VIADUCT CLOSURE COUNTDOWN: What you need to know from today’s Q&A with city, county, state reps

(WSB photo: From left, Metro’s Victor Obeso, KC Marine Division’s Paul Brodeur, WSDOT’s David Sowers, SDOT’s Jon Layzer)

11:55 AM: We’ve just left the downtown waterfront, where media reps were invited to an update and Q&A with city, county (Metro and Water Taxi), and state transportation reps on the first weekday since the big announcement that the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunneling-related closure will start April 29th. We recorded it all on video that we’ll add here when uploaded (12:54 pm update – here it is):

(Also), here are a few toplines beyond what we and others already have reported:

*Extra Water Taxi parking: The biggest added temporary lot off Harbor Avenue will be Pier 2, with its entry across from the 7-11 in the 2400 block of Harbor and room for 200+ cars. It will be open for vehicle entry/exit 5:45 am-9:15 am weekday mornings and 4 pm-7:15 pm afternoon/evenings – it’s a secured lot so at midday, it’ll be closed and you won’t be able to get to your vehicle, so it’s not a good choice unless you are headed out for a full workday. It’s also expected that 120 cars will be able to park along Harbor south of Seacrest, on the water side, because of temporary overnight parking restrictions. And about 40 spaces will be available on the SW Bronson Way street end south of Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor).

*Larger Water Taxi shuttles: In addition to a special shuttle that will run continuously during those hours between the Pier 2 parking lot and Seacrest, the WT shuttle buses on routes 773 and 775 will be upsized to 39-passenger buses.

*Speaking of Water Taxi shuttles: A commenter had asked why the Morgan Junction leg of the route is only at midday. The King County Marine Division says that’s the only time of day they can run it because of the gap between Water Taxi runs from Seacrest.

*Special Viaduct-closure-related brochure with West Seattle Water Taxi-specific info: See it here.

*In case more buses are needed: Metro will have 11 more buses with 22 scheduled operator shifts, and a potential of 135 added hours, depending on how things go.

*UberHop: This new vanpool-type alternative will have a pickup/dropoff point at Don Armeni Boat Ramp, the county says.

*The biggest message: Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead. And if you possibly can shift out of commuting during the usual peak hours – via a temporary schedule change, working from home, whatever – please do. And even if the first day doesn’t seem so bad (it won’t, because people really will try something different), don’t just go back to your old ways on day 2 or day 3. They’re continuing to promote as the multi-agency with info you need to plan, now and when the closure’s under way.

We also asked the SDOT rep why, now that the date is set for this, they aren’t considering delaying the Fauntleroy Expressway-related bridge and lane closures until the Viaduct closure is over. SDOT’s rep first said they didn’t think there would be a problem because the bridge closures are at night only. We noted that the surface Spokane St. lane closures UNDER the west end of the bridge include some daytime work and he said he would “take that back” (to HQ) for consideration.

12:54 PM: Video of the briefing/Q&A, unedited, is now added toward the start of this story. As the closure approaches, we’ll continue with previews and updates, and if you have questions, we’ll do our best to get and publish the answers.

32 Replies to "VIADUCT CLOSURE COUNTDOWN: What you need to know from today's Q&A with city, county, state reps"

  • Seattliet April 18, 2016 (1:04 pm)

     “The biggest message: Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.”  Seattle’s leaders need to take this advice and use it for city planning:  freeways, roadways, etc.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb April 18, 2016 (1:49 pm)

    Hopefully The Stranger will send someone over from Capitol Hill so they can experience firsthand what an utterly stupid idea “Surface/Transit” was…and still is….wait….they won’t, they were just pimping it again in the last issue. 

  • Matthew April 18, 2016 (1:52 pm)

    why are they not routing buses to the SODO light rail station, and how come no water taxi shuttle for delridge riders?

