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WSDOT extending viaduct construction cycle track (with video!)

If you commute along the waterfront or via the ferry, you have probably gotten used to the bike detour changing over and over again. Sometimes it’s a big improvement, but sometimes it’s not. Well, brace yourself for another big change starting Thursday as WSDOT makes some big changes from King Street to the Ferry Terminal, including an extended bollard-separated cycle track.

And, as you can see above, the department even created a super nice video to show how the detour will work (from a driver’s perspective).

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What do you think of the plans?


Beginning on May 10, crews clearing space for tunnel construction will reroute all Alaskan Way traffic south of Spring Street to a newly improved road below the viaduct. This change, which will remain in place until at least early 2014, will affect bike and pedestrian traffic along the waterfront.

Waterfront cyclists and pedestrians will be detoured onto a shared-use path under the viaduct, and along a section of Elliott Bay Trail between South Jackson and Spring streets. We’ll also keep existing sidewalks on the west side of the street open as much as possible during construction.

Detour highlights:
·         South of Yesler Way: Bicycle and pedestrian traffic detours to separated, shared-use path under the viaduct.
·         Yesler Way to Madison Street: Shared-use path detours onto existing Elliott Bay Trail, opposite Colman Dock.
·         Madison to Spring streets: Shared-use path detours under the viaduct.
·         Got questions? Call: 1-888-AWV-LINE (298-5463) or email: [email protected].

WSDOT will host a Bike to Work station on May 18 at the corner of South Atlantic Street and East Marginal Way South (near Terminal 46). Stop by and say hello or you can call or email the SR 99 Tunnel Project at 1-888-AWV-LINE (298-5463) or [email protected].

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22 responses to “WSDOT extending viaduct construction cycle track (with video!)”

  1. Joseph Singer

    What’s with the bicycle facilities being on the left and then on the right and then on the left again and then sometimes disappearing altogether?

  2. AiliL

    Exactly Joseph! Crossing Alaskan 3x! And I’m willing to bet the waits at the bike/ped signals are not going to be short. I already hate crossing 2x in the current configuration (due mostly to insanely long crossing time wais – especially at Jackson). I find it much better to use the street northbound in the mornings combined with maybe a little bit of the new path sometimes. Southbound all depends on traffic/pedestrian levels. It doesn’t save any time detouring to the bike path in the afternoons already; drivers block crosswalks constantly, run the red lights, etc., heavy traffic makes it difficult to take a left onto the detour from Alaskan. Sidewalk on the west side works southbound but one has to yield and ride nice (seriously!) around the increasingly heavy pedestrian traffic. Apparently peds don’t like the east side detour any more than we cyclists do.

    My assumption is that traffic is going to be even heavier than it is now with one lane each way plus a strange road, plus ferry traffic. It’s going to be very difficult, as it can be now, to pass stopped vehicles on the street. I think that we’ll see more cyclists using the west sidewalk for a straight shot north/south rather than the majority using the zig-zag detour route.

  3. Mike Lindblom

    The bike lane under the Viaduct is okay but not a major advance — the bigger news, if you’re heading south out of downtown, is that the SIDEWALK from Yesler to King is going to stay open during tunnel construction. Therefore, you can ride or walk SB completely out of traffic (albeit not real fast) from the ferry terminal to Coast Guard. I’ll be taking that route Tuesday.

  4. Joel S

    I rode through here Saturday and Sunday and was so confused I just used 1st ave to I believe Holden St (or something that starts with an H). That path that heads South looked closed?? Bottom line was that I was very confused by the signage.

  5. This is the sort of route you get when you consider bike and pedestrian routes to be a peripheral element to a roadway, instead of a first-class feature deserving a direct and convenient route. What this map reminds me most of is the I-90 bike path from around 405 to Lake Washington. South of I-90 through the 405 interchange, swerve around north of I-90 through the Mercer Slough, go back south again after the slough, then swing around to the north near Enatai Beach Park and do a loop to get up onto the bridge. The main freeway is direct and pretty much level.

    1. What do you expect from the Washington State Department of Moving Automobiles?

  6. Patty Lyman

    Crossing back and forth and back and forth, how can that be safe?

    I wonder if the best way would be to cross on Jackson over to the sidewalk, if it is possible?

  7. Joseph

    “From the driver’s perspective.” Why couldn’t there be an equally nice video showing the detour from the cyclist’s perspective? Those multiple crossings look pretty nasty to me.

  8. JN

    Note: at about 5:35 today, a motorcyclist was driving at about 30mph on the bike/ped trail south of King Street. Several pedestrians and cyclists were endangered, but I didn’t get a plate.

  9. West Seattle Matt

    The cars can have it. Confused drivers are not good at seeing the world around them and are more likely to become a hazard to cyclists. I will continue to run the gauntlet past the Coast Guard, up to King Street and cross over to First Ave northbound on my way to SLU. My ride back to WS has always been along the waterfront and I don’t see that changing. Southbound is a big mess now. With the changes it’ll be a slightly different big mess.

    The thing I’d like to see is a regular road sweeping along E Marginal Way to clear the crap out of the bike lanes. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  10. Chadwick

    I take this route every day to and from Highland Park and it’s a total mess. Not only that but Matt is right they need to clean up the bike lane a bit. Honestly this looks like a total confusing mess. So, basically the same as usual. Hopefully I’m wrong!

  11. Ric I

    I ride this frequently SB in the morng and NB in the evening. So far, it’s so confusing and slow for everyone that the safest route has been to stay in the GP lane, especially NB. Traffic is moving so slow that you can basically creep up the right side at low speed until it breaks back out to two lanes, and then resume a normal pace.

    To me all the cross-movements, fencing and ped traffic on the trail make that option less safe. And to emphasize, I have yet to see traffic moving at posted speeds in this area either during the morning or afternoon rush. It’s a crawl. Seems like the best thing to do initially to ensure safety is become familiar with the new vehicle movements so you know what to expect — and from where — once this takes effect.

  12. AiliL

    Now that traffic could likely be a mess due to the Presidential visit downtown as well, plus this change, I suspect we will all be very, very glad to be on our bikes tomorrow…more than even normal.

  13. Barb Dwyer

    SO, you ride north in the groovy bike path, then cross over at Yesler to the “old” one, then cross BACK over at Madison? Then back over again once you’re north of the Bell Harbor Marina to pick up the Myrtle Edwards trail?


    The southbound plan looks equally terrible once you get south of Madison, as cyclists will be “sharing” the curbside lane w/”Ferry Holding” traffic and have to deal w/the right turners at the ferry entrance.

    Looks like there are already a lot of other commenters who’ve started noting how ridiculous this plan is. I predict lots of hit cyclists over the next 2 years, unfortunately. Esp during the busy summer months, and May, bike month! Lame.

  14. AiliL

    After riding it northbound this morning – the actual route is NOT following the published map, note the bike/ped path from Yesler north is NOT open and cyclists are routed to the west sidewalk along the waterfront (chock full o’ pedestrians and vans/trucks/cars for some reason). Note that the sidewalk on the west side is NOT open all the way south like the map indicates. Southbound one must either take the detour route or somehow ride through the Port parking lot just north of King street (from Jackson to King southbound – looks like there was some access to that lot…if you do this note your are riding against traffic, the lot is a one-way northbound route). Note: try not to run the light at Yesler, there’s all sorts of crazy traffic patterns there.

    My plan: either use the street or use 1st Ave.

  15. Ray

    I also took it northbound this morning. I had already planned to ride with traffic between Yesler and Madison (I wasn’t going to waste my time making the two crossings), so I didn’t notice that the parallel trail portion was closed as AiliL pointed out. Traffic was slow on that section anyway, so sharing the road felt pretty safe. I usually share the road going south too, but it’s been such a mess lately that I’ll detour left at University or Seneca to Western and then 1st (as I’ve been doing the last month or so) and skip that bike/ped trail completely.

  16. JN

    I was attempting to actually ride all the way up to Spring like I used to, but the light at the first detour took SOOOO damn long I just turned right onto First, like I normally do. And then, to top it all off, on the way home I said to myself, “hey, I’ll see how this turned out, maybe they’ve marked it wel-SHIT! Where the hell am I supposed to go!!!!” and proceeded to take the western sidewalk the rest of the way. Looks like I’ll be sticking to First for the forseeable future.

  17. JN

    Oh, and the black SUV parked across the path in the morning sure as hell didn’t help, either.

  18. BJ Bikes

    This is a complete disaster.

  19. Mike Lindblom

    On opening day, I drove north past a cyclist ignoring the official lane and riding on the NB street below the Viaduct — and it didn’t look like he had better choices. Then the bike lane seems to just evaporate north of the ferry terminal.
    But I did bike the “sidewalk route” S of the terminal on Tuesday and saved 15-20 minutes compared to a car or bus. Highly recommend that, and recommend all of Matt’s advice above.

  20. AiliL

    What particularly irked me was that the black SUV was there ALL DAY. I had to ride around it both morning and evening (I was seeing how the bike detour was working). And there was another white car parked one block away in the afternoon. Both vehicles had tickets but where not towed. Why in the world not? Those parking signs MUST be removed. Why were they not? And in the afternoon part of the detour was blocked off for construction by tape and tall bollards (maybe they were fixing part of the detour?) and there was no way to get around them other than riding the wrong way down the vehicle lane.

    I am in agreement about the southbound route, the signage is abysmal. According to the published map the bike/ped path was to be open and it’s not which is probably creating some of the issues.

    This morning I rode the street instead of the path and it was great until about 1.5 blocks from Yesler, the ferry exit. A ferry was unloading and traffic was really, really backed up. The taxis queue on the right side of those blocks and nose into the lane. So while the street is already narrow, one had to somehow get around those taxis as well. I took the first right I could and went up 1st instead. 1st is going to be my route home as well.

    I also watched a police officer directing traffic. A mini-van carpool took an illegal left on a red arrow and ended up facing the wrong way on Yesler, right in front of him. Did he say anything to the driver? “Oh, it’s ok, just go slow over there now.” WTF? And the jaywalker? Complete ignored. Someone’s going to get hit down there very soon.

    1. Joel S

      It seems pretty clear that absolutely no one knows what is supposed to be going on down there from block to block. Just be careful out there.

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