Farewell, Alaskan Way Viaduct: What happens tonight, and the latest on what’s ahead

7:46 PM: A day full of Alaskan Way Viaduct nostalgia ended with a colorful sunset.

Now, it’s almost closure time.

No big briefing today but we have new information including responses to reader questions. First, a reminder of the timeline:

-10 pm, Highway 99 officially closes between the West Seattle Bridge and south end of Battery Street Tunnel. WSDOT says the Columbia Street onramp will be the first section closed, around 9:45 pm.

Here’s how work begins after that.

Here again is the full timeline.

WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: Two-boat service begins Monday (January 14th). While seeking answers to readers’ questions, here’s what we have learned:

-Second boat on the run will be the San Juan Express, capacity 245 passengers, which is close to the size of the regular boat MV Doc Maynard. (The much-smaller Spirit of Kingston will remain available as a backup.) From spokesperson Brent Champaco:

The schedule – which is subject to change – has the San Juan Clipper starting the day’s service with the 5:55 a.m. sailing out of Seattle followed by the 6:15 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest. The Doc Maynard will follow with the 6:15 a.m. sailing out of Seattle and the 6:30 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest. The two vessels will alternate until the 9:25 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest.

We’ll use the Doc Maynard for the midday service between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Both boats will resume service beginning with the 3:25 p.m. sailings out of Seacrest (Doc Maynard) and Pier 52 (San Juan Clipper) respectively, until the final sailing at 7:05 p.m. out of West Seattle.

Please note that the 5:05 p.m. sailing out of Pier 52 in Seattle has been moved up to 5 p.m. This is a slight change to the expanded schedule that’s in our printed brochures.

Here’s the planned schedule including the Sally Fox on the Vashon route, which is not adding capacity:

WATER TAXI SHUTTLES: In response to questions about whether larger buses will be used, spokesperson Torie Rynning says no, they’ve just doubled up here too: Two 19-passenger shuttles on each of the two routes during peak hours, one during the added midday hours. The Pier 2 parking shuttles will use a 19-passenger bus and a 33-passenger bus.

ONE MORE WATER TAXI NOTE: King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to be at the dock for a while Monday morning.

RIDE2 CONTINUES: We asked Metro about the Ride2 usage so far: It averaged 26 passengers a day during last week’s non-holidays. If you missed the original announcement a month ago, this is an on-demand service you can use provided your starting or ending point is either The Junction or the Water Taxi dock. Find out more here.

POLICE OFFICERS DIRECTING TRAFFIC: The plan to have police assigned to certain intersections has been in the works for a while. Now, SDOT has provided the list and maps of where – part of this new post on the city’s recently launched traffic-info website. Here for example is the map showing the plan for 4th/Spokane:

TRAFFIC COVERAGE ON WSB: It’s been a priority for a long time and you can count on us to step it way up during the Highway 99 closure and beyond. Your help is always important – now more than ever. If you see a problem and we’re not reporting it, please let us know when you can (once of course you have reported it to authorities, if they’re not on the scene either) – safely and legally – 206-203-6302, text or voice, 24/7. Meantime, we’ll update later tonight once the closure’s officially in effect. And we’ll be adjusting our standard resources (like the cameras page) to reflect “the new normal.”

10:05 PM: The closure has indeed begun – after a crowd of drivers took to the Viaduct to travel it one last time! Separate report to come, but for starters:

11:30 PM: We haven’t published a separate update yet because it’s still not fully closed – it’s taken an hour and a half so far to clear the last vehicles off!

12:07 AM SATURDAY: Finally cleared, says WSDOT.

27 Replies to "Farewell, Alaskan Way Viaduct: What happens tonight, and the latest on what's ahead"

  • Mark Tiedemann January 11, 2019 (8:02 pm)

    I appreciate all of the coverage you have been providing to us so far!  We will get through this together.

  • zmmr January 11, 2019 (8:30 pm)

    GOOD BYE Viaduct

    Hello HEADACHES!! for the next 20 years

  • DP January 11, 2019 (8:31 pm)

    So there really will be no water taxis this weekend? Seems like we’re missing 2 days of transit options here.

    • WSB January 11, 2019 (8:40 pm)

      Yes, we asked that way back when and they have said all along, no weekend service. Except for the “celebration” weekend (and that wasn’t guaranteed at some point).

