Update: Dates announced for Viaduct closure – Oct. 21-31

(Larger version of the “after” graphic can be seen here)
We’re at the WSDOT event announcing the dates for the nine-day Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, and here they are: October 21-31. That spans two weekends and one workweek; here’s the official news release. But it’s not a complete closure of the entire stretch the entire time – here are the details, from WSDOT (and you can see a map here):

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.

When 99 reopens on Halloween, a “construction bypass” will be in place, and WSDOT has just released this video of how that will work:

We also have just talked with SDOT – the new 1st Ave ramp to/from the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct will NOT be finished before the October closure, though SDOT’s Bob Powers says it is expected to be done “by the end of the year.” (added) Here’s our 2-minute chat with him, starting with our question about the new 1st ramp, continuing to “so, city advice for getting around?”

He also says (if you missed it in the clip) 1st Avenue South will be open, two lanes each way, under the Spokane St. Viaduct, for the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure period. (We would also add that the 4th Avenue offramp from the eastbound bridge is usually an excellent Viaduct alternative for getting into downtown – we used it a lot in the mornings while covering the Bushaw murder trial, and it still seems underutilized.)

Metro says it will be adding trips to some West Seattle routes as of October 1st, particularly the 54, which will be on an every-15-minute schedule. The West Seattle Water Taxi will NOT have a schedule change because of the closure, but will continue on through the fall and winter again this year, thanks to state “mitigation” funding related to the ongoing Highway 99 construction.

P.S. We asked Metro reps about the fate of the 2nd/Columbia westbound bus stop – you’ll recall they asked for comments regarding a potential permanent closure. It will be closed for the duration of the October Viaduct shutdown, since southbound 99 will be entirely off-limits. Its permanent fate hasn’t been decided yet – but they tell us that 70 percent of the comments they received were in support of keeping it open. Once 99 has the SODO detour in place, they have to figure out, we are told, what’s the fastest corridor for buses to travel.

69 Replies to "Update: Dates announced for Viaduct closure - Oct. 21-31"

  • Jiggers August 29, 2011 (10:38 am)

    Let the nightmare begin!

  • Aman August 29, 2011 (10:52 am)

    Can we put these dates up to a vote?

  • clark5080 August 29, 2011 (10:54 am)

    We need more info on the 1st ave ramp not being ready. How much longer for that tie in to happen?

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (10:59 am)

      Clark5080 and CMP, I’m still adding to the story. Getting info was a little convoluted because while the briefing was scheduled to happen at 10:30 am, all the TV people got here early so for some reason they decided not to wait for the rest of us (I got there at 10:24 and it was done, I would have been earlier but turning westbound onto Atlantic from 1st Avenue South was backed up through multiple light cycles). I protested on behalf of the West Seattleites who will get far more details here than they will from a minute-and-a-half TV story. They did keep all the officials around for conversations afterward. Anyway, that aside. The ramp will be done “by the end of the year,” according to Bob Powers of SDOT. I talked to him on video about other city advice regarding getting around during the closure and will add that when back at HQ (adding as much detail as I can now while still parked at Pier 48). Have also added Metro info from talking with their reps. – TR

  • CMP August 29, 2011 (10:56 am)

    The SDOT website still has “Fall 2011” as the completion date of the 1st Ave on/off ramps. Does anyone know if this is realistic? The low bridge route home seems crazier than normal and I’m really looking forward to avoiding all of the semis off Holgate/Alaska Way/lower Spokane!

  • clark5080 August 29, 2011 (11:03 am)

    So this new bypass is it going to be restricted to one lane each northbound and southbound?

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (11:12 am)

      C5080 – I’m still sifting through the folder of materials. It will be two lanes each way. Slower speed limit. There appears to be a graphic and I’ll add it to the story as soon as I find it online (might be on a disc they gave us). Rather than me continuing to add time-stamps to the story, I’m just continuing to add info, but will make a note when it is mostly complete! – TR, live from the Pier 48 parking lot

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (11:22 am)

      I’ve added this new WSDOT video to the story showing how the construction bypass will work (point-of-view animation) after the nine-day closure: http://youtu.be/W0aaX8s3MME

  • work downtown August 29, 2011 (11:10 am)

    That is just insane. They closed the viaduct one weekday after the big earthquake. It took me 4 hours to get downtown via bus. One guy jumped out of a back window on the bus because the driver wouldn’t open the doors while he was sitting in traffic.

