(Added 1:46 pm, northbound trip through the lane-reduction zone. Note the 35 mph stretch. SB video added below)
Just in from WSDOT – the Alaskan Way Viaduct is now open again, with the new reduced-lane configuration between the West Seattle Bridge and the stadiums. Here’s the official announcement:
Crews reopened the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct ahead of schedule Sunday after completing work to narrow the highway for construction between the West Seattle Bridge and Seattle’s stadiums.
SR 99 reopened at noon, Sunday. During the closure, crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reconfigured the lanes and set up a new construction zone.
The early reopening brings an early start to long-term lane reductions on the south end of the viaduct. This section of SR 99 is now reduced from three lanes in each direction to two. The lane reduction provides crews with enough room to safely continue building the new side-by-side highway that will replace the viaduct between S. Holgate and S. King streets.
“This is a long-term traffic change that will affect drivers as they commute to and through downtown Seattle,” said Ron Paananen, WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement program administrator. “If drivers can adjust their schedules, ride the bus, join a carpool or vanpool, or telecommute, that will help reduce congestion on the viaduct.”
WSDOT South End Projects Director Matt Preedy said drivers should also be prepared for narrower lanes shifted to the east, a 35 mph speed limit and no shoulder through the work zone.
“Drivers can protect themselves, their fellow commuters and workers by slowing down, paying attention and eliminating distractions,” Preedy said.
SR 99 will be a four-lane highway through SODO through at least 2013 and possibly longer, until the central waterfront portion of the viaduct is replaced. Due to the duration of the lane closures, WSDOT, the city of Seattle and King County Metro Transit invested in several road and transit improvements to keep people and goods moving during construction. WSDOT’s investment of $125 million provided for:
* Roadway improvements: Improved SR 519 and built a new Spokane Street Viaduct Fourth Avenue off-ramp.
* Transit investments: Added bus service to and from southwest Seattle and new programs to encourage the use of transit, ridesharing, and teleworking. .
* System reliability: New real-time driver information signs on I-5, SR 99 and other routes to downtown.
* WSDOT Incident Response Team patrols on SR 99 during the morning and evening commutes to clear stalls and collisions faster.
WSDOT traffic engineers expect longer travel times on SR 99 and the West Seattle Bridge during the morning and evening commutes, and before and after events at the stadiums. Drivers can help minimize delays by using transit and by trying an alternate route or an alternative to their normal commute.
We are off to get a look, and will add photos/video soon as we’re back, for those who’ve been wondering what it will look like when they commute via the reduced-lane Viaduct tomorrow. ADDED: Northbound video is atop the story; southbound video here: