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The I-5 Ship Canal Bridge noise reduction test project officially marked its first anniversary earlier this month and the results haven't been as dramatic as had been hoped.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is testing the ability of fabric panels to dampen the reflected noise from the I-5 express lanes. The panels were hung under the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge on a 500-foot test section at the south end of structure, between E. Allison St. And E. Gwinn Place. It was hoped that the panels would provide noticeable and measurable levels of noise reduction for nearby residents.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. The latest readings were similar to the previous three, showing a drop of one to three decibels in noise in the test area. The goal was a four to five decibel reduction. In a press release, WSDOT says its acoustic engineers "have seen a small decrease in noise, but it hasn't varied much from season to season."
The press release says the WSDOT is learning more about "the kind of noise that travels and which kind of noisy noise is most frustrating to local residents." The WSDOT engineers are analyzing the pitch of the reflected noise, its direction and how it bounces to see if the panels can be moved to make them more effective.
The press release notes:
Unfortunately, there isn't much money left in the project's budget, so the WSDOT says we probably won't be seeing big changes soon. Sound tests will continue until 2013 when a final report on the project will be issued.
The lastest rest results from the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge noise panel study are in and they show little change from the February results. And that's not good.
It was hoped that the panels, which were installed on the underside of the southern end of the Ship Canal Bridge, would reduce reflected noise from the express lanes by four to five decibels. Instead, reductions of one to three decibels have been recorded. The 500-foot test section is located along Harvard E. and E. Allison.
Jim Laughlin, acoustics engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said in a WSDOT press release that "modeling and replicating noise is tricky. It’s difficult to isolate just one type of noise, in this case express lane noise, measure it and then develop panels to dampen it."
He noted that it's possible the test is reducing express lane noise, but that other traffic noise is so loud that it gets in the way of measuring the reduction.
According to the WSDOT press release, neighbors more than a block...
SUNDAY UPDATE: The state DOT reports the I-5 ramps at Mercer reopened Sunday evening at 7.
Original post: Two traffic situations to take note of this weekend if you live in Eastlake:
Husky Football on Saturday: The Huskies will be playing Hawaii at Husky Stadium starting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Expect traffic in Montlake and around the stadium to be snarled from late morning to late afternoon. Metro advises that bus routes 44, 65, 68, 75 and 271 will be rerouted around the stadium starting at 10 a.m. until traffic clears up after the game. You can get more information on the Metro routes at the bus alert page.
I-5 ramps closed at Mercer: The I-5 on-ramps at Mercer Street are closed until 5 a.m. Monday as work continues on the Mercer Corridor Project. Fairview is closed between Mercer and Valley streets and Mercer is closed between Westlake and Fairview. Metro bus routes that normally go down Fairview will be rerouted onto Eastlake Avenue. Get more information on the closure and detour routes at the...
Eastlake residents needing to get downtown this weekend should be aware that the I-5 ramps at Mercer will close at 11 p.m. Friday and reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday. The closure is part of the ongoing work on the Mercer Corridor project.
Fairview Avenue N. will be closed as well between Mercer and Valley streets. Mercer will be closed to traffic between Westlake and Fairview Avenue N.
Metro bus routes 70, 71, 72, 73 and 83 will be rerouted off of Fairview during the closure and onto Eastlake Avenue.
More information on the project, as well as detour maps, can be found on the Seattle Department of Transportation's website.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: The I-5 ramps at Mercer and 520 bridge have both reopened to traffic. The next ramp closures will be July 22-25 and 520 will be closed again on Aug. 26-29.
Two weekend road closures are having an impact on Eastlake this weekend. The closures are expected to cause more than the usual congestion on I-5 and I-90 at midday on Saturday and Sunday:
I-5 Mercer Street ramps: The Ramps getting on to I-5 at Mercer are closed again as work continues on the project to untangle the Mercer Mess. The ramps will be closed until 5 a.m. Monday.
During the closure, Mercer is shut to traffic from Westlake to Fairview and Fairview is closed between Mercer and Valley. The I-5 on-ramp at University is also closed to improve traffic flow during the closure. Detour routes will be marked and police will be directing traffic at some intersections.
If you're riding Metro to or from downtown, be aware that all routes are moved off of Fairview and on to Eastlake during the closure.