  • Valerie August 29, 2011 (11:21 am)

    Tracy, thanks for all you do :)

  • kristen August 29, 2011 (11:40 am)

    Thanks, WSB, for this great update! Does anyone know if any modifications will be made to make SODO light rail station more accessible? It is currently very difficult to access without a direct bus route and no good parking option. But it seems like that could potentially be a good alternative…

  • clark5080 August 29, 2011 (11:44 am)

    Thanks very much for the info much clearer as to what is going to happen. Now t o figure out how I am going to get to South Lake Union at 4:00pm during those closure days.

  • kate August 29, 2011 (11:52 am)

    I’m scared….

  • Robert2715 August 29, 2011 (11:53 am)

    I still have a hard time understanding how those currently one lane on and off ramps can become two lanes – being next to a big truck on one of those is going to be a thrill.

  • Jojo August 29, 2011 (12:10 pm)

    I’m new to West Seattle. I work Downtown. What is the best route to get home when the viaduct is closed? Any alternatives to I-5? Also, is there another way to get on the WS bridge from SoDo with the new ramps not done yet?


  • BlairJ August 29, 2011 (12:21 pm)

    Is there a higher resolution version of the before-and-after map?

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (12:33 pm)

      Blair – I requested that from WSDOT, have been offline a bit and will have it up soon as I get it – TR

  • JM August 29, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    After the 31st re-opening, is there going to be a way to get on the West Seattle Bridge from DT via 99?

  • NFiorentini August 29, 2011 (12:38 pm)

    It doesn’t look that bad. Considering the entirety of the project(s), it’s evident that someone is thinking.

    Sidenote: I love these computer animations and cannot wait to play Microsoft Viaduct Driving Simulator. I hope they have an 18-wheeler in there!

  • Eric Goetz August 29, 2011 (12:39 pm)

    I love how in the video, the car is driving in the left lane, even though there’s no traffic. Typical west coast driver.

  • Margaret Evans August 29, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    guess I’ll be riding my bicycle to work. I’m not sitting in traffic for hours every night.

  • WS Commuter August 29, 2011 (12:58 pm)

    Hi, I read your story about the viaduct coming down. As a West Seattleite who commutes to the Central District daily, I know this will add to my already long commute. One issue I’d like addressed is that while there are no ways to access the West Seattle bridge to get to West Seattle from SODO, one must take the low bridge. In order to get to the low bridge, one must cross many different railroad tracks, including where they ‘build’ the trains, between 1st Ave S and Alaska Way on South Hanford or South Horton (http://www.bing.com/maps/default.aspx?rtp=adr.~pos.47.575570_-122.336701_35+S+Hanford+St+Seattle%2c+WA+98134_Seattle+Pottery+Supply_(206) 587-0570&where1=35+S+Hanford+St+Seattle%2c+WA+98134&FORM=LARE# ). I regularly get to those train tracks just as the bells are ringing and the gates are lowering – around 5 – 5:30 p.m. – prime commute time, and they proceed to build the trains sometimes for 30 minutes, moving back and forth within feet of clearing the crossing but not clearing it – making commuters wait. Can’t something be done about that?

  • Ash August 29, 2011 (1:00 pm)

    Uh oh! Can anyone advise on a route to take? I recently got a new job in ballard and get off on western and take elliott/western to 99 on the way home. I’m clueless to the area since I’m so used to working in south seattle. I wouldn’t even know what exit to take off I5!!!! :)

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (1:10 pm)

      WSB’ers may well have better advice. I had to go to Ballard during a recent weekend closure and took the low bridge to East Marginal (turning north and staying with it till you get to Alaskan Way, which is kind of convoluted currently because of construction), then Alaskan Way on the waterfront curves up to join Western (or is it Elliott?) and you just head north from there. Or you can take the bridge to the 4th Ave. exit, head north toward downtown till you can turn west/left to get on Alaskan Way (from Royal Brougham, probably) and follow the rest of the aforementioned advice … TR

  • OP August 29, 2011 (1:14 pm)

    LOL@Eric G. So true! Even more so of Seattle drivers!

  • Dale August 29, 2011 (1:15 pm)

    Here is a link to the SDOT for those who need to take a look at it:


  • jissy August 29, 2011 (1:21 pm)

    Ash — I’d suggest getting a 1 week rental in Ballard… seriously. Maybe even ask a co-worker if you can crash at their place!

