VIADUCT CLOSURE: Riding the Water Taxi? Planning to park? New info


A day and a half to go until the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed early Friday so that the Highway 99 tunneling machine can start going under it. If you work in or near downtown, you might be planning to use the West Seattle Water Taxi, which has a new boat twice the capacity of the one it had during the 2011 Viaduct closure, among other attributes (the Doc Maynard is faster, too). Ideally, you will get to and from the dock at Seacrest by busing, biking (the boat has room for 26 bikes), walking, or getting dropped off at the dock. If none of that is possible – here’s what you need to know about the parking situation, with added spaces during the closure, as detailed in this special brochure:


That’s the sign at the entrance to Pier 2, right across from the 7-11 in the 2400 block of Harbor Avenue SW, and that’s where you will drive in – these gates will be open:


This lot has about 200 parking spaces and a free shuttle to and from Seacrest – separate from the regular WT shuttle – but because it’s a “secured facility,” it also has restrictions:

It will be staffed Monday through Friday, in the morning from 5:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and in the afternoon between 4 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Cars will not be accessible outside of these hours. We suggest you park here 20 minutes before sailing time. The shuttle will run the .6 mile route continuously between Pier 2 and Seacrest Park.

The county Department of Transportation, which operates the Water Taxi, says the “staffing” means people will be there to point you in the right direction and answer questions.

Closer to the pier, more street parking along Harbor Avenue SW should be available because – as the now-in-place no-parking signs warn – parking is off-limits 2-5 am along the water side of Harbor Avenue during the closure. ONE CHANGE:


Thanks to nearby resident Carolyn for catching this – there’s a change in where that restriction is in place. While the Water Taxi’s closure-related brochure said they would be only south of Seacrest, they instead stretch north to just east of the small angled-parking area at Duwamish Head. Again, these street-parking spaces are available except for 2-5 am.

Finally, about 40 spaces will be available in this unpaved area south of Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), which is the city-owned Bronson street end – look for the Parks sign so you know you’re in the right place:


Where NOT to park: Don Armeni Boat Ramp. While some spaces were made available there in 2011, that was late October and not much boating going on. This time it’s not part of the plan.

Other points if you’re new to the Water Taxi:

*The sailing schedule is here. The Doc Maynard leaves West Seattle every half-hour from 6:15 to 9:15, and then takes a break until 11 am.

*You can buy your ticket(s) via machines at the dock – at Seacrest, on the east side of the building – or else pay as you board, with exact-change cash or an ORCA card.

*Find the shuttle-bus schedules via this page on the Water Taxi website – follow the “buses” tab and then click the route number for the schedule. (Almost forgot to mention – as announced last week, these buses will be upsized during the closure, 39 passengers.)

And again, here’s the special Viaduct-closure-related brochure for the West Seattle Water Taxi. We’ll have a crew at Seacrest on Friday morning to report on how things are going, as part of our expanded commute coverage during the Viaduct closure.

31 Replies to "VIADUCT CLOSURE: Riding the Water Taxi? Planning to park? New info"

  • Matt April 27, 2016 (9:11 am)

    Lots of control emphasis on the boat ramp not being used for parking, funny I’ve never seen it full of boat trailers, usually more sightseers than anything. 

  • sbre April 27, 2016 (9:35 am)

    IF you are planning on using any of these parking lots off of Harbor Ave…PLEASE be very cautious of cyclists, runners, walkers and families of geese when turning into and coming out of the driveway.

    All day long, starting around 6am the path along the east side of Harbor Ave is heavily used by all sorts of people and wildlife, some making themselves more visually-obvious to the public than others.

    Don’t let your being-in-a-hurry get in the way of your being safe, the few extra seconds you take to look BEFORE you turn into or cross the sidewalk can save a lot of people a lot of time and heartache.

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 





  • Susan Zimmerman April 27, 2016 (9:58 am)

    Are they going to enforce the 2 hour parking zones?    I really hope so  since our little dental office will be greatly affected by this!  Parking down here is impossible for our patients  – even with 2 hour parking being enforced.  Honestly,  there needs to be a better permanent solution for Water Taxi parking.

  • K'lo April 27, 2016 (10:15 am)

    I hope there is signage letting folks know Don Armeni is NOT available. As the discussion was getting started about the 99 closure, this parking area was stated as available.  And, actually – how busy is the boat launch during the week? Come on SDOT! Close it to open parking on week-ends, let folks park there during this trying time on week days.

    • sam-c April 27, 2016 (11:19 am)

      Yeah, I thought that was the plan too? To use the boat loading area for parking.  I am having second thoughts about taking the water taxi to the M”s game on Friday. We bought tickets ages ago, before this timing was announced. Now Felix is pitching.  I am imagining trying to take the water taxi home after the game… this run is full… well, next one too… ok, great, we’re sitting here at the boat launch for 3 hours.

      • sam-c April 27, 2016 (11:24 am)

        (nevermind, the last sailing is at 10:30- so you better hope that you can get there after the game ends- if it’s full…. SOL)

  • Qbert April 27, 2016 (10:19 am)

    It’s too bad so much available parking is being left to recreational boaters, Don Armeni is a short walk from the water taxi dock. 

    That said, it was during a viaduct closure a couple of years ago when I decided to give up my seat on the bus and try riding a bike. The logic was that if people who could give up the car for the bus and people who could give up the bus for a bike, everyone would be better off. It was a challenge at first but I made it, and ended up making it my primary commute method. It’s not for everybody, but if you’re already doing a lot of walking to and from the bus stop anyway it’s not a big stretch, and it’s usually quicker. 

  • newnative April 27, 2016 (10:22 am)

    I don’t want to get into a fight with people who “NEED” their cars in a parking lot, however I want to strongly encourage people to walk and shuttle to the pier.  The Water Taxi Shuttle is free!!! It shuttles people from the Alaska Junction AND Admiral Junction!!!   

    • sam-c April 27, 2016 (11:31 am)

      the shuttle misses large portions of West Seattle. Perhaps people wanting their cars do not want to risk missing a critical transfer to a Rt 50, (which only comes around once an hour at night) or a transfer to something else.

  • wetone April 27, 2016 (10:27 am)

    Taking a lot of overnight parking away from residents along Harbor / Alki ave. seems goofy at best along with poor planning. Port’s property across from 7-11 could hold a lot more than 200 cars if opened up more and planned right. Port has all sorts of empty property in area sitting idle right now. Much of it paid for by tax payers ( one of the largest subsidized ports in nation) . Not impressed with city and port  working together on really helping with parking issues along with the limited access (really). Especially if there is longer down time for viaduct closure. If city wants people to use water taxi, dedicate some real parking for use. Don’t take more away from people that live in area, but this is Seattle.  As far as boat launch,  boating fishing and crabbing will be starting soon. If viaduct ends up being closed longer than the two weeks there would be some big problems. Can’t wait for Port to rebuild T-5  for the super container ships, people think getting in and out of WS  is bad now just wait. When the super ships are in, there will be big rigs hauling containers using lower bridge and West Marginal to move cargo filling area streets along with a lot more trains blocking roads and horn noise 24/7……. can’t wait  

  • Nw mama April 27, 2016 (10:56 am)

    Get an orca card! Way easier and reduced rate for the water taxi

  • Me April 27, 2016 (11:38 am)

    Maybe a dumb question, but what I’m wondering more about is, what happens on the other side?   That is, once we cross, how do I get past the viaduct to get into downtown?  Is there a street, say, in Pioneer square that I can use on foot, by taxi or Uber?  Since no one has brought it up, I’m guessing it’s a non-issue?

    • WSB April 27, 2016 (12:05 pm)

      Hi! Right at the end of the walkway up to Alaskan Way surface, which is alongside the driveway to the Washington State Ferry tollbooths for Colman Dock, you can cross under the Viaduct (remember, the surface streets won’t be closed, just the structure itself), and that takes you quickly into the north end of Pioneer Square. I believe it’s Yesler. You can easily reach Western, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.

      • Me April 27, 2016 (2:20 pm)

        Oh, I see.  I was worried that the entire area was going to be turned upside-down.  Good to know that not much is really changing then, at least for now.  Thanks!

  • Joe Szilagyi April 27, 2016 (12:04 pm)

    What is the rationale by the city to seal up that parking lot after commuting hours are over? I’ve been trying to figure out a logical reason for that, instead of just opening the gates at like 7am and closing them at 7pm (and ticketing any cars that stay behind or something).

    • WSB April 27, 2016 (12:10 pm)

      Joe – Apparently those are the rules the port set – as it’s their site. I asked about that as soon as I got the brochure at the media briefing on April 18th downtown. It’s because it’s “a secured facility” – access to the dock, the port, etc. – per the King County Marine Division folks I asked. But I’ll ask the port, which wasn’t present at that briefing as they don’t really have a role in this situation (aside from partial tunnel financing) …

  • JayDee April 27, 2016 (1:15 pm)

    I wonder how long it takes to load/unload 250 passengers.  I asked a crew member and he had no idea.

