West Seattle, Washington
We’re still working on our summary of the briefing we liveblogged earlier – where state/city/county reps presented the 8 “scenarios” now under consideration to replace the “central waterfront” section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct – but in the meantime, we wanted to let you know the meeting materials including artist renderings have just been posted online; find them here (look for Scenario A through Scenario H).
(3:13 pm note, the briefing is now over – all notes below – we will write into a summary later.)
We’re downtown, 24th floor of the Wells Fargo Building (view above is from the briefing room), headquarters of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, for the briefing on the Alaskan Way Viaduct progress so far – will post notes here as it goes. NOTES: 8 possible scenarios identified so far … A-C surface, D-E above ground solutions, F-H are below ground “SR 99 components.” No longer any 6 lane replacements in the solutions they are considering. All are 4-lane, either elevated or below-ground. Retrofit is “one of the solutions we are not considering any further.” Scenario A highlights: this solution is a 4-lane surface street on surface Alaskan Way, combined with a lot of improvements to downtown, I-5, increased transit … Ron Paananen was laying out the previous … Bob Powers: these are systems approaches … government leaders directed us to go back and look at those … that’s why Ron said six lanes no longer being considered … we have assembled the building blocks, these are the system approaches to the solutions … Paananen: We think we’ve learned all we need to know about 6-lane solutions through previous efforts … the 2 we boiled it down to a little over a year ago, couldn’t advance any further .. looking at the problem differently … looking at it in a way we don’t NEED A FULL CAPACITY SOLUTION … because of improvements on streets, transit … Powers: A is “low capital solution” … looking at trying to add a transit lane from Olive to 520 northbound on 5 … changes in HOV lanes southbound … (We note, the Scenario A map takes into account a Delridge Rapid Ride bus route as well as the other one already on the drawing board) … Powers: 2 lanes in each direction along the waterfront on Alaskan Way, with signalized intersections up to the Battery Street Tunnel going northbound, you’d go through tunnel, there would be signalized intersections north of there … “intent is to reconnect the grid system E-W north of the Battery St Tunnel” … NOTE: This will be long so we are breaking it off to its own page. Click the post headline and keep refreshing if you want to follow the notes.Read More
First, one last note that The Viaduct will be closed 7:45-11 am tomorrow for the Race for the Cure (not too late to register! we’ll be in the 5K Walk crowd that’s always an amazing sight, swarming the carless Viaduct decks). And the state just issued its announcement of results from this week’s quarterly inspection (along with the dates for the next total-shutdown inspection, which we’ve added to the WSB West Seattle Events list) – sounds like you can breathe a little easier as you drive it:Read More
INSPECTION TOMORROW: The state Transportation Department just sent word that The Viaduct gets its quarterly inspection tomorrow, but NO LANE CLOSURES are needed. (Side note – the next Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee meeting re: the future of the Central Waterfront section of The Viaduct is June 26, 4 pm, City Hall.)
SHUTDOWN SATURDAY MORNING: FYI in case you would be driving that way – but also, it’s not too late to register if you want to take advantage of this every-June chance to walk on The Viaduct for a good cause — Saturday morning is the annual Race for the Cure. Still checking on the exact shutdown hours, but last year it was 7:45-11 am. The three of us do the 5K walk in R4TC every year; here’s our report on last year’s event, exactly one year ago. (P.S. You can also join in a cancer-fighting event right here in West Seattle in less than two weeks — Relay for Life at West Seattle Stadium, from 6 pm June 27 through noon June 28. We’ll have a detailed preview later this week, but for now, you can get involved by calling Karee Boone at 206-674-4105, Melissa Bazala at 206-281-3738, or Diane Redenbaugh at 206-937-2291.)
Busy Tuesday night in West Seattle. Among the scheduled events, the Viaduct open house; thanks to West Seattle writer Charla Mustard-Foote for covering it for WSB:Read More
The King County Council–Seattle City Council joint meeting on The Viaduct just concluded a moment ago, lasting a little more than 2 hours. As was hinted at the Seattle Council briefing on The Viaduct that we covered downtown one month ago (read our story here), the information presented today was more about related elements such as the Urban Mobility Plan — ways that we will get around either without, or despite, The Viaduct. And it did provide some glimpses into West Seattle’s possible transportation future — near-future (another Viaduct meeting in WS was just announced for next month) and far-future:Read More
So how did the weekend closure of The Viaduct affect you? City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, a fellow West Seattleite, wants to know — as he works with the city Transportation Department to make sure WS is a priority with all the transportation planning that’s under way now. Among other things, he’s wondering – did you find yourself in one of the backups that happened even with all the advance warning? Did you get enough advance warning – and/or enough warning while it was happening (the warning lights, signs, etc.)? What alternate routes did you find yourself using? Did you have to change your plans or drop plans because of the shutdown? Anything else you want to say about it — don’t hold anything back! Post comments here.
