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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Friday AM watch, fifth post-Viaduct weekday

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

5:30 AM: Good morning! So far the problems are NOT in our area.

5:45 AM – LOOKING AHEAD: Reminders while things are quiet – Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. School’s out, and most government offices/facilities are closed. Metro plans “reduced weekday” service.

5:48 AM: SDOT reports “Rail crossing delays at 2nd Ave and S Spokane St, blocking all EB and WB lanes.” (This is the first such alert we’ve seen – following the Wednesday train trouble.)

6:11 AM: Monitoring police radio, there are various train-related problems including a track-crossing arm STUCK DOWN ON WESTBOUND SIDE of Spokane St. around 2nd. Needs repair. That won’t be soon. Also word of a train on tracks at 6th/Spokane. Overall, just avoid surface Spokane for now!

6:20 AM: Arm problem may be fixed but train traffic hasn’t passed. … Our crew is off to the Water Taxi dock to see how things are going there this Friday morning. Weather-wise, a lot like Thursday so far.

6:40 AM: Bridge is busy as has been the case every day this first post-Viaduct week. (Here’s the point-in-time screengrab.)

6:46 AM: Train traffic on lower Spokane has cleared again.

6:55 AM: And … another train. … At the Water Taxi dock, they tell us it’s been a “light morning,” at least compared to earlier in the week. 75 passengers on the most-recent sailing.

7:10 AM: 59 on the sailing after that. And YET MORE trouble on lower Spokane, this time at 11th/Spokane just off the low bridge a crash – we took this from the city webcam:

(Fully blocking there, as of a few minutes later.)

7:20 AM: We have clarified with King County – there IS Water Taxi service (West Seattle AND Vashon) on Monday even though King Day would otherwise be a holiday.

7:35 AM: The crash east of the low bridge is still blocking. … Water Taxi volume’s up a bit – 110 is the latest sailing’s count.

Again, there IS WT service on Monday.

7:50 AM: Still working to clear the crash east of the low bridge. SDOT’s Incident Response Team is there. Screengrab:

7:55 AM: SDOT tweets that “the westbound lane and one eastbound lane” have reopened there.

POST-VIADUCT PM COMMUTE #4: Thursday afternoon/evening updates

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

4:09 PM: We’re watching the pm commute again.

4:21 PM: WSDOT reports heavy volumes on both directions of I-5 through the region. The West Seattle Bridge is still sluggish eastbound (that’s a most-of-the-day thing now).

4:39 PM: Some trouble for those headed back this way from the Eastside – WSDOT reports a crash partly blocking the westbound I-90 exit to SB I-5.

4:57 PM: It’s raining – this morning’s real rain was mostly pre-commute, but this time it’s happening right in the heart of the travel time. Be safe.

5:08 PM: SDOT reports a crash at 16th/Roxbury.

5:37 PM: In comments, Jen reports “Semi blocking right WB lane under the upper bridge right before Avalon exit.”

6:21 PM: We’ve been listening to scanner traffic with a crash involving a Metro bus and wires down off SB 509 at 128th in Burien, and now a texter has mentioned it. Just an FYI if you’re headed in that direction – we haven’t seen any indication how/whether it’s affecting highway traffic.

6:28 PM: Just heard from a caller that this is affecting people trying to get onto SB 509 there. And Burien Police just tweeted:

6:47 PM: We weren’t on today’s media conference call due to a conflicting story interview (unrelated) but tomorrow we’re planning to cover a #Realign99 construction-zone tour and briefing. Any unanswered questions about how that’s going, let us know – thanks!

7:24 PM: A King County Sheriff’s Office photo from the 509/128th crash:

KCSO also says that “the driver of the white pickup truck is under arrest on suspicion of DUI.” He also was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Also: Today’s project update and other notes from WSDOT, including the morning West Seattle Water Taxi tally – under 1,000 for the first time this week but still triple last year’s ridership.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday AM watch, fourth post-Viaduct weekday

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

5:30 AM: Good morning! The change in the weather has arrived – but it’s not raining hard outside, just misting – so far. No incidents reported in our area.

5:55 AM: As with the previous three mornings, the bridge looks busier earlier.

