HIGHWAY 99 TUNNEL: Tolls delayed; traffic alert for NB pre-tunnel exit

Two notes today related to the Highway 99 tunnel:

TOLLS DELAYED: WSDOT confirms what was first reported by citywide media earlier today – that the tunnel tolling, originally expected to start this summer, is now delayed until fall. The state is switching vendors for its tolling system and won’t be ready to go this summer as originally planned.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Last night, we reported that WSDOT said Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition is now at the midway point and moving southward. As part of that, lane closures on surface Alaskan Way just north of the NB 99 pre-tunnel exit might back things up, spokesperson Laura Newborn warns:

At 4 a.m. on Friday, June 14, crews preparing for viaduct demolition will reduce Alaskan Way to one lane in each direction between South King and South Dearborn streets. This lane reduction will last more than a month. Narrowing the roadway is the only way for crews to safely prepare and demolish this section of viaduct. Because this section of Alaskan Way is near the SR 99 northbound off-ramp at South Dearborn, travelers may encounter backups on the northbound off-ramp and, potentially, the northbound mainline entering the tunnel.

We expect the heaviest congestion will occur during peak travel periods, special events and on weekends, when ferry traffic increases and cruise ships are in town. Travelers approaching downtown from the south should plan ahead for longer drive times and consider alternate routes or ways of getting around, including transit and the King County Water Taxi.

21 Replies to "HIGHWAY 99 TUNNEL: Tolls delayed; traffic alert for NB pre-tunnel exit"

  • East Coast Cynic June 12, 2019 (7:20 pm)

    Including transit, you’re still screwed from West Seattle since buses take the SR-99 northbound off-ramp entering downtown.

    • Lee June 12, 2019 (8:12 pm)

      There is a dedicated bus lane on that off ramp. Also, the more people take transit, the less backup there will be there.

  • David June 12, 2019 (8:08 pm)

    So, are the 120, C, 55, 56, 21x going to take  WSDOT’s advice and utilize alternate routes?

    • WSB June 12, 2019 (8:13 pm)

      I found out about this too late in the day to ask Metro but it’s on my list for tomorrow.

  • Kyle June 12, 2019 (9:34 pm)

    Thanks for asking about transit..I feel like the tunnel has been good for everyone except transit users.

  • Denise June 12, 2019 (9:48 pm)

    This is off topic but why do people drive soooo slowly in the tunnel???   It’s like people are really scared to be in it or they have no idea where they are going.  Please don’t drive in the tunnel if you can drive at  least the speed limit.  

    • Smittytheclown June 13, 2019 (5:27 am)

      I believe it is an actual phenomenon.  Psychologically people just slow down regardless of lighting.More and more people are getting frustrated with slower than posted speed drivers and are starting to change lanes more often.  This results in more brake tapping and more slowdowns and more lane changing…..viscous cycle.I,  for one am ready for tolls.  Thin the herd.

    • Que June 13, 2019 (8:22 am)

      The posted Speed Limit is the Maximum speed allowed under perfect conditions, with speed being necessarily reduced for a variety of factors. If you’re driving at or above the Limit you are being a hazard and should retake your drivers education course. Thanks in advance from your fellow citizens who have to share the road with you.

      • Seattle Sue June 14, 2019 (4:39 pm)

        Yes, the maximum speed is definitely aimed at the highest speed during appropriate conditions. Let’s stop thinking that it’s the minimum speed!

      • KL June 18, 2019 (5:04 pm)

        Sounds like you’re one of the ones slowing everyone else down. Stay out of the tunnel if you’re too frightened to drive there. Thanks in advance from your fellow citizens who have to share the road with you.

  • Stephen M June 12, 2019 (10:11 pm)

    Um, the speed *limit*, as it’s called is just that. It’s not a minimum speed, or a suggested speed. It’s the maximum limit you’re supposed to drive. Please take an alternate route if the speed limit in the tunnel is too slow for you. 

    • wscommuter June 13, 2019 (8:20 am)

      The speed limit is fine if people will drive at that speed.  I’ve observed the same phenomena – that some drivers seem intimidated or something going into the tunnel and slow down well below the speed limit, backing traffic up.   I’m hoping as people get used to using it, they will un-clench and stop being intimidated. To paraphrase Stephen M … please take an alternate route if you will impede traffic by not driving the speed limit.  

      • Bubbasaurus June 13, 2019 (9:26 am)

        The tunnel slowdown effect is real, I dealt with that for 10+ years going through the Mt. Baker tunnel. It seems like there’s a big group of people chanting “scary tunnel” and slowing down to 20+ mph below the limit.

    • Bandsz June 13, 2019 (2:52 pm)

      Just stay to the right if you want to drive under the speed limit

  • Mj June 12, 2019 (10:27 pm)

    In exchange for paying a toll I expect to be able to drive the speed limit through the tunnel.  Paying a toll to be stuck in traffic is not reasonable!

    • Que June 13, 2019 (10:37 am)

      If you’re in traffic you’re helping create the problem. Blaming other people in cars around you is not reasonable.

  • Gina K June 13, 2019 (8:53 am)

    Super bummed transit times are longer post-viaduct. My commute from Morgan Junction to my office on 5th and Madison now takes an hour. Might as well move to Renton. (Kidding, West Seattle is still the best Seattle, but it seems like this is the new norm.) 

  • Tracey Wickersham June 13, 2019 (12:44 pm)

    Why can’t the West Seattle to  Downtown bus lines that were diverted to the much more efficient transit corridor and Third Avenue during “viadoom” be diverted again there now at least while the Alaskan Way closures are in effect?     That route is much faster and positions transit as a viable option.  I don’t understand why West Seattle buses are forced to use such an inefficient alternate route that contributes to the misery of everyone’s commute, whether you’re on the bus or in a car. 

    • quiz June 13, 2019 (4:12 pm)

      Yes. This. The routes used during “via doom” seemed much more efficient.

  • Nancy R. June 14, 2019 (9:48 am)

    It was faster for me to ride my bike downtown from West Seattle on Wednesday (30 minutes) than it was to take a bus to the same meeting location (45 minutes) by bus.    Really,  with ebikes becoming more popular,  more people should be considering riding a regular or eBike from West Seattle.    That way there is more space for bus passengers, and more room on the road for those who need it to drive their cars.

    • donttreadonme June 14, 2019 (3:06 pm)

      This is why I started riding, it’s half the time from luna park to slu on a bike than it takes on the bus. Now in the best shape of my life at 38 but I understand why people use ebikes too!

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