  • MAH August 29, 2011 (1:23 pm)

    How about stopping all of the damn port traffic during rush hour? Make the truck drivers get in and out during the night and keep them off the roads when everyone else is on them. Although nothing will change because this is the city of incompetency and nothing but meaningless placations from government employees, I still want to know why West Seattlites are constantly being asked to pay the price for everyone else in the city? For those who think it’s “not going to be so bad” – you are delusional. And why isn’t the water taxi making itself more available? The long and the short of it is that this is just another example of how easily SDOT and WADOT officials are willing to sacrifice our quality of life and our time. It’s going to be a nightmare for years to come and even when it’s done, West Seattlites will still be screwed with no easy way to get to downtown and beyond. I want to know when Seattle and the State are going to compensate all of us for our destroyed property values because this is only going to get worse. This tunnel will destroy WS and the only people who will be able to live there are those who don’t have to leave, except if they head south. There’s not enough public transportation that is worthwhile and dependable to solve this nightmare. I’m looking at moving my business out of the city and so are lots of other people.

  • Aman August 29, 2011 (1:24 pm)

    Re.: WS BLOG Video Interview w/ Robert (‘Bob’)Powers of SDOT:

    Personally, I WOULDN’T WANT HIS JOB FOR ALL OF THE TEA IN CHINA. I wish him Much Good Luck!

    Robert (Bob) Powers, P.E. is a deputy director for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). He holds a Bachelor and a MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Bob is responsible for SDOT’s Major Projects, Traffic Management, Policy and Planning, and Capital Projects and Roadway Structures divisions. His responsibilities include overseeing the civil engineering design, construction engineering, bridge development and maintenance, seismic analysis, surveying, filed inspection and public relations. He is also a lead coordinator with local agencies while supervising a number of large projects such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct and SR 520 Floating Bridge replacement projects.

    Bob was previously the Division Chief of Transportation in the Engineering and Construction Division (TEC) for the Baltimore Department of Transportation. As the Division Chief, he was responsible for all local and federally funded highway reconstruction, resurfacing, bridge, bulkhead, street lighting, and traffic signal projects.

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (2:01 pm)

      Aman, Bob has been the lead city rep at almost every Viaduct-related event/briefing/meeting we’ve covered in the past few years. He doesn’t often wind up on camera, but because of the odd circumstances into which we walked this morning, I made a beeline for him to ask the questions folks had been asking re: Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project (including the 1st ramp). Worked out OK. I was hoping to circle back to get Matt Preedy, the South End Viaduct boss (and West Seattleite), on camera too, but others kept grabbing him so in the end I just opted to go back to the car and start adding details. P.S. Preedy is scheduled to brief the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council in White Center this Thursday night regarding all this, so if anyone has questions, you’re certainly welcome at that meeting – the information/agenda is on our partner site White Center Now right now, http://whitecenternow.com – Tracy
      To MAH regarding marine traffic – The city has tried. Councilmember Rasmussen can tell you all about it, and we covered it here, dating as far back as 2008. The Coast Guard has the ultimate say and both times it said “no.”

  • Diane August 29, 2011 (1:38 pm)

    very disappointed to hear they’re not getting 1st Ave ramp open before 99 closure, as we were led to believe would most likely be the case; very glad to hear they’re adding 54 buses; hope they REALLY do run every 15 mins; I expect the 54 will be standing room only the whole time

  • WS commuter August 29, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    I think the new 1st Ave onramp was originally scheduled to open this Nov., so if they’re now projecting still before year’s end, they are doing pretty well. Going by it each morning, the progress is impressive. Once open, that will help considerably on the evening commute home.

  • Jill August 29, 2011 (2:11 pm)

    Hey Jojo, you might want to check out the water taxi. If you have an ORCA card, it’s $0.50 more expensive than the bus each way ($1 more if you pay a different way), but it might be worth saving an extra $10-20 for the sake of your sanity (at least that’s how I feel). Here’s a link to the water taxi site, which looks like it also has info about bus & shuttle connections: West Seattle water taxi
    And of course you could try cycling. :) I personally love it, but I know that’s not for everyone. Good luck everyone…

  • Jiggers August 29, 2011 (2:13 pm)

    A lot of people don’t watch the news or read the paper and won’t have a clue what’s happening when there’s gridlock everywhere.. You’ve all been warned how bad it is really going to get out here very quick traffic wise.

