Rice Plans To Close Ramp Where Two Died

Mayor Norm Rice today announced steps to improve safety on, and eventually replace, the South Spokane Street Viaduct where a 23-year-old mother and her 7-year-old son were fatally hurt last week.

Rice said that beginning Monday:

-- The city will close the westbound on-ramp from Fourth Avenue South to the viaduct where Dawn Elise Tabor and her son, Quinten Hazelwood, were fatally injured June 9 when their vehicle was forced across the center line by a truck yielding to another truck entering from the on-ramp.

-- Police will institute an intensive speed-enforcement effort.

-- Traffic engineers will begin analyzing a variety of additional safety options, ranging from closing additional ramps and adding speed signs to putting in center barriers.

The mayor said the city will seek more than $100 million in federal highway money and seek to begin construction on a new viaduct by 1997, with completion by the end of 1999.

Rice said the city was saddened by the deaths of mother and son on the 48-year-old viaduct that connects the freeway to the West Seattle Bridge.

The accident was one of 10 resulting in fatalities on that road in the past six years.

Most of the viaduct is posted for 35 mph. The mayor said forcing drivers to obey the speed limit will add only about 15 seconds to any trip.

Rice reminded motorists that there are stiff fines for violators - $76 if you are clocked going 45 to 50 in a 35-mph zone,

$114 for exceeding 50 mph and $47 for following too closely.

The mayor said the city had applied for a $350,000 federal grant to help plan a new viaduct and consider other options before the latest fatalities, and is seeking a second federal grant of $700,000 to improve surface streets beneath the structure.

City Councilwoman Martha Choe, head of the council's transportation committee, said the Port of Seattle and the Washington State Truckers Association supported the closure.