As usually happens during the weekend closures, The Viaduct has reopened earlier than expected — the state Transportation Department says it was back in business as of about 3 pm. Inspection results are due out later this week; some repair and maintenance work was done during the weekend downtime, shown here as listed by WSDOT:
*Smoothing out the roadway surface on the Columbia Street on-ramp
*Searching for and removing loose concrete on the viaduct
*Repairing expansion joints and damaged bridge rails
*Applying a protective covering to exposed rebar
*Servicing drainage systems and traffic cameras
*Washing the walls of the Battery Street Tunnel, and inspecting the lighting, fire suppression and ventilation systems
WSB contributing photojournalist Matt Durham went on the public walking tour of The Viaduct during the closure and sent these photos, explaining the lower one as “simple technology measuring the movement of The Viaduct’s joints and cracks with a sliding rule attached across two points of contact”:
(Prints of Matt’s WSB photos and his other work are available through his site, MattDurhamPhotography.com.)
This month marks one year since the Viaduct Vote. Some things have happened in the ensuing year, perhaps most notably Governor Gregoire declaring what’s left of The Viaduct will come down by 2012 (if not sooner). Second most notably, the state, city, and county agreed to work together to figure out what to do in the wake of the city vote that said no to a tunnel and no to an elevated replacement. Details of that ongoing work have emerged recently at a meeting here and a meeting there, like the briefing the Seattle City Council got today from key city, state, and county leaders. No discussion of what happened this morning — this was all about what’s to come — but there’s no denying that traffic mess was a clear reminder of what traffic nightmares could be in store if dramatic, creative action isn’t taken before and during the upcoming construction projects. Here are some of this afternoon’s highlights:Read More
Latest update from SDOT:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crew installing the temporary flex-rail on the Alaskan Way Viaduct northbound between Cherry and Main Streets has completed the work early. An overnight vehicle accident which damaged the guardrail forced the closure of the far left lane while Seattle Police investigated the accident and the SDOT crew worked to install a temporary guardrail. All lanes are now open and flowing smoothly on the Viaduct.
1:12 PM UPDATE: SDOT spokesperson Peg Nielsen tells WSB they should know tomorrow when the permanent repairs will be done, and says that they always try to get that sort of work done during the “non-peak” hours of 9 am-3 pm.
As reported here about this time yesterday, at least a few eastbound drivers heading out of West Seattle were startled to see those semi-new “Alaskan Way Viaduct Closed” lights flashing yesterday morning –considering The Viaduct was wide open at the time. We called the city Transportation Department and were told it was a test. Why no warning, then, some commenters sensibly asked. We had a followup question out and didn’t hear back till SDOT communications chief Rick Sheridan just called with new information: It was a system failure, after all. He says SDOT was confused when we first asked yesterday morning because some testing WAS actually happening elsewhere along the chain of warning lights — a crew was out in the north end along Aurora, where similar lights are set up for southbound drivers, testing individual lights; Sheridan says that was at the same time a “field communications device component” failed here in West Seattle, turning on the whole system. The faulty component has since been replaced. We asked why there was no advance public alert about the test that WAS going on; Sheridan says there wouldn’t be one for a “one light at a time, quickly off and on, with a crew standing there” test like the one on Aurora, but he promises there will be one for a systemwide test he says is planned in about three weeks. (Which would be right before the actual scheduled inspection closure of The Viaduct March 22-23.)
Thanks to two WSB’ers who e-mailed us to report seeing those semi-new “VIADUCT CLOSED WHEN FLASHING” lights in action this morning — one report at 9 am on The Bridge, one report at 10 am on 35th. Marybeth Turner of SDOT confirms it was a planned test, not a malfunction, and is checking to see if any more testing is planned; good thing they’re checking now, since the next weekend-inspection closure for The Viaduct is just a few weeks away (March 22-23).
