Two major, long-running Seattle road construction projects will wrap up next week: the Spokane Street Viaduct widening project, and the widening and conversion to two-way operation of Mercer Street as part of the Mercer Corridor Project. Each of these has consequences for transit riders.
Mercer Two-Way Conversion
On Monday, Mercer St will reopen to two-way traffic (east of 1st Ave N) for the first time since 1968; read this Times article for details, and the (scary) 1968 Times article discussing the elevated Bay Freeway as a “solution” to the problem. Upon completion of that work, SDOT’s contractors will pivot to the reconstruction of Fairview Ave N. The work on Fairview will entail severe traffic restrictions, so all transit service which typically uses Fairview will instead operate on Eastlake, as shown on the map above.
Metro’s Eastlake/Fairview reroute began last night at 11 PM, and per SDOT’s timeline, continues through “early 2013″. While Eastlake’s coverage of South Lake Union isn’t as good as Fairview, I doubt this detour will be much slower, and it might be faster than Fairview’s current configuration, once you’ve hiked up there. In addition, this weekend’s final work for the two-way conversion will require the shutdown of the South Lake Union streetcar until Monday morning.
Metro’s Fairview routes are 70, 71, 72, 73, 83 (night owl) and 309, but note that only the local 71, 72, and 73, which operate in the evening and on Sundays, run on Fairvew; the Monday-Saturday daytime U-District expresses are not affected, nor the 25, 66 or (after this weekend) South Lake Union Streetcar. As far as I can tell from the SDOT site, 9th Ave should reopen on Monday, and Metro’s map shows the 17 returning to its normal alignment southbound on 9th, but Metro’s Alerts Center suggests the current reroute on Westlake continues until late September, so I guess we’ll find out which is right on Monday.
More after the jump.
Finally, I believe the completion of the Fairview work will allow Metro to re-electrify the 70, although trolleybus use might be constrained by the number of working trolleys Metro can put out on the road, until the replacement fleet begins to arrive in 2014.
Spokane Street Viaduct
Seattle has been working on the Spokane Street Viaduct for several years, with the on-ramp at 1st Ave S closed since May 2010. For the duration of that closure, Metro routes on 1st Ave S to West Seattle have been forced to detour via the slower and less-reliable Spokane St swing bridge. On Friday 31st, that on-ramp will reopen, and those detoured routes will switch back to the high bridge. Metro’s new spokesman Jeff Switzer had this to say:
This construction milestone will be good news for bus riders going to West Seattle. Starting Aug. 31, bus riders will have a faster and more reliable trip using the new First Avenue South ramp to the West Seattle Bridge, and buses will be less likely to face delays due to trains or when the lower Spokane Street bridge needs to open for marine traffic.
Metro buses have traveled a revised route since May 17, 2010, including Routes 21, 22, 35, 56, 57, 85, 116, 118 & 119 traveling East Marginal way to the lower level Spokane Street bridge to get to West Seattle. Opening the new First Avenue South/South Spokane Street on ramp will decrease travel times on these routes. We’re coordinating with the city so that we can revise our bus routes accordingly as soon as the ramp is officially open.