What would you do to fix West Seattle Bridge traffic? Come talk about it October 19th

(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Just announced: A special meeting about the West Seattle Bridge Corridor – not just about what’s in that new city “action plan” first reported here a week ago, but also about what you think should be done to fix its often-snarled state. We just found out about this from the office of City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who’s hosting the meeting; they’ve scheduled it with three weeks’ advance notice so you have time to make plans to be there if you’re interested. The basics: 6:30 pm Monday, October 19th, at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle), southeast corner of SW Oregon and California SW. If you missed the report and its 27 possibilities for improving the flow in what the city is now calling the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor, follow the link above, or take a look at the “white paper”:

48 Replies to "What would you do to fix West Seattle Bridge traffic? Come talk about it October 19th"

  • Eddie September 28, 2015 (6:59 pm)

    Reroute the vashon ferry to downtown or Burien. Vet that traffic off the bridge and local streets.

  • Keith September 28, 2015 (7:32 pm)

    More paint

  • Smitty September 28, 2015 (7:49 pm)

    Move the zipper barrier daily to allow an express lane EB in the morning.

    It can be done:


  • Northwest since 73 September 28, 2015 (7:49 pm)

    Actually just popped in my head the city will start doing tolls during heaviest traffic hrs

  • Mar-C September 28, 2015 (7:58 pm)

    More high density housing in WS. And, yes, Keith, more paint. Aw, heck, more cowbell, too, while we’re at it.

  • themightyrabbit September 28, 2015 (8:03 pm)

    Full separated priority lane for buses only from Avalon Way to Spokane St. Might require an extra ramp. No more mixing with non bus traffic.

    +1 on paint and vashion ferry reroute

  • kumalavula September 28, 2015 (8:32 pm)

    …not a suggestion about traffic
    one for
    christopher boffoli: love your work and love this image of the tangled web of the bridge system
    linking us west seattlites to the rest
    of the city!

  • Northwest since 73 September 28, 2015 (8:36 pm)

    With our current dissatisfaction with sdot metro and local politicians I think we can all agree that somehow getting less people to move over here would tremendously help the flow of traffic on the west seattle bridge

  • alki resident September 28, 2015 (8:44 pm)

    Eddie makes a huge point. There’s no reason why ferry traffic needs to come through WS and over the bridges. Send them directly downtown.This will eliviate so much traffic.Especially since were getting 100s of new residents coming in with all of the new condos being built.

  • the bridge September 28, 2015 (8:44 pm)

    It’s odd to me how much time, energy and money is being spent on solutions that fail to address the root problems of the bridge. If I5 north and 99 north flowed freely, we’d rarely see any delays heading eastbound. I’d much rather see the city demanding action or funding action from WSDOT, such as the proposed widening of I5 at Seneca, which is easily the worst bottleneck in the city and has impacts that stretch all the way into west Seattle in the morning.

  • Alkiguy September 28, 2015 (9:03 pm)

    Remove a lane in each direction, then replace them with bike lanes. This will free up the growing congestion on the bike lanes on the lower bridge.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 28, 2015 (9:05 pm)

    If the city tries to do tolls on the West Seattle Bridge without similarly tolling other ‘bridge’ entrances to downtown, there would be basically hell to pay politically. It would be a non-starter. You COULD argue for tolls on the Spokane Viaduct, once you got past the 4th Ave exit, if you didn’t do the rest of it.

  • Andrew September 28, 2015 (9:30 pm)

    I like the idea of moving the ferry traffic downtown. Is that being talked about at all by our public officials? Larger bottle neck issues also need to be addressed.

  • MMB September 28, 2015 (9:39 pm)

    My dream was always a more direct flyover for cars heading to I-90, a lane of their own so they didn’t even mix with I-5 traffic. That short stretch is part of the bottleneck. Plus the reroute of Vashon traffic, as mentioned. The convention center is the worst: all I-5 NB traffic shoved into two lanes: what a bright idea.

  • wscommuter September 28, 2015 (9:39 pm)

    @Mar-C … best comment ever.
    And seriously … nothing will improve on the WSF until capacity improves elsewhere, as @the bridge points out. It is all about capacity.
    So unfortunately, we have limited options. The money is not going to happen to widen I-5 into downtown. When the SR99 project is done, there will be some improvement, but we don’t know how much. Light rail is at best, 10 years away. More water taxis could be part of it, but again – who will fund it?
    Not an easy problem to solve and our options are limited.

  • Bill September 28, 2015 (9:45 pm)

    Build a tunnel under Elliot Bay into Seattle.

  • Janine September 28, 2015 (9:46 pm)

    Above grade light rail moves way more people more efficiently than buses or cars.

  • brian September 28, 2015 (9:49 pm)

    We need more professional commercial real-estate buildings in WS. People need to live and work closer to home.