  • HS January 11, 2019 (9:11 pm)

    ✌️ going with the flow from tomorrow on ✌️ 

  • Kalo January 11, 2019 (9:16 pm)

    YAY! Water taxi service all day M – F! That’s new, and much appreciated.Thank you WSBlog for all your awesome coverage of this upcoming challenge.

  • Alki water taxi user January 11, 2019 (9:28 pm)

    With two shuttle buses running per route, sounds like a max of 38 passengers delivered to Seacrest pier for each water taxi run.  I think during commuter hours many people will be unable to take the shuttle bus to the taxi due to overcrowded buses.  Buses with higher passenger capacities should be used during peak hours.  The walking distances to the pier are very long.  Many locals will have to drive their cars to park near Seacrest if they are to ride the water taxi to downtown.  I hope the ‘authorities’ are prepared to quickly upgrade the shuttle service with larger shuttle buses!

    • Newbie January 11, 2019 (10:15 pm)

      I’m glad to hear there will be 2 shuttle buses per route. Is there a bus schedule for the second shuttle bus?

    • Kalo January 12, 2019 (5:12 pm)

      Approx. 1500 steps from the Pier 2 parking area (across from 7-11 on Harbor) to to water taxi dock. Think of how much better your health will be after getting in some good steps 5 days a week!

  • kim January 11, 2019 (9:32 pm)

    Does anyone know the  bike capacity on the boats?Thank you!

  • zephyr January 11, 2019 (9:36 pm)

    Wow.  It’s crazy busy on the Viaduct tonight–especially going Northbound.  Looks like the morning commute, but it’s moving at a steady pace.  This was as of thirty minutes ago. 

  • AMD January 11, 2019 (9:42 pm)


  • Annoyed January 11, 2019 (10:24 pm)

    My late 9:28 bus took the new route. It took 30 minutes to get home instead of 15. I wish they would drop a stop in SoDo so I could at least plan on the train during rush hour.

    • Loretta January 12, 2019 (7:50 am)

      …and that’s not rush hour 

  • cjboffoli January 11, 2019 (10:36 pm)

    Goodbye to the dark, dirty, deafeningly loud, 50’s era monument to the supremacy of the gas guzzling automobile. I’m eager to see Seattle’s waterfront opened up  in a similar manner to  how the dismantling of Boston’s Central Artery and San Francisco’s Embarcadero freeway have restored light, pedestrians and bicyclists to key parts of those cities. Here’s to the point in  future when we’ll look back on 2019 and perhaps will recognize the Alaskan Way Viaduct for the anachronism it once was. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

    • Kathy January 12, 2019 (11:23 pm)

      I hear you, but those cars will still be guzzling  gas in the underground monument and belching out their fumes to the surface.  I am looking forward to the time when the gas guzzling cars are the anachronism.

  • John Smith January 11, 2019 (10:47 pm)

    I think the Viaduct traffic northbound may not have been so bad as it looked. There was a significant bump (caused by grinding the existing asphalt) near where the existing lane configuration will change to the permanent lane configuration, which created a significant traffic backup. I did my final (northbound) drive on the Viaduct early this afternoon. It’s a shame that we’ll end up with less roadway capacity than existed in the late 1950s.

  • dsa January 11, 2019 (11:41 pm)

    Less lanes, more through traffic, glad I don’t have to explain the rational.

  • Villagegreen January 11, 2019 (11:53 pm)

    Granted, I didn’t live her until the late nineties, but from the day I arrived I thought the viaduct was a tremendous blemish on the face of this beautiful city. I admit I’ll miss the view, but I’m super excited for a new waterfront! And I always preferred the view from the West Seattle Bridge anyway. 

  • bolo January 12, 2019 (11:49 am)

    Interesting photo. Could that be near the south entrance to the Battery Street Tunnel? Two lanes, each direction, no center divider? How did we ever survive without jersey barriers? And that was when headlights were much less bright, tires & brakes were much worse. Speed limits were higher back then, too.

  • MJ January 12, 2019 (3:01 pm)

    The waterfront is earily quiet today.  Contractors are actively working the project on a surprisingly nice day.  And lots of bike riders out riding today!

    • WSB January 12, 2019 (3:54 pm)

      It’s rather fortuitous that the forecast is for sunny days through Tuesday, optimal for everybody who’s spending more time outside because of this, from construction/demolition workers to bicycle riders to bus riders to (weekdays) Water Taxi riders.

Sorry, comment time is over.