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City awards E Marginal Way contract, work to start in fall

A complete rebuild of E Marginal Way has been in the works for a long time, and work is set to finally get under way this autumn.

The street is both a major bike route and the trucking access point for several Port terminals, and the project has been an example of bike safety and heavy freight interests working together. Once complete, the roadway will be heavily reinforced to handle major truck traffic and will have completely separated and protected bike lanes.

Initial funding for this project was first announced a decade ago, just two weeks after someone driving a truck struck and killed Lance David at E Marginal Way and S Hanford Street while he was biking to work. RIP.


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The project is so large and expensive that it required a federal grant to get it off the ground. It has also ballooned in scope and now includes installing a major water main. For these reasons, work has been repeatedly pushed back.

Map of planned changes between Atlantic and Massachusetts. Map from Hanford to Horton. Map from Spokane to Horton.Bicycle routing during construction is going to be tough. Hopefully crews can maintain a usable path without sending people on bikes into mixed traffic with heavy trucks.

This construction phase may also be a good time to create another temporary bike connection on 1st Avenue South like SDOT created during the Spokane Street Bridge closure at the start of the year. This time, a bike connection between Spokane Street and Pioneer Square would allow people to avoid the construction zone entirely. At the very least, a bike connection to S Lander Street would create a bicycling pathway between the Spokane Street Bridge and the SoDo Trail.

More details on the contract and upcoming work from SDOT:

We recently awarded the contract to build the safety, freight mobility, and efficiency improvements planned for the North Segment of the project. This segment includes East Marginal Way S between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St, and the intersection at S Alaska St, where we’re building a new dynamic message sign.

Pre-construction activity starts soon

In addition to the street improvement work on this project, we’re replacing one mile of the underground watermain pipe that connects to Port of Seattle terminals and other adjacent properties.

Starting as early as mid-April, the contractor will be working along East Marginal Way S to identify where potential conflicts might arise between the new watermain and existing underground utilities. During this work, the contractor dig at several locations and then pave the areas with asphalt.

We expect the work to take 1-2 weeks. If you are traveling on the corridor, you can expect minor traffic revisions and flaggers directing you around the work.

After the contractor completes this work, we’ll be able to order the new watermain pipe. This pipe has the longest supply-chain timeline of any materials we need to order before we can start construction.

Full construction will break ground when new watermain pipe arrives, expected in fall 2023 at the earliest

Because watermain construction will be one of the early construction items, full construction won’t begin until closer to when we have the pipe on location. With the expected long supply-chain timeline, the earliest we expect to begin construction is October.

Until then, we’re finalizing our agreements with railroad companies since several train tracks run along the corridor. We’ll also continue working with the contractor on additional pre-construction activity as needed so we are ready to begin construction as soon as the watermain pipe is delivered.

We’ll send another project update once we have a better idea of when full construction will begin on East Marginal Way S.


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6 responses to “City awards E Marginal Way contract, work to start in fall”

  1. bill

    Tom, can you direct us to an official determination of the circumstances of Lance David’s death? Absent that, your characterization of the crash, implying the truck driver was at fault, is misleading and perjorative. Indications are Mr David failed to see the flatbed trailer while he was making a left turn without having right of way.

    Northbound cyclist behavior in this portion of E Marginal has always been frightening to watch.

  2. Don Brubeck

    It does not matter who was “at fault” in Lance David’s death. What matters is that he died because the conditions were not safe. We need streets that are forgiving of mistakes, whether made by bike riders or truck drivers. The street is built on mucky fill, always sinking and creating new giant puddles, crossed at angles by abandoned railroad tracks. It needs a total rebuild including the storm sewers and the roadbed. It’s been a long haul to get to this point, and it is a time to celebrate. It has required cooperation by people biking, driving trucks, running freight trains, and operating port terminals and industries to get here. SDOT, Port of Seattle, BNSF, the Bicycle and Freight Advisory Boards, and advocates including our West Seattle Bike Connections Group had to recognize each others needs, support each other, agree on solutions, and work together to successfully win the federal, state and local funding needed to improve this essential freight corridor that is also the essential bike connection from West Seattle to downtown.

    1. bill

      It does matter that blame is not placed or implied incorrectly. We don’t need to antagonize truck drivers or the freight board. We need to arrive at the best understanding of an incident, even if it is unflattering to the victim. The new cycletrack will be great, no doubt about it, far better than what we deal with now. But safe utilization will depend on cyclists making the crossings of Marginal safely, which to a large degree will depend on how responsive the signals are to cyclists and cyclists’ willingness to trade a few seconds for safety.

  3. Rakib

    hellow
    Tom, can you direct us to an official determination of the

  4. Max B

    I hope they come to recoginze how vital Hanford is as a connection to Lander and the SODO light rail/bus corridor; these connecting streets need to be beefed up as well.

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