Alaskan Way Viaduct closure: Limited low-bridge openings

(March 2010 view of the “low bridge,” from its tower, taken by Councilmember Rasmussen)
Though they’ve rejected previous requests to limit low (swing) bridge openings during rush hours, the U.S. Coast Guard has agreed to do so, temporarily, for pm rush hour, during the upcoming 9-day, 10-night Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. That’s according to a statement just in from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office, which includes formal announcement of the October 10th closure-info open-house meeting we’ve been previewing here – read on for details:

The announcement begins with a quote attributed to Councilmember Rasmussen:

“During the Alaskan Way Viaduct construction, the City along with our state and regional partners has been working to find ways to keep people and freight moving during the upcoming nine day closure. I applaud the U. S. Coast Guard for issuing a decision to limit the openings of the low-level West Seattle swing bridge during heavy commuter hours. I also want to thank the maritime community for working with the city and state to plan for the nine day closure.”

“Maintaining mobility to the residents of the West Seattle peninsula is crucial as there are only three roadway options to cross the Duwamish River to and from West Seattle.”

In an e-mail to the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard granted the City’s request for an afternoon bridge closure for marine traffic during the AWV closure scheduled for October 21-31. Exceptions are allowed for deep draft vessels, which must announce their departures seventy-two hours in advance, giving time to notify the public. Those instances are expected to be few.

Two open house meetings will provide the public with information about the upcoming AWV/SR 99 nine-day closure (Oct. 21 – 31), commute options during the closure and how SR 99 will change for drivers when it re-opens.

Oct. 10 – West Seattle
6 to 8 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
West Seattle High School Commons
3000 California Ave. SW, Seattle

Remarks at 6:30 p.m.: Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program Deputy Director Matt Preedy.

There’s also an October 12th meeting, same format, in Ballard.

16 Replies to "Alaskan Way Viaduct closure: Limited low-bridge openings"

  • Robert2715 October 3, 2011 (4:59 pm)

    To state the obvious, isn’t the morning commute much more sensitive to openings than the evening commute? But I suppose anything helps.

    • WSB October 3, 2011 (5:08 pm)

      Robert – I put that question to CM Rasmussen’s team as soon as we got the announcement. SDOT notes that on the outbound commute, there is the 4th Avenue exit from the bridge for a little extra relief, but on the way home, that doesn’t exist (till the 1st Avenue ramp opens) so the low bridge is extra-important then … TR

  • Alki October 3, 2011 (5:14 pm)

    True the 4th ave exit is there on the way out but by the time you reach that you are all done with the bridge traffic. Having a reliable alt route to 1st and 4th by going under would be nice. Sometimes I think if they just timed the lights going to the lower bridge better getting off West Seattle could be a little easier.

  • MarcO October 3, 2011 (5:17 pm)

    Yes, a good start but what about the trains running in the afternoon commuter hours? how about also restricting Port traffic to off hours?

  • Alki October 3, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    Oh yeah the trains. I hate getting “trained”. Sitting there watching it go back and forth for 30 min or more, yeah those suck too.

  • Neighbor October 3, 2011 (7:07 pm)

    Last week I stuck for over an hour. Why can’t they halt stupid crap like this? How much $$ is this costing people in just downtime?

  • Admiral resident October 3, 2011 (7:36 pm)

    “…for pm rush hour”
    I’m glad there is an open house on Monday. The City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office definitely needs to better informed of our morning commute situation.
    Making an additional request to limit railroad traffic in that area in the morning and night is essential. Defining rush hour is another challenge.

    Many times, in the morning, even leaving late, 10ish, I must consider taking the lower bridge and gamble no train will slug by on any of three railroads and the bridge is opened. That adds up to pretty bad odds. :P

    Even when I’m carpooling, twice week, I cannot guarantee I can be in Beacon Hill by 8:15 without leaving at least 50min. prior. (without traffic this is a 20min. ride tops. This arrangement pays off for me on the way back, when there’s a game…)

    I literally consult the @seattledot twitter going down Admiral (where reception’s horrible) to take a route decision. Also, when you take the lower Spokane route to 4th to I-90 you cannot turn left from lower S Spokane St. to 4th even though no traffic is currently coming west due to construction (turn right and do a u-turn on 4th…). Eliminating that restriction to turn left on 4th would also help.

    And finally, I tried the 509 route last week only to get stuck in a very long line up to W. Marginal Way because that bridge opens too!? Construction on 4th to reach back to 90 just made me crack up laughging that’s when I had to put on the “Tree of Patience” soundtrack and hoping it would keep me sane.

    The water and railroad traffic need to take advantage of the multiple nighttime hours at their disposition, from 8PM to 4AM (that’s 8 hours in a row!)

    Can I ask a West Seattleite to bring this up at the open house on Monday?

    ’cause, guess what, I won’t be able to attend, my office is in Kirkland now. I’m fortunate I can leave later, 10ish, not to have to deal with this morning mess most of the time. But I cannot be back at 6:30 without leaving before 5:15 from the eastside but that’s beside the point.

    thx for reading

  • JN October 3, 2011 (9:01 pm)

    Unfortunately these are the problems we get for living on a peninsula. Even on a bicycle, which is usually immune to traffic backlogs, there is still the lower bridge to contend with.

  • westside October 3, 2011 (10:22 pm)

    Metro buses will be using the high-level bridge and going up 4th in the morning the week of the closure. On the outbound instead of going on the viaduct they will travel down 4th and 1st to get on the low-level bridge. That is why the PM peak was so important.

  • JAT October 4, 2011 (9:00 am)

    Hey, wait, you mean that “voluntary” limitation on rush-hour openings of the swing bridge during the closure of the 1st Ave S ramp to the Spokane St viaduct was just an illusory promise on the part of the Coast Guard and the commercial shipping operations? (I thought it was the Army Corps of Engineers, but whatever)

    But this one is for real, right? No problem then…

  • JEM October 4, 2011 (10:59 am)

    As others have mentioned, in the PM commute you have the reroute over low bridge due to the closed 1st Ave/high bridge onramp. So there is much more traffic using the low bridge in the evening.

  • wisepunk October 4, 2011 (11:56 am)

    The low bridge will be open, but there will be a train/and or semi truck backup from the port. You know this. I have been leaving Alki at 7 and it is still taking 15 minutes just to get on the bridge. I have a feeling that it is going to be a fall weather bike commute once they close the viaduct.

  • Bill October 4, 2011 (12:12 pm)

    This is good news. Coordination of train crossings would be a good idea. It’s a major problem when we have snow, too.

  • RJ October 4, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?

  • SC October 5, 2011 (1:54 pm)

    Great news for the WS, sucks to be in Ballard. One (1)–one bridge. Bikes–SOL, missing link still missing. Reality check–it takes 15 minutes to get onto the Ballard Bridge now. At 3pm. So stop the pity party and count yourselves lucky to have a CM and countless other government officials affected by the bridges, because up north of the SC (Ship Canal) we’ve got a new term–Shit Canal.

  • MrsL October 5, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    JAT: The Corps of Engineers deals with keeping navigable waters open; if debris is blocking boat traffic or the channels are too shallow for boat traffic that’s the Corps job to fix that; among it’s other missions (none of which are to regulate bridge openings).

Sorry, comment time is over.