First look: City’s plan to avoid future bridge-closure ‘surprises’

If you had to leave West Seattle for points eastward during the daytime last Saturday, you probably remember the bridge backup caused by what was supposed to be a weekend-long closure of the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct. The city had put out the word in advance, but not loudly and boldly enough, and worst of all in many eyes, there were no warning signs as you approached the bridge. After a deluge of complaints – and questions from us – SDOT promised a review of what went wrong with getting the word out and how that would be fixed for future closures. They also promised us the resulting report. We received it this evening; we’ll be writing a followup story, but there’s no point in you having to wait till then to read the report if you’re interested. It identifies 7 “issues” and how they’ll be addressed. Here’s the 2 1/2-page report, in memo form (PDF).

P.S. **No West Seattle Bridge closures scheduled this weekend**, once tonight’s eastbound SSV and Fauntleroy Expressway closures end by 5 am (the nighttime closures continue next week).

22 Replies to "First look: City's plan to avoid future bridge-closure 'surprises'"

  • dm February 3, 2012 (10:43 pm)

    Thank you WSB. I can’t imagine how we folks in West Seattle could function, in a civilized fashion, without your dedication to informing us about pending road construction, and all the other pertinent news you share about our neighborhood. I shudder to think how life would be without you. Never doubt that the information you share is essential to ALL of us, and that your lives have meaning!

  • Mark February 4, 2012 (6:13 am)

    I read the memo. Where is the part explaining what disciplinary action was taken on which employees?

  • Mack February 4, 2012 (7:14 am)

    I was also caught in the mess on the WSB last Saturday. In their report, SDOT should also estimate a realistic work schedule. There is a huge difference between a weekend long closure and a half day closure.

  • Rick February 4, 2012 (7:21 am)

    Soooo…..the GF is heading East this AM on the bridge and after last Saturday’s fiasco she’s a little freaked. Signage,etc. was of no help so is there an actual person this AM who could give her a Yay or Nay today? Thanks

  • chas redmond February 4, 2012 (7:27 am)

    What this appears to represent is admission of a lackadaisical attitude on behalf of SDOT. Seems like it took them three years to recognize that. At least they have recognized their lack of attention. Now let’s see if they change their plans on the proposed 6-week imposition of a one-lane eastbound Spokane Street.

  • fiz February 4, 2012 (8:40 am)

    I read the memo and didn’t see anything that gives me hope they will do much better the next time.
    How will the sick and injured get out of West Seattle during six weeks of the single eastbound lane? Highline isn”t an attractive choice if your insurance won’t cover you there.
    Not looking forward to next month!

    • WSB February 4, 2012 (9:27 am)

      We’ll be talking to project managers in a few days re: the upcoming lane reductions, Fiz, and will do our best to get as many answers as possible based on not just what we’re wondering about but what everybody’s asking about here. – TR

  • WSB fan February 4, 2012 (9:09 am)

    Hear, hear and very well said, dm! West Seattle Blog is a truly amazing resource. It is not an overstatement to say that WSB builds community, saves lives and prevents crime — many times a day every single day!!

  • tk February 4, 2012 (9:46 am)

    A one east-bound lane for 6 weeks??? Was this in the original plan or is this another blind-side by SDOT? This will be massive gridlock, much more than the 5 day (work day) closure of 99 last fall. People can’t stop working for that long & just take a vacation! At least a reversable lane @ 10-20mph would be moving, compared to only one lane (and the backups created by the merge). The center cement barrier on that section did not exist for many decades- why not remove it for the 6 weeks & make it a 2 + 1 reversable lane configuration?
    How will the 1st & 4th Ave exits be accessed? Will 2 lanes be availble at the 1st Ave exit(instead of only 1 lane like last weekend during the full closure)?
    Finally, all of our recent West Seattle traffic woes have been compounded even further, directly tied to the tolling of the 520 bridge. Is there going to be an independent study taken about the negative impact this has been on ALL of the other roads all over the greater Seattle region? This is supposed to go on for the next 40 years like this? If the tolls were brought down to a more reasonable amount (ie $2.00 or $2.50), would more traffic use 520 (for same overall revenue?) and ease the huge burden that has needlessly been put on all other roads, including the WS bridge traffic heading east every morning?

  • JimmyG February 4, 2012 (10:22 am)

    Call me a cynic, but I don’t for a minute buy SDOT’s story that they completed the work earlier than scheduled.

    I think a sh*tstorm was stirred up by the back-ups and they cancelled the work and opened the road up early to avoid making the situation any worse.

  • Megan February 4, 2012 (11:21 am)

    Lane Reduction?!? Where is everyone reading this? I read the attachment and post but I am clearly blind.

  • Alkigirl February 4, 2012 (11:22 am)

    Is there an email list that one can sign up for at SDOT to receive advance notification?

    • WSB February 4, 2012 (11:25 am)

      Yes. Go to – as part of the discussions following last weekend’s debacle, they moved the signup to the top of the page. It used to be at the very bottom.

  • a February 4, 2012 (12:15 pm)

    When does this 6 week lane thing happen? Our baby is due in 8 wks…I’d like to not be stuck in traffic like last weekends on the way to the hospital!

    • WSB February 4, 2012 (12:45 pm)

      No date set yet. March, is what they said. I hope to get a bit narrower of a time frame this week – TR

  • Vince February 4, 2012 (12:52 pm)

    Poor communication is rampant on these projects with major impacts on WS. There have been so many issues with parking under the WS Bridge for bus commuters and carpoolers. When I complained a while back, the workers said there had been plenty of public notice, but I never saw any. I went to the SDOT website and it took a bit of searching to even find the project (turns out it’s called the Fauntleroy Expressway project, and it apparently deals with seismicmretrofitting). But there was absolutely no mention of any potential parking disruptions. It appears there will be other disruptions from this work before it’s all over. Let’s hope we get adequate notice!

  • Sara February 4, 2012 (8:14 pm)

    Does anyone know when the lanes heading west on the bridge will reopen weeknights (currently closed from 9 pm- 5am)?

    • WSB February 4, 2012 (8:26 pm)

      As the city infopage notes, “closures will occur regularly until the project’s completion in June” …
      Doesn’t necessarily mean EVERY weeknight, though. All depends on which phase of work they’re in (our recent up-close look at the project is linked from the top of that city page). – TR

  • boy February 5, 2012 (12:11 pm)

    The city put up warnings about the closeure for about two to three weeks before they shut down the traffic. You people are just to lazy to read the signs, We all know that this work is going on. You all act like the city should canvas the neighborhood with door knocking and winshield flyrs. And if that not enough We expect a early mornning wake up call to remind you to leave early.

    • WSB February 5, 2012 (12:29 pm)

      No, there were not signs about that particular weekend closure. The signs about the Fauntleroy Expressway closure, which is different, have been ubiquitous for some time, but this one was the first all-weekend *eastbound* closure of the Spokane St. Viaduct during this phase of the project. – TR

  • Sarah B. February 6, 2012 (1:24 pm)

    Anyone know if it will be worked on again this Saturday the llth?? If so, can we expect the heavy traffic all day?? I was on the bridge on that Saturday and I don’t want a repeat!

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