6:13 AM: And even busier now. (Here’s a screengrab for the record.)

6:20 AM: Our crew, heading shortly for Water Taxi watch for the fourth day, reports it’s NOT raining right now. Warmer than recent mornings – 46 degrees.

6:40 AM: If you commute regionally and rely on WSDOT travel times – they’ve been coping with an outage but are now back, here.

6:50 AM: First report in from our crew at the West Seattle Water Taxi dock – rough couht ~70 on the boat that’s about to take off.

7:11 AM: Still nothing out of the ordinary to report. (added) Covered waiting area at Water Taxi dock still not needed, since the rain has yet to resume:

7:28 AM: By our count, about 150 on the Water Taxi that’s just taking off.

7:39 AM: Water Taxi usage is down this morning. Fewer triple-digit runs by our count; 79 on this one. Back on land watch, no train or low-bridge trouble this morning, unlike yesterday … so far.

7:58 AM: Just tweeted by BNSF, whose only tweet during yesterday’s 45+-minute blockage was to tell pedestrians to get off the tracks:

8:06 AM: Low bridge busy eastbound right now. Here’s a moment-in-time screengrab. No maritime openings logged so far this morning.

8:19 AM: One last Water Taxi count on our watch before our crew oves on – 77 for the 8:15-ish run. Remember that the extra service is here for two months, all the way until the 7-day-a-week schedule kicks in at the end of March, so lots of time to try it if you haven’t yet but could.

9:02 AM: Morning four of “Viadoom” hasn’t seemed very doomy. This tweet seems to corroborate:

We’re moving on to other news atop the page – so much to catch up on – but will continue to update here if any notable morning situations arise, plus we’ll be on PM watch again, with the weather projected to get wetter/breezier by then.

10:02 AM: Low bridge closed to surface traffic a few minutes ago, for the first time this morning. (Update: The closure lasted 11 minutes.)

POST-VIADUCT PM COMMUTE #3: Wednesday afternoon/evening updates

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

3:45 PM: We’re on PM commute watch now. Trouble spot reported by Jim Edwards:

SB West Marginal way down to one lane approaching Highland Park Way. Construction material spill (chunky mud) covering Left GP and left turn lane. Sweepers and Commercial Enforcement on scene.

4:39 PM: No incidents of note but general assessment, I-5 traffic is heavy both ways.

4:56 PM: Not an unusual alert from Washington State Ferries, but since we’re tracking the PM commute: “There is an estimated 60-minute wait for drivers departing Fauntleroy due to heavy vehicle traffic boarding the vessels.”

5:27 PM: And now, no extended wait. … The “low bridge” is closed right now so maritime traffic can pass through. Remember that the PM period when the Coast Guard agreed to limit bridge openings is 2-5 pm.

5:44 PM: After about 20 minutes of being closed to surface traffic, the low bridge has reopened.

POST-VIADUCT PM COMMUTE #2: Tuesday afternoon/evening watch


(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

4:05 PM: Good afternoon! We’re watching the PM commute again today. No specific issues right now. Most recent regional overview from WSDOT: “Travel times are pretty tame at the moment.”

4:49 PM: All’s still well. Keeping an eye on downtown too. And the forecast – now a “slight chance of rain” tomorrow morning, a little higher chance Wednesday afternoon, then “likely” on Thursday.

5:40 PM: Bus report tweeted by Randy:

5:51 PM: If you are headed OUT of West Seattle, heads-up – just heard a dispatch for a two-car “blocking” crash on the eastbound high bridge. Exactly where, haven’t heard, but hope it’s off to the side as the drivers are reported to be “arguing with each other.”

6:05 PM: Police were unable to find the crash scene, so apparently they moved on.

6:16 PM: If you head this way on 4th Avenue S., heads up about a Seattle Fire response at 4th/Stacy (map) just south of downtown. “Burning pile of debris” is the report. Reportedly on the north side of the street so SB traffic not too likely to be affected.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Second post-Viaduct weekday – AM coverage

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

5:29 AM: Good morning! Welcome to a foggy Tuesday. Among the things you should know as we start coverage for the second weekday of three weeks without Highway 99:

RIDE2: King County says “Customers can again request trips for Ride2 West Seattle using the app or via phone calls. Our contractor is monitoring the system after making fixes last night.”

