Dealing with West Seattle Bridge traffic: Task Force is in the works; extra lane to 99 is not

(WSB file screengrab of SDOT camera looking toward bridge’s offramp to 99)
While today’s big bridge-traffic concern is the Port-bound truck backup (working on a separate story), the ongoing point of contention is usually the eastbound weekday-morning jam. Physical improvements to the bridge are unlikely anytime soon, says the city, so simpler, quicker improvements can and must be pursued, suggests City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, saying that if the right people/agencies get together and talk about operational changes and coordination, that could make a difference.

Toward that end, the West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force will be launched, he has announced, adding that Mayor Ed Murray has promised his support. (This is what Rasmussen staffer Evan Clifthorne was hinting at during the December West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.)

Before we get to details of the task force, here’s why nothing is likely to change physically on the bridge any time soon, explained in documents provided by Rasmussen’s office in response to questions from the WSTC, in their declaration of priorities last September. One big question involves whether one of the bottlenecks off the eastbound bridge could be expanded. The SDOT response says basically, no:

It is not the opinion of SDOT engineers that an additional lane could be added to the existing West Seattle Bridge/SR 99 interchange, at least not without great cost. The current interchange (which is a state-owned facility) is only 19 ft. wide while state standards require a minimum of 29 feet for two lanes. Building an adjoining structure to add more capacity would be difficult and costly given the shape and radius of the existing cloverleaf structure. Even if it were possible, such a project would cause significant parcels of industrial land to be taken and existing buildings would have to be removed. Most of the state and local resources leveraged over the last decade on these corridors have been prioritized for reconstructing the Spokane Street Viaduct and replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, as well as enhancing transit service on the corridor.

While it may not be viable to add capacity at this particular interchange, there are other options for reducing travel time through the RapidRide C corridor that show more promise relative to cost. We now have staff exploring some options that could be explored with you and the other stakeholders in the conversations with you and other stakeholders the Mayor and Councilmember Rasmussen have asked us to convene later this year.

Read the rest of SDOT’s response to WSTC, signed by chief policy adviser Bill LaBorde, here:

Rasmussen’s response to WSTC recaps some of those points and also talks about the possibility of a transit ramp from Avalon to the eastbound bridge:

That memo gets back to the forthcoming West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force. Here’s the councilmember’s memo to the mayor outlining how it would be set up and how its work could unfold:

The work on that starts immediately, we confirmed with Rasmussen during a conversation at Tuesday night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting (which touched on other topics, also the subject of a story to come).

11 Replies to "Dealing with West Seattle Bridge traffic: Task Force is in the works; extra lane to 99 is not"

  • forgotmyname January 15, 2015 (11:46 am)

    Aw, c’mon SDOT – if every other road in WS is treated by drivers as two lanes, regardless of roadway size or danger to other drivers (looking at you 16th and Holden), why not this one?

  • schwaggy January 15, 2015 (1:00 pm)

    Sounds like a big bunch of NOPE from SDOT.

  • LJ January 15, 2015 (1:10 pm)

    Just think what it’s going to be like after all of the new Apartment buildings are finished and thousands more are on the bridge every morning!!!!!

  • forgotmyname January 15, 2015 (2:08 pm)

    Now, now LJ. Don’t you know? None of those apartment dwellers have cars. No, they’ll all be using public transportation. So, if they’re aren’t going to take up space in WS parking spots, how can they take up space on the bridge? Unless…nah, can’t imagine developers would gloss over something like that.

  • C January 15, 2015 (3:28 pm)

    I would be thrilled to not get stuck in bridge traffic trying to get to west marginal from admiral.

  • flimflam January 15, 2015 (3:43 pm)

    hey, a “task force” is not to be taken lightly!

  • admiraldon January 15, 2015 (8:47 pm)

    Simple. toll WSB.

    suspect would leave plenty of space for public transport. maybe even bikes.

  • Mless820 January 15, 2015 (10:36 pm)

    So, cars now in the bus lane, and thousands of people potentially added to the rapid ride lines just at the Alaska/Fountleroy building sites and no additional bussing when it’s already standing room only by Fauntleroy & Alaska?

    That sounds completely well thought out when all those building permits and traffic studies were done.

  • AEL January 16, 2015 (6:27 am)

    lets all find efficiencies to get to the parking lot called the west Seattle bridge faster.

  • Dave January 16, 2015 (7:50 am)

    Can we say that West Seattle is “FULL” and not allow any new apartments or condos be built? Seriously. Buildings and transport all have capacity limits, why can’t we do the same with our neighborhoods?

  • K January 16, 2015 (8:49 am)

    The developers run the show in this town. Just drive through any over-packed neighborhood in Seattle.
    The taxpayers should not be held responsible for having to hold bake sales to pay for the much needed infrastructure and transportation mess left in their wake. Let the developers pay.
    We all saw this coming and have been screaming about it for years – where’s the foresight from SDOT other than to keep pressing that Nope button hoping the mess will all go away?

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