  • Christine September 28, 2015 (9:54 pm)

    We talk about this about once a month at our community meetup. We had even/uneven number plate solution, Prius priority, car pool park & ride lots, a gondola, mono rail, submarines, private boats & ferries and even a zipline as solution. Also a bike lift that pulls you up Avalon. Just a few…

  • John September 28, 2015 (11:53 pm)

    Of all the suggestions, the only one that could solve the problem is the politically impossible, tolling.
    Simply raise the price until the traffic flows.
    Such a scheme would provide funding for mass transit and some of the alternatives listed above.

  • hatemorningcommute September 29, 2015 (12:36 am)

    More water taxi stops like they do in Vancouver BC and Venice, Italy. What about near Thomas St. overpass at Elliott Bay?

  • Hatemorningcommute September 29, 2015 (12:39 am)

    Duh! light rail, yes and more water taxi stops. And delete the 35th road diet.

  • Rick September 29, 2015 (2:48 am)

    Bill- as soon as Bertha’s done she could build that tunnel under Elliott bay. Can’t have her sitting idle.

  • DJ Allyn September 29, 2015 (3:02 am)

    WSF gets backed up because there is no where for traffic to go at certain times. Unless you use a GPS traffic app like WAZE, you will get caught waiting to get onto I-5.

    Perhaps having notices of faster routes to say, downtown or I-90 would help?

    I mean, sometimes my WAZE app tells me to get off on 1st Ave South other times 4th Ave South to avoid I-5 to get to I-90. If reader boards could notify traffic of shorter routes in real time, then maybe that would help…?

  • L September 29, 2015 (4:12 am)

    Discouraging single occupancy commute traffic to downtown is the only realistic way to improve the West Seattle commute. There’s no money or will to add capacity along 99 or I-5, and no alternate SODO route would work because of industrial traffic. The bridge itself is just an extended on-ramp for I-5 and 99.

    Step 1. Set up a toll perimeter around downtown, a la London or Manhattan. Make it prohibitively expensive to park downtown every day.

    Step 2. Massively increase bus service and arrange a lot more park-and-ride capacity around the periphery.

  • John September 29, 2015 (5:14 am)

    Reduce it to one lane. Lower the speed limit to 20 and have aggressive policing. That should get things moving again.

  • Bada-bing September 29, 2015 (5:43 am)

    Encourage and incentivize more people to ride the bus, carpool, or ride bicycles to work.

  • George September 29, 2015 (6:03 am)

    Have Bertha do a u-turn and bore us a tunnel to west Seattle- connecting to 99. Then when she’s done with that, bore another tunnel directly under (and following) the 35th Ave arterial (starting at SW Barton), Avalon Way, under the Duwamish, under Spokane Street and then splitting off for I-90 eastbound (going under Beacon Hill) and I-5 North/South. All along this path, have multiple entrances and exits. Bring in Bertha’s sister to simultaneously bore yet another tunnel/real express lane under I-5 bypassing the Seneca Street/Convention Center mess.

    More realistically, don’t funnel existing 2-lane roads down to 1 lane. The goal is to move traffic – not slow it.

  • Adam September 29, 2015 (6:36 am)

    The bridge isn’t the problem. Fix the ramps to I-5 North and you will solve %60 of the problem.

  • David September 29, 2015 (7:15 am)

    Run Rapid Ride every 4 minutes on an exclusive lane from the Alaska Junction to the 99 North exit – people would get the hint and take the bus

  • the bridge September 29, 2015 (8:08 am)

    “No money or will to add capacity” on I5. Note that you could add a third lane at seneca for $23 million: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/will-budget-make-room-to-fix-the-states-worst-bottleneck/

    And we are about to vote on a $930 million city transpo package that provides $20 million for urban forestry.

  • zephyr September 29, 2015 (8:22 am)

    I agree with fixing the bottleneck at I-5 north. Trying to merge with competing traffic from Spokane Street can really slow things down. As does dealing with the opportunists who skip the line and try to merge from the Columbia Street lane–especially the large semi’s and petroleum trucks who feel entitled to do so.
    Having lived on Vashon, I am quite familiar with the Fauntleroy Ferry. There is a Passenger Only Ferry to downtown, but the Fauntleroy service is for both Vashon and the Kitsap Peninsula coming through Southworth. Many folks are headed south to SeaTac, Boeing, Burien, the Kent Valley, etc. They will not be served by being funneled into downtown traffic and will resist this idea. It’s not just a West Seattle problem, but a Vashon, Kitsap problem too.
    And to echo others, I just can’t understand the willingness of the City to allow unchecked growth over here while this transportation problem only worsens by the day. This is the maddening part. ~z

  • Lisa S. September 29, 2015 (8:32 am)

    Add rail. The Rapid Ride buses are not effective and get snarled in the same mess as everyone else much of the time. There are never enough of them and they are constantly full beyond capacity. There is not adequate parking for Rapid Ride riders who are not near the route. Rail that does not use the roadway would move more people more efficiently.

