Beginning next Monday, May 23, the Yesler Way bridge over 4th avenue will close for up to 16 months for a $20 million structural and seismic renovation, funded jointly by Move Seattle’s predecessor (Bridging the Gap) and by a Federal Highway Administration “Historic Bridge Replacement” grant.
The 1910 y-shaped steel structure is Seattle’s oldest bridge, covering Yesler Way from 3rd-5th avenues and Terrace Street from 4th to 5th Avenue. The desire to preserve the historic steel facades adds both to the timeline and to the cost, and after rehabilitation the bridge will look much like it does today.
Regrettably, Metro and the City have declined to fund the addition of trolley wire on Yesler, despite the closure being a perfect opportunity for concurrent construction. The Yesler trolley wire project was included in the original draft of Move Seattle, then dropped in later revisions without public explanation. Moving routes 3 and 4 to Yesler would allow riders to skip the interminable and unfixable jams on James Street, and make use of the precious commodity that Yesler offers, namely a street over I-5 immune from freeway queueing. We’ve also opined about other changes such a project would enable, such as moving Route 40 to serve South Lake Union, First Hill, and possibly Cherry Hill.
In terms of transit impacts, the closure will primarily affect Route 27 and routes that use the Terrace/5th pathway to access the I-5 Express Lanes, including Community Transit routes 412, 413, 416, 421, 425, 435 and Metro routes 304 and 355. Additional full closures of 4th Avenue on select nights and weekends will also affect Sound Transit routes 510, 511, 512, 545 and 594.