MONDAY UPDATE: The WSDOT reports that the I-5 ramps at Mercer reopened at 5 a.m. Monday as planned.
ORIGINAL POST: Eastlake residents may find their path getting into and out of the neighborhood complicated by several events this weekend:
I-5 ramp closures at Mercer: The latest round of I-5 ramp closures at Mercer will run from Friday (June 17) at 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday morning (June 20). The closures are part of the ongoing work on the Mercer Corridor Project.
If you're trying to get from Eastlake to downtown during the closure, you need to know that Fairview Avenue N. will be closed between Mercer and Valley streets. Mercer will be closed from Westlake to Fairview. You can find maps of detour routes at the Seattle Department of Transportation's website. There will be signage marking alternate routes and police officers directing traffic at key intersections.
While the ramps are closed, Metro will reroute buses off Fairview and onto Eastlake through the Cascade neighborhood. The Metro reroutes...
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: SDOT reports that the I-5 ramps at Mercer reopened at 5 a.m. Monday morning. The next scheduled closure of the ramps is June 17-20.
UPDATE: This post has been changed since it was first edited. Details of Metro bus rerouting have been confirmed.
Here comes the weekend and with it two street closures that will impact travel from Eastlake to other parts of town:
I-5 ramps at Mercer: The ramps will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. on Monday as work continues on the Mercer Corridor Project. Mercer will be closed from Westlake to Fairview, including access from Mercer to southbound Fairview that had been kept open during previous closures. Fairview will be closed for several blocks in the vicinity of Mercer.
Metro will be rerouting buses off Fairview and onto Eastlake for the duration of the closure. During the closure, Linda Thielke at Metro says that the reroutes would go until 5 a.m. Monday morning even if the ramps reopen early.
You can find out more about the project, including maps on alternate routes for this weekend, at the Mercer Corridor Project's website. The next closure is June 17-20.
University District Street Fair: The annual street fair is on in the University District this weekend. University Way will be closed between N.E. 50th and N.E. Campus Parkway on both Saturday and Sunday. Side streets on that route will also be closed. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Brace yourselves for another weekend of I-5 ramp closures at Mercer Street.
The closures are to allow work on the Mercer Corridor Project that will, once it's complete, untangle the decades-old Mercer Mess.
The ramps will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday (May 6) through 5 a.m. Monday (May 9). The ramps opened 36 hours early during a similar closure last month, so keep your fingers crossed.
The closures affect not just the ramps but also a stretch of Fairview where it approaches and crosses Mercer.
During last month's closure Metro redirected Routes 70, 71, 72, 73 and 83 off of Fairview and onto Eastlake Ave. E. between Mercer and Galer northbound and between Galer and Thomas southbound. I haven't received officlal word of their plans this weekend but presumably will be something similar. Buses will only stop at posted stops on Eastlake Ave. E. For more information on Metro service go to www.kingcounty.gov/metro or call 206-553-5000.
The Seattle Department of Transportation says they have...
UPDATE at 10:15 p.m.: The SDOT reports that the Mercer Street I-5 ramps reopened just before 10 p.m. Saturday. The Seattle Times has more here.
The Seattle Department of Transportation says in an email that the Mercer I-5 on- and off-ramps will reopen on Sunday at 5 a.m. instead of Monday morning as originally planned. The northbound I-5 on-ramp at University Street and Fairview Avenue N. will also reopen then.
Crews finished saw-cutting of pavement at Fairview and Mercer early for future utility installations, the email says, "as well as surveying the ramps in preparation for re-alignment with future westbound lanes of Mercer Street."
There are numerous police on duty in South Lake Union this evening, directing traffic around the closed ramps. Traffic was heavier than usual on cross streets in South Lake Union earlier today. Things seem to be moving fairly well despite the closures.
Here's a quick video showing what the Mercer on-ramps look like this while they are closed for construction. They are empty, empty, empty. The ramps will reopen at 1 a.m. Monday morning.
The first big effect of the Mercer Mess untangling project will be felt this weekend with the closure of the Mercer Street I-5 on-ramps.
The closure will begin at 1 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, and end at 1 a.m. Monday, April 18. During the closure period, Fairview Ave. N. will be totally closed between Mercer and Fairview and partially closed between Mercer and Republican.
