VIADUCT TO TUNNEL: New traffic-info website and other updates as January 11th Highway 99 closure approaches

(WSB photos. Future Alaskan Way surface signal, in what’s still a construction zone where today’s briefing was held)

12:20 PM: Close to where northbound vehicles will enter the new Highway 99 tunnel starting in a few months, WSDOT, SDOT, and Metro just held another update/briefing event for the media.

Part of it was intended to underscore just how much work has to be done during the ~3 weeks between permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and opening of the tunnel – this new WSDOT video explains it:

No major new information about the closure period at today’s briefing, but we were there and noted some key points:

-SDOT has launched a new traffic-info website today at (this is where you can, among other things, sign up for neighborhood-specific alerts, which were previewed at a previous briefing)
-Metro is working on a new batch of brochures with information on bus changes
-Metro also notes that during the closure it will be “more dynamic,” with rerouting “on the fly” if needed
-The Water Taxi “two-boat” schedule information should be available online “soon”

(WSDOT’s tunnel/viaduct project administrator Dave Sowers)

-WSDOT says the tunnel will be toll-free into the summer, with tolling probably not starting until July/August
-You’re now warned that this is really just the start of a 5-year period of transportation turbulence in the city
-West Seattleites are reminded again that the three-week Highway 99 closure, and tunnel opening, will be followed by another two weeks or so of work before the new connection for those exiting NB 99 to downtown is ready to open

Otherwise, the big dates ahead are the same – January 4th for the closure of the SB 99 ramp to SODO, January 11th for the Alaskan Way Viaduct permanent shutdown/Highway 99 closure to get connection work done on both ends of the tunnel (again, the WSDOT video above explains), February 2-3 for the goodbye/hello weekend, tunnel opening TBA after that. We recorded today’s briefing and are processing the video, and will add it along with more toplines when ready.

7:42 PM: Here’s our video of the entire briefing:

Speakers were WSDOT’s Dave Sowers, SDOT’s Heather Marx, and Metro’s Bill Bryant. And another reminder – southbound 99 will be closed between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge this weekend for more prep work, starting around 9 tomorrow night and potentially continuing until very early Monday (as usual, we’ll publish an update if the closure ends early). This is a weather-dependent closure, WSDOT says, but so far the weekend forecast looks mostly dry.

One more reminder – next chance to bring your questions directly to transportation reps will be Monday’s meeting of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, 6:30 pm November 19th at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon).

18 Replies to "VIADUCT TO TUNNEL: New traffic-info website and other updates as January 11th Highway 99 closure approaches"

  • West Seattle Hipster November 15, 2018 (12:37 pm)

    A small chuckle at the warning of 5 years of traffic turbulence ahead.  Does that mean after 5 years our traffic situation will be better?  đź¤”

  • Lisa November 15, 2018 (1:32 pm)

    Wait, what? The START of 5 years of turbulence? I do not understand that. I thought the opening would be the start of relief after 5+ years of slowdowns and turbulence!

  • White Centaur November 15, 2018 (1:37 pm)

    Has anyone fully explained the projects leading to the period of maximum constraint? (Referencing this article: What’s clear to me:Viaduct closes/three weeks w/o Hwy 99, tunnel opens, Viaduct demo starts, waterfront park construction starts…the waterfront has been under construction for as long as I worked down there, so I’m not sure why this’ll be worse aside from the big change we’ve been planning for, which doesn’t really sound like the reason for the warning aside from the closure period.Convention center construction…is this going to intermittently close I-5 or something?Rainier Square construction…fine.There have been a million simultaneous projects happening in downtown for years, so that’s not new.What am I missing that makes this next five years so different? I’m not trying to be sassy – promise – just want to understand what is causing this dire warning to everyone, because everything I read sounds like more of the same.SDOT says they’re managing construction projects in the right-of-way, but the only thing I can think of is there will be a bunch of private projects lined-up after the viaduct closure that they’re not including in blog posts so the public doesn’t go after developers and private companies in anger.And I also don’t see an infrastructure or transit project opening in five years that will “make it better” at the end. Soooooo…again, I feel like the private projects are what the constraint will be all about.Anyone have more intel?

