UPDATE: April 29th start date for Alaskan Way Viaduct’s 2-weeks-or-so tunneling closure

(See this map on the WSDOT site by going here)

JUST IN, 1:59 PM: WSDOT promised we’d get two weeks notice of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s two-weeks-or-so tunneling shutdown, and that notice just arrived: The state says the closure will start before the morning commute on Friday, April 29th. Here’s the full announcement.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW: We’ll be adding to this over the next hour or so – backstory plus useful info links.

*How to lessen the pain (advice and links)

*As you’ve probably already read in previews here and elsewhere, specific plans include:

• WSDOT and SDOT will actively monitor highway and street traffic, adjusting signal timing, updating electronic message boards and
deploying additional incident response teams as needed.

• King County Metro is rerouting 12 routes and deploying 22 buses to help maintain schedules.

[See page 2 of this PDF for West Seattle specifics including a larger version of the map above.]

• Police officers will provide manual traffic control at key chokepoint intersections.

• King County Water Taxi will add five extra round trips to its Vashon route and will provide additional parking and connector shuttle capacity for West Seattle route passengers. [See this brochure for info on extra parking, etc.]

We also will beef up our regular traffic coverage for closer watch of West Seattle-tailored alternate routes and more during the closure. At least one alternate route is available for this, that wasn’t available for 2011’s “Viadoom” 8-day closure – the South Park Bridge.

BACKSTORY: It was almost exactly 3 years ago that we first reported a Viaduct closure was possible when the tunneling machine went beneath it, thanks to a tip from West Seattle Bike Connections president Don Brubeck.

REMINDER: As announced earlier today, that’s not the only closure West Seattleites will be dealing with – the Fauntleroy Expressway bearing-pad-re-replacement closures will start two days earlier.

52 Replies to "UPDATE: April 29th start date for Alaskan Way Viaduct's 2-weeks-or-so tunneling closure"

  • sue April 15, 2016 (2:15 pm)

    Here we go!  

  • Sue April 15, 2016 (2:16 pm)

    Oh fun! We get to deal with the overnight West Seattle Bridge/Spokane closures and the viaduct closure simultaneously! I knew that was going to end up happening when they delayed the viaduct closure.

  • John April 15, 2016 (2:27 pm)

    or so…being the operative words here… ;)

    • WSB April 15, 2016 (2:33 pm)

      Indeed. Could be longer. Could be shorter. Here’s hoping for the latter.

  • Trickycoolj April 15, 2016 (2:33 pm)

    Shoot gotta reschedule my dentist appointment at Green Lake. Not worth the trouble!

  • Dana April 15, 2016 (2:39 pm)

    There was talk of using terminal 5 for extra water taxi parking. Has there been anything more on that? Since I’m sure many people who usually ride the bus will be joining the regular water taxi riders 

  • George T. April 15, 2016 (2:43 pm)

    This would be an ideal opportunity to reverse some lanes on 1st Ave, 4th Ave and Airport Way to expedite traffic flow during rush hour — you know, like they do on major roads IN EVERY OTHER LARGE CITY.

    • Seattlite April 15, 2016 (3:04 pm)

      Isn’t that too much to ask for?  :)  Shouldn’t all signal lights be synchronized at all times since it is the 21st century?  Seattle should really broaden it’s use of water transportation to and from WS…surely some leader can think on it and come up with a plan.  At least we received a heads up on the closure.

    • Jon Wright April 18, 2016 (12:59 am)

      That’s an intriguing idea, but wouldn’t that just create a backup farther north, entering the city center? By my reckoning, traffic on the extra reversible lane(s) would eventually have nowhere to go and there would have to be a merge which would just move where the congestion occurs. If that’s not what you envision, would you please elaborate more about how you would like to see reversible lanes operate? 

    • Gary April 24, 2016 (7:20 pm)

      Doing what every other large city does would not work for Seattle because Seattle is not a large city. It never will be. It is a small city that now THINKS it is a big city. The only big things here are traffic,money,and Mt. Rainier.

  • Hainsworth April 15, 2016 (2:58 pm)

    Does anyone know why the rerouted Metro buses don’t go along the Busway instead of 4th Ave? As a restricted bus-only road this seems like the obvious choice, and it offers better connection to light rail.

