CHOKEPOINTS

Prepping for another West Seattle commuter headache

Feb 25, 2021, 5:35 AM
West Seattle...
West Seattle's First Avenue South Bridge. (WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)
(WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

This is not the news people in West Seattle want to hear, but another route in and out of the community is now facing lane closures. This time it’s the First Avenue South Bridge.

West Seattle Bridge shoring work nears completion

The southbound lanes of the First Avenue South Bridge, or Highway 99, will face lane closures over the next few weeks. The closures begin in a week. Workers need to replace the bearing pads on the bridge.

“Last fall, when we were inspecting the SR 99/Duwamish River Bridge, we found that some pads that girders rest on were worn out and needed to be replaced,” said Tom Pearce with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Emergency repairs were completed, and now it’s time to make the permanent repairs. The pads allow for the precise elevation setting for the bridge. The pads that are there now are still the original pads from when the bridge opened in 1996.

If they aren’t replaced soon, the city could be faced with another long-term bridge closure.

“The bridge is fine, but if we left it as it is, it would continue to deteriorate and then we could get into a major problem,” Pearce said.

Camera enforcement going up on Lower Spokane Street Bridge

While this is going to be painful for the already struggling West Seattle neighborhood, it’s better than having another bridge closed.

The project will begin with two full overnight closures of the southbound lanes next Friday and Saturday nights, March 5-6 and 6-7. The closures last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. both nights, and then lane reductions the rest of the time. Travel on the bridge will be reduced to two southbound lanes March 10-15. The work does not affect the northbound bridge.

The public is being asked to plan ahead and be prepared to take alternate routes to avoid big delays. East Marginal Way, Tukwila International Boulevard, I-5, and the South Park Bridge are the primary alternates. The state is working with the Seattle Department of Transportation to help manage traffic in the area, but this promises to be another headache for West Seattle.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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Prepping for another West Seattle commuter headache