What will the closure mean for Eastlake residents trying to get to downtown or onto I-5 at Mercer? Here's how to get around and avoid the closures:
Metro will be redirecting Routes 70, 71, 72, 73 and 83 off of Fairview and onto Eastlake Ave. E. between Mercer and Galer northbound and between Galer and Thomas southbound. Buses will only stop at posted stops on Eastlake Ave. E. For more information on Metro service go to www.kingcounty.gov/metro or call 206-553-5000.
The city's Department of Transportation has links to maps of alternate routes for drivers, bikers and pedestrians on its closure web page.
Similar closures will happen...
UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. A link to the WSDOT results has been added.
The latest results from the I-5 Ship Canal noise panel test are in and they don't look much different from the first test which found a reduction in traffic noise but not as much as expected.
Results for the February tests, according to an e-mail from the Washington State Department of Transportation, show "virtually no change from the first round of post-construction readings in October, 2010, but some measurable decrease compared to pre-construction in April 2010 when there were no panels at all."
You can see maps and a table of the February results here.
The October readings found the panels were reducing noise as expected in only about a third of the locations monitored. In two-thirds of the locations the results were less than expected with reductions of zero to three decibels. The goal was a four to five decibel reduction. Humans can detect a three decibel drop in noise.
The February results again show reductions of zero to three decibels. In two locations along Harvard Avenue E. readings actually went up one decibel from the pre-construction levels. The WSDOT website says these results are "not unexpected."
Noise was sampled at 18 locations around the southern end of the Ship Canal Bridge.
The $5.9 million study began in 2005. The Washington State Department of Transportation is testing what effect large flexible panels hung under the top deck of the Ship Canal Bridge would have on reflected traffic noise. The project is also testing how durable the panels would be.
The WSDOT will make two more tests this year and then do an annual test in 2012. The Legislature allocated money from the 2005 gas tax for this project to "learn more about how reflected noise behaves in a complex urban environment and in double-decked structures," according to the WSDOT's e-mail.
The state Department of Transportation made its second set of measurements of the effectiveness of the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge noise reduction test panels on Thursday, Feb. 10.
The test program saw fiberglass noise reduction panels suspended beneath the southern end of the upper deck of the Ship Canal Bridge. The hope is that the panels would reduce the amount of reflected noise that comes off the lower deck and spills over into adjacent neighborhoods.
When noise levels were first tested at 18 locations last fall, the results weren't as encouraging as hoped for. According to a WSDOT press release in late October, "the panels are working as well as predicted in about a third of the locations, but not as well as predicted in about two-thirds of the locations."
Engineers had hoped to see a three to five decibel reduction in noise levels in the neighborhood along Harvard and E. Allison. Instead, levels were only down about two decibels. A WSDOT press release says: "This second round will give noise experts two data points to more accurately compare noise levels."
Data on this second round of tests will be posted to the project's web page by Feb. 25. The test project will last three years, after which the WSDOT will determine if it would be effective to deploy more of the panels on the bridge.
To see an Eastlake Ave. video on the project, go to our previous post.
The first results are in since 700 test noise reduction panels were installed on south end of the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge and they show noise is down in some areas but not a majority.
The $7 million study began in 2005. The Washington State Department of Transportation is testing what effect large flexible panels hung under the top deck of the Ship Canal Bridge would have on reflected traffic noise. The project is also testing how durable the panels would be.
According to a WDOT e-mail, acoustic tests were done at 18 locations on both sides of the project area: next to the panels, under the panels and two or three blocks away. Measurements were done at the same level as buildings and below freeway lanes.
Testers also spoke to neighbors about what effect they had noticed.
According to the WSDOT e-mail, "the panels are working as well as predicted in about a third of the locations, but not as well as predicted in about two-thirds of the locations."
The best reduction (down three decibels) was on the west side of the bridge just past where Franklin Ave. E. deadends. A two decibel reduction was noted, also on the west side. Readings that showed no noise reduction came mostly from the east side of the test area. You can see the readings and their locations on this WSDOT map.
According to the WSDOT project website, a three decibel change is "noticable" and a five decibel change is "considerably noticable." For comparison, typical conversation speech rates about 60 decibels.
