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Massive 85th Street repaving project begins in about 2 weeks

More than 100 people attended a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) open house Monday night on the massive $12 million repaving project along 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue North that begins in just a few weeks.

85th Street will be repaved from Interstate 5 to 15th Avenue NW in Ballard. 85th Street also will receive transit improvements, improved stormwater systems, new sidewalks in some places, and bicycle “sharrows” in a 15-block stretch.

Greenwood Avenue North also will be repaved from North 85th Street to North 73rd Street, and the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and North 80th Street will be completely reconstructed.

SDOT folks said that neighbors started arriving at last night’s open house a full half-hour before the official 5 p.m. start time for the three-hour event. SDOT Project Manager Jessica Murphy said most people had very specific questions for the SDOT team, such as when their street or driveway might be closed off for construction, or how cars would be rerouted from 85th Street onto 80th Street.

Murphy said SDOT has given the contractor a Notice to Proceed date of Monday, Oct. 10. That means the contractor can’t start before that, but may not begin work until sometime later that week, depending on last-minute details.

SDOT estimates that 40,000 vehicles a day travel along 85th Street between I-5 and 15th Avenue NW, leading to a lot of wear-and-tear. The city’s Pothole Rangers have filled more than 325 potholes on that road in the last year.

85th Street near Greenwood Avenue North is an extremely busy stretch of road.

Murphy said virtually no one disagrees with the need for the repaving, although the planned full year of construction will bring major headaches for many.

While everyone we’ve spoken to says “it’s about time” in regards to the repaving, not everyone is happy with all the details. For example, SDOT will paint “sharrows” on the outer lanes of 85th Street between Greenwood Avenue North and 15th Avenue NW, meaning cars and bikes must share those outside lanes. Rob Fellows, a member of the Greenwood Community Council, told me at the open house that it’s a bad idea for bikes and cars to mix on such a congested street.

“It’s important to be careful to put (sharrows) in places where it’ll improve safety,” Fellows said. “I’m not sure this is one of them.”

SDOT has already begun signal work at the intersection of North 80th Street and Greenwood Avenue North, in preparation for a rebuilding of that intersection. And Seattle Public Utilities crews have already been working on some utility connections over the last few weeks.

The 80th and Greenwood intersection will be the first work to start. Partial lane closures and sidewalk closures will happen during the week, and the entire intersection will need to be closed for one or two weekends. Murphy said those dates haven’t been set yet.

The intersection of North 80th Street and Greenwood Avenue North will be textured, adding to pedestrian safety.

The work will happen in five phases:

  • 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 plans to send out weekly email updates to everyone on its project email list, and will call and pass out flyers to businesses affected by driveway closures. And Murphy will provide regular updates to PhinneyWood, which we will post, tweet and Facebook to keep everyone in this project area informed.

You can read SDOT’s Project FAQ’s here,  Neighborhood Traffic FAQ’s here, and see a list of construction happening in each phase here.

To sign up for email updates, send an emailto: pave_85th@seattle.gov. And you can call the 24-hour project line at 206-496-9993.

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