The contractor working for the Seattle Department of Transportation to paint the Ballard Bridge now expects to end the northbound lane closure by the end of next week. The full use of both lanes will greatly help the flow of traffic along this corridor. Frequent bridge openings, which allow marine traffic to pass through, coupled with the lane closure have caused some traffic back-ups near the structure.
“When there are two or three bridge openings in one hour, the flow of traffic does not fully recover between openings, causing much longer backups,” explained SDOT Project Manager Ron Scharf. “The completion of this important maintenance work on the northbound side should resolve the current traffic issues.”
The lane closure is required for the contractor’s access to bring in materials and equipment. “While at times it may look like no one is working on the bridge,” Scharf explains, “the crews are in fact working, but they are out of sight, painting under the bridge.”
The daily schedule has been shortened by a half hour so the lane can be reopened before the afternoon commute period; the crews are now working from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. instead of until 3 p.m.
The sidewalk on the east side of the bridge will remain closed until the end of January. When the crews shift to work on the west side of the bridge, now anticipated in February, they will close one southbound lane and the workday schedule will change to accommodate the morning commute period. Traffic backups in the southbound direction are expected during this work.
When traffic backs up at the Ballard Bridge, traffic also increases on the Fremont Bridge as drivers seek an alternate route. Depending on where their trips start and end, some drivers may want to consider using the Aurora Bridge, the University Bridge or I-5. Some travelers might also consider trying public transit, carpooling, biking or walking. In any case, drivers may want to allow more time in case a backup occurs.
Last year, SDOT painted the Ballard Bridge approaches (the raised roadways at each end of the bridge). This year SDOT is painting the bascule part of the bridge, which is the portion of the bridge that opens and closes for marine traffic. SDOT’s annual bridge painting program provides for the periodic painting of each of the city’s 20 structural steel bridges. The painting helps protect the steel surfaces on the bridges from corrosion and other weather deterioration. “Bridges cost millions of dollars to build,” stated Ron Scharf, “so we should do whatever maintenance we can to prolong their useful lives.”
For more information or to sign up for the project updates, visit the project website at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bridgepainting_current.htm.
Media contact: Marybeth Turner, (206) 685-8548