Required painting project will close Fremont Bridge sidewalk

"Fremont bike counter ticked over 5100 just as the bridge lowered. Looks like another record!" Photo by Taylor Kendall via Twitter. Used with permission

“Fremont bike counter ticked over 5100 just as the bridge lowered. Looks like another record!” Photo by Taylor Kendall via Twitter. Used with permission

In order to keep the Fremont Bridge in good shape and corrosion-free, the city needs to repaint it every once in a while. That is no easy task, since the historic steel structure has all kinds of moving parts and needs to open and close periodically to allow boat travel in addition to moving tens of thousands of cars and thousands of people biking and walking every day.

Unfortunately, the painting project requires closing a general traffic lane and sidewalk during the daytime for several weeks starting Monday. The closures will be weekdays-only between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

One of the sidewalks will be open at all times, but be ready to be patient since the already-beyond-capacity sidewalk will be extra packed.

Details from SDOT:

Before too much longer folks who cross the bridge on top will share some of the inconvenience – the northbound curbside lane will be closed to vehicular traffic between 7AM and 3PM Monday thru Friday beginning August 11.  The adjacent walkway (on the east side of the bridge) will be closed at the same times of day so all pedestrian and bicycle traffic will have to share the walkway on the west side.

This pattern of restrictions will be in place for several weeks, before shifting to the west, affecting southbound traffic.  When this occurs, lanes will only be closed between 10AM and 3PM, given that south bound traffic flows are higher in both morning and evening.

In case you also boat, there are some pretty significant maritime restrictions, as well:

Signs  have been posted (and a notice sent out) advising boaters that there will be 5 feet less vertical clearance for them to pass below the bridge when it is not raised.   Furthermore, only one leaf of the bridge will normally be opened for vessels passing below – if both leaves need to be  opened, SDOT will need 5 hours advance notice.

NOTE: I am volunteering for Cascade Bicycle Club’s Ride Around Washington this week. Internet is getting spotty, so if the blog seems less active, that’s why. I’ll still be posting whenever I get the chance, though, so keep checking back!

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9 Responses to Required painting project will close Fremont Bridge sidewalk

  1. ballard_biker says:

    Just a reminder and caution about how “well” the Ballard Bridge painting went last year. It seems like the painting took 3 or 4 months to complete (much longer than advertised). The project was a disaster for bike commuters with inadequate and unacceptable closure signage during working hours and non-working hours with little to no communication of closures. Several times northbound after dark, closure signs appeared with no advanced warning that forced riders and pedestrians to detour under the bridge via stairways to then use the south bound direction sidewalks. After dark, under the Ballard Bridge is more of setting for a crime novel than an acceptable detour route.

    SDOT please take note of the poor communication, lack of contractor oversight, and poor adherence to schedule during your last effort to repaint a major bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the ship canal. I hope you can do better on the Fremont Bridge since the bike counts are an order of magnitude higher and visibility so much greater. If you run this job like the Ballard Bridge project you may have an bicycle insurrection on your hands.

    • Kirk says:

      Exactly. SDOT said the Ballard Bridge would take six weeks to paint, starting at the end of November. It actually took SEVEN MONTHS. Oh, because you can’t paint if it’s windy and rainy, they let us know. I guess that the SDOT didn’t know that you can’t paint in the rain and wind. And who could have predicted that it would be rainy and windy in Seattle in November and December? And on top of it, they let us know that we should walk our bikes over the bridge during this project, and if one of the sidewalks was closed, we would need to detour to Fremont or the Locks. It was a total joke.
      Yes, the Ballard Bridge Painting Project really reinforced my opinion of the SDOT.

  2. Matthew Snyder says:

    Any idea whether they will ask cyclists to dismount when crossing the bridge choke-points, if only one sidewalk is open? I would assume so, but maybe they’ll just rely on cyclists being slow and cautious and yielding to pedestrians.

    • Kirk says:

      When they painted the Ballard Bridge, the instructions were to detour to the Fremont Bridge or the Locks whenever a sidewalk was closed, and never to ride over the bridge if a sidewalk was closed. I pity anyone that paid attention to this nonsense. The part that really sucked, as Ballard Biker pointed out above, was that the sidewalks would close without warning. Sometimes at night, heading home northbound, the sidewalk would just be closed with no warning, and to get to the other side meant wither a long loop under the bridge on the ship canal trail, or a scary trek down the stairs and under the bridge. Or you could follow the genius SDOT detour and ride all the way to Fremont and back.
      The current project website for the Fremont Bridge doesn’t include any bicycle detour instructions, except to use the Ballard Bridge during full bridge closures.

      Good luck to those of you that use the Fremont Bridge.

  3. weaksauce says:

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if they took the one lane of traffic that is closest to the bridge and closed it PERMANENTLY for a protected bike lane and then made the sidewalk just for pedestrians! We can dream, sigh.

    • Law Abider says:

      No. The current “sidewalks” on either side of the bridge are more than adequate for two way traffic on each side, especially considering how short the Fremont Bridge is.

      Plus, you’re talking about taking a lane from an already over capacity bridge that doesn’t really have a good alternative (none of the draw bridges do really), to add capacity to an alternate form of transportation that doesn’t currently require it.

      Plus, where would you connect it to? How long would it be? Making cycle tracks for the sake of making cycle tracks is silly. You make cycle tracks where they are needed and justified.

  4. Pingback: More details on upcoming Fremont Bridge work, sidewalk closures begin Sept 2 | Seattle Bike Blog

  5. 47hasbegun says:

    When I rode home within the past couple hours, the northbound (easternmost) traffic lane was closed, but the westernmost sidewalk was closed. This does not match up with anything I’ve read.

  6. jason says:

    Not walking your bike across the fremont bridge is just another indication of the holier than thou attitude of bikers throughout the city. Congratulations on being kind to the environment, we all appreciate you. As a pedestrian crossing the bridge daily, I am less impressed with your humanity. I’m not asking you to yield to me, it is the law. Obey it for a change, along with lights, signs, etc. I am no less afraid of a vehicle traveling 20 mph inches from me just because it lacks a motor. Be reasonable, and dismount for one minute, or ride across the grating as if you know how to handle a bike. By the way, there is a bike lane running all the way up to the bridge from the north end, so why are you on the sidewalk there at all? Cops and bike riders. Seattle’s best gangs.

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