    • David April 18, 2016 (7:05 pm)

      According to the Metro spokesperson, there will be bus detours routed onto the SODO busway.  Unfortunately, they aren’t the buses going to/from West Seattle.  I’d like to know what criteria that Metro used in deciding that buses to/from West Seattle are stuck mingling with all the other surface traffic, but the special buses from Burien, Normandy Park, and Des Moines get to use the SODO busway?  

      Way to treat the Seattle taxpayers who voted to pay for better transit service.

      • LarryB April 19, 2016 (12:48 pm)

        I’d speculate that it’s because of the terminals. For example, the 21 continues as the 5 through downtown, and there’s no practical way to get from the bus tunnel exit at Convention Place back over to Aurora, plus it’d cut off a lot of regular users in Belltown.

        Far too many Metro routes are numbered as two routes. That creates all sorts of schedule problems. A traffic jam in Greenwood can make the 21 bunch up until there’s a 30 minute wait and three show up within 15 minutes of each other.

  • Gene April 18, 2016 (2:02 pm)

    “We noted that the surface Spokane St. lane closures UNDER the west end of the bridge include some daytime work and he said he would “take that back” (to HQ) for consideration.”

    the fact that city government didn’t pick up on this from the get go is just par for the course– too bad they can’t ” plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead,” as they continually tell the public to do. 

  • Sertinsa April 18, 2016 (2:23 pm)

    There really are some good ideas on the ‘commuter options’ .pdf. For two weeks, it’ll give us all a chance to maybe try something new, have our eyes opened, and perhaps even adopt a new commuting method after all the dust settles. Remember, commuting is a team sport, and we’re all on the same team.

  • Shepherd Siegel April 18, 2016 (2:58 pm)

    Thanks for putting so much good information in one place . . . wow, this is exactly 10 days away…I’ll keep watching for updates…

  • gws April 18, 2016 (4:35 pm)

    Any word if the surface streets under the viaduct will remain open or will they also be closed during the viaduct closure?

    • WSB April 18, 2016 (5:08 pm)


  • Gene April 18, 2016 (5:15 pm)

    Wish City Government thought we were all on the same team.

  • David April 18, 2016 (7:07 pm)

    The metro spokesperson mentioned some temporary transit lanes and temporary lane enforcement.  Unfortunately due to the background noise caused by the ferry being unloaded, I couldn’t make out where these temporary transit only lanes will exist.  Was anybody able to understand his answer?

    • WSB April 18, 2016 (7:48 pm)

      Apologies, we are long overdue for audio equipment. I will listen back to that part (I asked the question since it had come up in comments) and transcribe a bit later this evening.

      • WSB April 19, 2016 (12:33 am)

        I thought I’d heard Blanchard mentioned in the reply, besides “further south on 4th.” Reading the closure FAQ on, I found the list – see the notations “for transit,” in this reply to a question about parking restrictions:


        Parking restrictions during the closure

        Downtown/Belltown/South Lake Union

        • South side of Blanchard between 3rd Ave and Westlake Ave (3 p.m. – 7 p.m., for transit, weekdays)
        • North side of Blanchard between 5th Ave and 6th Ave (3 p.m. – 7 p.m., for transit, weekdays)
        • North side of Lenora between Westlake and 3rd Ave (6 a.m. – 10 a.m., for transit, weekdays)
        • North side of Olive Way between 4th Ave and 6th Ave (24/7, for transit)
        • South side of Wall St between 6th Ave and 5th Ave (24/7, to facilitate double left turn to 5th Ave)
        • South side of Battery St between 4th Ave and 5th Ave (3 p.m. – 7 p.m. for right turns from 4th to Battery, weekdays)
        • South side of John St. between 6th Ave N and Aurora Ave N (24/7, for trucks turning)
        • North side of John St. between 9th Ave N and Dexter Ave N (24/7, for transit)
        • South side of Valley St between Fairview Ave N and Minor Ave N (24/7, for transit)
        • East side of Minor Ave N south of Valley St (24/7, for transit)


        Pioneer Square/SoDo

        • Both sides of 1st Ave S between S King St and Cherry St (6 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., weekdays)
        • Both sides of 4th Ave S between S Spokane St and S Massachusetts St (6 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., for transit, weekdays)
        • West side of 5th Ave S. between S. Jackson St and Seattle Blvd S. (24/7, for transit)


        West Seattle

        • East side of Harbor Ave SW between Fairmount Ave SW and SW Maryland Pl (2 a.m. – 5 a.m., for Water Taxi parking, weekdays)
        • East side of Delridge Way SW between SW Edmunds and SW Oregon St (6 a.m. – 10 a.m., for transit, weekdays)

        North Seattle

        • East side of 8th Ave NW between NW 97th and NW 98th (24/7, for transit)</blockquote>


  • Snowball April 18, 2016 (8:05 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.

    • WSB April 18, 2016 (8:24 pm)

      If by “the news” you mean TV, remember they are regional, not local, and they have to frame for 22 counties. There already are some hellacious commutes for those in the far north and south ends of the Metro area, so that’s probably who they mean by 4 am – thinking about a domino effect. No, the West Seattle rush hour will not start at 4 am. And as we heard again this morning, the number of vehicles that use the Viaduct is lower than it was in 2011 – 90,000 now, 110,000 (a day) then – more ride the bus, as you probably know. Also, RapidRide didn’t exist then – it launched in September 2012 – so bus service is somewhat different (as you might recall, it replaced the 54/55, with fewer stops because of the RR concept). And looking up some old stories, the 54/55 took a different route than what’s being planned for C … so while I hope you get some anecdotal replies, it might just be a case of leave early that Friday, and be prepared to get to work earlier than you expected … TR

    • Trickycoolj April 18, 2016 (9:14 pm)

      The 4am commuters are usually heading to first shift at the Boeing factories that start at 5am. I know people that have to leave their homes at 3:30am in order to go out of their way to find daycares open at that hour and get to work and find parking which includes a 15-20minute hike to the door. 

  • David April 18, 2016 (9:34 pm)

    If I could design the transit plan for getting W Seattle commuters into downtown during Viadoom-II, it would go something like this.

    Northbound (morning peak hours):

    Rapid Ride, 21X, 55, 120 exit from West Seattle Bridge at 4th Ave S.  Turn right on 4th Ave S.  Turn right on S Spokane St.  Turn left on to SODO Busway Street.  Turn Left onto S Lander Street.  Stop on S Lander St between SODO Busway and 4th Ave S.  Everyone gets off the bus and either boards light rail, or another bus at the SODO Station.  Downtown stops are at International District, Pioneer Station, University Street Station, Westlake Center.  If you need to get to South Lake Union, then transfer to the SLUT at Westlake Station.  

    Neither of these buses that originated in West Seattle will continue to downtown.  Instead they will dead-head back to West Seattle to pick up more passengers.  Thus, getting as many W Seattleites to the SODO station as possible.  This also prevents drivers from having to travel along 4th Ave S at a rate of inches per hour. 

    Southbound (evening peak hours):

    Anybody interested in getting to Rapid Ride, 21X, 55, 120 will take a Southbound train or bus to SODO Station.  At SODO station, walk to S Lander street between 4th Ave S and the SODO Busway where the desired bus will be traveling westbound and pick you up.  Bus continues WB on S Lander Way to 1st Ave S.  Turns left on 1st Ave S and proceeds to get on to the West Seattle Bridge at 1st Ave S and Spokane St.  

    The bus that picks you up on S Lander between 4th Ave S and the SODO Station did not come from downtown.  Instead, a temporary staging area is set up in the city light parking lot at 4th and Spokane.  Walls of busses can be accommodated at this location and will then be staged to the S Lander Street stop at the SODO station as as needed to accommodate passenger loads (ideally there would be a Rapid Ride and 120 to meet each train, and 55/21X would be met every other train).  These busses don’t come from downtown as the amount of time they’d be stuck in traffic would be ridiculous.  Instead, once they reach the end of their line, they dead-head back to the City Light parking lot at 4th and Spokane and wait to be dispatched to waiting passengers. 

    This plan would move as many people as possible without getting transit vehicles stuck in the same surface traffic as all the other commuters.  Yes, there are still some bottlenecks, but nothing that will be as severe as 4th Ave on the north side of I90.

    • newnative April 19, 2016 (9:53 am)

      Outside of Viadoom-the Big Budget Sequel, I wish there were more service in and out of the SODO light rail station on every day.  I can’t rely on the 50-once an hour on Sundays, poor time performance on half-hourly service.  I would use the light rail a lot more often to go downtown, Cap Hill.  

  • Chris W. April 19, 2016 (9:32 am)

    Another bus option for folks headed downtown:  Bus 50 goes from Alki beach to CA Ave, through Jxn, then down Genessee to Delridge.  It get on the bridge there, passes the viaduct entrance, exits down to 1st, tuns on Lander, and gets you to the SODO train station.   I always choose this option when there are accidents on the bridge or viaduct.  Have had good luck so far. 

  • wetone April 19, 2016 (11:03 am)

    Hopefully the refurbished Spokane St. viaduct is up to the task of much more traffic. The new road surface along with it’s many recent  patches is failing quickly and looks to need a real total rework once again. Going to start calling our Mayor,  Mayor Patchwork as little is fixed correctly these days.   

  • bolo April 19, 2016 (11:41 am)

    “We also asked the SDOT rep why, now that the date is set for this, they aren’t considering delaying the Fauntleroy Expressway-related bridge and lane closures until the Viaduct closure is over. SDOT’s rep first said they didn’t think there would be a problem because the bridge closures are at night only.”

    Thanks for asking that important question WSB. The nightime bridge work will be a problem for those that have rearranged our transit times to occur outside of the major rush hours– just like these reps have asked us to do. Only to get caught in another bottleneck…

    Some would call this simply a lack of common sense oversight.

  • rob April 19, 2016 (7:50 pm)

     where was scott kubley on this story. Also remember 23 av e is under construction and bin reduced to one lane each way also lake washington Blvd is also under construction . MLK  has also been brought down to one lane each way . This one is going to be rough

    • WSB April 19, 2016 (9:03 pm)

      Hi, Rob. Kubly was among those who briefed the City Council last week. At this event, the four agencies represented sent people from varying levels. Jon Layzer is SDOT’s “major projects director.” Dave Sowers from WSDOT is “deputy program administrator” for the Highway 99 project. Paul Brodeur from the county is the Marine Division Director, and Victor Obeso is a deputy general manager at Metro.

  • Nancy R April 21, 2016 (2:50 pm)

    It would be a great time to try bike commuting.   You can get downtown from North Admiral in just 35 minutes.   Also the water taxi can take bicycles.   Give it a try!  Its good exercise and surprisingly easy.

  • M April 22, 2016 (10:09 pm)

    Doesn’t it seem a little odd that the surface streets will remain open? They don’t want to take the chance of tunneling while people are ON the viaduct, but it’s ok for anyone UNDER the viaduct? Please fill me in if I’m missing something here! 

  • Deb April 27, 2016 (5:41 pm)

    Thank you for posting today’s video, and for covering this closure so well.  It’s nice to have all the info I need in one place.

    • WSB April 27, 2016 (6:07 pm)

      Just want to be sure it’s clear – this is from the April 18th briefing. Nothing has changed that I know of, except that the project I asked about at the start of the Q&A – Fauntleroy Expressway – HAS since been postponed until at least mid-May. One more briefing tomorrow at 10:45, and we’ll be there too …

Sorry, comment time is over.