Plan ahead: U Bridge will be closed next three weekends

UniversityBr_DetourMap_finalThe University Bridge will be closed for the next three weekends, so plan ahead. Because the detour is going to be rough.

All people driving, biking and walking will be detoured from as early as 8 p.m. Friday to as late as 5 a.m. Monday. This closure will be repeated July 29 – August 1 and August 5 – 8.

Because the I-5 Express Trail is not real (yet), the only options for people on foot or bike trying to cross the Ship Canal Trail are the Montlake Bridge, Fremont Bridge or transit (U Link definitely makes this detour easier for people headed to Capitol Hill and downtown).

Though the city recently installed very needed speed cushions on Boyer Ave E to calm the cut-through traffic on that street, it still is not a fun street to bike on. It’s the flattest and most direct route between the bridges, but you have to be comfortable biking mixed with busy traffic to use it.

The good news is that this closure is needed to make significant and long-needed safety improvements to the north end U Bridge approaches. This work should finally end the disappearing bike lane problems in both north and south directions:

Concept images from SDOT

Concept images from SDOT

More details from SDOT:

We will close the University Bridge this weekend to begin resurfacing the bridge and complete other maintenance activities. This weekend’s construction includes grinding off the road surface to inspect the bridge deck and prepare for paving. People driving, biking, and using motorcycles should exercise caution after this weekend, as the road surface will be rough.

This closure will be in place as early as 8 PM on Friday, July 22, and will be reopened by 5 AM Monday, July 25. During the closure, travelers can expect the following:

  • University and Campus Parkway bridges and the pedestrian pathway will be fully closed to all traffic between NE 41th St and Fuhrman Ave E
  • All travelers will be detoured to the Montlake Bridge (click here to view a detour map)
  • The bridge will open for marine traffic as it usually does
  • King County Metro buses will be detoured beginning at 1 AM, Saturday, July 23. Visit metro.kingcounty.gov/alerts/ to learn more
  • Typical impacts of construction include noise, dust, increased truck activity, and lights during the nighttime
  • Flaggers will be present to provide access for emergency vehicles if needed

Consider using Link light rail as an alternate travel option this weekend. Visit www.soundtransit.org for more information.

The University Bridge will also be closed as early as 8 PM Friday until 5 AM Monday on the following weekends:

  • Friday, July 29, through Monday, August 1
  • Friday, August 5, through Monday, August 8
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11 Responses to Plan ahead: U Bridge will be closed next three weekends

  1. Andres Salomon says:

    Something important that’s easy to miss in the announcement: when the bridge reopens after this weekend, it will not have a surface. That means biking on it will be particularly dangerous (especially with skinny tires). It would be good to get a report about how bikeable the bridge is after the surface has been ground off, but until then I would avoid the bridge until it’s been repaved.

    • Curi says:

      Unfortunately, I assume this means that only the approaches to the bridge are being resurfaced, since the bridge itself is metal. I desperately hope they also resurface the outer bike lanes which go over the articulating spans. They are so slippery in the wet while riding on my 25c Gatorskin tires. I’ve seen plenty of cyclist blood drawn as a result of lost traction in those lanes, and so far, I have been just barely lucky enough to avoid a crash of my own over the years. If unchanged, it’s only a matter of time until my ticket is called.

  2. Meredith says:

    I bike Boyer almost every day as part of my commute and it is worse than Eastlake for agressive and clueless drivers. I’ve had more close calls on that stretch than anywhere else in Seattle. Advice for anyone using it as a detour, be aggressive about taking the lane! Here more than any other road I’ve encountered in Seattle cars will try to squeeze past you (while speeding). Hopefully if they are detouring bikes there they will also send some additional traffic enforcement officers that direction for the duration of the detours.

    • Gary Anderson says:

      Boyer must be a lot better now since they installed the “traffic calming” humps (yeah, sure….). Seems like almost all vehicles can drive on the flat part between the humps and not have to slow down at all. I don’t think they help at all.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        My friends who live over there have reported the same problem; cars not slowing down because they drive over the flat parts.

        That said, I’m not convinced that claim is accurate; drivers probably need to pay attention and slow down a little bit as they approach the humps in order to aim for the flat parts. There’s probably research out there about the efficacy of different types of speed humps, but I haven’t looked into it.

      • Curi says:

        They have similar objects on Lake Washington Blvd. So far as I can tell, they don’t really do much. I have stiffly sprung sports car, and so I do slow down quite a bit for them (to the chagrin of drivers behind me), but my Subaru can sail right over them without blinking. They don’t seem severe enough to actually slow traffic.

      • Al Dimond says:

        Boyer is going to carry a decent amount of through-traffic no matter how much traffic calming is installed because there aren’t alternative arterial routes nearby. Similarly, it’s going to carry a decent amount of bike traffic whether it’s unpleasant or not because there aren’t alternative routes that aren’t much hillier (I often take Delmar because it’s scenic, but it’s a lot of climbing to avoid just a few blocks on Boyer). The current street layout puts the inevitable car traffic on direct conflict with the inevitable bike traffic, and traffic-calming furniture that makes it hard to pass seems to just make drivers more impatient to do so in the small windows available.

        There’s only one thing left to do: remove the street parking to put in bike lanes. The street parking is well-used (unlike some places where it’s been removed recently), but still has to rank a lower priority than using a uniquely situated street ROW for traffic movement of both cars and bikes.

      • Skylar says:

        I agree that bike lanes are needed on Boyer. I’d feel bad for the drivers on Boyer (there are few alternatives to the connection it provides whether you’re two-wheeled or four), except for the fact that there are already two lanes dedicated to cars: the parking lanes.

        Get rid of them, and ignore the whining from the people who have to pull their car into the driveway now.

      • Meredith says:

        I feel bad(ish) for the actual residents along Boyer, but half or more of the cars speeding through there aren’t local, they are commuters using back streets to avoid the Montlake/Pacific mess.

  3. Becky says:

    The 49 will reroute via I-5, so one could put one’s bike on that to get across the ship canal. Or I’m just going to go out of town for the first two weekends and get stuck in other traffic other places. Oh, Seattle summer.

  4. ride bikes says:

    I rode southbound over the U-Bridge last night and it was horrible. Their pavement grinding operation has only ground away the pavement on the north side of the drawspan, making the existing bumps as you approach it more significant and adding effectively wheel-eating obstacles which would destroy your tires + rims and toss you off the saddle. Adding to the “joy” of navigating around these is a set of construction road signs IN THE BIKE LANE that you have to swerve into the traffic lanes to avoid.

    On the south side of the drawspan they’ve ground the pavement away from the bike lane but not the traffic lanes, effectively introducing a hard-to-see, completely unmarked curb between the bike lane the that traffic lanes.

    SDOT should have ground away and repaved the bike lane over the first weekend closure then focused on doing the traffic lanes once that was complete. Oh and of course they’re not going to fix the portion of the bike lane that spans the slippery metal drawspan grating… that will be left to continually erode away until we’re left with nothing.

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