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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City Opens New Fourth Avenue S Off-ramp

8/16/2010  12:15:00 PM

City Opens New Fourth Avenue S Off-ramp
Significantly improves downtown and SODO access for Spokane Street Viaduct users

SEATTLE — Completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the city of Seattle today officially opened the new Fourth Avenue South Off-ramp from the Spokane Street Viaduct. The new off-ramp provides a direct connection from the West Seattle Bridge to Fourth Avenue South, enhancing access for motorists and freight to downtown and SODO. This project’s completion is a major milestone in the overall enhancement of the Spokane Street Viaduct, a vital east/west corridor that carries 70,000 to 75,000 vehicles daily and serves as a major freight route.

“Finished months ahead of schedule and millions under budget, the Fourth Avenue S Off-ramp is an example of the city directly addressing the needs of roadway users,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “It will ensure better access to local businesses for freight and also provide West Seattle transit riders another path into SODO and downtown.”

Originally scheduled to open by December 2010, the new eastbound off-ramp is ready for use more than three months ahead of schedule. The Fourth Avenue Off-ramp phase of the overall viaduct project is also at least four million dollars under its original $42 million budget, though final savings will be determined with the completion of the full $168 million widening project in 2012.

“Cooperation between the city, state and regional partners ensured successful completion of this project,” stated Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Councilmember and Transportation Committee chair. “This important infrastructure is integral to keeping the Alaskan Way Viaduct project moving forward.”

The new ramp facilitates more direct freight and commuter access to vital industrial and commercial neighborhoods, while also improving traffic circulation within SODO. It additionally reduces conflicts between vehicular and railroad traffic, and will serve as a relief valve to surface streets when I-5 ramp congestion backs up onto the Spokane Street Viaduct. Construction of the off-ramp began in the fall of 2008.

“The opening of this ramp will enhance the flow of traffic on a major east/west corridor and improve access to SODO and downtown,” said Peter Hahn, director of SDOT. “This will allow the city to reduce traffic delays and better serve the needs of freight, all of which helps Seattle industry and our local economy.”

Construction of the new ramp was made possible in part by a $25 million contribution from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) as well as funds from the Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle taxpayers, and approximately $13 million from the federal government. WSDOT funding came after the project was identified as a way to keep traffic moving during Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. The new off-ramp will be critical when SR-99 northbound capacity from West Seattle will be reduced later next year

“WSDOT is proud to be a partner with Seattle on this important project,” said Ron Paananen, WSDOT Program Administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement. “Our funding contribution helped ensure this new access to downtown is available for West Seattle commuters before construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct intensifies.”

The overall Spokane Street Viaduct project includes widening the 60-year-old elevated structure to the north by 41 feet with wider lanes and shoulders, completely rebuilding lower S Spokane Street in concrete, adding a new westbound acceleration/deceleration lane at First Avenue S, seismically strengthening the viaduct and installing a new 10-foot wide sidewalk on the north side of lower S Spokane Street for pedestrians and bicycles.

For information about construction closures for this project and other projects, please visit Construction Closures in Downtown Seattle and SODO at:

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Seattle Department of Transportation

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