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E Marginal Way remake and bikeway heads into final design, construction could begin in 2021

With the fate of the West Seattle Bridge still unknown, SDOT is fast-tracking projects to improve other connections to and around the bridge. That includes the long-planned E Marginal Way remake, which has been a priority for both the Port and people biking and walking between downtown and the lower West Seattle Bridge.

The primary route between West Seattle and the Duwamish Trail and places north of Spokane Street, E Marginal Way can be a scary street to bike on today. It is one big reason more people don’t bike to and from West Seattle more often. Riding on extremely deteriorated pavement with only a painted line between you and big trucks from the Port just is not comfortable for a lot of people.

And those fears are sadly not unfounded. Lance David was killed in 2013 in a collision at S Hanford St with someone driving a semi truck. David’s tragic death and the public call for safety fixes was a major reason this project became a priority for the city, both in the form of some immediate bike lane improvements and adding the street to the Move Seattle Levy for the bigger rebuild they are working on now.

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The major design elements are pretty much in stone now that the project is at 90% design, though SDOT is seeking feedback on smaller details like wayfinding and such (survey closes TODAY, July 6). From the Alaskan Way Trail terminus at S Atlantic St to S Horton St, there will be a two-way bike lane on the east side of E Marginal Way. Heading southbound at Horton, people biking will have the choice of either crossing the street at a new traffic signal to a two-way bike lane on the west side of the street to connect to the lower West Seattle bridge or continuing straight to head toward Georgetown:

Design concept of the S Hanford St crossing.The design is the result of a ton of public outreach and conversations with the Port. It may be unusual, but it has buy-in from the Port and local bike advocates like West Seattle Bike Connections.

SDOT hopes construction can start in early 2021 and finish in 2022.

The survey also discusses some rough construction detours. There will be a period of 10-12 weeks when people biking will either need to ride in mixed traffic or share an eight-foot sidewalk with people walking. But the pay-off will be so worth it.

Concept of a construction detour plan that requireds people walking and biking to share an eight-foot sidewalk for 10 to 12 weeks.
From the survey.

More details from SDOT:

We are excited to share that we have reached the 90% design milestone for Phase 1 of the project. Major project elements have been finalized, but we still need your feedback on details such as wayfinding signage and expected impacts and detours during construction. Click here to take the survey.

At this time, we expect to complete design of Phase 1 later this year and move into construction of this work in 2021. Phase 1 construction includes the following:

  • Two-way protected bike lane on the east side of East Marginal Way S between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St
  • Reconstructed intersection at S Hanford St and a new traffic signal at S Horton St
  • Lighting and landscaping along the protected bike lane
  • Potential relocation of train tracks at S Hanford St

We used your feedback from the 60% design survey to make some improvements to the design of Phase 1. The biggest changes you’ll see are:

We continue to pursue funding for other segments of this project. For review of our federal grant proposals, along with more information about project features and schedule, please visit the project website. To ask questions or share comments, email the project team at [email protected]

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6 responses to “E Marginal Way remake and bikeway heads into final design, construction could begin in 2021”

  1. I must be missing the point. I’ve biked E. Marginal many time, though never during rush hour. I take the sidewalk going south and the bike lane going north. I will agree, having more protection going north would help. Maybe some jersey barriers ? But the pavement is isn’t so bad. Better than the average city street.

    But, correct me if I’m wrong.

    The issue I have is spending money on this when there still is no viable connection to Georgetown from E Marginal. Either you work your way to 1st S and take the bridge there and ride on dangerous sections for a while or you stay on E Marginal and work your way through the gravel and railroad tracks.

    This should be higher priority !

  2. Peri, your “though never during rush hour” note is why you are missing the point. It can be a nice, peaceful ride on a Sunday or in the evening, with bikes outnumbering trucks and cars. But when ships are in port at terminals 30 or 46, the trucks hauling containers back up in the turn lane and are use both traffic lanes. Then car drivers start using the bike lane to blindly pass trucks on the right without a thought that there might be someone on a bike in the bike lane, The EMW project’s second phase will serve GT, but the first phase is needed first to serve the much larger population of West Seattle and South Park. It will benefit Georgetown, too, by encouraging more people to ride a bike instead of driving through and congesting and polluting the air in Georgetown for the years without the WS Bridge . See pix at rush hour:

    1. Thanks for the explanation. I think that justifies a strongly separated bikeway.

      My only hesitation is the amount of money being spent when so many other places aren’t getting any upgrades at all. Wouldn’t it be cheaper, for a temporary solution, to put in jersey barriers on the east side and keep fix the west side sidewalk ? Then perhaps there would some funds left over to do something for a GT connection. Or more improvements to Rainier.

      1. Don Brubeck

        Peri, Those trucks can push jersey barriers aside without feeling it. The roadway has to change to fit in PBL’s. The EMW project is unique in that it is a freight transportation project serving the port, with a bike project tagged on for safety. It is funded mostly by federal grants for freight projects that other corridors are not edible to use. The whole roadway needs to be rebuilt to take the heavy truck traffic. That’s the big expense. The bike lanes are a small part. Unlike other bike lanes, this project has the support of the port, the railroads, industries on the route, and bike riders and people who want to become bike commuters. A better route to GT Is in the plans, but this phase is the catalyst project.

      2. Don – thanks for the additional info.

  3. Dave

    It fine when there is no or very little traffic, the point, one of the important ones anyway, is to make it reasonably doable when there is

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