    • chemist April 15, 2016 (3:16 pm)

      The usable space of the busway tends to be fairly narrow and of limited capacity. I think they fear too much traffic on that would hinder operations citywide vs just west seattle routes.

    • Ricky Courtney April 15, 2016 (3:31 pm)

      Metro says there isn’t enough capacity on the busway to accommodate all the rerouted buses.

  • M April 15, 2016 (3:31 pm)

    At least the Mariners will be out of town that first week of May. 

    • MikeRussellFoto April 15, 2016 (4:43 pm)

      Sounders will be playing both Saturdays. Luckily I just go up 1st Ave to get to the match. 

      • KM April 15, 2016 (10:43 pm)

        If you are close to 35th the 21 is a super easy route to and from games too. When we drive we use 1st, but I imagine it will be super crowded.

  • John April 15, 2016 (3:32 pm)

    “It was almost exactly 3 years ago that we first reported a Viaduct closure was possible when the tunneling machine went beneath it”

    Oh my god…  

  • Willistheclown April 15, 2016 (3:35 pm)

    They should re-route the Vashon ferry to Coleman dock over that period as well.  Might help a bit.

  • Iggy April 15, 2016 (3:39 pm)

    Did anyone at SDOT pay attention to the fact that there will be work going on under the bridge at the same time the Viaduct is closed.  Doesn’t make sense to me to limit surface traffic at the same time the Viaduct is closed.  Maybe I’m misunderstanding.  The announcement that WSB posted says:  

    SDOT announced earlier this month that the work would likely start in late April, and this morning the contractor has sent word of the specific dates and times, starting April 27th. Note that the announcement includes not only nighttime closures of the west end of the high bridge (formally called the Fauntleroy Expressway), but also lane closures on Spokane Street beneath it – daytime as well as nighttime

  • Alki Resident April 15, 2016 (3:47 pm)

    Im just glad theres going to be key chokepoints.

  • sam-c April 15, 2016 (3:56 pm)

    I wonder if it will finish before garage sale day.   I think we usually get a lot of people from other parts of town, but that might keep them away.

    • WSB April 15, 2016 (4:06 pm)

      Sam – I have to go back and research but I am fairly certain we’ve had a closure of some sort on at least one past WSCGSD and it didn’t cause trouble. For those coming from the eastside and beyond, it’s still a straight shot I-5 to the Spokane Street Viaduct. But of course we’re hoping the 2 weeks – or less! – turns out to be true. If not, there could be a different kind of effect – fewer people leaving WS, so more taking advantage of what’s already happening here that day … TR (“cup is half full” person)

  • Rick April 15, 2016 (4:38 pm)

    Some folks are “cup half full” people,some are “cup half empty”.   I’m leaning more towards “cup is just broken”.

    • pupsarebest April 15, 2016 (5:22 pm)

      ….or contains, either way, you-know-what.

  • WSGirl April 15, 2016 (4:45 pm)

    What about the C-Line heading downtown?

    • WSB April 15, 2016 (4:57 pm)

      See the map in the middle of the blue-block text and related link.

  • sam-c April 15, 2016 (5:02 pm)

    Really would be nice if they could do something about the low bridge, in order to keep all the cyclists moving…. They do it for other bridges, like Montlake….

  • quiz April 15, 2016 (5:05 pm)

    My bet is that it never re-opens.

  • aRF April 15, 2016 (5:28 pm)

    Why isn’t there a Bertha lottery? Given the unpredictability of it all, even the contractors could be allowed to play.

  • Message April 15, 2016 (5:35 pm)

    Hold the phone here….  The Vashon water taxi is getting 5 additional sailings, but the West Sea one is getting zero?  

    • Jon Wright April 18, 2016 (1:03 am)

      Added Vashon sailings are during the middle of the day when there normally aren’t any. West Seattle already has sailings throughout the day so there isn’t as much opportunity to add them. Don’t forget the new boat has double the capacity of the old boat, so there is a lot of West Seattle water taxi service.

  • Michelle April 15, 2016 (5:39 pm)

    Bertha tunneling beneath the viaduct…what could possibly go wrong?

  • norskgirl April 15, 2016 (5:40 pm)

    I’m changing any outside appointments that I during the 4/29+ period.  I remember what traffic was like with the Viaduct closed after the Nisqually quake.  3 hours to Fremont in the middle of a weekday.  

