What started on Columbia Street downtown with a bus-stop relocation will continue with major work that starts next week. Since so many West Seattleites use Columbia to get to The Viaduct, we got a preview today in a conversation with Metro and SDOT reps.
The project is officially called the Columbia Street 2-Way Transit Corridor. Columbia will eventually be the main route that transit from Highway 99 and Alaskan Way gets into and out of downtown. It’ll be used three different ways in three phases over the span of about 4 years, from fall 2018 to summer 2022, but first, here’s what’s going to happen starting next Monday:
*Columbia will be narrowed between 1st and 3rd Avenues, to two travel lanes. No on-street parking in work zones. Buses will follow the same routes they do now. Work will start on the north side of the street between 1st and 2nd, with a lane closed around the clock (minimal impacts expected for the sidewalks), and some full-weekend street closures – no dates yet.
*The street will get new concrete pavement to better handle the increased bus traffic that’s in its future.
*While the street’s dug up, the city also will replace the old water main beneath both blocks of Columbia from 1st to 3rd – they’ve been working to synergize that kind of upgrade with major road projects, to reduce the chance it’ll have to be done later.
*This phase of the work is expected to continue into June 2018. When it’s done, Columbia will go back to its current configuration – the 2-way configuration will be done in the future.
So all this work will be done between now and next June. The three phases of how bus routing will be handled are:
*During the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s month-or-so pre-demolition closure while Highway 99 is being connected to the tunnel, possibly as soon as November 2018, there’s a “SODO surface routing” that’s being planned, as shown on the map. This will affect Metro Routes 21x, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, C Line. (yellow on the map)
*While the Viaduct is being demolished, roughly February 2019-February 2020, 1st Avenue routing into the heart of downtown is planned. (blue on the map)
*Once the Viaduct is demolished and more work on Columbia west of 1st is complete, the permanent 2-way pathway into and out of downtown will be operational. Columbia will be the connector between Alaskan Way and 3rd Avenue. (green on the map)
But again, in the short run, all you’ll notice is the construction starting next Monday. Drivers who want to avoid the resulting congestion on Columbia will want to get to the Viaduct on-ramp via 1st, from the south or north, or avoid the Viaduct and access the West Seattle Bridge other ways. Bus riders already have seen their stop relocated, and this won’t affect it.