WSDOT is reminding drivers and transit users that there are just seven days until the two week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct through downtown Seattle.
Starting Friday, April 29, the WSDOT will completely close the viaduct between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel (shown in above map) for 24 hours a day for two weeks.
This closure is expected to start prior to the morning commute and last approximately two weeks as the SR 99 tunneling machine Bertha digs underneath the roadway near Yesler Way.
According to WSDOT, roughly 90,000 vehicles use the viaduct each day and WSDOT expects this closure to have a significant effect on the region’s commute.
“When we closed the viaduct for nine days in 2011, we saw significant congestion on Seattle city streets and nearby highways,” said David Sowers, deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “We’ll do everything we can to ease congestion, but unfortunately there’s no way to close a major highway without disrupting traffic.”
WSDOT, the Seattle Department of Transportation, King County, the Port of Seattle and other agencies around Puget Sound are working together to help drivers and commuters plan for the closure and change their normal routines.
A website dedicated to the closure – 99closure.org – lists resources and ideas on ways to adjust commutes and work schedules.
“We understand this closure will be a major inconvenience for many drivers, but we need their help to keep traffic moving,” said Sowers. “We will all get through this together if everyone starts the planning process now and adjusts their commutes.”
WSDOT is working with partner agencies to provide standby buses, more real-time traffic monitoring, police officers at key intersections to keep traffic moving, additional water taxi capacity, additional response vehicles to clear accidents quickly and more.
For downtown commuters in our area, WSDOT is encouraging drivers to leave cars at home and to instead take the bus with King County Metro, or share a ride in a carpool, vanpool or van share. However, it is also important to keep in mind that buses are expected to be crowded during the closure.
WSDOT wants to also remind locals that alternative routes, especially I-5, are likely to be more congested during peak times and to plan for extra travel time accordingly.
According to WSDOT, the viaduct closure will allow for better monitoring of the structure and for quick repairs if any ground movement from tunneling should occur.