FOLLOWUP: SDOT sends East Marginal Way project out to bid

(SDOT photo)

Long-awaited improvements on a major route for bicyclists between West Seattle and downtown are closer to reality with this SDOT announcement today, one year after they announced the project was fully funded:

We’ve reached a final design for the north segment of the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project. The project is now advertised for construction contractors to bid on! The community has long awaited this project and we share in the excitement of reaching this major milestone. We appreciate community members’ patience, support, and commitment as the design was developed and informed by public input.

The project will serve people biking, walking, rolling, and driving, and improve safety and mobility along this busy freight corridor. We’ll reconstruct pavement, rebuild and improve signals, build a protected bike lane, and more. Construction of the North Segment, which runs between S Spokane St and S Atlantic St, will begin in 2023.

We encourage you to visit the project website to learn more about key features, benefits, and phased construction plans. You can also learn more about the North Segment of the project. …

After we hire a contractor, we’ll go through a materials procurement period to purchase items that can have a long lead time. This time frame is dependent on the supply chain, which has seen significant delays since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the contractor is on board and we have a better sense of how long materials procurement will take, we’ll set a construction start date and share more detailed information about what you can expect during construction.

Construction will disrupt traffic along East Marginal Way S. We’ll maintain freight truck access to the Port of Seattle terminals along East Marginal Way S but anticipate detouring all non-Port of Seattle vehicle traffic in the North Segment project area. We will maintain a way for people biking and walking to use East Marginal Way S, but the route will shift to avoid active construction areas. We’ll have mitigation and detour plans in place to minimize the effects where possible.

The project – estimated last year at $43 million – will be paid for with local, state, and federal funding. SDOT says it’s still looking for funding to cover sections of East Marginal south of the West Seattle Bridge.

15 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: SDOT sends East Marginal Way project out to bid"

  • Al King November 9, 2022 (3:04 pm)

    What are the #’s of bike riders and pedestrians that currently use that corridor Monday thru Friday and is there a weekend #?

    • Foop November 9, 2022 (3:51 pm)

      This is, frankly the only bike route from west Seattle and South Park to get to downtown. These improvements look minor but super helpful. Anyone who rides across the spoken bridge to go downtown will use this, back when the counter used to work that number was often over 1000 each day, and this corridor benefits those who live directly south as well, so the bridge counter is an inadequate proxy.

    • bolo November 9, 2022 (3:55 pm)

      Got to be near 1,000/day, as that what the bike counter was displaying before it broke. Now much higher because of more cyclists since covid and the high bridge closure (not all have gone back to driving).

      My opinion is that it is inaccurate listing this primarily as a bicycle vanity project. Seems like the major share of resources is going towards rebuilding the roadway that the heavyweight trucks have broken down (the roadway is in horrible condition)(not from bikes). Their very first “Design improvements” bullet point:

      “Reconstructing the East Marginal Way S roadway to heavy haul standards from approximately S Massachusetts St to S Spokane St”

      Further down their list:
      “Replacing the existing water main in areas where the roadway will be reconstructed north of S Horton St”


      “Dynamic message sign at S Alaska St and East Marginal Way S”


      “Weigh-in-Motion system to help SDOT better understand wear and tear on our roadways and replace current spot-check enforcement system”

      All highly capital-intensive and dedicated to the area’s heavy-haul trucking traffic.

      Any bicycling amenities are mostly paint, and maybe those plastic spring-loaded batons that soon get scattered.

      • WestSeattleBadTakes November 9, 2022 (6:08 pm)

        The design calls for a protected two-way bike lane on the east side. From the look of it, it should have some separation along the North segment which routes under the viaduct at Massachusetts.

        These changes are sorely needed as this route is pretty brutal which deters many from using it. I’ll personally increase my usage at least 3-fold with these improvements. I can only stomach brushing with death once a week.

      • Jort November 9, 2022 (7:30 pm)

        Indeed, and the city will claim the full $43 million project cost as funds spent on “bicycle improvements,” when in fact the cycling improvements are an afterthought, tacked on to make the project eligible for active transportation funding. The vast majority of the costs are in the freight-related improvements. This is what the city does. We’ll probably even get a Danny Westneat column about how the bike lane cost “$20 million a mile” or some outright garbage like that.

        • bill November 9, 2022 (8:44 pm)

          I forgot that Westneat lazily repeated the $12MM/mile canard for the 2nd Ave bike lanes. For those who don’t know, the lanes are less than a mile so less than $12MM was spent, and the lion’s share of the money was spent on drainage and paving — items that should have been attributed to general improvement of the street primarily benefiting motor vehicles.

    • bill November 9, 2022 (8:53 pm)

      The Spokane St (low bridge) bike counter’s display broke long ago but it kept logging counts until sometime in September according to the city’s data, with more than 800 daily crossings at that time.

      • Rick November 10, 2022 (7:45 am)

        Kinda like dead voters?

      • Jort November 10, 2022 (8:07 am)

        That reminds me, I should notify the Great Grandmaster-Controller of the All-Knowing and All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby to instruct the city to replace that bike counter. Bill, as you know, the Bicycle Lobby is the most influential political organization/ritualistic secret society since the dawn of humanity. Our power in shaping government policy and spending knows no bounds.

        • bill November 10, 2022 (9:29 pm)

          Jort! Shhh! You were sworn to secrecy! Now people will find out!

  • Jort November 9, 2022 (3:42 pm)

    It is critical that SDOT takes great care in ensuring the potentially years-long detours for cyclists are well-planned and do not further endanger lives on this already dangerous stretch of road. This is a primary connecting route between West Seattle and points north, including downtown. Anything less than full separation and protection from freight traffic would be unacceptable.

  • KM November 9, 2022 (7:05 pm)

    I’m really happy this is being built. I do not feel safe biking out of West Seattle on any route, currently, and this will definitely make it more likely that those on the fence, like myself, start riding more. The more we built actual bike facilities, the more people will feel comfortable using them–assuming they aren’t paint and plastic post!

  • Benjamin November 10, 2022 (8:08 am)

    Well, as someone who bikes this route daily, I look forward to,the road improvements, but I also loathe 2 way bike lanes. And the more “protected” the bike lane is, the less it is likely to be maintained/cleared. 

  • WS reader November 13, 2022 (11:15 am)

    Jort, stop with your agenda-driven sensationalism. That route is not “dangerous.” There’s rarely heavy road-speed traffic on it – if anything, it’s hundreds of trucks idling and creeping toward their delivery destinations – be that ship, dock storage, or government delivery. I’m disappointed you’d resort to lies to push your agenda. It’s already lane-separated as it is.

    • bolo November 13, 2022 (10:27 pm)


      Your description is incorrect. There have been cyclist deaths on this stretch. The last one was dragged under a truck/trailer for some distance (near Horton IIRC). It is a long stretch of mostly straightaway, so vehicles naturally speed. The backups you are referring to are at a few port entrances, seasonal and infrequent. They get backed up in the center lane waiting to enter. Otherwise they speed alongside the cycle lanes, sometimes veering into the cycle lanes. Why are so many of those plastic batons knocked off their mountings? Hint: It’s not the bicycles.

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