  • Paul August 29, 2011 (2:33 pm)

    this is still the fun part,just wait until there is no more viaduct

  • T August 29, 2011 (2:33 pm)

    Can a person take their bike on the water taxi?

    • WSB August 29, 2011 (3:15 pm)

      T: Yes, there is a bike rack with pretty good capacity – I can’t remember the exact number, perhaps the next biker who reads the comment thread will :) – TR

  • SomeGuy August 29, 2011 (3:02 pm)

    The video needs music. I’d like to suggest this:


  • SomeGuy August 29, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    One other option:


    • WSB August 29, 2011 (3:14 pm)

      Thanks, SomeGuy, had to check to make sure you weren’t trying to rickroll us …

  • austin August 29, 2011 (3:16 pm)

    Good thing for the water taxi. Good thing for living within walking distance of the water taxi. :/
    Both the West Seattle and Vashon water taxis have capacity for 18 bikes.

  • Robert2715 August 29, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    One option my family has discussed is keeping one car downtown and one car in WS and using the Water Taxi to go between the two. (We are lucky – we have 7×24 parking available at our office downtown)

    fallback option? Backstroke. :-)

  • sw August 29, 2011 (3:42 pm)

    Is there any way that Port truck traffic can be kept off of the upper roadway during peak commute hours in the morning? Once you’re past the Admiral/Lower Road/Delridge merge chaos, it isn’t so bad until you hit the trucks merging. Limiting them from 7-9am would greatly help the traffic flow.

  • Keith August 29, 2011 (3:58 pm)

    I’m not sure which is more outrageous — that they would move ahead with this closure without the 1st Ave / Spokane off/onramp being completed (as previously promised), or that they would start their press briefing *early* without WSB present.

    Both examples prove once again that SDOT doesn’t think much about West Seattle, and make me even more skeptical about this project overall. But at least we’re moving forward, right?

  • Aman August 29, 2011 (5:27 pm)

    Maybe, and this is just a thought mind you, we should vote some additional W. Seattle representation back into city/state politics?

    Yes, I know about those from W. Seattle currently on the City Council. However, as the largest neighborhood in Seattle we still seem recently to get “overlooked.”

    I’d gladly welcome an experienced pol like Greg Nickels back. Perhaps we can all think it over while we are sitting in traffic.

  • Amy August 29, 2011 (6:16 pm)

    The left lane driver comment made my day! Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts, and maybe plan a nice vacation in October.

  • Jody Rodgers August 29, 2011 (6:42 pm)

    Even if you were the last person on Earth (like The Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last” episode) it appears from the animation that you’d still have to drive 5mph in this new configuration.

  • Laurie August 29, 2011 (7:43 pm)

    Does anyone want to carpool with me from W. Seattle to Queen Anne? I can’t promise I will work full 8- hr days since I have to pick up my kid from childcare in Admiral before 6. Yes, I am serious.

  • Peter on Fauntleroy August 29, 2011 (7:47 pm)

    I don’t understand all the anger directed at SDOT and WADOT. Engineers can’t snap their fingers and make a new highway appear out of thin air, people, it has to be physically built in the real world, and there is no avoiding construction inconvenience. So please try to be reasonable. They’ve given us months of notice of this closure.

    And to all the yahoos who think this is somehow about sticking it to West Seattle: this is a state highway, paid for by everyone in the state, that primarily benefits West Seattle. So get over the persecution complex.

    Finally, regarding port traffic, the port is a major driver of our local and state economy. Limiting port traffic to only certain hours of the day would suffocate the port, we would no longer be able to compete with other west coast ports which would cost us thousands and thousands of jobs statewide. Limiting when trucks can access the port would be a crippling blow to our local and state economy, and suggesting that we do so is extremely short sighted.

  • JayDee August 29, 2011 (8:39 pm)


    Not to quibble, but 18 bikes? I see maybe twelve on the bottom deck, maybe more if folks don’t mind scratches. I noticed tie-ups upstairs but I have never seen them used.

    Well, maybe I will in late October. Just wondering.

  • W Sea Commuter August 29, 2011 (8:40 pm)

    Are any of you (us) loyal WSB readers interested in a carpooling bulletin board? I commute north of downtown every day and pass a lot of other single-passenger vehicles.

