HIGHWAY 99 TRANSITION: New northbound exit ramp to downtown opens Tuesday

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.

16 Replies to "HIGHWAY 99 TRANSITION: New northbound exit ramp to downtown opens Tuesday"

  • HS February 18, 2019 (6:00 pm)

    Well hey, that opening is exciting. I also didn’t know about the “flexible metal and bendable concrete”. Pretty cool.

  • West Seattle Coug February 18, 2019 (6:22 pm)

    As one who catches the first 56 out of WS (5:15 at Olga), I’ll be curious if they have the buses going on 99 tomorrow morning. Pretty excited!

    • WSB February 18, 2019 (6:53 pm)

      Wasn’t sure if I’d get an answer given the time/day but – Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning just answered my ping quickly to say yes, they will make the change tomorrow. – TR

  • valvashon February 18, 2019 (6:58 pm)

    I see 99 is back to being a Federal Highway…

  • J February 18, 2019 (7:19 pm)

    Woohoo, this should speed up the bus commutes

  • Azimuth February 18, 2019 (8:03 pm)

    Oh well… The easy NB 99 drive had to end sometime…

  • Driver February 18, 2019 (8:14 pm)

    Does this mean the Bus Only lane for the 4th Avenue exit is now open to cars?

    • Mike February 19, 2019 (5:50 am)

      This is a fantastic question.

  • David February 18, 2019 (8:21 pm)

    Will it speed up the bus commute? Taking away the bus only lane from the west Seattle cloverleaf entrance onto northbound 99 is very problematic in my opinion.

    • KBear February 18, 2019 (9:13 pm)

      There’s a cloverleaf at 99? I’ve met people who’ve lived in West Seattle for years and still can’t figure out how to get on southbound 99. They’ll be delighted to know there’s a cloverleaf now!

    • Aaron February 19, 2019 (9:12 am)

      @ David …Cloverleaf!!!


  • Hpdp February 18, 2019 (9:58 pm)

    Drove around in this area today. Looks great! Wondering about disposal plans for the 2 piles of geofoam between 99 and East Marginal. It looks like the material is crumbling in the rough weather.

  • West Seattle Coug February 19, 2019 (5:21 am)

    It’s open!!! Let’s see how it goes when the commute gets really busy…

  • MSW February 19, 2019 (6:21 pm)

    Riding the 5:45 # 57 back to West Seattle. There seems to be traffic jam where all the buses turn to go South bound 99. It might be a problem when there’s a game.

  • 99TODOWNTOWN February 28, 2019 (2:15 am)

    On my drive north on 99 on Wednesday afternoon, saw a notice indicating that the Alaskan Way exit would be closed at 9 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 28). I think I got that right. I don’t recall seeing how long it would be blocked.

    • WSB February 28, 2019 (7:07 am)

      Thanks, nothing about a closure in any of the spots where 99-related closures used to be posted so I’ll have to ask WSDOT.

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