After more than three years of work, the $164 million Spokane Street Viaduct project is finished at last.
The Seattle Department of Transportation and Mayor Mike McGinn plan a ceremony this morning below the structure, at the First Avenue South exit. About half the budget was funded by local taxes, and half through state and federal grants.
The new road deck is 41 feet wider, and now there are merge-exit lanes to Sodo, from both directions. The last major piece, a ramp up from First Avenue South, was completed Aug. 31, followed by a final phase to repave lower Spokane Street and add sidewalks. Artists have painted the new columns, similar to how Sound Transit adorned its light-rail power poles in Rainier Valley.
This is mainly a safety project, to create wider lanes and shoulders. An abrupt right turn from westbound Spokane to northbound Fourth Avenue South was replaced by a smoother turn at First. And the old eastbound viaduct was anchored to the more solid westbound viaduct, to improve seismic strength.
The project was finished a couple months late because of a delay obtaining custom steel for an onramp, and some additions, such as repaving part of the East Marginal Way South truck route. The ramp delay meant some drivers were trapped by surface trains in Sodo during the “Viadoom” closure of Highway 99 last year. On the positive side, the city expects to wind up spending “several million” dollars less than $164 million, said Seattle DOT spokesman Rick Sheridan.
The elevated Spokane Street serves nearly 70,000 cars a day and eight transit bus lines, including the new crosstown Route 50. Generally speaking, a crosstown drive to I-5 isn’t any faster because of spillover freeway congestion, but bottlenecks are reduced from West Seattle down to Sodo.