrosity, and on the East side of 1st. The on ramp runs directly between my window and NB 1st Ave. I’ll keep you all updated with anything interesting that happens down here.

    • WSB December 28, 2010 (10:56 am)

      Thanks, Andy, photos always welcome, and it sounds like you’ll have quite the perspective! – Tracy (still looking up the Metro info, a house fire interrupted)
      (added – here’s the Metro info, from a recent reminder news release:
      >> Starting January 3, 2001, southbound Metro routes 21, 22, 56 and 57 will be rerouted off of 1st Av S between Cherry St and S Atlantic St due to the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project.

      The revised routing will be via Cherry St, 2nd Av, the 2nd Av Ext S, 4th Av S, Edgar Martinez Dr S and on to southbound 1st Av S and the regular route.

      Northbound service is not affect at this time, but will be starting Feb 5.

      Bus stops will be southbound at 1st Av just south of Marion St, 2nd Av just north of James St, the 2nd Av Ext S just north of S Jackson St and 1st Av S just south of S Atlantic St.

      The southbound stops on 1st Av S at Yesler Way, S Jackson St and S Royal Brougham Way will no longer be served by these routes.

      Please watch for updates to this routing that will take effect at Metro’s next service change on February 5, 2011.

      Northbound service on these routes is not affected at this time, but will be starting on Feb 5. <<

  • Smitty December 28, 2010 (11:11 am)

    4th avenue is a great option for those working downtown – the problem is there is construction there as well – at least the first few blocks between the “Costco exit” and when you pass under the Spokane Street Viaduct.

    I wonder if taking 1st avenue south and then cutting over to 4th by the stadiums will work – or if the 1st avenue backup will extend well past that point.

    We’ll find out next week, I guess!

    Good luck to all.

  • west seattle steve December 28, 2010 (11:23 am)


    I think you have my old office. 1st floor Northwest corner of the building.

    Bill Nye the Science Guy was filmed back in the warehouse area about 1994-1998. The loading dock was right across from gate B of the Kingdome.

    The area was all messed up during the Safeco Field construction. We lost half our phones for 3 months and the power kept going down.

  • Andy December 28, 2010 (12:19 pm)

    West Seattle Steve,

    That sounds like the place. Kind of a nice location, but it’s tough on game days. And I am having fewer and fewer options for getting home from here.

  • Al December 28, 2010 (4:00 pm)

    I fear to even say this…which is sad…but here goes. For those drivers who will re-route to Alaskan/E. Marginal please be aware that route is a major bicycle route to/from West Seattle. Cyclists will be on the street so don’t be suprised or shocked when you see them. There is a bike lane on either side of the roadway (construction permitting) from roughly Royal Brougham to Spokane Street even though it’s obliterated right now by road debris and standing water. If a cyclist is not using the bike lane, they may be in the road to avoid all kinds of dangerous situations. And don’t try driving in the bike lane or on the sidewalk (as I see more frequently now as traffic gets worse) – it doesn’t help you get anywhere faster and is very dangerous.

  • James December 28, 2010 (4:03 pm)

    We are making the same mistake as the convention center mess on I-5 all over again. Overpriced tunnel for LESS capacity and outrageous ($8/day + tolls). Someone please come to their senses. There is a cheaper, better option that would create open space AND add capacity while ADDING a beautiful signature structure to our waterfront, and creating one of the most stunningly beautiful commutes in North America.

  • LB December 28, 2010 (5:00 pm)

    Just as a FYI, routes 85 (which is a night owl route), 116, 118, and 119 will also be rerouted (I checked the “Construction & Events Reroutes” part of the Metro website).

  • Jtk December 28, 2010 (9:43 pm)


  • redblack December 28, 2010 (10:53 pm)

    andy: i believe you’ll be okay. :) that building is well away from the deep pilings that hold up the viaduct.
    at least, you won’t be any worse off than you were before the construction.
    hopefully mother nature doesn’t have other plans.
    i have some interesting and scary stories about remodeling the palmer building – 1/2 block south of you – after the nisqually quake, though… which may or may not make you feel better.

  • Andy December 29, 2010 (7:32 am)

    redblack – looking forward to it more than anything, really. Demo/construction is always fun to watch. Last year they spent a few weeks tearing down that block-long row of loading docks that were directly across 1st Ave from me, and my productivity dropped a bit as I sat here watching them chew their way down the line. Awesome.

    We get a good bit of shaking in here just from the vehicles across the street now – Them wimmenfolks ’round these parts be worried sumthin’ fierce!

  • JanS December 29, 2010 (4:48 pm)

    yep, definitely glad I work at home :)

  • Kat January 3, 2011 (10:54 am)

    Speaking of cycling, will there be motor, pedestrian, or bike access down Royal Brougham from 1st AVE to Alaskan Way? At night, the trains are switching tracks and loading/ unloading cars. This means that the through paths on Hanford and Horton are blocked, sometimes for an hour. One has to ride north to Dawson, then south on East Marginal Way (sketchy at all times). Or one can ride north to Jackson. That avenue will be cut off if 1st is closed between King and Royal Brougham.

  • Andy January 4, 2011 (12:51 pm)

    That’s a good question, Kat. I haven’t heard about that section of road being closed, so you should still be able to bike from 1st to Alaskan on Royal Brougham. Though the train can hold you up pretty good there, too. That’s where that quick pedal up to Jackson comes in handy.

    1st isn’t going to be completely closed, BTW. It is just being reduced to one lane in each direction.

Sorry, comment time is over.