    • White Centaur November 15, 2018 (1:49 pm)

      Sorry that looks like one gross run-on sentence. Apparently the bullet function doesn’t work! :)

      • WSB November 15, 2018 (1:51 pm)

        Sorry, we restored some functionality to the comment editing/image adding/formatting software and it’s still buggy. Apologies. Anyway, regarding the Period of Maximum Constraint (no catchy name yet, not sure if PerMaxCon will work) is explained somewhat in this SDOT post from a couple months ago, including a list of downtown-crunching projects:

        • White Centraur November 15, 2018 (2:09 pm)

          Yeah, that’s the same blog post I was just researching prior to asking the question. I did just visit the new Seattle Traffic website ( that had some new info: Pike/Pine corridor work (ah, yes, I remember that one now), transit plaza upgrades throughout downtown (yep – remember taking a survey on some of those too), and a new one for me: Market to MOHAI. So it sounds like lot of walkability/beautification work. If its municipal work leading to the constraint, I’m not sure why they didn’t stagger the construction schedule more – maybe to meet timelines for grants? I still don’t see any reason to believe traffic will be better afterward, as – when lane closures start subsiding – we still will have seen five more years of population growth in the meantime. The First Ave streetcar will also add to the constraint. I don’t see that helping with easing congestion afterward much though. I’m not judging the projects – just want to dissect the problem because I’m a nerd!

        • Michael Taylor-Judd November 16, 2018 (9:32 am)

          Folks around the City departments have started calling it “MaxCon,” WSB…The Convention Center construction and Key Arena rebuild are going to wreak havoc on traffic for the next few years, but a major effect from the Convention Center expansion is that the bus station underground will close and all of the buses that currently run in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will come up to surface streets.

          • Nwmama November 16, 2018 (9:45 am)

            Ah, the tunnel closure!  Why in the world do they need to do that to expand the convention center?  Seems like they could have come up with a design that didn’t impact the entire city for such a time!  Hope it’s not long

          • Michael Taylor-Judd November 16, 2018 (10:23 am)

            Much of the expansion is happening on top of the existing site of the Convention Center bus station, but the light rail service replacing many of those buses won’t be online until 2021, 2023, and 2024.

  • AIDM November 15, 2018 (3:18 pm)

    Is all of the construction on 1st ave between Jackson and Yesler complete? Or will it be complete when the Viaduct closes? With 99 down, we have four North-South thoroughfares: I-5, 4th Ave, Airport Way and 1st Ave. I’m really hoping that they have their sh** together enough to have 1st moving smoothly, but I worry that they do not.

    • WSB November 15, 2018 (3:44 pm)

      That question was asked. It was mostly deflected to the mayor’s office (which didn’t have anyone present) in the context of her pending decision on the future of the Center City Connector.

  • FeelingLazyInFairmontPark November 15, 2018 (7:40 pm)

    I hate to be “that guy” but I would like to outsource a lot of the navigation through these projects so I can maintain my own sanity and mental bandwidth. Anyway… does anyone know if on Jan 11th I’ll be able to just turn Waze or Google Maps on to help me navigate through all of this? Do those platforms update their data daily (hourly)?  

    • WSB November 15, 2018 (7:41 pm)

      The city has partnered with some mapping organizations – check out the new website linked above.

  • AMD November 15, 2018 (8:07 pm)

    I’m probably just going to sit home and cry for a few weeks.Less productive than sucking it up, but at least there’ll be one less car on the road, right?

  • anonyme November 16, 2018 (12:46 pm)

    Pity the poor folks who have to work outside the peninsula, especially downtown.  I’ve been in Seattle for 33 years, and all of the “fixes” over the years just seem to make problems worse and worse and worse.  I’ve never seen such poor planning and coordination of projects.

  • Wendy November 16, 2018 (2:06 pm)

    I cannot believe our City (and probably the entire State, by now) has been taken over by a bunch of anti-progressives like the “planners” who decided to build the ill-fated tunnel and coordinate everything about that project. First, surface streets  and no reasonable pedestrian areas along what used to be a vibrant, funky waterfront. Then, no downtown exits from the tunnel, which is apparently designed to funnel the “undesirables” away from the lifeblood of Seattle. Now, planned demolition of the scenic, iconic Viaduct with no plan — NO PLAN — to deal with traffic gridlock, effectively sealing out visitors, workers, and everyone else who does not live Downtown, during the holiday season!! Who are these people, making decisions and executing such horrendous plans? Certainly, not native Seattlites like me.

    • WSB November 16, 2018 (2:22 pm)

      Hi. The Viaduct closure and demolition are happening AFTER the holiday season – January 11th closure, tunnel opening likely early February, demolition to follow and likely to be done well before the following holiday season – TR

  • dsa November 16, 2018 (2:27 pm)

    Whatever you have to get done north of here, do it before 1/11/19, or change plans.

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