“If 90,000 drivers decide to get back in their cars, there’s no question that things will get worse quickly – don’t do it!” So said WSDOT’s Laura Newborn toward the end of today’s multi-agency media conference call, something WSDOT has organized most weekdays since the Alaskan Way Viaduct shutdown, and other participants echoed that: Keep those alternative commuting practices going if and when you can!
Meantime, toplines from the call:
(Framegrab from WSDOT construction cam)
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: WSDOT’s AWV Replacement Program deputy administrator Dave Sowers said they’re still on track to open the tunnel February 4th, right after the February 2-3 celebration weekend, with the NB 99 non-tunnel traffic exit ramp opening a week to 10 days after that. There’s a big concrete pour today, for “load distribution,” as they continue working on the ramps in the south portal area; it’s the groundwork for a future pour, “several hundred cubic yards of concrete.” So far the weather hasn’t really been a problem – absent truly heavy rain, or snow, they’re working through it. The next weather-dependent work is asphalt and striping, likely to happen this Friday, when drier weather is expected.
TRAFFIC ASSESSMENT: Though, as commenters on WSB and elsewhere observed, it felt worse than last week, WSDOT and SDOT reps on the call thought it wasn’t that different – WSDOT traffic engineer Morgan Balogh said “the peak started early and lasted longer,” and observed that people coming into Seattle from points south (via I-5, for example) had an added 15 minutes or so of travel time. SDOT’s Traffic Operations Center supervisor Tim McCall noted the West Seattle Bridge and East Marginal Way were key slowdown spots. As for the truck traffic that contributed to the latter …
PORT TRAFFIC: Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw said Terminal 18 on the east side of Harbor Island was the main contributor. They have more truck traffic this week because of more vessel calls starting last weekend … T-18 was so backed up that trucks couldn’t even get off the island, he said. And, “you can expect heavier traffic for the rest of the week.”
BUSES: They don’t have passenger counts yet, said Metro’s Jeff Switzer, noting that not all buses have counters. He was able to say that standby buses made 570 trips January 12th-19th, carrying nearly 20,000 riders. (We might hear more about the Metro overview tomorrow afternoon, when King County Executive Dow Constantine is leading a media briefing.) … We asked about bus-lane enforcement plans on the bridge besides the lane to 4th; SDOT is checking with SPD on that. They also are looking into the Avalon Way snarl. They altered the 1st and 4th Avenue S. signal timing today to help with traffic including buses.
WATER TAXI: No numbers for today yet. Last week Monday-Friday saw 11,456 passengers, said Switzer, compared to 3,490 in the comparable period last year. (2:45 PM UPDATE: 938 Water Taxi passengers this morning, down from 1,200 last Tuesday but still way up from a year ago, when 367 used it. Also up: The free parking at Pier 2 – which has a free shuttle to the dock – 71 cars today, vs. 53 last Tuesday. Still lots of room.)
P.S. We’re told the post-Viaduct situation is on the agenda at Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, with County Executive Constantine the tentatively scheduled guest, 6:30 pm Thursday (January 24th) at Neighborhood House High Point, 6400 Sylvan Way.