Traffic is going to snarl our streets this weekend

Reddit Traffic MapRemember the traffic nightmare from the overturned fish truck on 99 this past Tuesday? All routes on the traffic maps were red. (See a Redditor’s map of Tuesday’s carmageddon to the right).

Same with last Friday’s NCAA tournament at Key Arena – red everywhere on the map around Queen Anne, SLU, and downtown. Well, get ready, here we go again.

Emerald City Comicon starts today and runs through the weekend. It’s a pretty big deal and draws 20,000 visitors each day to the Washington State Convention Center. There’s also a Professional Bull Riding event at Key Arena tonight (Friday) and tomorrow evening – 6,000 people attending each event.

For comparison, last week’s NCAA games drew 14,000 people per game and traffic was awful. Yet, somehow, the traffic overlords decided this weekend was a good weekend to have this slew of road closures:

March 27-March 30: Aurora Lane Closures between Valley & Highland
7pm Friday, March 27 to 5am Monday, March 30: northbound and southbound lane closures on Aurora between Valley and Highland

March 28-30: SR99 Viaduct closed for semi-annual inspection
10pm Friday, March 27 to 5am Monday: closed between the Battery St Tunnel and Valley St
Sunday, March 29: Closed between Spokane St and Battery St Tunnel

March 28-29: Fremont Bridge full closure
Midnight – 7am Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29, bridge will be closed to traffic. Pedestrians and bicycles will be allowed 5 minute long crossing periods at 1:20am and 2:20am.

March 27-30: Westbound I-90 Detour
11pm Friday to 5am Monday, all westbound I-90 traffic between Bellevue Way and Rainier Ave S will be routed to the express lanes.

Get ready, the traffic will spill over into the neighborhood, and we’ll all essentially be trapped for the weekend (unless you want to fight the traffic). Pack your patience, and watch out for drivers trying to find their way through our streets as they avoid road closures and traffic backups.

Fremont Bridge closed Friday and Saturday nights

If you’re heading home to Queen Anne from or via Fremont this weekend – or perhaps heading over the Fremont Bridge in the early morning hours for a run or bike ride – plan ahead.

As part of the Fremont Bridge Painting Project, SDOT will be closing the bridge completely to vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians on both Friday and Saturday nights.

The closures will run from 11:59pm each night until 7am the following morning. During the closures, crews will be repainting the portions of the bridge that cannot otherwise be reached with traffic. Cars, trucks, and buses will be detoured between midnight and 7am both nights.

Fremont Bridge testing starts today at 10am

Just in from SDOT, the Fremont Bridge will undergo annual maintenance today, Thursday, May 2nd, beginning at 10am. The bridge will be opening for 20 minute intervals this morning – no word from SDOT on when the maintenance check will be completed:
 

The Seattle Department of Transportation is conducting test openings of the Fremont Bridge this morning as part of the annual maintenance program. The openings will last approximately 20 minutes each time, starting at 10 a.m. Drivers may want to allow extra time for their trips or consider an alternate route to cross the ship canal.”

Final phase of Ship Canal Trail work to begin soon

After quite a long wait, construction on the final segment of the Ship Canal Trail (Phase 2, Contract 2 illustrated in purple below) is set to begin in early September and be completed by the end of the year, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation. This work would close up a long-time gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail and connect Redmond to downtown Seattle by almost entirely dedicated bike paths.

This comes as great news for Seattle bicycle commuters, who have been waiting for this project to conclude for over a decade. The first phase of work, which extended the paved bike path from the south shore of the Fremont Bridge to 6th Ave W was completed in 1996. The first half of Phase 2, extending the trail further to 11th Ave W, concluded over a year ago, in March of 2010. Before SDOT could move forward with the final phase of the project, however, a number of roadblocks had to be overcome, including the relocation of a private utility line and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. First a construction schedule had to be agreed upon with BNSF Railway. The rail line then had to install 1,600 feet of railroad track, pave the 13th Ave W and W Blewett Way intersection, and build three new railroad crossings on BNSF right-of-way before construction on the final stretch of the Ship Canal Trail could even begin.

* Photo courtesy of SDOT

SDOT says BNSF is expected to complete its railroad track realignment work this month, after which the city can extend the final leg of the trail, from 11th Ave W to Emerson Street near Fishermen’s Terminal, eliminating what it calls a “critical gap” in the city’s urban trails system.

Once Phase 2 is completely, the 3/4 mile of new trail will connect Redmond to Downtown Seattle by almost entirely dedicated bike paths, and complete the Queen Anne Bicycle Beltway, a cycling path that encircles Queen Anne hill (and is also part of the Queen Anne Neighborhood Plan). From SDOT:

The Ship Canal Trail will connect the Elliott Bay Trail and the Interbay and Magnolia neighborhoods to bicycle routes at the Fremont Bridge, including the Interurban route on Fremont Avenue North, the Burke-Gilman Trail, and the Dexter Avenue route, and will make bike riding in the south canal area more comfortable for all levels of bicyclists.