5:54 AM: The fog is expected to hang around through the entire commute – a “dense fog advisory” through 9 am.

6:10 AM: High bridge looks busy. Regionally, travel times are reported to be “above average,” so people are commuting earlier again today.

6:26 AM: Texter says police are out watching the new 4th Avenue temp bus lane. SDOT did send us a revised map (PDF) of the lane as it exits the eastbound West Seattle Bridge.

6:34 AM: Thanks to the texter who just let us know that two buses, Routes 50 and 37, got into a bit of a scrape on Alki:

I am just leaving to catch the water taxi shuttle for the water taxi into downtown and there is a bus collision, it’s on 61st and Alki Ave.

It hasn’t started to cause any trouble but just wanted to let you all know! Not too bad, looks like one of the buses clipped the other and knocked off the side mirror.

6:45 AM: Also on the topic of buses, Colleen reports via Twitter that her C Line was full from The Junction and skipped the remaining WS stops. One other Twitter report, from Mary: “6:10 #56 almost full before reaching California Ave. New early crowd for sure.”

6:59 AM: Our crew is now at the Water Taxi dock to see how things are going. First three sailings: 113, 60, 120. That first one was more than yesterday, but since both boats hold 200+, there’s still plenty of room. And if you don’t have anyone to drop you there and can’t get to a bus/shuttle, usage of the temp (free) lot at Pier 2 did not get anywhere close to maxing out Monday, so that’s an option (entrance is across from the Harbor Ave 7-11).

7:13 AM: 81 people on the 7:05 Water Taxi. And reps at the dock confirm Pier 2 has plenty of room to park. The bridge, meantime, looks full, but in our experience, this seems to be the start of peak time anyway.

7:44 AM: City traffic engineer Dongho Chang has tweeted bicycling stats from Monday. Major jumps from comparable dates the past two years – 1,666 riders counted yesterday.

8:06 AM: The roads definitely peaked early. Meantime, more West Seattle Water Taxi numbers – 190 at 7:25, 99 at 7:40, 165 at 8 am.

8:34 AM: Bridge and I-5 are still busy – if you’re trying to avoid jams you probably need to wait at least another hour. Also remember that the Coast Guard has agreed to limit low-bridge openings for marine traffic between 7 and 10 am and 2 pm and 5 pm – there was one low-bridge opening around 6:30 on Monday – so if you avoid the low bridge because of the unpredictability, it might be more feasible here during Highway 99-less-ness.

8:48 AM: Looking ahead, the rain is now expected to stay away until Thursday morning. So we’ll likely have two rainy commutes, and then next Monday is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

8:57 AM: If you are headed northbound beyond downtown, take note – three lanes of NB I-5 are blocked near Northgate by a semitruck on its side.

9:04 AM: Our crew is back from spending the past few hours at the Water Taxi dock and reports, “It’s slick out there.” … Got questions? We’ll be on the multi-agency media conference call again at 11:30 (yesterday’s participants included WSDOT, SDOT, Metro, Sound Transit) so let us know.

PM COMMUTE: First post-Viaduct afternoon/evening


(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

3:30 PM: Good afternoon! We’re back to watch the journey home. For starters, Dale sends word that the 4000 block of SW Oregon should be avoided – police are there handling a crash.

3:57 PM: All clear. Incident Response Team truck was just leaving.

4:17 PM: From SDOT: “We’re seeing light traffic on major roads downtown, but traffic is picking up on Mercer St EB, I-5 SB into downtown, and on the West Seattle Bridge EB toward I-5.”

4:35 PM: If you’re choosing your route home, 1st Avenue on the south side of downtown looks good, per updates from a texter.

5:20 PM: As pointed out in comments, the TV helicopters are back over the bridge … South of downtown, a crash is reported at 1st and Holgate. On the northbound side, but still – FYI.

5:31 PM: The Water Taxi sends an official announcement of the adjustment reported earlier in a comment by SeattleNewbie: “During this first evening commute of #Realign99, crews are testing a new boarding procedure at Pier 52. Riders can pretap ORCA cards to prepay in order to expedite boarding during this period of high demand.” … Meantime, our Amazon-bus commuter tipster says it was a half-hour ride home just now, southbound I-5 to the West Seattle Bridge.

