COUNTDOWN: Highway 99 lane closures approaching, warns WSDOT

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Long before we get to that potential closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct when the tunneling machine travels under it, Highway 99 has long-running lane closures coming up north of downtown – to build “four large sign foundations for the future tunnel” – and WSDOT really, really, really wants to make sure you know those closures are set to start two weeks from today, on Monday, January 18th. WSDOT spokesperson Laura Newborn emphasizes, “What’s most important for drivers and commuters to know is that while two lanes in each direction of SR 99 between Highland Drive and the Aurora Bridge will remain OPEN during peak commute hours, buses and vehicles will share the bus-only lane.” Read on for the full reminder from WSDOT:

Drivers and commuters should plan ahead for construction work that will reduce both directions of State Route 99/Aurora Avenue North by one lane between the Aurora Bridge and just north of Mercer Street. The median lanes in each direction will close for four to five weeks starting Monday evening, Jan. 18.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation need access to the median lanes to build four large sign foundations for the future SR 99 tunnel. This work was originally scheduled for spring 2015 but changed to January 2016 to lessen the traffic disruption. Winter months typically see lower traffic volumes.

“These signs require sturdy, concrete-encased pedestals along with communication lines, power lines and traffic sensors, which is why the construction work in the median will take at least four weeks,” said David Sowers, deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “We understand this will inconvenience drivers and commuters, and we are working closely with King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation to minimize traffic impacts as much as possible.”

During the first phase of this two-phase project, when the median lanes are closed, the southbound bus-only lane will open to all traffic. Drivers should use caution since buses will travel – and stop – in the lane with other vehicle traffic.

Closure details
Jan. 18 through mid-February
Median lanes close in both directions between the Aurora Bridge and Highland Drive, north of Mercer Street
An additional lane will close at night and during several weekends including Jan. 23-24
Mid-February through early March
Median lanes reopen. Northbound traffic returns to normal pattern
The southbound curb lane near Comstock Street will close for approximately three weeks
An additional southbound lane may close at night

WSDOT encourages drivers and bus riders to plan ahead as additional congestion is expected on Aurora Avenue North. Consider alternative travel modes such as ride-sharing or carpooling, or traveling in off-peak times. Keep informed by using King County Metro’s rider alerts or trip planning tools as well as WSDOT’s travel tools and SDOT’s travelers information page.

7 Replies to "COUNTDOWN: Highway 99 lane closures approaching, warns WSDOT"

  • Overthere January 4, 2016 (12:06 pm)

    It would be great if WSDOT could prove this could work before doing any additional work.

  • wetone January 4, 2016 (12:52 pm)

    Should give Seattle people a good honest idea of what traffic will really be like once tunnel is completed. Two lanes each direction with much more traffic moved to surface streets… I really like this part of WSDOT statement : {This work was originally scheduled for spring 2015 but changed to January 2016 to lessen the traffic disruption. Winter months typically see lower traffic volumes.} So is WSDOT saying Seattle winter traffic is better than rest of year ? WOW

  • KBear January 4, 2016 (1:25 pm)

    No, it won’t be anything like how it will be when the tunnel is completed. Until the final on/off locations are opened, you’ll still have the backups caused by the current configuration. By the way, have you noticed that the Battery Street Tunnel is only 2 lanes each way, with no entrances/exits in the middle?

  • Aye Jay January 4, 2016 (2:09 pm)

    The Battery St Tunnel is two lanes in each direction.

  • wetone January 4, 2016 (7:53 pm)

    Today one has multiple exits from both directions distributing traffic prior to Battery st. tunnel. When new tunnel is finished those options are gone. During rush hour times now Battery st. tunnel traffic is stop and go. How I love idling through there…

  • KBear January 4, 2016 (9:31 pm)

    No, the options are not gone, they’re just relocated. Some of the downtown traffic will choose other routes. And the tunnel will serve its purpose, which is to go THROUGH downtown.

  • old timer January 17, 2016 (8:11 pm)

    Yeah, the tunnel may be going thru downtown, but the route is supposed to serve downtown.Someone forgot that.

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