South Spokane Street Project
Revised Dec 5, 2012
After some three years of construction, the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project, is nearing completion. It is now expected that the project will largely be finished in October, with only small items remaining to be completed. (Before the project is officially finished, the City of Seattle will evaluate the performance of the contractor to ensure that the work has been delivered as specified in the contract. As is customary on such major projects, it is likely the contractor will be directed to make adjustments to some of the work they have performed.)
The long awaited combination westbound on/off-ramp at First Avenue S in SODO opened to motorists on the morning of Friday, August 31, just in advance of the Labor Day Weekend. (West Seattle commuters from SODO no longer need to detour across the surface Spokane Street Swing Bridge!) The ramp includes a deceleration and merge lane, making it safer for motorists either exiting or entering the flow of viaduct traffic.
Construction crews have also completed work to repair and resurface the bridge deck on the old viaduct structure. As the accompanying photo shows, much of the existing deck was in need of considerable repair, which began with “scarification” or “hydro demolition” which cleaned and roughened the deck in order to ensure a good bond when the new thin lift micro silica overlay was applied. In those areas where a loss of more than 20% of the existing rebar, the rebar was replaced.
The repair and resurfacing work on the old bridge deck had to be broken into phases in order to keep the structure open to traffic (with closures limited to nighttime and an occasional weekend). For much of the time, the eastbound off-ramp to First Avenue S had to be closed, although the off-ramp at Fourth Avenue remained open. (For shorter periods, it was the First Avenue exit that remained open while the exit at Fourth Avenue had to be closed.)
Work on both the old and new bridge decks is essentially complete at this time. The final lane configurations have been painted into the roadway and motorists have been using them for a number of weeks. The posted construction speed limit of 25 MPH will be reposted to the previous preconstruction 35 MPH (if it has not already been done by the time you are reading this post). SDOT traffic engineers intend to reexamine the speed limit this coming spring after motorists have adjusted to the lane configuration and engineers are better able to assess the proper speed limit.
Artwork has been installed on many of the supporting columns underneath the viaduct. Some have historical themes, while others are more abstract. Once the artwork has been fully installed and the contractor has completed their work, the westbound lower roadway will reopen all the way from Sixth Avenue S to East Marginal Way S. This is currently projected for early October. (The westbound surface roadway reopened to traffic in 2010.)
The eastbound Fourth Avenue S off-ramp was opened to traffic in the summer of 2010, permitting motorists and freight direct access to both north and southbound Fourth Avenue S while avoiding rail crossings. Ramp construction was made possible in part through $25 million in funding the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), who view the off-ramp as a valuable alternative route for West Seattle traffic heading to downtown or SODO while the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project is under construction.
Key Schedule Dates
* all future dates subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is widening and improving the South Spokane Street Viaduct – the 60-year old elevated roadway that carries 65,000-70,000 vehicles daily between I-5 and the West Seattle Bridge. The South Spokane Street project created a new two-lane eastbound off-ramp leading to Fourth Avenue S; relocates the westbound on- and off- ramps to a new First Avenue S ramp; widens the upper roadway to the north by 41 feet – between Sixth Avenue S and East Marginal Way; and rebuilds the lower roadway in concrete, with new curbs, sidewalks and improved pedestrian and bicycle access. Work on this long-awaited project began in 2008 and is set to wrap up in the summer of 2012.
Listserve notices: We distribute email announcements for impending lane changes or closures, detours, schedules, etc. as well as periodic information about progress on the project. Use the form below to be added to that email list.
Progress Bulletins: We periodically create and hand-deliver to surrounding properties, providing information about recent progress, upcoming activities, expected impacts and mitigation measures. These are also available at the SDOT office, on this Web site and through the listserve. We also occasionally print and mail newsletters to businesses and residences in a large area with general project information, schedule updates and contact information. These are also made available to community groups, libraries and other distribution venues, as well as in our offices. If you have a suggestion for a valuable distribution point, please let us know.
Web site updates: Information on the project is maintained here.
Project Update Briefings: We provide periodic in-person updates to identify project stakeholders, such as West Seattle and Georgetown neighborhood organizations, the Seattle Freight Advisory Board, the Manufacturing and Industrial Council (MIC), SODO Business Association and others. Contact us to find out about joining a group for a presentation, or having a presentation for your organization.
Alternative modes of communication: We are looking at other means of providing information on the current status of the project and on upcoming activities, including text messages and low power AM radio broadcasts. We are also posting project update stories to our Blog. If you have other suggestions on outreach methods, please let us know. We are committed to working with local community and business organizations to provide communications that meet their constituents’ needs.
If you would like more information about the project, please call or email Paul Elliott, SDOT Community Relations, at 206-684-5321 or by email at Paul.Elliott@seattle.gov