Contractors for the Washington State Department of Transportation sealed off the crossing at Royal Brougham Way South at 11:30 a.m. Monday, putting an end to a hazardous era in the city's major league sports.

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No longer do sports fans in Seattle cross the region’s busiest freight-train tracks to reach Seattle Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders FC games.

Contractors for the Washington State Department of Transportation sealed off the crossing at Royal Brougham Way South at 11:30 a.m. Monday, putting an end to a hazardous era in the city’s major-league sports.

From now on, pedestrians, cars and bicycles travel on a new two-lane overpass that rises from Brougham across the north-south trackway, then spirals down to surface level at Fourth Avenue South.

“It’s a great relief to know that cars and pedestrians are no longer going to have to cross the railroad tracks,” said Howard Lincoln, chairman of the baseball team, at an opening ceremony.

At least four pedestrians have been hit by trains since the ballpark opened in 1999, including a fatality in 2005.

The overpass, finished just in time for the Mariners’ first home game Monday, is part of an $84 million Highway 519 project. The last phase will be done in about two weeks: a new left-turn exit from Interstate 90 onto Edgar Martinez Drive South, on the south side of the Safeco Field baseball stadium.

Contractor Kiewit Pacific is finishing about six weeks ahead of its contract schedule, and a year sooner than WSDOT predicted during the planning stage, said DOT project engineer David Sowers.

Kiewit is among bidders for nearby Highway 99 construction in both Sodo and for a billion-dollar bored tunnel; common sense suggests that its success on Highway 519 will be mentioned in Kiewit’s Highway 99 proposals, said Ron Paananen, Highway 99 project director.

The stadium-area project also includes a direct ramp into the second floor of the Qwest Field parking garage, a pedestrian plaza beneath the new roadway and bicycle racks to be installed soon.

Trains will probably continue to blast their horns until the temporary construction fence across Brougham is replaced by a permanent fence in a few weeks, said Susan Ranf, Mariners transportation director. After that, fans will still hear the horn blasts as trains enter King Street Station or cross South Holgate Street several blocks away, she said, but it won’t be as loud.

A crossing over the tracks has been discussed by government leaders since at least the early 1990s — one version dropped I-90 directly between the baseball and football stadiums. The final design, negotiated over many years, is a sort of compromise that give truckers direct access to the working waterfront from I-90, while keeping the new overpass road at a relatively low profile.

Baseball fans immediately found their way to the new spiral. “It’s a lot better than waiting for the traffic lights, waiting for the trains,” said Sean McMorrow, walking with his family toward their seats in left field. Before, he would grab his two young sons by the hand to keep them off the tracks, but on Monday, they ran up the extra-wide new sidewalks. “At least they get to burn off a little excitement before the game.”

Pedestrian-safety issues will only become more urgent, because of the new light-rail station two blocks east of Safeco Field, whose tracks will someday reach the suburbs in three directions.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com