METRO, WATER TAXI: First post-Viaduct commute went ‘fairly smoothly,’ county says

3:31 PM: Toplines from this afternoon’s briefing at Metro‘s Transit Operations Center east of the stadiums, led by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro deputy general manager Terry White: Things this morning went “fairly smoothly.” They addressed both county transit services, Metro buses and the King County Water Taxi. And the increase in ridership for the latter was described as even more than we’d heard at the pier this morning: 1,350 passengers this morning, 350 passengers on a typical morning this time of year.

They can handle twice that, and there’s still room at the temporary Pier 2 parking lot, so try the WT if you can. As for the various routing changes readers reported in comment discussion – they didn’t know yet if any would be formalized for tomorrow and beyond. As for the extra buses held at the ready in case more capacity was needed, they transported more than 300 people, mostly on the 120 and E Line. More to come, including video of the briefing.

4:43 PM: Here’s the video:

We also got a quick look inside the center, first time we had visited since the C Line’s launch inaugurated major West Seattle changes more than six years ago:

The center is where Metro is in constant communication with its drivers – one corner also hosts the customer call center, too. We asked about the changes-on-the-fly reported by some commenters this morning; Metro hadn’t yet had the afternoon meeting at which they planned to discuss how that went, with an eye toward tomorrow morning.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: First post-Viaduct weekday – AM coverage

(SDOT MAP with travel times / WS-relevant traffic cams / Water Taxi schedule, other helpful info HERE)

5:30 AM: Good morning! As promised, we’re on watch early for the first post-Viaduct commute. No outbound trouble reported so far.

5:40 AM: WSDOT reports a collision on NB I-5 downtown: “in the gore point on NB 5 near Seneca; it isn’t blocking anything, but people are seeing it and slowing, so we are seeing a bit heavier traffic in that area.”

6:04 AM: Our crew is now headed to Seacrest to report on the Water Taxi commute for the rest of the morning, in addition to everything else we’re monitoring.

6:28 AM: Solid brake lights on the eastbound bridge. And an interesting report in comments – Route 56 did stop at the light-rail station, something Metro said they wouldn’t do. Please keep us all updated on anomalies (we’ll ask at the media briefings/Q&A sessions later). Also – wherever you see a temporary no-parking sign, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!

Some of those zones are meant as holding zones for added buses that might be needed. … Meantime, still lots of room on the Water Taxi. The county isn’t providing passenger counts so far but we counted about 80 people boarding the one that’s about to leave.

6:40 AM: Update – 112 on that sailing. Still room (both boats on the WS run have 200+ capacity). Also, the low bridge opened for 11 minutes. Note that the temporary restrictions are in effect 7-10 am and 2-5 pm, and even during that time, it can still open for 5,000-gross-ton-plus vessels.

6:58 AM: 4700 block of West Marginal Way SW (by the Duwamish Longhouse) has a Seattle Fire “rescue extrication” response headed that way for a crash that is reported to be possibly “in a wooded area.” … Update: Car on roof, off road, one person hurt. Response is still likely to be affecting W. Marginal Way flow for a while.

7:12 AM: Water Taxi dock busy but NOT over capacity, still. Most-recent boat left with 110+ people. Here’s the line:

Marination Ma Kai at the dock is opening at 7 am for breakfast.

Meantime: Andy tells us that West Marginal near the Longhouse-vicinity crash scene is slick – temps this morning were close to freezing. We’re also told traffic there IS getting by despite the emergency response. … Thanks to everyone who’s sharing their experience in comments!

7:39 AM: The headline seems to be, everybody left early so backups started earlier. Meantime back at the dock, sailings are now surpassing 200 (getting closer to capacity). King County Executive Dow Constantine, longtime WT champion, is at the dock too (in photo with KC Marine Division’s Paul Brodeur):

7:49 AM: West Seattle-residing Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom tweeted that the 7:30 am bike counter on the “low bridge” showed 278. Meantime, most-recent Water Taxi run was just under 100. The Metro supervisor keeping watch on the temporary parking lot at Pier 2 tells us it’s only about a quarter full – free shuttle to the dock – so if you’re still considering how to get off the peninsula, that’s an option.

