ROAD WORK ALERT: What you need to know as Avalon/35th/Alaska project begins

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The newest “no parking” signs along part of Avalon, south/west of the Luna Park business district, are the first sign of what’s about to begin – SDOT‘s Avalon/35th/Alaska project.

The $14.5 million project’s been in the planning stages for more than two years, when it was announced as a “repaving” project but also revealed to include reconfiguration of much of the road. Over the next year-plus, work will be done in phases on the entire length of Avalon – from the West Seattle Bridge to Fauntleroy Way – as well as three blocks of 35th SW between Avalon and Alaska, and one block of SW Alaska west of 35th. Here’s the detailed rechannelization plan:

(It’s also visible here in PDF.)

We’ve been following the planning process all along, but with work starting next week, it’s time for a closeup look at what you’ll see happening with SDOT’s biggest West Seattle project in a while, so we went downtown to SDOT offices in the Seattle Municipal Tower to talk with key members of the project team – Adonis Ducksworth and Bill Clark.

As previously noted, the project area is broken into zones. As announced last week, work will begin in Zone B, along Avalon between Yancy and Genesee.

Traffic will be shifted – one lane each way – and then crews will “start digging up Avalon.”

That will take up to three months. In the meantime, the contractor – Jansen – will also start work in early May in Zone E, which is 35th SW between Avalon and Alaska.

This is the biggest part of the project – not in length but you might say, in depth. Water main work will be done here – you might remember the break back in December 2017:

This work will take up to seven months. The entire road base will be rebuilt as well, and then it’ll get an asphalt top. You can see all the specifics on which parts of the project zone will get which kinds of paving, here:

(Or here, PDF.)

Zone E stretches south from a busy area of businesses; the SDOT team has talked with them (including soon-to-open Habit Burger), and is working with the Office of Economic Development to be sure people are aware that businesses will remain open during work. On that stretch of 35th, three water shutoffs are expected at some point during the half-year-plus of work – Seattle Public Utilities is coordinating that with the business and residential buildings’ managers and owners.

Speaking of businesses – we asked about the north end of Avalon, the Luna Park area, where – at the recent project open house – LP Café owner John Bennett had explained to SDOT how doing work at that end this summer could disrupt the restaurant’s busiest time of year.

SDOT says Zone A – which includes the business district, between Yancy and the bridge – will follow Zone B. “There’s not much we can do to prevent construction from happening in the summer in Zone A,” because the contract doesn’t allow concurrent work in two contiguous zones, but they are hoping to get some Zone A work done early – “we’ve asked the contractor to look at a bunch of different ways to sequence” – so that it won’t be happening right in front of the café and adjacent businesses in the heart of summer. That would also keep the SW Orleans street-end parking area open between The Shack and LP Café.

Zone A will include one notable feature, a “transit island” added to the RapidRide stop just north of Yancy. The protected bicycle lane will pass between the transit island and the sidewalk. The island “might be the most-enhanced (one) in town,” the SDOT team says, because the card reader, message board, and other features, including some lighting, will all be on the island rather than the sidewalk.

On the border between Zone B and Zone A is the north end of 30th SW, which will be closed to through traffic, permanently, as part of the project. SDOT says that will happen toward the end of the Zone B work as it isn’t particularly complicated – they just need to install posts.

After Zone A, the sequence is likely to be: Zone C, Zone D, Zone F, though that’s pending final confirmation with the contractor.

The project also includes two treatments of steep streets – one adjacent to the project zone (SW Genesee east of Avalon) and one not (SW Charlestown west of California) – watch for word of that scheduling.

Two-way communication is going to be vital during this project. So we talked about that too:

SDOT is putting up portable message boards for messages about the work – on northbound 35th south of Avalon is one spot. They have an email list set up (you can sign up here), and promise they’ll be updating the project website. (Mindful of the history with some previous projects, we noted that if they’re really going to do that, be thorough and transparent – if there’s a problem or delay, don’t try to gloss over it.)

SDOT has weekly meetings planned regarding project progress, and will have team members out in the area “numerous times a day … checking the contractor’s work.” They promise “plenty of notice” about intersection closures, night work, weekend work, detours, school-bus-route changes, etc. (One WSB commenter had asked about bicycle detours; SDOT says it’s meeting with West Seattle Bike Connections reps next week to talk through some of that.) Wondering about deliveries? The contractor is accountable for “figuring out a way for loading and unloading” that might include driving into the work zone.

Regarding project updates, WSB will be in the loop, so look for updates here too.

Even more important, what if you have questions or concerns – urgent and otherwise? The project hotline is 206-900-8734; the project email address is avalonpaving@seattle.gov. Feedback will be discussed in the aforementioned project meetings, which also will include looks ahead as far as three weeks into the project. If you have a complaint or suggestion, they insist they want to hear from you.

Bottom line, though – “it’s construction; those guys are going to get out there and tear up the road.” Starting next week, and lasting about 14 months. So be ready.

