Airport Way bridge set to close for a year or more

Biking (and driving and walking) to Georgetown from the north is about to get a little more difficult as the Airport Way viaduct just north of the neighborhood goes under construction for 12-14 months.

People biking will be detoured all the way to 1st Ave S between S Lander St to S Lucile St. For many people getting to Georgetown from the north, going over Beacon Ave may make more sense (unless you really like biking on busy industrial roadways).

Do you have any route suggestions for biking to and from Georgetown during this closure? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

This $34 million project will extend the life and safety of the structure.

With only 10,000 – 15,000 vehicles per day, the four-to-five lane Airport Way is a perfect candidate for a road diet. It is a flat road and is a direct route between downtown and Georgetown. The over-designed roadway only sees a fraction of the traffic it saw decades ago before I-5 opened, and the unnecessary highway design encourages speeding and other dangerous road behavior.

From SDOT:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will begin work to rehabilitate the Airport Way South Viaduct on November 28.  The rehabilitation of this 83-year-old Georgetown Neighborhood bridge just north of South Lucile Street requires that it be closed to all traffic for up to 14 months.

Vehicles and pedestrians will be detoured to Fourth Avenue South, while bicycles will be detoured to First Avenue South. Additional detour information is as follows:

Southbound traffic will be detoured at South Industrial Way to Fourth Avenue South, returning to Airport Way South via South Lucile Street.
Northbound traffic will be detoured at South Lucile Street to Fourth Avenue South returning to Airport Way South via South Industrial Way.
Denver Avenue South and South Dawson Street between South Lucile Street and Fourth Avenue South will primarily be used as a northbound truck detour route.

There is a map of the detour route on SDOT’s project Web site.

SDOT’s contractor for this project will have crews working from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and on occasional nights and weekends. Drivers should expect traffic delays on Airport Way South near the viaduct and allow extra time for their trips. There will be some parking restrictions adjacent to the viaduct and its approaches.  For information on changes to bus service, look for Rider Alert notices at bus stops, visit Metro Online at, or call (206) 553-3000.

With over 13,000 vehicles traveling on Airport Way South daily, stress to the structure is significant. Completing this project is necessary to maintain a safe and reliable transportation corridor.  The project work includes seismic retrofitting as well as rehabilitation of the mainspan. The estimated total project cost of this Bridging the Gap project is $34 million.

For more information, visit SDOT’s project Web site.

About Tom Fucoloro

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14 Responses to Airport Way bridge set to close for a year or more

  1. jdg says:


    i ride to george town daily…

    i guess i will take the duwamish trail instead of going directly

  2. Al Dimond says:

    I think I’m too color-blind to tell apart the yellow and green on that map… they’re following the same path, right?

    I never knew that 1st was considered better for biking over the tracks than 4th. I’ve used both occasionally and found them to be about equally unpleasant — I wouldn’t necessarily take a longer detour on 1st, as the map shows. I’ve never biked Airport Way before… based on jdg’s comment, it must be a lot better than 1st or 4th? Maybe when it’s open again I’ll ride down there again and try it out.

  3. RTK says:

    I go south on Airport early in the morning.

    I’m going to try 4th, which has a sidewalk over the RR tracks on the southbound side. Like jdg, I’ll stick to the Duwamish Trail in the afternoon.

    Another option is to go Dearborn to 12th or 15th, down one of those and then dropping back down to Airport Way at Lucille. I’ll probably also try that route.

  4. I am planning a trip from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida. At first I was hoping ride through Canada. Now I am thinking I’ll take the ferry system to Washington. I never thought about construction and road closures.

    Can someone give me tips on how to plan a bike route through Seattle this summer?

    My blog is

    I’d like to hear from others. Thanks.

  5. JAT says:

    I’m just being a coy doofus here, but what does SDOT mean when they say “Vehicles and pedestrians will be detoured to Fourth Avenue South, while bicycles will be detoured to First Avenue South. “? I thought bicycles were vehicles.

    I really agree, by the way that the wide open highway feel of Airport Wy South tends to incite some motorists to drive way too fast. I sure do love that road though.

  6. AiliL says:

    Back when this whole plan was being discussed last year, SDOT presented the plans to the Seattle Bike Advisory Board. Most of the SBAB members and other attendees in the room disagreed with the routing of cyclists all the way to 1st, especially since the Spokane Street route is still under construction. People were advocating for a re-route to 4th Ave S instead. Don’t forget that 1st Ave has major construction restrictions on it too and can be a hairy ride for cyclists. Personally I think 4th is the better route.

    • john says:

      Ya, I really dislike 1st ave through there. I see no reason not to stick to 4th unless traffic turns out to be too dangerous, not doing the sidewalk either….its for peds. Maybe they should have routed cars and trucks to 1st instead to keep them out of our way?? Ya think? I’ll give it a try today myself, make a stop at 9lb, and see what the reasons were. I did 1st on Friday with a cargo bike group so I should be able to compare.

      • RTK says:

        I rode 4th again today, in the early AM the only real issue is there are more stop lights than Airport Way.

        I’ve never seen the need to use the sidewalks on these bridges, but think that they would be a good place to ride for some folks. As far as I know, at this location, there is nothing restricting the sidewalk to pedestrian use. And I certainly wouldn’t look down on anyone riding a bike on the sidewalk. I saw it fairly often on Airport Way, even with the crappy approaches. Cycling in Seattle is very inclusive, I’ve got to believe a lot of people would not feel comfortable riding the narrow bridge lanes on this industrial corridor.

      • john says:

        I did run it last night heading south at 5:30pm. Instead of bothering to go to Airport way and detour down I just stayed on 4th, up over the bridge middle of my lane, and then a left on Lucile. The traffic was heavy and not a lot of fun but doable. Don’t know if 1st is less at night. The street quality on the south side of the train track overpass is better on 4th than on 1st. But I noticed the pedestrian sidewalk is far narrower than on 1st. That might explain the attempt to get cyclists on 1st. If you plan on using the sidewalk on the train track overpass I’d take 1st ave. However, Lucile is dangerous! You’ve got more traffic, trucks, busses trying to pass you while pedaling on really crappy pavement with very big holes and cracks. And additionally, the lighting is very poor. Did NOT like at all. You’d think SDOT would have made that road safer before starting the bridge since they planned the reroute. Be very careful on Lucile, accident waiting to happen.

  7. RTK says:

    I assume it was actually blocked this morning. I came down 4th from the ID all the way to Lucille. I’m coming down before 5:30AM and the traffic was light. The bridge across the RR tracks seems twice as long as the one on Airport Way. Everything north of the bridge is good, south of the bridge the concrete / asphalt mix with crappy joints is a bit of a mess. Doesn’t seem like it will be too bad coming down that way early in the morning. Couple more lights to get stopped at is one of the downsides.

  8. Colette Ogle says:

    If anyone is reading this, I feel that I need a “bike buddy” for one day to learn the new route from downtown Seattle to Boeing Field. I bike quite comfortably from the top of Queen Anne to Boeing Field (where I work) using Airport Way in the mornings. In the evenings, I take 1st Avenue back to the downtown area. I’m a bit worried about cycling in the morning without the familiar comfort of the Georgetown Bridge. I’m not awake at 5:30 AM as some of you are…..I often work at home in the mornings and then leave around 10:00ish, but would be flexible if someone can escort me via this new detour). I just loved Airport Way in the mornings. I’m not in any rush to do this, as I’m building my bike mojo back up from a winter rest — but if someone can cycle-chaperone a sensible, safe commuter like me to Boeing Field, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

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