8:03 AM: A warning from Rebecca: “Please post a warning ASAP about the northern tip of California Ave where the street makes a sharp turn. I just saw two bicyclists and a moped wipe out there!! Very slippery right now.” She sent this photo:

(Rebecca adds that Ferry Avenue is slick too.) Meantime, bus riders say things are going relatively well – including private transit; an Amazon bus rider from The Junction said the 7 am trip only took five minutes longer than last week.

8:23 AM: SDOT reports “So far, light traffic on major roads in Downtown Seattle.”

8:38 AM: The 8:15 am Water Taxi had 139 people on board. KC Marine Division confirms that they are leaving on schedule even if there are people waiting – Heather e-mailed us about this and said about 15 people were affected at one point during the 6 am hour; our crew hasn’t seen a major amount of this happening, but still, be aware – they are loading until one minute before scheduled departure, and then taking off. Also, the free shuttles have been pretty much at capacity.

(That’s the San Juan Clipper, the second boat on the West Seattle run during this extra-service time.)

8:47 PM: And a big-picture stat – through 8:35, just under 1,200 passengers on Water Taxi runs this morning, 66 percent above normal this time of year. Ride2 has had 150 riders (we’re checking on commenters’ reports of app glitches).

9 AM: If you’ve waited to leave – this would seem to be a pretty great time. We added to the array of cameras on our Traffic page so you can see for yourself beyond the four we are showcasing above.

9:27 AM: Another icy-road report, just in via text:

Might be worth noting in your traffic reporting that Snake Hill on the way to Brandon is terribly terribly icy. I just picked up and took home a couple of bicyclists I came upon who had wiped out on their way down. Bumped and bruised and broke a one of the bikes. Another route to Delridge is advised.

9:43 AM: Don’t get complacent, is the reminder … everybody who made a change today DEFINITELY helped. We’ll be watching traffic through the day and will have a PM report too with an ear on getting back this way. We also expect morning post-mortems from the transportation agencies in a conference call in less than 2 hours, and a Metro briefing at 1:30 pm, so stand by for updates! Thanks again for texting/calling 206-293-6302 (our round-the-clock hotline, in its 12th year) when there’s something to report.

FIRST POST-VIADUCT COMMUTE: What you need to know for first Monday of #Realign99

One last round of reminders tonight, after an uneventful weekend post-Alaskan Way Viaduct shutdown, with the first 99-less commute hours away:

(Live webcam showing work by south tunnel entrance. See other construction cameras here)

WHAT’S CLOSED: Highway 99, between the West Seattle Bridge and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel: The Viaduct is closed forever; the Highway 99 tunnel will be open the morning of February 4th if all goes well. Finishing the pre-tunnel exit ramp for NB 99 traffic to downtown (at Dearborn – here’s the explanatory video) is projected to take at least another week after that.

Metro routing. All the routes that used the Alaskan Way Viaduct are using temporary new “pathways” to get downtown. (Here’s the map.)
-The temporary bus lane painted on the eastbound bridge and 4th Avenue is now officially in effect.
-Maritime openings of the low bridge are supposed to be kept to a minimum during morning peak hours and part of the afternoon (7-10 am and 2-5 pm). (Bridge openings are tweeted here.)

-Two boats on the West Seattle run (Doc Maynard and San Juan Clipper), both with 200+ capacity – here’s the schedule, including Vashon (which is on its regular schedule):

-Doubled free Water Taxi shuttle service (see the schedules here)
-Parking at Pier 2 (Harbor/Florida – here’s a map) with a free shuttle to the dock
-Overnight parking restrictions on Harbor between Fairmount Avenue and Don Armeni Boat Ramp, meant to ensure more street-parking spots for WT riders
-Extra bicycle parking at Seacrest
-Remember the Free Waterfront Shuttle once you get downtown (see the maps here).

-As long as you are traveling either to or from The Junction or Seacrest, and are in the service area, Ride2 might be an option for you. (See the map, times, etc. on the Ride2 website.)

-The city plans to station uniformed police officers at key locations from SODO to downtown – see the list and maps here. (And note that the city says the plan is subject to change at any time.)

