TRAFFIC ALERT: Highway 99 tunnel now open

11:23 PM SUNDAY: It’s official – the Highway 99 tunnel is now open. The video above is by Paul Weatherman, who reports his was the first non-government vehicle to travel the northbound lanes right after they opened around 11 pm (added – full clip here); WSDOT says it’s working to get the southbound lanes open too. No toll until sometime this summer. This sign we photographed during Saturday’s dedication event will verify that for skeptics:

If you’re heading northbound on 99 from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge or from south of here, remember, no downtown exit before the tunnel for another week or so.

12:22 AM MONDAY: And now the southbound direction is open too. With this plus the snow, a unique morning commute is ahead, and we’ll be tracking it all starting at 5 am.

25 Replies to "TRAFFIC ALERT: Highway 99 tunnel now open"

  • Deb February 4, 2019 (12:26 am)

    Hey Paul – Congratulations on being THE FIRST!!! So very cool! I’ve just gotta ask: What was your speed? How did the road feel? Did you change lanes? Did the lights dim at the north end? How was the tunnel exit onto the existing SR99. Thanks for sharing the video!

    • WSB February 4, 2019 (12:38 am)

      He also texted his full clip, 3+ minutes, and I just uploaded it to YT:
      https://youtu.be/2DMfPEGnEZs

    • Paul February 4, 2019 (7:54 am)

      @deb.  I’m not sure I want to tell you my speed. I don’t want the WA highway patrol sending me a ticket.  The road was smooth. I found the optical illusion of the lights as you wind your way through a bit distracting. I’m sure with more cars in there it won’t be as apparent. Seems to have a lot of light, I mean a lot. No need for headlights.  I had to have my wipers on because the snow was blowing off my hood.  I didn’t notice the lights dimming at the north end. It felt longer than it should be, that’s for sure.  I thought it was never going to end. 

      • 98126res February 6, 2019 (2:50 pm)

        Ugh, It seemed like it went on forever watching your video too.  Will take surface streets whenever possible.  Appreciate your posting video of the full drive thru it, thanks. 😊

  • Fussy February 4, 2019 (12:49 am)

    Why was it raining/precip in the tunnel? He was using windshield wipers in the vid.

    • BEB February 4, 2019 (6:51 am)

      My question, too! I am really puzzling over that.

      • paul February 4, 2019 (7:56 am)

        @Fussy and Beb       I had to have the wipers on because the snow was blowing off my hood.  I tried to go without them, but the windshield was misting up.  Sorry.   Darn weather!

  • West Seattle Hipster February 4, 2019 (5:50 am)

    Who held the phone?

  • Dawson February 4, 2019 (6:26 am)

    Paul with the flight test video tricks there.

  • Um, No! February 4, 2019 (7:24 am)

    Drove through it about 5:30 this morning.  It’s deep!    Being stuck in bumper the bumper traffic will not do well for my claustrophobia.  LOL. One big issue I can foresee coming out of the north end is the exit lane it very short with a hard right curve right into the intersection at Dexter.  With the exit ramp being so short and the Dexter intersection being so close,   I can see this really backing traffic up into the tunnel.   When I went to exit, it startled me how close the Dexter intersection was to the tunnel lanes coming around that quick curve.   Wasn’t expecting that.   

  • Wsdude February 4, 2019 (8:07 am)

    Love that spectacular view!

  • Tuwanda February 4, 2019 (9:18 am)

    Oh my that will just be scary sitting in Seattle Traffic. I’m assuming it’s earthquake safe?I do not like it. I know the viaduct wasn’t “safe” but the trapped feeling with nowhere to go is just terrifying.

  • Lj February 4, 2019 (2:32 pm)

    This tunnel should be named the Elliot  Bay tunnel or the highway 99 tunnel not given the name of any politician past or present.

    • WSB February 4, 2019 (2:58 pm)

      Have you heard someone propose a name for it? I haven’t. It’s the SR 99 Tunnel, so far. (We prefer to use “Highway 99” rather than “SR” [state route] but same thing.)

  • Judith February 4, 2019 (2:48 pm)

    From w s Bridge can we get to north bound SR99 on February 4,2019? 

    • WSB February 4, 2019 (2:57 pm)

      Yes, the ramp from the eastbound bridge reopened early this morning. But an important reminder – until the new exit ramp into downtown opens in a week or so, once you get onto 99 from the bridge, you HAVE TO go through the tunnel – there is no exit until its north end.

  • jissy February 4, 2019 (10:05 pm)

    HAHAHA, thanks, Paul — I literally LOL’d at your “BEEP!”  But seriously, I have to go on a field trip at PNB on Thursday…. should I take the tunnel?  Or……

  • Me February 4, 2019 (10:30 pm)

    I am still salty that it is only 2 lanes each direction given the growth of our city the past 10 years. Does anyone have documentation regarding WHY it is only 2 lanes. Not documentation for it IS 2 lanes but why.Also awaiting the why from an engineering perspective as to why we have no downtown exits. Engineering….ie, a structural, environmental, etc reason for no downtown exit.

    • Viaduct driver February 5, 2019 (5:56 am)

      As someone who used Seneca st exit for years to get to work, I’m also salty about no downtown exits. My commute went from 15 mins to 40. The reason why there isnt, they had to put it so deep that in order to have downtown exits they would have to be practically vertical.Personally, I think the whole things a vanity project. As soon as the newness wears off, its going to dawn on people how useless it is to most people. I guess the amazon workers like it. Pandering to amazon, theres a surprise.

      • WSB February 5, 2019 (6:09 am)

        In 2010 – two years AFTER the tunnel plan was decided on – Amazon had 5,000 workers in Seattle. (That’s the earliest number I could find in a quick check.) Not exactly enough to hang a tunnel on. I’m still surprised, having covered the project for more than a decade, to finally see last week that the north end is actually more like Seattle Center (where my TV workplace 1991-1999 still is) than SLU.- TR

      • Um, No! February 5, 2019 (6:54 am)

        But it connect’s the Needle to the Stadiums!…………….?  LOL.   Why does anyone need that?

    • KBear February 6, 2019 (12:15 pm)

      ME, the tunnel is only 2 lanes each direction because that’s all they could fit in a tunnel built by the world’s largest boring machine. It DOES have downtown exits, one at each end. There aren’t exits within the tunnel, because it’s more than 200 feet underground. Also, it’s intended to be a downtown BYPASS, so it works better without the backup caused by people entering and exiting.

  • ELLY February 6, 2019 (11:54 am)

    Any word on when the surface streets and parks will be completed? I’m not clear where the parks will fit since there are piers and businesses along the waterfront and the rest is going to be roadway. Would be nice to have separate bike lanes and walking paths all the way from the waterfront to the lower bridge.   

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