The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is asking drivers who commute to downtown Seattle to change their commutes during a full closure of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct that begins Friday. Once the closure begins, it is expected to last all day, every day for about two weeks.
Starting Friday, April 29, WSDOT will close SR 99 between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel to begin tunneling underneath the structure.
The viaduct carries an average 90,000 vehicles each day. Closing the structure will have a significant effect on both the morning and evening commutes across the region.
“We are asking commuters to do everything they can to change their commutes,” David Sowers, deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, said. “Drivers can expect heavy congestion throughout the day. In addition, we expect the morning and evening peak commutes will start earlier and last longer.”
Commute planning resources
WSDOT’s web page, 99closure.org, contains a wealth of tips, maps and other resources designed to help commuters modify their commute.
Some of these include:
- Alternatives to driving, like carpools and vanpools.
- Mass transit: The new Link light rail running to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington gives commuters more choices.
- Use the water taxi from West Seattle and Vashon Island.
- Work from home – even one day will help ease traffic congestion.
- Adjusting work schedules to commute off-peak.
- Biking or walking.
Here are some of the ways WSDOT and its partner agencies are working to help alleviate traffic:
- Real-time traffic monitoring: WSDOT and SDOT will actively monitor highway and street traffic, adjust signal timing and update electronic message boards
- Additional WSDOT Incident Response Teams: Especially on I-5 during peak commute hours to assist with accidents and vehicle breakdowns
- Police traffic control: Seattle Police Department officers will provide manual intersection control at key choke-point intersections and ferry dock entrances.
- More buses and additional stops: King County Metro is rerouting 12 routes and deploying 22 standby buses to help maintain schedules. New temporary stops have been created near the Link SODO Station to help commuters transfer between buses and trains south of downtown.
- More water taxi capacity: King County Water Taxi will add five extra round trips to its Vashon route and will provide additional parking and connector shuttle capacity for West Seattle route passengers.
- Information sharing Agencies are working together, sharing information and making any changes, with an operational plan designed to help keep traffic moving and help drivers make informed travel choices.