-We’ll be starting by 5:30 am and will see how that goes. We’ll have a crew at the Water Taxi dock monitoring the situation there, as well as at the desk here watching/listening to the traffic/transit situation. We’ll also, as we did during the last weekday Viadoom, have running PM coverage for starters. Something to report to us? (Not while you’re at the wheel, of course!) 206-293-6302, text or voice.
-If you have questions or observations, please share those when you can – we’ll be participating in media briefings between the am and pm commutes.
-In addition to the cameras we will feature during ongoing coverage, our 24/7 traffic-cameras page is here.

‘The viaduct is clear’: Highway 99 closure begins, 2 hours later than planned

(WSDOT photo via Twitter)

12:21 AM: While the Columbia Street onramp closure happened just before 10 pm as planned, the process of fully closing the Alaskan Way Viaduct took two more hours because of an impromptu farewell party. Guardian One recorded this unique view of people driving, dancing, walking, waving, and more:

Though an officially “goodbye, Viaduct/hello, Tunnel” event is planned in three weeks, those people decided to say farewell on their own terms. Finally, just after midnight, WSDOT tweeted that “the viaduct is clear and the #Realign99 closure is officially underway!” So Highway 99 is now closed for ~3 weeks between the West Seattle Bridge and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel. Much more coverage to come, starting later today.

8 AM: Uneventful night since then. Reminder that our traffic-cam page is here (we’ll be adding and subtracting a few this weekend, but they already have the biggies for West Seattle in/out flow). And here’s a “live” look at the eastbound bridge:

Farewell, Alaskan Way Viaduct: What happens tonight, and the latest on what’s ahead

7:46 PM: A day full of Alaskan Way Viaduct nostalgia ended with a colorful sunset.

Now, it’s almost closure time.

No big briefing today but we have new information including responses to reader questions. First, a reminder of the timeline:

-10 pm, Highway 99 officially closes between the West Seattle Bridge and south end of Battery Street Tunnel. WSDOT says the Columbia Street onramp will be the first section closed, around 9:45 pm.

Here’s how work begins after that.

Here again is the full timeline.

WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: Two-boat service begins Monday (January 14th). While seeking answers to readers’ questions, here’s what we have learned:

-Second boat on the run will be the San Juan Express, capacity 245 passengers, which is close to the size of the regular boat MV Doc Maynard. (The much-smaller Spirit of Kingston will remain available as a backup.) From spokesperson Brent Champaco:

The schedule – which is subject to change – has the San Juan Clipper starting the day’s service with the 5:55 a.m. sailing out of Seattle followed by the 6:15 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest. The Doc Maynard will follow with the 6:15 a.m. sailing out of Seattle and the 6:30 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest. The two vessels will alternate until the 9:25 a.m. sailing out of Seacrest.

We’ll use the Doc Maynard for the midday service between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Both boats will resume service beginning with the 3:25 p.m. sailings out of Seacrest (Doc Maynard) and Pier 52 (San Juan Clipper) respectively, until the final sailing at 7:05 p.m. out of West Seattle.

Please note that the 5:05 p.m. sailing out of Pier 52 in Seattle has been moved up to 5 p.m. This is a slight change to the expanded schedule that’s in our printed brochures.

Here’s the planned schedule including the Sally Fox on the Vashon route, which is not adding capacity:

WATER TAXI SHUTTLES: In response to questions about whether larger buses will be used, spokesperson Torie Rynning says no, they’ve just doubled up here too: Two 19-passenger shuttles on each of the two routes during peak hours, one during the added midday hours. The Pier 2 parking shuttles will use a 19-passenger bus and a 33-passenger bus.

ONE MORE WATER TAXI NOTE: King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to be at the dock for a while Monday morning.

RIDE2 CONTINUES: We asked Metro about the Ride2 usage so far: It averaged 26 passengers a day during last week’s non-holidays. If you missed the original announcement a month ago, this is an on-demand service you can use provided your starting or ending point is either The Junction or the Water Taxi dock. Find out more here.

POLICE OFFICERS DIRECTING TRAFFIC: The plan to have police assigned to certain intersections has been in the works for a while. Now, SDOT has provided the list and maps of where – part of this new post on the city’s recently launched traffic-info website. Here for example is the map showing the plan for 4th/Spokane:

TRAFFIC COVERAGE ON WSB: It’s been a priority for a long time and you can count on us to step it way up during the Highway 99 closure and beyond. Your help is always important – now more than ever. If you see a problem and we’re not reporting it, please let us know when you can (once of course you have reported it to authorities, if they’re not on the scene either) – safely and legally – 206-203-6302, text or voice, 24/7. Meantime, we’ll update later tonight once the closure’s officially in effect. And we’ll be adjusting our standard resources (like the cameras page) to reflect “the new normal.”

10:05 PM: The closure has indeed begun – after a crowd of drivers took to the Viaduct to travel it one last time! Separate report to come, but for starters:

11:30 PM: We haven’t published a separate update yet because it’s still not fully closed – it’s taken an hour and a half so far to clear the last vehicles off!

12:07 AM SATURDAY: Finally cleared, says WSDOT.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Alaskan Way Viaduct’s final morning

(SDOT MAP with travel times/ Is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE/ West Seattle-relevant traffic cams HERE)

7:15 AM: Good morning. No incidents or transit alerts right now for our area. But the headline is – the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes permanently tonight, and Highway 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel will be closed until the tunnel opens in about three weeks.

WHAT HAPPENS, WHEN: WSDOT says the Columbia Street ramp will be first to close tonight, around 9:45 pm. Also: Because a small section of the Viaduct has to be removed so the NB ramp into downtown at Dearborn can be built, Railroad Way South will be closed all weekend. (The rest of the demolition won’t begin until after the tunnel is open.) Here are the details.

7:38 AM: Still quiet. If you’re thinking of trying bicycling because of the closure – and/or because of the permanent changes ahead – another “Survive #Realign99” ride is planned (corrected) SUNDAY, JANUARY 13. Details here.

7:48 AM: Just sent by Metro via text and tweet:

7:52 AM: Live WSDOT traffic cam showing the spot on 99 where rampbuilding will ramp up once the highway’s closed tonight:

WATER TAXI: Signs of impending increased service for Viaduct-to-Tunnel (and a bit beyond)

Thanks for the tips. With West Seattle Water Taxi service about to increase because of the Viaduct-to-Tunnel transition time, signs of the impending changes – announced months ago – are starting to show up today. Above, two big canopies are covering areas of the pier at Seacrest.

Nearby, signs are up for the temporary parking restrictions along Harbor Avenue SW – no parking 2 am-5 am on the water side of the street, between Fairmount and the north/west entrance to Don Armeni Boat Ramp. Starting Monday, the West Seattle Water Taxi will be on a two-boat schedule for the rest of the winter season, and will add midday service – you can see the revised schedule here. Along with street parking, there will also be parking available at Pier 2 (enter across from the Harbor Avenue 7-11) with a free shuttle to the Water Taxi dock and other changes detailed here. Here’s more on what’ll be different. Meantime, we’ll have coverage later this afternoon of today’s big Viadoom-readiness briefing, held at SDOT HQ downtown.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Viaduct’s last Thursday

(SDOT MAP with travel times/ Is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE/ West Seattle-relevant traffic cams HERE)

6:58 AM: Good morning. Second-to-last day for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which closes forever at 10 pm tomorrow (Friday). Just checked around – no incidents currently reported in/from West Seattle.

VIADUCT’S LAST DAYS: Newest information as Friday’s forever closure approaches

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

X marks the spot.

The “X” marks a small section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct that will be demolished almost immediately after the entire structure is closed forever at 10 pm this Friday (January 11th).

WSDOT and other agencies gathered local news media near that spot at midmorning today for the latest briefing looking ahead to the weeks of 99-less-ness while work is done for the viaduct-to-tunnel transition. We recorded it all on video:

No huge headlines at the briefing, but its context was shaped by today’s tougher-than-usual morning commute out of West Seattle, one that hadn’t yet subsided when we headed out for the 10:30 am briefing. The main event factoring into the hours-long backup was a stuck truck blocking one lane of NB 99; that was enough fodder to imagine what things might be like once all of 99 is out of commission for 3 weeks starting Friday night.