  • Nora April 15, 2016 (5:44 pm)

    Quiz, same here. All we can hope is that as soon as the structure is declared unsafe that they block it off and immediately build the off-ramp that’s supposed to head into Pioneer Square when the tunnel opens.

  • AdmiralDon April 15, 2016 (5:53 pm)

    What about bicyclers?  I asked this on the other story, but with spokane street closures, will the bike lanes be open?

    Will those going under the viaduct at Yesler be able to travel by bike or will surface streets be closed as well?  

    A great time to bike if things are open!

    • WSB April 15, 2016 (5:57 pm)

      They have already said they won’t close surface streets unless there is a problem requiring them to.

  • CMP April 15, 2016 (6:52 pm)

    Sweet, I’ll be in Hawaii for most of the closure…just like the last time the Viaduct closed four or five years ago.  I hit the jackpot on planning my vacations with this somehow!

  • T-Lo April 15, 2016 (7:25 pm)

    Its too bad they didn’t give better thought to the timing.  They could have at least coincided it with Spring Break to have lighter loads on the road.  

    • Marianne April 16, 2016 (9:35 am)

      T-Lo, That is what I was hoping for too…

  • Don Brubeck April 15, 2016 (7:53 pm)

    “It was almost exactly 3 years ago that we first reported a Viaduct closure was possible when the tunneling machine went beneath it”

    Three years went by so fast!  Bertha went so slow.  But this is just in time for Bike Month (May).  So, if some more people are able to take bikes to downtown it will free up bus seats and help a bit with car traffic.  West Seattle Bike Connections and West Seattle Cyclery will lead some guided practice rides.  30 to 40 minutes to downtown from most places in West Seattle.  We’ll announce times and places on our website and Facebook pages, and so will West Seattle Cyclery.  Usually in May there are 1,000 to 1,200 daily bike crossings counted on the Spokane St Bridge.  Maybe we can double that this year and make a difference.

    • WSB April 15, 2016 (8:54 pm)

      Thanks, Don, let us know too and with a week’s notice we can include in the WSB calendar (editor@westseattleblog.com) – TR

  • Wb April 16, 2016 (11:34 am)

    Mercury will be in retrograde; what could go wrong?

  • TheKing April 16, 2016 (5:22 pm)

    That’s funny….mercury’s in retrograde. There is a Friday the 13th coming up too. 

    • WSB April 16, 2016 (5:24 pm)

      IF this lasts exactly two weeks, it would end on Friday, May 13th. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to write the lead line “Friday the 13th turned out to be lucky instead of unlucky for …”

    • Sue April 19, 2016 (10:33 am)

      Not only Mercury Retrograde (which sometimes means that things that get started in Merc Retro don’t get done until the NEXT Mercury Retrograde…), but in early May, almost all other planets are also Retrograde!!! 

      Really bad timing!!!   

  • Vetoed voter April 17, 2016 (7:54 am)

    Pretty sure I voted against this massive cluster f. I would say I’m disappointed, but I’m not, I saw this coming. I’m so glad I work in West Seattle. 

    Thankfully, everyone who uses the viaduct can simply telecommute…easy peasy! That Greenlake obgyn appointment is going to be weird via Skype. 

  • JCK April 17, 2016 (11:08 am)

    Why does the Water Taxi Shuttle not increase the hours it runs all the way to Morgan Junction?  I don’t understand why it only goes down to Morgan Junction during mid-day hours.  Is it for retirees only?

    • WSB April 17, 2016 (11:24 am)

      I don’t recall the reason when that leg was added and wouldn’t assume the answer would be the same now anyway. A media Q&A op with various officials including the KC Marine Division (and Metro & WSDOT) has just been announced for midday tomorrow and we’re likely going, so we’ll take that Q along, plus anything else that still needs answering …

  • Snowball April 18, 2016 (6:24 pm)

    Hi Everyone,  I was fortunate enough to be out of town in 2011 when the Viaduct was shut down for a couple weeks, but won’t be so fortunate this time.  I’m wondering if anyone can give me a realistic guess at how long it will actually take to get downtown on the RapidRide by 7:00 am?  And how long it will likely take to get home around 4:00 pm?  The news this morning reported that rush hour commute times will start around 4:00 am – I’m hoping they are exaggerating!  Thanks in advance for any response – just trying to get an idea of what to expect.

Sorry, comment time is over.