West Seattle Bridge closures: Next one overnight; SDOT leader promises ‘improved … plan’

In case you missed the gridlock and frustration earlier this weekend: The eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct – that’s the official name for the West Seattle Bridge between 99 and I-5 – has another construction closure overnight, 12:01 am-5 am Monday. That’s a remnant of what was supposed to be a weekend-long closure that caused weekday-style gridlock for most of the day Saturday, until SDOT suddenly announced it was ending early after “completing required work early.” Though the closure had been mentioned in SDOT updates dating back more than two weeks (here’s the first one we published, on January 12th), they all included it in lists starting with much-less-impactful overnight closures; the biggest complaint Saturday was an offline situation: No signage on bridge approaches warning of the closure, neither electronic nor analog. In addition, as some pointed out, while the 1st Avenue South offramp was open, it was narrowed to one lane.

Along with a 97-comment discussion here on WSB, some concerned West Seattleites contacted SDOT directly. Among them was one who shared with us a response he received from the man who runs SDOT, director Peter Hahn:

I share the concerns you describe below. The SDOT people who have worked on the outreach plan for the projects(all) impacting W. Seattle will be meeting with me Monday and devising an improved responsive plan of coordination and outreach. We will share that with the community.

We also had e-mailed SDOT media contacts during the closure jam as well as West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, who replied that the city “must do better.” Ironically, the Saturday backup coincided with a four-hour Open House at City Hall to which all Seattleites were invited to come meet city reps and get “information from city departments,” SDOT included.

9 Replies to "West Seattle Bridge closures: Next one overnight; SDOT leader promises 'improved ... plan'"

  • nichole January 30, 2012 (12:04 am)

    The only sign I had seen about that doomed closure was hand painted with what looked like spray paint sitting sideways on 35th last week.I thought it was a hoax.who in their right mind would close the bridge during day light hours.something of that magnitude I was sure would be on every local news outlet.didn’t hear of it anywhere till komo was reporting a false blocking accident and a client told me off her commute troubles and I put it together. Suggestion: the city organize a volunteer email list for folks in west Seattle to get project updates and bridge impacting alerts.

    • WSB January 30, 2012 (12:38 am)

      They have those e-mail lists already. Whether they are used appropriately – that, I couldn’t say. You can sign up for the one on this project by scrolling all the way down to the bottom of this page:
      Please do note, while it would have been great if other news outlets had published them too, we do publish closures and traffic information here extensively. Daily, if anything is coming up, you’ll find it atop the “big stories” list in the sidebar, for one. The person who got the response from Peter Hahn, as mentioned above, made another good point – traffic authorities made a HUGE deal about the Mercer closures, much huger than this, and yet it could be argued this affected more people. – TR

  • M January 30, 2012 (2:18 am)

    And yet, there were the electronic signs that said “SR-99 38 minutes” and people still kept driving along. Whether you think it’s an error or not, might be a good time to pull over and find out. A quick check of the WSDOT app on our phone showed us that it wasn’t the way to go.

  • sophista-tiki January 30, 2012 (4:20 am)

    Having a heads up about the closure I knew it would be impossible for me to get from QA back to WS so I took the lower bridge like I often do, (that route has changed a thousnad times in the last few months just to add to the genral pain in the ass of the whole thing) BUT what really puts the cherry on top is when after navigating the entire city to skirt the stoopid traffic nightmare, I finally get down to the bridge and theres a Mother F%^&*$ train just sitting on the tracks at RUSH HOUR. traffic backed up from Lander to Holgate, REALLY The railroads and the Coast Guard, a little COOPERATION with the scheduling wouldn’t kill you IM SURE!

  • Sea3006 January 30, 2012 (6:48 am)

    It would be great of the WS Blog had a more visible sticky on the top of the home page alerting of horrible traffic situations. God knows we can’t rely on SDOT to do their job. I check the WSB beofe this trip and saw nothing. Also scanned the Saturday Seattle Times for a traffic alert but doh! did not see West Seattle bridge … saw “Viaduct” and put the paper down … should of read more closely. But if SDOT would have put a couple signs prior to the point of no return, probably thousands of gallons of fuel would have been saved and there would have been a happier populace.

    • WSB January 30, 2012 (7:48 am)

      Sea3006, thanks, again, it may not be a big flashing board but, for the moment, bridge-closure alerts (not just while they happen, but hours/days in advance) are at the top of the sidebar in caps, right under the traffic camera, and we’ve been doing that for months. P.S. And for those who follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds
      we publish reminders there too. Will keep working to improve, though!

  • old timer January 30, 2012 (8:40 am)

    WSB does a really fine job, but guess what,
    you have to read it for it to be effective!

    The ‘Mercer mess” gets more airtime because it is only a few blocks east of the studios of all those ‘news’ stations.
    Those bozos have a hard time seeing anything that is not in front of their noses, unless it is to show car wrecks and police chases from other parts of the country.

  • KT January 30, 2012 (9:18 am)

    “Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, who replied that the city “must do better.” Vintage Tom Rasmussen. And, besides talk, what is he going to do to see that the city does better? Hold a community meeeting to get our input? There really do not appear to be any “leaders” in our city government who will hold agencies and their bosses accountable.

  • SDOT_Construction_Coordinator January 30, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    I can also offer another resource for folks. There is a weekly construction update that goes out to the public each Thursday afternoon. It contains a map of all up-coming closures and a detailed list of closures with hours of work and a link to pertinent project pages. The construction update can be found here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/constructionlookahead.htm

    I hope this is helpful.
    – SDOT Construction Coordinator

Sorry, comment time is over.