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The Washington State Department of Transportation says that maintenance work on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge will continue this weekend.
Two of the northbound lanes will close at 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and reopen at 9 a.m. each day. Two lanes will remain open at all times.
The big noise begins at 4 a.m., WSDOT says. If you'd like earplugs, contact Mike Murphy at 206-440-4699. You can find current construction information at the WSDOT website.
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:
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:
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:
The last part of the Boylston noise wall project is nearing completion.
State Department of Transportation crews have finished repaving Boylston at the southbound I-5 exit. According to the DOT, the ramp should be open by 8 p.m. this evening (Saturday) unless they open it earlier. Crews are currently reinstalling barriers.
Even more important, the barriers that blocked access to Boylston at Hamlin and Edgar have been removed. This will make it easier for residents in this part of Eastlake (of which I am one) to get to the freeway and Capitol Hill.
Tonight also brings the last weekend closure of the University Bridge, from midnight to 6 a.m. This closure is part of the ongoing painting project on the bridge.
The DOT has a slideshow of the noise wall construction project: