New project ahead: Spokane Street Overcrossing ‘Timber Bridge’ on Highway 99

The city’s Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project is all but done … the state’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project has moved from the south-end work to focusing on the preparations for tunnel-boring … but another project on the horizon is of potential interest to West Seattle/White Center/South Park drivers: At the Spokane Street Overcrossing on Highway 99, south of the West Seattle Bridge (here’s a map), WSDOT will replace the “Timber Bridge.” It’s been mentioned in passing a few times over the past year-plus, and now it’s finally gone to bid; WSDOT is scheduled to announce the successful bidder any day now, and work is expected to start in February, lasting more than a year. The official info-page is here. As WSDOT spokesperson Broch Bender puts it, the structure “predates the Space Needle.” While the work is under way, WSDOT says, it will “maintain two lanes of northbound and one lane of southbound SR 99 traffic throughout construction by rebuilding the east and west halves alternately.”

14 Replies to "New project ahead: Spokane Street Overcrossing 'Timber Bridge' on Highway 99"

  • chas redmond November 26, 2012 (1:51 pm)

    Only one lane of southbound will back southbound 99 up to the Aurora Bridge every evening. I hope they actually realize this. One lane exits to WS Bridge with a companion lane shooting off that to Harbor Island, the remaining southbound lane takes all the rest of the traffic. I love how SDOT parcels out the pain so it is at a strident level for the longest possible amount of time.

    • WSB November 26, 2012 (2:28 pm)

      This is why I love comments … though sometimes (see bike-box discussion) they can be a challenge. People bring up great questions, and sometimes the answer lies in info I hadn’t included.
      The briefing packet from the South Portal Working Group meeting (which I was unable to cover because of a breaking story) earlier this month does address the southbound traffic. It points out that more than half the southbound traffic on 99 at or near that point exits to the West Seattle Bridge. May not be enough, but if it’s any consolation they did consider the point.
      It’s on this, a few pages from the end.
      (And we are working on an item about the other upcoming project of note, at the Spokane interchange on I-5.)

  • sw November 26, 2012 (2:09 pm)

    How hard would it be to make one lane reversible? Seems like a few jersey barriers, a couple of electronic signs and a slew of cones could do the trick.

    As evidenced by the solution to the “rogue” port truck drivers who illegally drove through the barrier on the Eastbound WS bridge, SDOT can find solutions to problems if there is enough public outcry.

  • MrsL November 26, 2012 (3:47 pm)

    How will this affect traffic heading to West Seattle traveling north on 99 (i.e. those of us who go under 99 to get to the low bridge)?

  • CandrewB November 26, 2012 (3:57 pm)

    “It points out that more than half the southbound traffic on 99 at or near that point exits to the West Seattle Bridge.”

    Not during the evening rush it doesn’t. Chas is right, during ’09 and ’10, buses got backed up Columbia due to some work or problem on 99 South of the West Seattle exit. Anyone who regulary rode buses back then knows this.

  • marty November 26, 2012 (4:05 pm)

    It’s a shame they didn’t continue the Spokane Street Viaduct eastbound exit lane to 4th ave. and make it an exit to southbound I-5. Narrowing down to two eastbound lanes will always cause a bottleneck. You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to see that.

  • shed22 November 26, 2012 (5:06 pm)

    I like the “timber bridge”. Reminds me of a time past. Always wondered how safe it was, though.

  • godofthebasement November 26, 2012 (5:58 pm)

    Seriously Chas? “SDOT parcels out the pain so it is at a strident level for the longest possible amount of time.” It makes me want to pull my hair out when people propagate their fantasy that the city is somehow out to get us. Get over the persecution complex.

  • DF November 26, 2012 (6:28 pm)

    I bet ya anything those old timbers were treated at West Seattle’s old creosote plant.

  • JayDee November 26, 2012 (6:53 pm)

    Well, I have been a Cassandra prophesying doom when they screwed with 99 northbound/southbound between Spokane and downtown. I was wrong. Now if you are on Elliot/99 Southbound I am right but only because the Seneca on ramp IS the bottleneck.

    That being the case, by putting a constriction just past the West Seattle Bridge turnoff we may get the odd scenario of people cheating in the WS bridge lanes only to get over at the last minute. That’ll be a switch.

    • WSB November 26, 2012 (7:54 pm)

      For anyone who thinks the “bike box” is a Seattle invention – it’s actually not. More than 20 years old – only been in Seattle for two years, I believe – here’s some history:

  • SaraS November 26, 2012 (9:15 pm)

    I was hoping this article was about the HUGE potholes underneath the bridge heading east-bound toward West Marginal. Oh my gosh, this morning I thought my tire was going to pop off – it is so deep I completely bounced in and out.
    Scary, considering I *just* got new tires last year!!
    West Marginal itself isn’t great either. We need new roads, not renewing an imperfect, traffic-inducing road as it is!

  • Robert November 27, 2012 (8:53 am)

    Chas, This is a WSDOT project because 99 is a state highway. SDOT owns the Spokane Street Viaduct.

  • DF November 27, 2012 (9:14 am)

    If drivers would get their phones out of their face and actually concentrate on the road they could easily miss these potholes. Just an idea.

Sorry, comment time is over.