Spokane Street Viaduct: Speed-limit Q/A; ramp update

Two Spokane Street Viaduct updates this morning. First, as commenter/honorary road correspondent Robert2715 points out, the 1st Avenue South offramp from the eastbound SSV only reopened one lane this morning – but SDOT spokesperson Paul Elliott confirms the other lane is indeed expected to reopen tomorrow.

Second, SDOT answers a question we received via e-mail from Stacy, who wondered, “Do you know if there are plans to raise the speed limit on the Spokane Street Viaduct (i.e., back to 45 mph) now that the construction is complete with the new permanent barrier between eastbound and westbound traffic? That is the speed on the bridge, and it would be great if it were consistent all the way to I-5, too.” SDOT’s Elliott replies:

Now that the work on the bridge deck on the viaduct is largely complete, we are returning to the preconstruction 35 MPH. After giving motorists some time to adjust to the new configuration, the City’s Traffic Engineer will examine the conditions and then determine whether or not this is the proper speed limit.

The SSV Widening Project is still not completely done – the westbound surface S. Spokane Street is one of the last pieces of the puzzle – but is scheduled to wrap up next month.

23 Replies to "Spokane Street Viaduct: Speed-limit Q/A; ramp update"

  • CMP September 19, 2012 (12:24 pm)

    Ugh, PLEASE raise the limit to at least 45 mph. 35 mph is ridiculously slow. I’ll never understand how the SSV could have the same speed limit as 35th Ave SW. On a happy note, I am thrilled that the 1st Ave onramp from Sodo and now the 1st Ave offramp from the West Seattle Bridge are both open. My commute finally just got better after 2 1/2 years!

  • WMF September 19, 2012 (12:28 pm)

    People always did 45-50 in the 35 zone when it was cramped. Now that’s the lanes have been expanded, I really don’t see ANYONE doing anything near the limit.

  • jno September 19, 2012 (12:45 pm)

    Come on, SDOT. We were told prior to construction that the speed limit on the SSV was 35mph because the lanes were too narrow for anything higher. Now we have a limited access highway with standard-width lanes and shoulders, and acceleration and deceleration lanes. The only conceivable reason not to make the limit consistent with the bridge is to use it as a speed trap.

  • Tony S September 19, 2012 (12:45 pm)

    That’s what’s always surprised me about unrealistic speed limits. The traffic flow will generally move towards what the limit of the road allows — 50 mph on the actual bridge, for instance. Other than the opportunity to occasionally generate some revenue, setting unrealistically low speed limits on streets seems very head-in-the-ground thinking.

  • kj September 19, 2012 (12:45 pm)

    NOBODY goes 35 on that stretch. Every time I try it, I about get run off the road by cars trying to go around me. NOT a safe speed. Needs to be higher speed limit or some cops need to start enforcing it.

  • Don't Be Scared September 19, 2012 (12:47 pm)

    Of course no one pays attention to that speed limit. Even during the very squeezed construction, if I tried to go even 35 at the narrow point people would fly by me like I was an idiot. Folks know there is no place for cops to ‘hide’ and do a speed trap, so if there’s not a cop right behind you, you’re essentially free to go as fast as you feel. They did used to use the old closed 4th Ave entrance on the old bridge configuration to hide in…but with that gone…there’s no places to safely pull over and ‘hide’ to catch speeders.

  • Ian September 19, 2012 (1:06 pm)

    Hopefully it does go up to 45. So many people do that as it is that trying to obey the speed limit is just dangerous. I have seen many people coming off I-5 at full speed to hit their brakes just as they come to someone doing 25 at the end of the ramp. A lot of near collisions right there.

  • Smitty September 19, 2012 (1:31 pm)

    In addition to the speed limit they need to get rid of the SSV “choke point” heading eastbound between the spokane street(?) onramp from below to underneath 99. All three lanes need to be opened up to all traffic to take full advantage of this investment and maximize traffic flow.

    Busses get a huge advantage coming over the bridge – which is fine – but this little choke point buys them very little yet impactsmany.

  • dsa September 19, 2012 (2:13 pm)

    I was taught the proper speed limit was the 85th percentile. That means the speed 85 percent of the people drive. Setting it above or below causes problems.

  • stephen September 19, 2012 (2:38 pm)

    the 25 MPH sign is a joke after exiting I-5 at nearly than twice that speed. i never go 25 MPH for fear of being rear ended. i’m all for a strict speed limit on surface streets, but on the viaduct please post a reasonable speed limit of 45 MPH

  • WestSeattleDrew September 19, 2012 (3:04 pm)

    45 MPH!

  • zip line September 19, 2012 (3:57 pm)

    This morning there were still traffic diversion signs and orange barrels near the 1st Ave exit ramp. When are they going to remove those?

  • mike September 19, 2012 (6:02 pm)

    I still end up beind you after you pass me doing 50. Traffic still prevents momentum getting on I5

  • Stacy September 19, 2012 (7:14 pm)

    Thank you for the follow-up, Tracy! I’ve been hoping that the limit would be raised to 45, and it looks like others agree. I got a verbal warning over a cop’s loudspeaker a couple weeks ago (fun!), and that reminded me that I had been meaning to ask about this for a while now.

  • twobottles September 19, 2012 (7:32 pm)

    Still posted at 25 when entering the SSV from Northbound I5 (and most were going 50-60)

  • Mike September 19, 2012 (8:16 pm)

    You could get run over doing 35. Police cars, trucks, sedans – all travel faster.

  • Me September 19, 2012 (8:31 pm)

    WSB I have a question..my new commute has me taking W Marginal – 509 entering from Avalon, so I go below the bridge. Yet it takes me almost as long as crossing above, because of the lights. I noticed that we will sit at each light twice, while cars I see just pulling up on the other entrances go very quickly.
    Is it possible these lights are off? Do “they” not know most of the traffic is coming from Harbor/Admiral/Avalon going eastbound? If anyone is confused by what i mean, try leaving your house at 7:30am and travel beneath the bridge.

    • WSB September 19, 2012 (8:45 pm)

      Call SDOT and tell them they seem out of synch – 684-ROAD.

  • Shoes required September 19, 2012 (10:30 pm)

    I’m generally all for slowing down, but the average speed there on the viaduct is about 45. I think 45 is OK there, for most of the lanes, but actually, at the westbound 1st Avenue exit area it might be a bit dangerous. I think they need to mark the entrance and exit to 1st Avenue with physical barriers and better signage. If not for that funky entrance/exit there, 45 would be a fine speed, I think. Too bad they didn’t design or sign that 1st Avenue part a lot better.

  • WorldCitizen September 20, 2012 (1:13 am)

    50 mph

  • DBM September 20, 2012 (7:39 am)

    I Can’t Drive 35!!

  • J September 20, 2012 (4:47 pm)

    I’m fascinated that the original questioner thought the old speed was 45 mph. It was 35 for a long time–I believe, since right after a fatal head-on there many years ago. But I always get people piled up behind me trying to keep to 35. Please enforce whatever limit is set, so that people trying to obey the law can do so!

  • Stacy September 20, 2012 (6:52 pm)

    J: That is exactly what I meant; I wasn’t talking about right before the construction. I’ve lived in WS for about 20 years, and it was 45mph for most of that time until that collision, when it was clear that the speed needed to be reduced, and then some time later they put in the non-permanent barrier to divide the east-bound and west-bound traffic. So now that the new construction is complete with a permanent barrier and wider lanes, it’s time to raise it.

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