Measurements are done at ear level (about 5 feet off the ground) and atmospheric conditions, time of day and traffic mix are noted. Readings will continue to be done each quarter for the next three years. A final report is expected in November 2013.
To see Eastlake Ave.'s video on the project, go to this previous post.
UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. A video of Monica and Jason's seaplane ride has been added.
If you live in Eastlake on the shores of Lake Union, you know that not only is the lake a recreational body of water, it's also an airport of sorts.
Kenmore Air flies numerous flights ever day from their base at the south end of the lake. Their seaplanes race up the lake and take off over the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge. And, of course, the planes also land here.
If you've ever wondered what the view of the lake and neighborhood looks like from Kenmore Air's planes, Eastlake resident Monica Guzman has a photo. Monica and her husband, Jason Preston, returned from a weekend away on a Kenmore Air flight this evening. As they landed on the lake, Monica snapped a photo.
Check her post at Intersect.com to see her stunning image taken over I-5 and the University Bridge. Cool!
UPDATE TUESDAY: Monica added a YouTube video of her flight:
The Washington State Department of Transportation announced this morning that installation of test noise-reduction panels on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge will begin on Wednesday.
We first wrote about the test project a year ago. The WSDOT will install noise-absorbing panels on the underside of the upper deck of the Ship Canal Bridge to see if they reduce reflected traffic noise and how will they hold up. The test project will run for three years.
The Seattle Times reports on this morning's WSDOT press briefing. Installation of the panels will take several months, the Times reports:
If the test section proves successful, the WSDOT will seek funding from the State Legislature to hang the panels on the rest of the Ship Canal Bridge.
The Times says that single lanes on the I-5 express lanes will be closed during the day during installation. Parts of sidewalks under I-5 between E. Allison and E. Gwinn will also be closed.
Read more of the Times' story here.
WSDOT has photos from this morning's event on it's Flickr page.
Our video from last summer's community information meeting on the project is here:
UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. A reader submitted photos of the accident has been added.
A driver who missed the turn from Boylston E. onto E. Roanoke around 5 p.m. Saturday plowed through the railing over I-5, leaving his car dangling over the freeway.
Fortunately, the car didn't fall onto the freeway. The car was later removed. At 6:30 p.m., two SDOT employees were standing watch at the damaged railing which had been marked with red caution tape.
The driver was apparently coming off I-5 southbound onto the Roanoke ramp. While turning east from Boylston onto Roanoke, he lost control, went up on the sidewalk and part way through the railing.
No word on the driver's condition.
The good news is: The tolls and years of construction hassles on the 520 expansion project will probably eliminate much of the traffic the bridge is being designed to accommodate.
But that's only if the project is ever actually built.
Representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Montlake community spoke to a public meeting in Eastlake on Wednesday about the 520 project, which has been in the planning stages for almost 12 years and which the state would like to have completed by 2016.
The debate over the project heated up this week with dueling press conferences between those who favor more transit options on the floating bridge (Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, state House Speaker Frank Chopp, several state representatives and at least one member of the city council) and those who want to proceed with a design chosen by state legislators last fall, now known as Option A+ (Eastside government representatives, five Seattle City Council members, representatives of labor unions).
At Wednesday's Eastlake meeting, Daniel Babuca, an engineering manager with WSDOT, and Michael Horntvedt, a WSDOT engineer, explained the three options a state legislative work group selected from last November.
The legislators selected Option A (with sub options), which would construct a new six-lane floating bridge across Lake Washington to replace the current four-lane structure. There would be three lanes in each direction with one of those lanes reserved for transit and carpools. There would be a new seven-lane viaduct crossing Portage Bay and lids over I-5 and Roanoke, 520 between 10th E. and Delmar Drive, and in the Montlake area.
Also included would be a new drawbridge at Montlake, different and limited access to Lake Washington Blvd., and direct access lanes to the freeway for transit. All three options include a 14-foot-wide bike path across the lake.
Horntvedt said that WSDOT looks at what effect the project will have versus not building it. WSDOT's numbers show:
Babuca said the connections between 520 and I-5 will remain pretty much as they are now. The big difference is that there will be direct connections for carpools and transit to the I-5 express lanes. Another difference will be the lids that, Babuca said, will help to reconnect communities severed by the freeways. The lids will be mainly passive use (no playfields, Babuca said), with trails and landscaping.