  • frustrated commuter April 27, 2016 (1:40 pm)

    Why is the Water Taxi so expensive ?  It takes longer than the bus, is noisy and crowded.  I don’t get why we even have it.  It is more of a tourist item.  I don’t see why it’s not at the same rate as the buses during the closure.

    • Me April 27, 2016 (2:23 pm)

      I’m assuming you’re doing a Donald Trump thing with that comment?  The water taxi is infinitely more convenient than a bus…

      • furstrated commuter April 28, 2016 (10:58 am)

        nope, that was not a Donald trump comment.  I don’t understand why the water taxi charges more to go to the same location.  If it is a commuter transport option, why does it not charge the same ? If they are charging more than it appears they are making it a tourist tour-boat option.  and by the same location i mean further away from everything.  it dumps you out way out on the dock, way down on Yesler.  it takes way longer on that than on the bus. 

      • KM April 28, 2016 (8:46 pm)

        It’s more convenient for some than taking a bus, but not for all West Seattle residents. From our neighborhood, it would take 2 busses to make it to the water taxi alone, plus the added cost, while it takes 1 bus from home to office within blocks of both doors. Frustrated Commuter posted their experience and a couples questions, not a derogatory stump speech.

  • Linda April 27, 2016 (2:14 pm)

    You can also take a LYFT or UBER to the West Seattle side of the water taxi and then again on the other side from downtown. Easier solution than parking!

  • WSTwoWheeler April 27, 2016 (2:27 pm)

    Can the low bridge opening tweets be sent out any earlier prior to the Spokane Street low bridge being closed to traffic? This would really help bicyclists and others who are using the low bridge to plan ahead and not get stuck.

    I’ve asked both and SDOT and have not gotten an answer. 

    • WSB April 27, 2016 (2:34 pm)

      I’m still pursuing the answer to that. If I don’t get it via e-mail today, I will be covering the pre-closure media event tomorrow at the Water Taxi dock, with reps from all involved agencies and then some (any other lingering questions, ask away) and will ask it there. – TR

      *Update, 2:50 pm – I just talked to SDOT’s communications/media-relations director and he is asking the bridge division on your/my behalf. I will update again with whatever I hear back. Sorry that nobody had responded to you earlier – I know they are incorporating citizen questions into the FAQs and responding to the mailbox – but I don’t know the process.

  • GM April 27, 2016 (7:42 pm)

    I’m having a hard time understanding the pickup/dropoff locations for either of the DARTS. They only mention a few stops, but the one time I’ve taken the one that goes towards California Junction, it let me off at Avalon. Are there other stops not listed on the route? I noticed a whole lot of ‘no parking’ sings on 36th, by Admiral, and am wondering if that is for the water taxi shuttle? Can someone let me know where ALL of the pick up and dropoffs are for either shuttle? I’m right in between the two loops, but have no idea which is an easier walk for me (36th/Hinds)

    • Aaxlu April 28, 2016 (8:49 am)


      The best tool I’ve found to use, if you have a smartphone, is the app OneBusAway. If you type in the route number, it will show all of the stops for that route on a map or list. Also, it shows what time the bus is supposed to be coming, although this isn’t always that accurate.

      Also interesting factoid, it was started by a couple of grad students at UW and has taken off from there.

  • adk April 28, 2016 (8:25 pm)

    Does anyone know what will happen if the stated 26 bike capacity is reached? I’ve seen it very close to full on regular runs in the past. The shuttle doesn’t come near my corner of West Seattle, and my office is north of downtown, so I need to bike on both ends. Getting turned away due to full bike racks would be a pretty big hassle.

    • WSB April 28, 2016 (8:39 pm)

      ADK, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get an answer tonight nor whether someone who knows will see this … we’ll see Water Taxi reps early in the morning so we’ll ask them if need be.

  • junctioneer April 29, 2016 (9:48 am)

    You noted the Doc Maynard is faster–but that isn’t really relevant since the commute is the same length regardless of boat. This is perhaps partially because they aren’t going full speed, but also I believe the Doc Maynard takes them longer to tie up/untie on either end.

  • Kathy April 30, 2016 (10:20 am)

    This is exactly why we need to expand Pronto ASAP. It would have been nice to have a Pronto Station closer to the Water Taxi dock downtown for “Viaductageddon”, and maybe some secure parking for personal bikes at the West Seattle dock.

Sorry, comment time is over.