  • austin August 29, 2011 (9:02 pm)

    Is where I got that number from. I’ve never seen close to 18 bikes on the water taxi.

  • (required) August 29, 2011 (10:32 pm)

    Well, if its closed nine days, that’s nine less days’ worth of chances of driving on it when the next big earthquake happens. You may not think it’s a big deal to drive on the viaduct, but after seeing the video of what it will do in a big earthquake, I won’t ever take anyone else on the viaduct in my car again. Happy it’s finally coming down …. once again great coverage WSB.

  • KB August 30, 2011 (1:28 am)

    I work at in the Denny Triangle and my back-up route is over Beacon Hill. Doesn’t shorten the commute to work when the bridge is backed up, but it’s a little less stressful. When the afternoon commute is backed up, it’s a little bit shorter.

  • acemotel August 30, 2011 (1:35 am)

    Peter on Fauntleroy – thanks for your comments regarding the asinine suggestion to limit port traffic. Why not just remove all the containers from Terminal 5 too, they are not very attractive. Maybe Harbor Island would be a nice beach? sheeesh.

  • velo_nut August 30, 2011 (5:38 am)

    Sure am glad my office is in Georgtown. Have fun everybody!

  • Alison August 30, 2011 (7:41 am)

    I wish I could take the water taxi during this mess, but I have to get up in the Green Lake area, how many buses would that necessitate after the water taxi? During the closure I think I’ll stay with my parents in the Mill Creek area and commute I-5 for a week. I’m sure it will take less time than sitting in traffic in West Seattle!

  • WSLover August 30, 2011 (10:25 am)

    This sucks…

  • EricL August 30, 2011 (10:56 am)

    The 16 (which leaves from Colman Dock) ducks in on the east side of Green Lake, though it’s not exactly the fastest trip from the ferry dock to green lake (detour to seattle center and through wallingford on the way).

  • Gina August 30, 2011 (11:24 am)

    At least the Mariners won’t be in the World Series. Are there any Seahawks games during that time period?

    The rest of the city should be worried, because many of our Metro routes continue to Greenwood, Green Lake, Northgate, Ballard, Madison Park. I’d think shuttles from areas that normally use the viaduct to get downtown would work better, and not gridlock the entire bus system.

  • Al August 30, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    I am sure that if someone is interested in biking and they post on the Forums they’d get some cyclists who do the ride regularly to give some pointers or to act as ride-buddies for the week.

  • Robert2715 August 30, 2011 (5:43 pm)

    The Seahawks play on October 30th but I’ve rarely seen 99 congested before or after a game since people come from all over the place to the games.

  • Admiral Janeway August 30, 2011 (6:02 pm)

    During the I-5 repaving project a couple years ago, my work allowed flex hours. I submitted a new proposal for flex hours during the Hwy 99 closure.

  • Al August 30, 2011 (7:08 pm)

    Do you think I could propose flex hours to my principal? I’m sure the parents wouldn’t mind if I worked from home for a week!

  • Dunno August 30, 2011 (8:24 pm)

    What is Bob smokin. He and the mayor must have had a pow wow before this interview. We’re all gonna need some with the traffic nightmare ahead.
    If nothing else there will be a bus jam. Now all we need is some late Oct snow!! BTW: Great hair, I wish I had some.

  • Scott August 30, 2011 (11:25 pm)

    While the viaduct is closed you should just take the monorail downtown.

  • Jojo August 31, 2011 (9:54 am)

    Thanks Jill for the Water Taxi suggestion. I should have mentioned I take my dog to work each day be he’s not a service animal so he can’t ride the water taxi. He can ride the bus but if it’s standing room only it’s a challenge to say the least. :) Good luck everyone!

  • West Seattle Best Seattle September 2, 2011 (12:12 am)

    A friend works for PCL (the company doing the WSB construction) and continues to reassure me that they are on schedule for the 1st Ave onramp to be completed and open in November. They’ve dealt with all sorts of setbacks, including multiple screwups by the steel supplier and a semi truck running into their framework over Spokane, but have been busting their butts to keep the project on schedule.

  • johnnyblegs September 2, 2011 (7:09 am)

    Laurie, I am interested in the carpool to Queen Anne. I don’t always work an 8 hour day either, but schedule isn’t totally normal. Email me – wellil@yahoo.com.

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