When will the 35th/Avalon/Alaska project be done? We went to SDOT HQ to find out.

(WSB photos, Thursday)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“We can see the end now.”

That’s how 35th/Avalon/Alaska project spokesperson Adonis Ducksworth summarizes where things stand. We talked with him and two key project managers at SDOT HQ after requesting a sit-down interview about what’s complete and what’s left to be done on the repaving-reconfiguration-and-more project.

Also in the conversation on Thursday: construction-engineering supervisor Elsa Tibbits and engineer Jeremy Walliman.

(L-R, SDOT’s Jeremy Walliman, Elsa Tibbits, Adonis Ducksworth)

First a little backstory: First word of the project came almost three years ago.

It was first just described as a “paving project,” and then a month later, it was revealed that rechannelization – reconfiguring the road design – was part of the plan too. We continued publishing updates over the ensuing two years; one year ago, the final design came out.

A few months before that, when we went to SDOT for an update on the plan in fall 2018, they told us the work would last at least a year, up to a year and a half.

And it remains on schedule, with the very last of the work expected to be finished around “late June.”

But that does NOT mean major construction continuing until then. The paving – which is complete except for the western end of Avalon and the 35th/Alaska area – should be complete in March, except for a small section of Avalon. Once the last of the paving is complete, there’s a three-week waiting period before they can do the final striping, which is really more than just striping – it will also include permanent paint and posts for the protected bicycle lanes, and the permanent plastic curbing closing off the north end of 30th SW (which will allow emergency vehicles to pass).

The permanent striping will take a week or two and cover all areas of the project, even the SW Genesee hill that got “high-friction” treatment. That last burst of work will also address anything that comes up in a “punch list” Walliman and inspectors will come up with when checking everything out.

Along the way, the project has expanded a little – we asked about the work on 35th south of Alaska, since we recalled the original south end of the project being at Alaska. Walliman explained that “when the pavement group scoped it,” they realized the work needed to continue about 200 feet south past the intersection. Tibbits adds that even further south, they’ll be repairing part of 35th “when you crest the hill past Edmunds,” to take care of a stretch with persistent recurring potholes. She observed it would be “pretty silly” if they were working so close by without fixing that area.

What else has changed along the way? Some months back, you might recall, the planned repaving sequencing was changed to get to the Luna Park business district sooner rather than later. That actually sped up the paving work a little overall, Tibbits explained – the original sequencing (as noted in our previous coverage) had paving stretched across two April-to-October “seasons,” but instead, some paving that was expected to happen this spring was instead completed last fall. Walliman explained that while concrete paving/road construction can be done year-round, asphalt work is mostly “confined to the warmer months.”

Also in the Luna Park area, they discovered a stretch of sidewalk that was in really bad shape, so they added reconstruction to the project. “It was pretty hammered up,” Walliman observed.

Back to looking ahead: Tibbits reiterated that no further intersection closures are expected, after two each for 35th/Avalon and 35th/Alaska. The earlier start time (9 am Friday) for the last one at the latter interection helped them avoid night work, Walliman said, after noise complaints from neighbors.

So what’s left, as the paving work moves toward that “end of March” conclusion?

A little more work on 35th by the Brookdale West Seattle building, according to Walliman, followed by the block of Alaska between 35th and 36th, and then the work on 35th near Edmunds. After all that’s done, the lane constrictions on Alaska will end, and the left-turn pocket from 35th to Alaska will be restored too.

Then they “suspend the contract” until it’s warm enough for asphalt work – likely around May 1st – and that’s when they’ll pave the west end of Avalon, possibly with grinding and paving all in the same day.

Also in that area, one big change – the slip lane to turn from Avalon onto bridge-bound Fauntleroy will be going away, which, the project team notes, will be a major relearning curve for Starbucks drive-through customers, among others.

When the Avalon asphalt is done, that’s when the 21-day waiting period before striping kicks in. Then one to two weeks of striping, signage, etc., will ensue, along with some landscaping and “a little signal work at Alaska.” Another side note on the striping – it will have reflective material, which the temporary striping does not have.

Also at some point in the final few months of work, of note to bus and bike riders – they’re currently evaluating what can be done to improve the area near the SW Genesee bus stop where the bicycle lane crosses; Metro has been pointing out safety concerns, so this “might require something on the bus pad and sidewalk.”

A final question – anything unusual discovered along the way?

During the water-main work, Walliman said, in addition to the in-service cast-iron main, they found the old decommissioned 8″ wooden main. It was left in place because, though it’s out of service, some water still collects in it, and removing it might have been a problem. Also, under the old 35th roadbed, they found “a lot of old clay material,” which, he noted, is “not a good sub-grade for road.” So it’s been replaced by “quarry spalls” – bigger rocks – which means the road should last for 50 years.

Finally, the team wanted to thank you for your patience. Tibbits, a former West Seattle resident, said, “I know how big of a deal this has been to the community.” (She’ll be working on the next big SDOT repaving project in West Seattle too, by the way – the Delridge Way repaving that’ll be done in connection with the RapidRide H Line conversion. More on that in the months ahead.)

30 Replies to "When will the 35th/Avalon/Alaska project be done? We went to SDOT HQ to find out."

  • Jort January 24, 2020 (2:58 pm)

    Wonderful update. I wonder if it will help quell unsubstantiated and outrageous allegations that this project is literally “fraud” by some online commentators?

  • old timer January 24, 2020 (3:37 pm)

    FWIW -two things In my tiny view of this project.  1) – When the 35th Ave & Morgan intersection was redone several years ago, they used stamped concrete to identify the pedestrian crosswalk zones. IMO, this added much needed discipline to the intersection, and the stamped concrete has far outlasted the painted stripes.  I do not see any stamped concrete in the Avalon & 35th intersection even though this is a very busy pedestrian walkway given the development along Avalon. 2) When they instal the plastic bikeway markers, I sincerely hope they do not install the white markers they put on the Western approach South along Delridge to Sylvan Way.  They are almost transparent, and performing a left turn, require a lot of visual attention to avoid hitting them.  Many of these markers bear testament to this.  IMO, they should be orange and black barber pole stripes, to keep them clearly separate from the turn lane pavement markings.

  • Bill Hickey January 24, 2020 (3:46 pm)

    Cars still making left turn onto Alaska from 35th on the weekends, saw 5 in a row last Saturday.Also, the cones they have set up on Alaska are confusing drivers, have seen multiple cars drive in the wrong lane on Alaska towards 35th

  • KBear January 24, 2020 (4:37 pm)

    Hopefully the bike lane markers will stop people (mostly pickup truck drivers) from parking in the hatched area that’s supposed to separate the bike lane from parking. It makes the bike lane less safe for cyclists. Remember, cyclists are not REQUIRED to use the bike lane, and if you make them feel unsafe in the bike lane, they have every right to ride with car traffic.

    • Kc January 25, 2020 (7:03 am)

      This rule is silly… listen to yourself that’s like saying as Vehicle driver if I feel unsafe in the roadway I can drive on the sidewalkWhy bother with the bike laneif you are going to ride a bike stay in the bike lane built just for you at great expense use it

      • Tsurly January 25, 2020 (12:45 pm)

        I will always inconvenience a driver by taking the lane rather than risk getting hit by a door. If you don’t like this LAW, contact you state representative and ask them to change it.

      • cwit January 27, 2020 (12:08 pm)

        Your comparing an automobile to a bicycle in this case is pretty far off. Bike lanes are still a fairly new thing in Seattle and bikes have always been allowed on the road (with some exceptions – highways, etc.). Bikes using the actual road is nothing like a car going onto a sidewalk.  No cars will be trampled over by a bicycle in the first scenario.  Good try though.

  • dsa January 24, 2020 (8:47 pm)

    “…the slip lane to turn from Avalon onto bridge-bound Fauntleroy will be going away, …”  What?  Are they meaning the left turn from Avalon to northbound 35th?  I wish I’d noticed this elimination sooner if so.

    • WSB January 24, 2020 (10:13 pm)

      The slip lane is exactly as described, but if this helps, a few more words, the slip lane to RIGHT-turn from Avalon (WESTBOUND) to bridge-bound (EB/SB) Fauntleroy. It goes right past the corner with the Taco Time/Starbucks monument-style sign (and Desmond Hansen’s Heart signal box) – TR

    • dsa January 25, 2020 (12:09 am)

      West to east, got it thank you.  BTW Desmond is on both the east and west corners of Avalon.

  • bolo January 24, 2020 (8:52 pm)

    “… they found the old decommissioned 8″ wooden main. It was left in place…

    That is the opposite of what I learned in college– that you remove any organic material from beneath a load-bearing structure (the road in this case) because it will eventually decompose and cause everything above it to cave in.