P.S. Here’s the official advisory for the early work, just sent as we finished this story:

The week of April 15, work in Zone B will include:

Traffic control set up
Surveying and early demolition on the west east side of SW Avalon Way
By mid-week we may start utility work near the Genesee and Avalon intersection to secure pipes as we continue to rebuild the road

What you should expect when construction begins between SW Genesee St and SW Yancy St:

You will see construction crews mobilize into the area to begin staging and setting up traffic control
Traffic will be shifted down to 1 lane in each direction
Parking will be fully restricted along SW Avalon way a little north of SW Yancy St to a little south of SW Genesee St. This allows cars to move through our work zone as efficiently as possible.
There will be intermittent closures of SW Genesee St and SW Yancy St. We will notify the community once we have more information.
The beginning of noise, dust, large trucks and machines operating, and an overall construction presence and experience

11 Replies to "ROAD WORK ALERT: What you need to know as Avalon/35th/Alaska project begins"

  • KM April 12, 2019 (2:24 pm)

    I’m so excited for this project. There’s a ton of good improvements here (much better bike lanes!), but I especially like the crosswalk/sidewalk improvements at SW Orleans street–right now the lack of definition at this intersection seems to invite people visiting The Shack or Luna Park to park in the crosswalk, making it impossible for those with mobility challenges to use the crosswalk, instead pushing them over curbs onto Avalon to get around parked cars. Very excited about this improvement.

  • Chas Redmond April 12, 2019 (4:02 pm)

    And no one objects to closing yet another Seattle right-of-way to vehicles?  30th Street SW off of Avalon Way SW is a way in and out of a very constricted neighborhood and an alternate route for anyone trying to get past a Genesee St. SW blockage. I’m really surprised that SDOT’s standard solution for “safety” is to close more right of way. I’d really like to have SDOT answer the following question:  How many lane miles of vehicle roadway have been removed from service in the past ten years.  How many access areas are now restricted by having one or more access rights-of-way closed. What has been the overall solution? Furthermore I’d like SDOT to answer this question: What is the current number of bike riders on Avalon and which way are they moving and at what times? I’d like the followup question to be what is the current number of vehicles entering or exiting Avalon Way to 30th St. SW.  These answers are essential and nowhere do I find any reference to the numbers.The SDOT rationale is “in August 2018, residents of 30th Ave SW told us about concerns with high-speed cut-through traffic.” There are many more useful ways to slow traffic than closing a road completely.  Did SDOT interview anyone else who might use 30th St. SW between Avalon and Genesee?

    • b April 12, 2019 (6:15 pm)

      I live off 30th and am happy to see it open to local traffic only.  People love to drive 35 mph through a “very constricted neighborhood” currently, so they can and should be using Genesee or Delridge for cutting through, instead of nearly t-boning every local car that’s trying to get in and out of their own neighborhood on 30th. I think if you were to spend years (and more tax bucks) doing the beloved “study it to death” Seattle-style solution of evaluating all things 30th, you’d end up finding that the street traffic volumes and speeds are way too high for its designed use as a local street. An additional reason for closing the street at Avalon is to reduce the dangerous and confusing 5-way (sort of) intersection with Andover/Yancy. Makes sense to me, but hey what do I know, I just live here. 

      • Christina April 17, 2019 (11:03 am)

        I concur.  My apartment backs up to 30th and it is horrible.  The street is one lane because of parking on both sides.  I can’t tell you how many times large trucks have used 30th to avoid going up or down Genesee.  The signs were up this morning at the north end of 30th closing access to SW Avalon.  Yay!  

    • John April 13, 2019 (10:51 am)

      Regarding closing 30th with two signs saying ‘closed to through traffic’.Those using it as a short-cut will continue to use it.  What is breaking another law when a scofflaw is already driving 35 in a  20 zone and failing to yield  to the car on the right at uncontrolled  intersections?

  • A April 12, 2019 (4:30 pm)

    Going to be another massive waste of taxpayer dollars. The city is taking our money and using it to ruin Avalon. Avalon will be a nightmare when they are done. This city really sucks right now

    • Peter April 13, 2019 (8:44 am)

      The street needs to be rebuilt, and it will be better for drivers, bikers, and bus riders when it’s done. How is that a waste of money?

    • second that April 13, 2019 (10:09 am)

      I agree, Avalon will be a nightmare and Seattle DOT sucks. Avalon has been a truck route, freeway to Burien and un-patrolled raceway most nights at 9:30, everyone in WS knows it, yet the SPD never patrols here. I would like the data as mentioned above by Chas. More important to me – I would like to see a traffic manage/street utilization strategy by the SDOT that is something intelligent and informed with data, rather than an unofficial war on cars on behalf of the bike riding minority. The near lockdown of the Avalon/Genesee/30th community for road construction that does not address the truck route through our neighborhood 24hrs a day, elevating traffic noise pollution that has increased in the past six years, the lack of patrol to enforce speeds limits, or monitor safety for everyone on this road, lack of engagement by the city with residents of the neighborhood and what appears to be backhanded and dismissive replies to all inquires from SDOT, by neighborhood residents is not only seen as harassing this neighborhood but will be a waste of funds by not producing results that are relevant to these taxpayers or improving this accessway.

  • dsa April 12, 2019 (6:56 pm)

    We need  a Save Seattle’s Traffic Lanes coalition.

    • Peter April 13, 2019 (8:43 am)

      Did you even look at the project? No traffic lanes are being removed. 

  • Don Brubeck April 13, 2019 (10:12 am)

    No traffic lanes were sacrificed for this project. This is saving Seattle’s traffic lanes. This is rebuilding worn out pavement and storm water mains, so they can stay in service for decades with heavy bus and truck traffic.   Safety improvements, too.

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