Tonight at Cooper Elementary in Pigeon Point, state, city, and county transportation leaders — along with more than 50 members of the public — took the next step toward deciding the future of the critical central section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct – the section that Governor Gregoire has said will come down in 2012, period:Read More
Those are our first clips from a media tour this afternoon of ongoing Viaduct strengthening work that’s been under way since fall beneath the section of the Viaduct that’s just south of Columbia. This is the part – site of the old Yesler Mill, long ago, according to WSDOT’s Matt Preedy – that’s settled several inches, and WSDOT isn’t sure why this section settles more than the rest, but they’ve got a couple months more work to keep it from getting worse. Here’s his progress overview:
Another WSDOT spokesperson told us this event was meant not only as a media update on the work but also as a reminder of tomorrow night’s meeting at Cooper Elementary, which will focus on the big piece of the Viaduct puzzle – what might be done with the “Central Waterfront” section. WSDOT confirms that it will be open-house format 5:30-6:30, then open mike @ 6:30 for you to have your say on what you hope will happen. (And another reminder, the next weekend closure of the Viaduct is March 22-23.)
Viaduct news this afternoon: The latest inspection report is in, and it includes the dates for the next major inspection shutdown, when ostensibly they’ll get to test those new signs. Here’s the WSDOT news release:
Initial results from last weekâ€™s inspection revealed that the Alaskan Way Viaduct has settled approximately 1/8 of an inch, where foundation strengthening work is taking place between Columbia Street and Yesler Way . No new structural damage was caused by the additional settlement.
â€œThis settlement does not come as a huge surprise,â€ said Jugesh Kapur, WSDOT State Bridge Engineer. â€œThe viaduct has been settling incrementally between Columbia Street and Yesler Way since 2002.â€
â€œThis continuing settlement reinforces our decision to move ahead with stabilizing the columns in this area,â€ added Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Director.
This fall, WSDOT began repairs to strengthen the foundations of the four columns that are settling in this area. The columns have settled approximately five inches since the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. The foundation work is expected to be complete in April, limiting further settlement in this area and preventing damage to the structure. This work is one of six improvement projects planned to replace or repair more than half of the viaduct.
WSDOT crews conduct visual inspections every three months to monitor the viaductâ€™s condition and keep drivers safe. Full inspections and closures are every six months, with the next scheduled for March 22 and 23.
Another Viaduct-related date to mark on your calendar: a West Seattle public meeting is set for Feb. 12 at Cooper Elementary to talk about the “Central Waterfront” section — as in, the part that no one’s decided yet whether to tear down and replace, or tear down and not replace. That date and the Viaduct closure dates are now added to the WSB Events page; the closure dates are also atop the Traffic page.
We decided to take our car out of the ever-threatened Freeway Fright ’07 congestion this morning, and commute via Water Taxi and bus instead. We discovered some surprises; if you want to hear about them, and our other musings, here goes:Read More
West Seattle’s Most Famous Politician is just wrapping up an hourlong q-and-a session on the Times website. Some WS-specific stuff, too.
-The latest incarnation of the school-closure hearing roadshow is in West Seattle this week. As I write, the Roxhill hearing is under way; tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be surprised to see fireworks at the Pathfinder/Cooper hearing. You can track the developments more closely at the Save Seattle Public Schools blog (run by a Pathfinder mom).
-Speaking of closures, the viaduct will be out of commission 6 am-6 pm both days this weekend for its twice-yearly “is it REALLY still safe to drive on this thing?” checkup. And in The Junction, a closure related to the Cali Ave repaving is scheduled to continue for a few more days.
-Now, an opening: Sometime in the past few days, the GRAND OPENING banner went up at Kokoras Greek Grill in Morgan Junction, on the east side of Cali Ave, just north of Fauntleroy. We’ll run by in person as soon as we get a chance and report back on the menu offerings.
You’ve laughed your way through the video we now know WE actually paid for!
You’ve bitten your nails while driving its scenic topside and muttering under your breath “just let me get to the other side before the Big One hits!”.
Now … just a week and a half to register for your annual chance to actually WALK on the viaduct. Hope to see you there.
If you take the West Seattle Bridge straight to 1st Avenue South, or I-5, you might not care much about the endless Viaduct dithering. Same if you telecommute. But for the thousands of us who rely on that crumbling concrete lifeline along the waterfront, its looming doom is a matter we ponder daily, if only for the moments we roar along its deck, praying The Big One won’t strike until we are safely off it. Lately the discussion has focused on “tunnel vs. New Viaduct,” but this weekend, an editorial threw in an alternative viewpoint — why not just tear it down and stop there? Intriguing, especially if truly usable water transport could be mustered (for example, foot ferries not just from the Water Taxi jumping-off-point vicinity at Seacrest, but also from Fauntleroy, for the south end of our peninsula) — but does it have the proverbial snowball’s chance?