  • dburger January 24, 2020 (9:50 pm)

    Why are they removing the slip lane from Fauntleroy to Avalon? I drive this route every day and it is going to create more backups at rush hour, without a doubt. That slip holds at least 5-6 cars that would otherwise be stuck on Fauntleroy waiting for the already counter-intuitively timed lights (in all directions) to permit movement. Have there been accidents that require it’s removal? I’ve never seen one…

    • WSB January 24, 2020 (10:06 pm)

      This was actually part of the “Fauntleroy ‘Boulevard’ improvements,” mentioned in this July 18 report:
      then in 2019 as part of the Avalon/35th/Alaska project. Primarily for improving pedestrian conditions, I believe.

    • Tsurly January 25, 2020 (7:46 am)

      The slip lane is one of the most frequent “failure to yield” areas I have seen in West Seattle. Cars constantly blow through there with reckless abandon when pedestrians and bikes are trying to cross. Earlier week I saw a woman pushing a stroller who had to quickly pull back out of the crosswalk to prevent her and her kid from being splattered by a reckless driver failing to yield.As I’ve stated in previous posts, SDOT will continue to redesign roads to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety as long as reckless drivers continue to be a threat, and drivers have no one but themselves to blame. I’m applauding this going away.

      • NW January 25, 2020 (1:34 pm)

        I now all times of the day and when in heavy traffic situations use a high visibility light while out waking. 

    • KM January 25, 2020 (8:47 am)

      I don’t know about crashes, but crossing there, that short stretch across the slip lane, is awful. I have almost been struck more than a couple times from cars whipping through there. Maybe they aren’t waiting for death or injury to do something about it (which is unusual for them!)

    • CAM January 25, 2020 (4:07 pm)

      I’ve reread this and see nowhere that mentions the removal of the lane from Fauntleroy to Avalon. The lane from Avalon to Fauntleroy is being removed. I can see the point in removing both but I don’t see anything that says they are. 

      • Tsurly January 25, 2020 (5:27 pm)

        You are absolutely right, which is really unfortunate for pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Ken January 24, 2020 (11:28 pm)

    So. Once again the point of this project emerges.  Get commuters from Vashon to downtown with all speed and bugger anyone who needs to go anywhere “within ” west seattle. And no doubt more right turn lanes will be eaten by unused bicycle lanes. i already see the response to anyone with sense who uses neighborhood streets to bypass the stupid. More insane traffic circles with stop signs added? Curb height barricades like 34th and morgan which are already covered with black tire marks and have all the warning turtles burned off on the west side . Does all that soon to be neglected paint on busy barriers really make  the all black clad pedestrians safer after dark? 

  • Mar January 25, 2020 (5:47 am)

    What they need to do is put reflectors on the road up and down Avalon. At night, when it’s raining, it’s pretty hard to see where the lane dividers are! 

    • WSB January 25, 2020 (11:16 am)

      As noted in the fifth-to-last paragraph above, that’s part of the “permanent striping” that’ll be done in spring.

  • Tricia January 25, 2020 (7:09 am)

    That slip lane is essential near the SBux   It is going to result in people turning into the SBux/Taco Bell lot to make the turn illegally because of the back ups that happen.  Is the new striping going to add a turn lane to go left onto Avalon when traveling northbound on 35th?  That would be helpful as well, not everyone needs to go up Alaska.

  • NW January 25, 2020 (9:42 am)

    I occasionally would hollar out to the construction workers especially those working fresh concrete “thanks for your service it’s coming along” we : transit users cyclists drivers bus drivers young and old  we all should get together and celebrate and socialize over it all. Also to note the contractor is doing a a major road construction project in North Seattle along Greenwood Ave N the border of Seattle and Shoreline. 

  • JM January 25, 2020 (10:33 am)

    Thanks for the update! Have you heard anything about when the new stoplight at 35th and Camp Long, just south of this big project, will be in operation? 

  • Ben January 25, 2020 (11:20 am)

    hopefully soon!

  • Matt P January 25, 2020 (5:30 pm)

    Now that this nearing completion, who should I contact about changing the light timings to get people off the bridge and into west Seattle via Fauntleroy faster?  The lights seem to treat side road traffic and those coming off the bridge in the afternoons/evenings equally when there’s usually very little side road traffic.  The lights to empty traffic off the bridge should be much longer than they are.  It’s quicker to just go down Avalon and turn onto Fauntleroy so many people do that instead.   

Sorry, comment time is over.