VIDEO: Viaduct closure traffic briefing on Day 6

ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:20 PM: Almost didn’t make it to today’s multi-department briefing on Viaduct-closure traffic … because of the traffic. The bridge was still backed up to the crest at 10:30 am, and 1st Avenue S. was bumper-to-bumper. First highlight, the daily late-morning tunneling update:


149 feet of the 385 to get the machine clear of the underside of the Viaduct. But, Dave Sowers of WSDOT told us and the other media at this morning’s briefing (held as usual on the downtown Water Taxi dock, because of the Viaduct backdrop), they don’t want to predict when they’ll be done with the under-the-Viaduct phase – let alone speculate on whether there’s any chance of finishing that sooner than the “about two weeks” timeframe. The ground remains stable around and over the machine, Sowers said, and everything “looks great.”

(From left, SDOT’s Jon Layzer, Metro’s Victor Obeso, WSDOT’s Dave Sowers)

No Seattle Tunnel Partners rep at this briefing (unlike the one via phone yesterday, which was focused on tunneling), since this was supposed to be about traffic and transit. We asked Victor Obeso from Metro if the afternoon problems headed this way were going to lead to any changes in the southbound routes that have been getting stuck behind trains at Lander. Short answer: No. Longer answer: They’re continuing to monitor and evaluate.

More to come in a bit. We also recorded it all on video so you can watch for yourself once we have it uploaded. (UPDATE: Here’s the video:)

ADDED 1:36 PM: Other toplines – unlike the Water Taxi, where passengers can be very precisely counted, other modes of travel can only estimate trends since the closure began. Bus usage in general is estimated to be up a single-digit percentage overall, Metro says, but they ran more than 70 extra trips the first three days. Sound Transit, 10 percent for light rail, 15 percent for Sounder trains. Something else that’s up: Jon Layzer of SDOT noted a big increase in “blocking incidents,” although deployment of Incident Response Teams and other people to help clear them has been helpful.

Anything they’ve learned so far that will be kept post-closure? he was asked. While he didn’t commit to anything, he did promise they would have an “after-action report” to look at such things.

5 Replies to "VIDEO: Viaduct closure traffic briefing on Day 6"

  • KT May 4, 2016 (1:56 pm)

    Color my a cynic but this sounds to me ears “we don’t consider it a priority”.  Because after all, they have two weeks to figure it out!  

    …”were going to lead to any changes in the southbound routes that have been getting stuck behind trains at Lander. Short answer: No. Longer answer: They’re continuing to monitor and evaluate…”

  • rpo May 4, 2016 (2:02 pm)

    I just spent 40 minutes waiting for a single train to pass on Lander.  There was someone pacing the intersection yelling into a radio to “keep it going” and “why are you stopping again” each time the train stopped.  I did not envy him.

    The subsequent traffic jams on 1st and 4th must have been huge.

  • Cass May 4, 2016 (5:42 pm)

    The local 21, the 50 and the Vashon express buses have to wait for these trains all the time.  It is so common for my bus to be stuck behind a train while I’m waiting for the 21 to W. Seattle at 1st and Lander that I don’t even think of it as a remarkable occurrence.  Do you think all of these complaints about the re-routed buses having to wait for the trains will help the buses that normally use Lander in the long term?  Years ago I thought the bus move from 1st to 4th was temporary, but it seems to have become permanent.  

    During the 10ish minutes (bus delayed by train…) I waited for the 21 just before 4 I saw a 120, 125, 21X , and 2 Cs go by.

  • RayWest May 4, 2016 (6:18 pm)

    God help us if Bertha breaks down again.

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