SEATTLE -- A nine-day closure of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct will mark the beginning of the end for Seattle’s double-deck highway.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will close the majority of the viaduct until 5 a.m., Monday, Oct. 31.
During the closure, crews will demolish large sections of the southern mile of the viaduct, and complete temporary connections to a new SR 99 bridge now under construction on the west side of the viaduct in SODO.
Northbound viaduct closure details
· Northbound SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and South Royal Brougham Way will be closed around-the-clock beginning at 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 open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and for special events at CenturyLink Field.
Southbound viaduct closure details
· Southbound SR 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge will be closed around-the-clock beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 to 5 a.m.
Monday, Oct. 31.
“In less than two months, we will close a chapter in the history of State Route 99 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “At the end of October, we will shift traffic to a safer structure and demolish half of the viaduct.”
The nine-day closure will also make history in another way, as the longest full closure of a Seattle-area highway. Approximately 110,000 vehicles use the viaduct each weekday.
“While we are excited to get traffic onto the new bridge, we also face a very serious challenge -- keeping traffic moving through downtown Seattle for nine days without the viaduct,” said Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct program administrator. “If drivers can change the way they commute for nine days in October, they will help us keep traffic moving.”
Drivers should consider alternatives to their normal commute, including:
· Carpooling, vanpooling riding the bus, water taxi, train or light rail.
· Working from home or adjusting work schedules.
· Checking traffic conditions before hitting the roads.
· Using alternate routes where possible.
· Delaying or combining trips.
“Taking advantage of transit service is the best way people can get to work and back as quickly as possible,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “In particular, Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter rail and Link light rail service offer congestion-free commuting.”
WSDOT, in partnership with King County Metro Transit and the city of Seattle, recognized the potential effects of traffic closures during viaduct replacement construction and invested $125 million in projects designed to keep traffic moving. These investments include:
· $50 million for Seattle’s Spokane Street Viaduct widening project, which added a route into downtown with its new eastbound off-ramp to Fourth Avenue South.
· Phase 2 of the SR 519 project – a new I-5/I-90 westbound off-ramp to South Atlantic Street/Edgar Martinez Drive South to improve access to the waterfront and Port of Seattle.
· $32 million to fund additional bus service with 41 new bus trips on key routes connecting downtown Seattle to West Seattle, White Center and Burien and strategies to encourage use of transit, carpools and vanpools.
· New electronic driver information signs on I-5, SR 99 and other major routes leading to downtown.
“Through infrastructure enhancements across Seattle, SDOT has been improving city roadways to be ready for longer term closures of the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” said Robert Powers, deputy director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). “While SDOT will work closely with the state to keep traffic moving during this nine-day closure, we need drivers to plan ahead and plan around the major traffic congestion that is expected.”
“Tens of thousands of families depend on jobs that depend on a strong transportation system to and from our waterfront,” said Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani. “This nine-day viaduct closure will certainly inconvenience lots of businesses and people, but it is also an important step toward building a system that works for freight, for commuters, for travelers – for everyone.”
A new highway with a twist
When SR 99 reopens, all traffic will transition into a curved bypass near South Royal Brougham Way. The bypass will connect the new SR 99 bridge to the existing viaduct at South King Street. Drivers will need to slow down in this section, which will have a 25 mph advisory speed limit. The bypass allows SR 99 to remain open to traffic while crews finish replacing the southern mile and building the new SR 99 tunnel.
The speed limit on SR 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge will be reduced to 40 mph. The 25 mph advisory speed on the bypass and reduced regulatory speed limits will remain in place until the SR 99 tunnel opens to traffic in 2015.