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This project is funded in part by the nickel funding package.


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SR 519 - South Seattle Intermodal Access - Royal Brougham Way

Frequently Asked Questions

SR 519 in Seattle, known to most people as South Royal Brougham Way, is an important thoroughfare for cars, trucks and pedestrians in Seattle's South Downtown district. It connects I-90 and I-5 to the waterfront, including the Port of Seattle and the Washington State Ferry terminal. WSDOT is making improvements to separate car and truck traffic from rail traffic in the area. This will enhance safety and improve access to the waterfront.

What does this project include?

WSDOT will completion construction on the first phase of the project in late spring. This work is coordinated with planning efforts for the Alaskan Way Viaduct to ensure that improvements to both roads are compatible.

What was included in the first phase of the project?

Crews built a new ramp between Occidental and I-90, following the current alignment of South Atlantic Street. It takes truck, car and pedestrian traffic over railroad tracks near Safeco Field. This overpass, which opened to the public May 17, 2003, will enhance access between First Avenue South, Fourth Avenue South, I-90 and I-5.

The new South Atlantic Street ramp provides an alternative westbound traffic route for Royal Brougham Way, which is frequently stopped by train crossings.

What is included in the second phase of the project?

The second phase, which will focus on improving traffic and pedestrian flow at Royal Brougham, is still in the design phase. The Nickel Transportation Funding Package includes funding for this project. Construction on this project is expected to get underway in 2010.

What is the project schedule?

On May 17, 2003, the South Atlantic Street overpass opened to traffic. This allows traffic from southbound and northbound Fourth Avenue South to go westbound on the new South Atlantic Street overpass.

In October 2003 crews completed the new on-ramp to eastbound I-90 and both directions of I-5 and opened it to traffic. This is roughly 1/4 mile south of the current ramp.

In November 2003 crews demolished the former eastbound I-90 ramp.

By late spring 2004, the project will be complete. This project will link into a resurfacing project performed by the City of Seattle that improves traffic at key intersections and Alaskan Way.

How did WSDOT, the City of Seattle, and Balfour Beatty Construction keep traffic moving while construction was underway?

  • provided clearly marked detour routes
  • retimed signals
  • rerouted transit buses
  • encouraged the use of detour routes, carpooling, vanpooling and transit
  • expedited the work to finish as quickly as possible

What did WSDOT do to expedite the work?
There was an aggressive work schedule in place. The contract limited ramp-closing construction to 155 days:

  • The contractor was double-shifting this project to get it done early
  • There was intense planning for this project to cut down on the number of actual construction days
  • The contractor could earn a financial incentive of $30,000 for each day they finished the project ahead of schedule; they're penalized $30,000 for each day they're late

Who is involved in this project?
There are funding partners and project partners.

Funding partners include:
Port of Seattle
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad
Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board
Public Facilities District
City of Seattle
King County
Federal Government

Project partners include:
King County
City of Seattle
Public Facilities District
First and Goal
Public Stadium Authority
Seattle Mariners
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad

Did the partners have a say in how the project was developed?
Most definitely. WSDOT led the design process and received input from project partners and the public. WSDOT planned the design to blend in with the SODO neighborhood, Safeco Field, and the Seahawks Stadium.

Who benefits from this project?

How do pedestrians benefit?

While the primary focus has been on moving freight and vehicles, pedestrians get something out of this project as well. South Atlantic Street will gain wide walking corridors and easy access sidewalks. This newly created space is a safer alternative to crossing train tracks at ground level.

In addition, a new landscaped pedestrian plaza has been added. It is under the South Atlantic Street structure between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. Pedestrians can access this new plaza by a set of stairs on the north side of the overpass.

How does the Port of Seattle benefit?

By reducing railroad and freight conflicts, the Port of Seattle can move product from the port to market more quickly. The Port of Seattle is one of the busiest in the United States. According to the most recent statistics, $28 billion of goods moved through the port in 2001. Producers, buyers, importers and exporters depend on efficient, reliable movement of product.

How do ferry users benefit?

Ferry users leaving the Colman Dock have better access to I-90, speeding up their departure from the congested downtown area

How do sports fans benefit?
Think of this: a sold out Mariners game means 45,000 people. A sold out Seahawks game means 70,000 people. That's a lot of fans packed into one location. This project will streamline the way fans enter and exit the downtown area and the parking structures. While we recommend fans take public transportation to these events, those who choose to use their vehicles will encounter less congestion.

How do South Downtown (SODO) businesses benefit?
In the past, traffic congestion in the SODO business district has been intimidating. Intimidating traffic means fewer shoppers on an area with 2,000 businesses and 50, 000 employees.

How do Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Amtrak, and Sounder commuter rail benefit?
BNSF plans to accommodate growing freight traffic by not only increasing the number of trains through this area but also the number of tracks. Sound Transit plans to expand Sounder commuter rail service to Tacoma and Lakewood and to introduce service to Everett. The state plans to expand Amtrak Cascades service. This project to separate cars from trains will help accommodate a growing number of trains, which have the right-of-way. Improved safety is also extremely important to these organizations.

How do commuters benefit?
Commuters who wish to avoid rush hour train traffic will be able to use the South Atlantic Street overpass to cross over trains and avoid delays.

How does the state benefit?

Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the country with one in three jobs tied to trade. Apples from Wenatchee need to get to China. Lentils from Pullman need to get to the Middle East. Software from Redmond goes worldwide. Congestion-relieving projects like the SR 519 Intermodal Access Project will help assure that jobs remain in Washington State.

Is this project within budget?

Total cost for Phase 1 of this project is currently at $83.1 million. Overruns are estimated at $12.6 million more than the original budget. Cost overruns were due mostly to removal and disposal of unexpected, contaminated buried materials found during excavation.

What increased the costs?
WSDOT encountered some unpredictable challenges. The majority of the cost overruns come from the disposal of contaminated materials and unexpected objects found in the ground.

Construction of this project takes place on fill material in an industrial area, with a high water table affected by tidal action. Due to project constraints, the material couldn't be reused, resulting in both disposal costs as well as the cost of replacement material.
Examples of the various unexpected objects include old timber piles, large concrete foundations, abandoned utilities and underground oil tanks.

What did WSDOT do to control these costs?
Some of these costs were unpredictable. Dealing with underground construction is similar to finding unexpected surprises when remodeling your home. Efforts that have been taking place to mitigate construction costs include:

monitoring the costs on a monthly basis, and frequent evaluations of the cost-to-complete.
looking ahead. This process started before this contract was advertised and continues to this day to catch issues before they become costly problems.
ensuring that the project stays on track. This is to prevent incurring delay damages from the contractor when the State causes a project to extend beyond the working days allowed in a contract. These types of costs can run into the thousands of dollars per each day of delay.

Why did you take down a 14-year-old bridge?

Seventeen years ago, the Fourth Avenue South on and off-ramps were a good idea. They brought commuters to the south downtown area. However, in the years since the structure was built, we have seen explosive growth in the area and two brand new large capacity stadiums. In addition, rail traffic and truck traffic through the area has grown. The old ramp structure no longer accommodates our changing transportation needs.

How can I get more information?
For detailed information about this project contact:

Project Engineer Julia Mizuhata
WSDOT Project Construction Office
200 SW Michigan Street, Suite 103
Seattle, WA 98106-3906
Phone: 206.764.4105
E-mail: MizuhaJ@wsdot.wa.gov

Project Engineer Bruce Nebbitt
WSDOT Urban Corridors Office
401 2nd Ave. So. Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206.464.1363
Email: Nebbieb@wsdot.wa.gov

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