Drivers will face delays and detours for viaduct-related work
Drivers will encounter traffic delays and detours in the next two years as some viaduct-related work gets started. But once the work is...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Drivers will encounter traffic delays and detours in the next two years as some viaduct-related work gets started. But once the work is done, it'll be easier to reach the stadiums or catch a bus.
The Sodo part of the viaduct would be rebuilt, with safety shoulders and a stadium-area interchange, from 2009-2012. On the north end, the Battery Street Tunnel would be fitted with modern lights, sprinklers and ventilation, from 2008-2010.
Todd Trepanier, an assistant project director for the state Department of Transportation, said that by starting work in some areas now, the state can avoid having the overall political uncertainty over the viaduct delay the final-project timeline. Construction of a new viaduct, if that option is ultimately chosen, could take 10 years.
Detour routes are yet to be determined.
The state has envisioned a Broad Street detour at the north end, with a temporary overpass above train tracks, but the route could change, Trepanier said. The stadium interchange could include temporary ramps and lanes connecting to the existing viaduct, though that design is also subject to change — depending on what politicians decide about what to build in place of the present viaduct.
Ballard Oil President Warren Aakervik, a leading pro-viaduct advocate, said, "as long as it maintains two full lanes of traffic each way during construction, then at least it's acceptable."
When the early projects are done, drivers will get a safer highway and better access to ballgames, the Port of Seattle and Sodo, Trepanier said. There would be a new ramp to the busy container terminal at Pier 48, to help truck traffic.
Gov. Christine Gregoire said Wednesday she wants the 54-year-old viaduct demolished by 2012, "before it falls down."
Reinforcing two columns in the most fragile spot, a sinking section at South Washington Street, requires only $5 million of the $915 million package.
A $125 million earmark for transit, plus related street work, should help deal with traffic tie-ups during lane closures and temporary full closures, said Ron Posthuma, assistant transportation director for King County.
Metro Transit can buy new buses and add trips for the Ballard, Aurora Avenue North, and West Seattle corridors — along with those funded by the recently passed "Transit Now" sales-tax increase, he said. Metro also hopes to add passenger-boat trips from West Seattle and Vashon Island to downtown, he said.
Most leaders figure Third Avenue will continue to be a busway at peak times, in addition to the downtown transit tunnel, which will reopen to buses late this year, Posthuma said. And Metro will propose converting lanes on other streets to part-time bus lanes, he said.
Aside from Gregoire's list, politicians have talked about doing major projects on the periphery of the viaduct: a widening of South Spokane Street to allow safety shoulders, a car off-ramp and a bus ramp; a rebuild of potholed Mercer Street for two-way traffic; and bus ramps from Interstate 5 into Sodo. But those hinge on voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties passing a $31 billion package of highway and Sound Transit proposals on the ballot this fall.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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