Construction of the trail is funded through the city’s Bridging the Gap Levy, a 9-year, $365 million campaign to propel the city’s transportation effort forward through maintenance and improvement.

For more information on this project contact LeAnne Nelson at (206) 684-3897 or visit the the project website.

Boats, volunteers needed for Ship Canal Clean-up

Organizers of the fifteenth annual Ship Canal Clean-Up are looking for volunteers with boats. The spring cleaning runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21st and volunteers will clean the Ship Canal from the Locks to the Fremont Bridge.

The event “brings together members of our maritime community to improve our working waterfront, act on our commitment to a healthy marine environment and have fun,” the press release states, and everyone with a concern for the marine environment is invited to participate.

Meet at Dock 10 of Fishermen’s Terminal (near the West Wall) for special instructions and a launch.

From Dock 10 we will get equipment, bags, grabbers, scoop nets and special instructions. Then all the kayaks, skiffs and other boats will fan out, retrieve debris from the water and shoreline and offload debris to dumpsters aboard mother ships, including several tug boats. Western Towboat’s tug Fearless will be among the mother ships.

After the big clean, volunteers will be treated to a seafood barbecue lunch.

Organizers are asking volunteers to please register in advance so they have enough food and supplies. To volunteer or for more information email Lise Kenworthy (LiseKenworthy@comcast.net.)

Ballard Bridge lane closures Sunday for filming

A warning to weekend commuters: a commercial being filmed on the Ballard Bridge this Sunday, March 27 from 6 to 10 a.m. will block the southbound lanes of the bridge for most of the morning.

“We will have the right southbound lane blocked up to the draw span and will be opening and closing the bridge several times during the shoot,” says location manager Doug du Mas. “Traffic across the bridge will be controlled by Seattle Police and people should expect delays. I suggest using the Fremont Bridge instead during these hours.”

Saturday morning: Heroes Half Marathon

As of 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, Saturday, May 22 – if not earlier – Fremont and the north and east sides of Queen Anne are going to be very busy, with runners and walkers pounding the pavement from Gas Works Park to the Ship Canal trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail and the trail around Lake Union for a scenic route, finishing The Heroes Half Marathon at the place they began: Gas Works Park.

The inaugural event, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, aims to make a difference in the lives of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The course crosses Fremont Bridge and University Bridge, and works its way down the Ship Canal side of Queen Anne to 13th Ave W, where it turns around and hugs the east side of Lake Union. Water way traffic receives priority. With agreement from the Port Authority, the Fremont bridge will not be raised between 7:10 – 7:30 a.m. In the event that the University bridge is raised, arrival and departure time will be recorded and deducted from overall time.

The right lanes of North Northlake Way and N. 34th Ave. will be closed to traffic until all runners/walkers have reached the Fremont Bridge.

There will be aid stations about every 2 miles.

The 10K course follows a counter clockwise directions, on sidewalks and paved trails. The course will be well marked, with aid stations at the 2 mile and 4 miles. The course will have bike monitors.

Kids also can have fun at this event:
The Kid’s Fun Run start time is 11:00am. The course will be well marked and each child will receive a special medallion as they cross the finish line. The Tiny Tot Run (3 – 8 years old) is 200 yards (parents you may run with your child) and is flat with no hills. Kids 8-14-years-old can do Sprinter Kids: 0.4 mile, up Gas Works hill and down the other side (parents may cheer but may not run with child).

Pick up race packets and registration tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gas Works Park, or tomorrow from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., also at Gas Works Park.

Henry transforms house on Nickerson into mural

Local painter Ryan Henry Ward has left the mark of his trade all around Seattle, literally. Using a style that combines chalk, oil and acrylic paints, Ward is most well known for his bright and whimsical murals that can be seen on abandoned walls and on the sides of homes and businesses around town–you’ll know it’s him by “Henry” stamp painted into the picture.

The side of a house along Nickerson just before the Fremont Bridge has long been a site of Ward’s work, but recently the artist was commissioned to “muralize” the rest of the house, a project finished just earlier this week. The largest part of the new mural showcases a giant goldfish over the east side of the house–a picture that seems to be framed for commuters looking for an entertaining pastime while waiting for the bridge to go down!

Check out more photos of Ward’s work here. Many of Ward’s murals are in our sister neighborhoods, like Ballard, Fremont and Phinney Ridge. Henry works have also been commissioned in less obvious places, like inside local schools and on the walls of neighborhood businesses. Keep your eyes peeled! I personally like to play a little game I call spot the “Henry” while driving around town.