Right now, the state is taking comments on the projects supplemental draft environmental impact statement. WSDOT will hold a public hearing and open house on the project from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Naval Reserve Building at Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave. N.
Ted Lane and Jonathan Dubman from the Montlake community spoke about what they see as WSDOT's misguided approach to the expansion project. They support the mayor and others who want to see the HOV lanes on the bridge dedicated exclusively for transit (possibly light rail). They'd like to see the project designed so as to control how many cars come into Seattle each day. They'd like to see better connections between the bridge and transit options on the Seattle side.
In general, said Lane, they just think the 520 expansion is too much. "The project that came out was too big, too wide and insufficiently friendly to transit," Lane said.
Lane said the Montlake community was surprised at how wide the shoulders are (and fears they could be restriped into two additonal lanes), how tall the floating bridge is (40 feet from the water to the top of the structure), how big the Portage Bay viaduct is, and how far transit riders would have to walk to get from stops near the Montlake end of the bridge to a transit hub at the University of Washington (1,200 to 1,400 feet).
Lane said Montlake wants an option that's "in scale and context sensitive to the urban environment."
Dubman said that the project has dragged on so long that the world has changed. Gas is more expensive and people want more transit options than when the project began. The bridge and Seattle approaches need to reflect those changes, he said.
Those opposed to Option A+ have started a web site, sustainable520.org , to present their arguments.
One problem the project faces no matter which option is chosen is a shortage of money. The state pegs the total cost at $4.53-4.63 billion dollars and they're still about $2 billlion short. The floating bridge is funded but the Seattle end of the project isn't. Tolls on the current bridge (possibly $3.65 each way) are expected to begin next year but they won't be able to make up the funding gap.
Lane noted that the current bridge was done on the cheap and that we shouldn't make that mistake again.
WSDOT's Web site on the project has detailed maps, lots of background material on the project and the various design options, and a place to comment on the supplemental draft EIS (you have until March 8).
A video flyover of Option A is available on YouTube:
UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. A link to Seattle Transit Blog has been added.
Two meetings are taking place this month (one this week on Wednesday, one later) that focus on the impact I-5 and 520 have on Eastlake:
The state Department of Transportation is warning of lane closures this weekend on two bridges close to Eastlake: the I-5 Ship Canal and Montlake bridges.
The Washington State Department of Transportation had two informational meetings in Eastlake last week to explain a study they are undertaking to reduce noise on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge. Watch the video to see (and hear) more about the study.
See our previous post on the Ship Canal Bridge Noise Study here .
Officer Mark Wong of the Seattle Police Department reports that he has heard from the State Patrol about when three I-5 ramps (Roanoke exit, Boylston entrance and Mercer exit) will close on July 4. The State Patrol says the ramps will close by 9:30 p.m. and should be open as soon after the fireworks show (which begins at 10) as possible.
At a June 8 meeting sponsored by the Eastlake Community Council, Officer Wong said the opening of the ramps usually begins with Mercer and ends with Roanoke. If you have guests arriving via I-5 for the fireworks, they should get here before 9:30 p.m. At the meeting, Officer Wong and Lt. Deanna Nollette (she's in charge of police coverage for Eastlake on the Fourth) said ideally guests should arrive by 6:30-7 p.m.
For more on the SPD plans for the Fourth, see our post from June 8.
If you've ever walked underneath the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge, you know how loud the traffic noise coming from the freeway can be. And, you also know that when you're directly under the bridge, there's less noise than there is off to the sides where people live.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is about to undertake a multi-year study of possible methods of dampening the sound that booms and bounces off the freeway. And they will be having two information sessions next week where Eastlake residents can learn more about the project, both at the Pocock Rowing Center, 3320 Fuhrman Ave. E.:
The WSDOT was directed by the state Legislature in 2005 to study I-5 noise in neighborhoods surrounding the bridge. The study zone goes from E. Hamlin Street in the south to N.E. 43rd St. in the north.
From the WSDOT announcement of the information sessions:
More finishing work on the noise wall project, says the State Department of Transportation. Here's their press release: