The next major piece of the puzzle in the viaduct-to-tunnel transition will be in place by tomorrow morning – the new exit ramp from northbound Highway 99 into the south end of downtown will be open by tomorrow morning, as just announced by WSDOT:
The end of the holiday weekend brings the start of a new way for drivers and bus riders to get to downtown Seattle from northbound State Route 99.
The new off-ramp near the sports stadiums will open for drivers in time for the morning commute Tuesday, Feb, 19.
This new exit ramp leads to a new intersection at South Dearborn Street where drivers can choose to head straight to Alaskan Way and the waterfront, or turn right to access First Avenue and downtown or SODO. This video shows what the choices look like:
In addition to being an important link for travelers, engineers and researchers hope this new ramp will provide a link to something else – earthquake-resistant bridges.
This ramp is the first in the world built with flexible metals and bendable concrete designed to sway with a strong earthquake and return to its original shape. Its innovative design has won regional and national recognition.
After the opening of the new off-ramp, some bus routes will be adjusted. Please see King County Metro’s website for additional information.
(We’ll be following up separately with Metro and SDOT about the timeline for that and for other changes such as the end of the temporary 4th Avenue bus ramp/lane from the West Seattle Bridge. *6:56 PM UPDATE* Metro says yes, buses will shift to the new ramp starting Tuesday.)
WSDOT had warned for months that the exit ramp would take another one to two weeks to finish, after the opening of the Highway 99 tunnel; the recent snow added a few days to that timeline. Without this ramp, everyone using NB 99 in the past two weeks from West Seattle or points south has had to do so without being able to exit until north of the tunnel.