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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Travis Phelps, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, (cell) 206-462-0554, (Seattle)
Learn more about ongoing construction to replace the viaduct.
WSDOT asks travelers to take charge of their commute during historic nine-day closure
SEATTLE – Drivers and transit users have just 10 days to get ready for a nine-day closure of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct so crews can demolish the southern mile of the seismically vulnerable double-deck structure.
SR 99 will close for nine days from 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, through 5 a.m. Oct. 31. While crews are demolishing the viaduct and completing connections to new SR 99 lanes in SODO, drivers will face daily commutes without one of Seattle’s two crucial north-south freeways.
State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond asked drivers across the Puget Sound region to plan now to avoid regional gridlock as up to 110,000 daily drivers adjust where and when they travel during the closure.
“It’s time to demolish the southern mile of the viaduct, and that means significant congestion and delays across the region unless drivers plan ahead for this major closure,” Hammond said. “Fortunately, drivers have 10 days to make alternative plans during the closure.”
Hammond encouraged commuters and travelers to:
- Take the bus, train, or water taxi to work. Be sure to check if there are changes to your typical route during the viaduct closure and try an alternate route if necessary.
- Carpool and vanpool.
- Ride your bike to work.
- Talk to your employer about adjusting your schedule and/or work from home.
- Have a backup plan for picking up and dropping off children at daycare and after-school activities.
- If you must drive, get familiar with a route that does not include the viaduct.
“Whether they drive or take the bus or train, every traveler should make and practice a backup plan,” said Matt Preedy, Alaskan Way Viaduct deputy program administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “Every effort helps. You can help keep traffic moving even if you shift your commute just one day.”
WSDOT invested $125 million in roadway and transit improvements to reduce backups and delays recognizing that replacing the viaduct would require several major closures and lane reductions. The result is more transit service, improved alternate routes and new driver information tools.
Commuters also will benefit from measures developed in coordination with partner agencies. A few of these include:
- Four additional WSDOT incident response teams traveling on I-5 and the West Seattle Bridge.
- Restrictions on marine traffic openings of the lower Spokane Street swing bridge during the afternoon commute (3 and 6 p.m. Oct. 24-28) to keep traffic moving to and from West Seattle.
- Opening of WSDOT’s emergency operations center in Shoreline and daily coordination briefings with partner agencies.
- Daily traffic, transit and construction updates provided to media and published on WSDOT’s website.
Closure details at a glance
- Northbound SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and South Royal Brougham Way will be closed around the clock from 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, to 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31.
- Northbound SR 99 between the South Royal Brougham Way on-ramp and the Battery Street Tunnel will be open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and for special events at CenturyLink Field.
- Southbound SR 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge will be closed around-the-clock from 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, to 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31.
New SR 99 lanes open by 5 a.m. Oct. 31
During the closure, crews will complete connections to the new SR 99 lanes that will replace the viaduct between South King and South Holgate streets. Drivers will travel on an elevated roadway from South Holgate Street to the stadiums and then transition to a curved bypass that will connect to the viaduct using the rebuilt SODO ramps.
South of South King Street, SR 99 will have two lanes in each direction. North of South King Street, the viaduct will remain in its current configuration with three lanes in each direction.
The speed limit on the viaduct between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge will be reduced to 40 mph. The construction bypass will carry an advisory speed limit of 25 mph (pdf 751 KB).
Commute options for the nine-day SR 99 closure
Drivers are encouraged to leave their cars at home and take advantage of King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit and Community Transit bus service. While buses will face delays from increased congestion, riders can relax and avoid the stress of driving. Online trip planners on each of the agencies’ websites offer easy and convenient information about routes, bus stops and transfers between services. Please be aware that bus-tracking programs lose accuracy when buses are rerouted or significantly delayed, so your favorite smartphone apps may not be reliable during this time.
Sounder commuter rail and Link light rail
Sound Transit’s Sounder train and Link light rail are two congestion-free alternatives for drivers looking to leave cars at home during the nine-day closure. Sounder offers weekday service linking Seattle with stations in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett. Link operates 20 hours a day between downtown Seattle’s Westlake Station and Sea-Tac Airport, with stops in SODO, Beacon Hill, the Rainier Valley and Tukwila.
The King County Water Taxi is an option for those traveling from West Seattle and Vashon Island. There are frequent sailings on both routes during weekday commute times that can get commuters off congested roadways.
King County Metro Transit is offering promotions to commuters who share the ride during the nine-day closure. Commuters who form a new Metro vanpool can receive $77 – up to $231 per van. Those who carpool or ride in a van at least seven times in one month and track their progress at RideshareOnline.com will be entered into a drawing for $77 rewards cards. Get the details on the rewards promotion.
Solo drivers can find a carpool partner on RideshareOnline.com. The site’s ridematching tool securely matches people with registered co-workers or commuters who have a similar commute. Carpools and vanpools will face the same delays as other commuters, but sharing the ride will take more cars off the road and make travel conditions better for everyone.
Work from home
Drivers can avoid the congestion altogether by working from home or a satellite location, or compressing their work week. They should start talking to their employers now to make arrangements. Metro is offering free telework consultations.
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