  • Kimmy September 29, 2015 (8:58 am)

    What L said.

  • Mr. B September 29, 2015 (9:39 am)

    Tear down the convention center and widen I-5 allowing more capacity. Worst urban planning.

  • cj September 29, 2015 (10:05 am)

    There is not enough land on this peninsula. That is the real problem. Expand south even more maybe?

  • JVP September 29, 2015 (10:30 am)

    Like others have said, fix the I-5 Seneca bottleneck. It would be the best, most cost effective $25m ever spent in this city.
    As a stopgap, do what David said, RapidRide every few minutes, but they need to have their own lanes. The bus sucks if you’re not sure if it’ll be a 20 minute ride or a 45 minute ride.
    Then fast track grade separated light rail to West Seattle!!!

    This is the real solution, and it’s such a no brainer, especially since the system will soon connect to both Seattle and Bellevue.

  • vogel September 29, 2015 (10:56 am)

    The ideal fix would be to increase commercial and industrial development in West Seattle (by the same amount as we have residential development) so that more of the people who live here can also work here. This would reduce the number of people who need to use the bridge for their daily commute.

    Since it doesn’t appear anyone’s going to do that, we should look at how the bridge is used. In the morning most of the traffic is headed east with very few cars going west. In the afternoon the opposite is true.

    The logical solution is variable lanes, so we can add capacity by having more eastbound lanes in the AM and more westbound lanes in the PM.

  • inclinedtoagreethesedays September 29, 2015 (12:10 pm)

    i agree. more commercial and industrial development to provide work opportunities close by would be forward thinking.

    that’s why i’ve come to believe the annexation of White Center is the forward thinking avenue to take. Adopting our southern neighbors and bringing them into the fold will be a win-win all around.

    For the LONG TERM VIEW people. There are not immediate solutions here. If you live in the north end of the peninsula, your commutes are screwed for a loooooong time to come.

    Unless, of course, more Westies could work in new businesses in newly annexed White Center. That section of King COunty is ripe for development and in desperate need of 1) the right to vote on city of Seattle issues which affect those people and 2) positive economic growth and 3) social and education programs.

    The best solution is often not the obvious or immediate solution. Gotta’ think long term everybody and remember who we are and that we are not here for long. Future building should be the priority. Present commuters are not going to ever be satisfied with quick fixes anyway. The transportation planners are not going to let you stay in your single occupancy cars. That’s a fact. Face the future with clearer eyes.

  • marty September 29, 2015 (12:30 pm)

    We missed a good chance when the new eastbound lane to fourth avenue wasn’t extended a few hundred more yards to be an exit-only for southbound I-5. It would have been a cheap improvement.

  • John September 29, 2015 (1:18 pm)

    Maybe some sort of amazing bike path from WS to downtown… I mean one that doesn’t put the bikers in any danger of vehicles. Maybe more people will ride. It’s only 25 minutes from the Junction to Westlake. It takes that long to drive.

  • Monique September 29, 2015 (1:45 pm)

    Train and rail systems are the only viable option, and to slow the building of housing that moves people who do not work in the area here. We should not build your office here, you should move closer to your office.

  • Zuleika September 29, 2015 (1:58 pm)

    Changing 99 to only two tolled lanes through the tunnel is only going to make it worse. As others have pointed out it’s mostly the downtown bottlenecks that are the problem, given the current volume, so that needs to be a priority.

    But a lack of good transit doesn’t help. The buses are sitting in traffic, so it’s slower to bus than drive (drive time is the same, walking,waiting longer). More buses, more water taxis with lots more stops, fast-tracked light rail.

  • kathy September 29, 2015 (2:15 pm)

    Protected cycle lane to SODO Sta. Allow Ecycles too.

  • vanessa Carr September 29, 2015 (2:19 pm)

    Mr. Boffoli, that is a wonderful photo!

  • ScubaFrog September 29, 2015 (2:28 pm)

    What Lisa said. Light rail. Stat.

  • aa September 29, 2015 (4:31 pm)

    My personal traffic requests

    1.Do not drive in the left lane! Left lane is for passing. Pass, then move to the right. On the WSB and everywhere!

    2. Get off your phone

    3. Use your turn signals

    4. Stop when the light turns yellow. Every time you run through a red light it delays the waiting cars from moving which then causes one on that end to run a red light, etc.

    5. Pay attention at a red light, its not time to look at your phone.

    All of these small simple changes can improve the flow of traffic and we all can do them starting now. No need to wait for a vote, or funds, or gov’t approval. As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see…”

  • Becca September 29, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    Quit building mass apt buildings and town houses. Too many folks moving into WS. The bridge can’t handle the traffic and congestion.

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