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Get ready for major construction on 85th Street and Greenwood Avenues starting this fall

Businesses and residents along 85th Street from Green Lake to Greenwood and Ballard will have some major disruptions to deal with beginning this fall, when the Seattle Department of Transportation begins a yearlong project to repave 85th Street all the way from Interstate 5 to 15th Avenue NW.

Traffic will be severely impacted along 85th Street during a yearlong paving project.

But, in the end, that street will not only be easier to drive on, there will be new curb ramps, bus stop improvements, repaired sidewalks, new underground drainage and environmentally friendly storm water facilities.

Work is scheduled to begin in October and last about one year. The $12.5 million project is being paid for with funds from the 2006 Bridging the Gap Levy.

Another $2 million repaving project, along Greenwood Avenue North from North 85th Street to North 73rd Street, will happen at about the same time, in conjunction with the first two of the 85th Street project’s five phases. SDOT also will replace sidewalks on Greenwood Avenue North for about 100 feet north and south of the North 85th Street intersection.

“It’s the single largest paving project in the nine-year history of Bridging the Gap,” SDOT Project Manager Jessica Murphy explained to the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.

On 85th Street, SDOT will pour new concrete pavement in the curb lanes, where heavier traffic such as buses and trucks usually travel. The inside lanes in each direction will mostly be resurfaced with asphalt, with a few exceptions.

Three intersections along 85th Street will be completely rebuilt with all concrete because of heavy use: 8th Avenue NW, Greenwood Avenue North and Aurora Avenue North.

Murphy called the Greenwood Avenue resurfacing a “preservation project,” explaining that it’s much easier and cheaper to fix pavement now before it needs a complete re-do, like on 85th Street. However, the entire intersection at Greenwood Avenue North and North 80th Street will be rebuilt with concrete.

SDOT will upgrade curb ramps at all corners for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Storm water retention pipes will be installed on 85th Street to reduce peak flows, as well as storm water filtering devices to remove most of the sediment before it reaches the creeks.

Most areas will get repaired and improvement sidewalks, but SDOT will completely replace the sidewalks on 85th Street between Wallingford and Aurora avenues.

85th Street will be narrowed to one lane in each direction sometimes, and complete detours will be in place at other times.

“The construction impacts are going to be significant on 85th. Obviously every business that has a driveway on 85th will be impacted at some point several times,” Murphy said, adding that driveway closures would be limited to a few days here and there for each business.

SDOT has been conducting surveys of businesses along 85th.

“We try to support the businesses by trying to work within what their operational needs are,” she said.

SDOT is still finishing design work and figuring out all the details. A likely candidate for detours would be 80th Street. Murphy said the agency will conduct a full traffic signal analysis of detour routes so they can retime traffic lights for maximum efficiency.

While the project starts in October, SDOT will not put in place any detours until January, after the holiday shopping season.

Work on 85th Street will happen in five phases, starting at 15th Avenue NW and moving east.

  • Phase 1 – 15th Avenue NW to 8th Avenue NW
  • Phase 2 – 8th Avenue NW to Greenwood Avenue North
  • Phase 3 – Greenwood Avenue North to Aurora Avenue North
  • Phase 4 – Aurora Avenue North to Wallingford Avenue North
  • Phase 5 – Wallingford Avenue North to I-5.

SDOT hopes to finish the first two phases by spring of 2012. Work will primarily happen during the day, except work on the major intersections will happen at night on a 24-hour schedule.

“We’re really going to need the community’s help and support to get through it,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be a challenge for everyone.”

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