SDOT‘s director of downtown mobility Heather Marx (a West Seattleite) urged commuters to be kind and patient with each other. Seattle Police Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak said police will be taking special measures to help tow trucks get though when needed, and that a new auxiliary tow yard has opened “closer to downtown” so that crews involved in clearing incidents won’t be out of service for as long as usual.

Those tow trucks might be busy with other things during #Realign99 – Marx said, “We will tow with alacrity” if people violate the temporary no-parking zones that are planned in various spots. Hirjak reiterated that police will be deployed to keep certain intersections moving, but their goal is more to move people along than to cite them, though ticketing is not “off the table.”

Seattle Fire Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon said SFD will keep close watch on response times, and if they have to take extra measures downtown such as using transit lanes, they will.

Among the many other things that will be watched and adjusted if necessary once the effects of the Highway 99 closure are fully up to (or more like down to) speed next week: Metro bus operations. Post-briefing, we asked Metro’s Bill Bryant the question we continue to hear – will the buses that formerly used The Viaduct be stopping anywhere south of downtown? He says the inbound buses will all stop at either Yesler or James for starters, but that will change if it turns out to be a logjam. (Here again are the Metro routes [PDF], both temporary for #Realign99, then interim, then permanent.)

As for the #Realign99 work itself, WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program deputy administrator Dave Sowers said what began when the 99 ramps in the stadium zones were closed is “progressing” well. WSDOT published this time-lapse video of the built-then-buried tunnel approach ramp being unearthed:

That part of the ramp was built in 2013 – the same year tunnel-digging began, after the tunneling machine arrived from Japan.

If all goes well, the tunnel could open as soon as the night of Sunday, February 3rd, WSDOT has said. Remember that if you’re not using the tunnel, 99 won’t be of use for another week or more after it opens, because work will continue to finish the new Dearborn ramp. If you missed it last week, here’s the WSDOT video explaining how getting into downtown via that ramp will work:

Here’s the full transition timeline. (And if you’re looking for information on the February 2-3 goodbye/hello celebration weekend, that’s at

WHAT’S NEXT: At least one more briefing before the Friday night closure.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Viaduct’s last Wednesday watch

(SDOT MAP with travel times/ Is the ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE/ West Seattle-relevant traffic cams HERE)

7:17 AM: Good morning. Third-to-last day for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which closes forever at 10 pm Friday. Texter reports a problem backing things up on NB 99 near the stuadiums.

STILL HAVE A VIADOOM/SEATTLE SQUEEZE QUESTION? We’re going to the next multi-agency media briefing this morning and taking along any lingering questions – comment, or contact us, if you have one.

7:52 AM: Don’t know if it’s new or the same blockage but official traffic reports now mention a stuck truck blocking right lane of NB 89 at Holgate.

Commenters say Admiral is way backed up.

8:01 AM: Reports of other approaches to the bridge backed up too.

8:15 AM: Low bridge backed up too. SDOT says an incident response team is with the truck on 99. Also – crash reported at 35th/Morgan.

8:47 AM: SDOT says the truck on 99 has been moved to the shoulder.

10:05 AM: We’re on the way to the Viadoom briefing and the high bridge is still backed up to Nucor. Also, two cars pulled over in the right eastbound lane across from Walking on Logs – couldn’t tell if it was a fender bender or one driver assisting another. No emergency vehicles on scene.

10:15 AM: Made it to the 1st Avenue S. offramp.

COUNTDOWN: Free Waterfront Shuttle expanding hours for viaduct-to-tunnel transition, and beyond

(Photo courtesy Free Waterfront Shuttle)

We’re now one week away from the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s permanent closure. In case that wasn’t already top-of-mind, local transportation managers have been offering daily briefings and announcements to keep it there. Today: Expanded hours for the Free Waterfront Shuttle that’s been available downtown since summer, potentially making it useful to some Water Taxi riders. Here’s the announcement:

The Free Waterfront Shuttle is expanding operating hours to better serve morning commuters.

Currently operating 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the shuttle will add morning service to its North/South loop weekdays starting at 6 a.m. The expanded hours of operation will begin on Monday, January 7.

This service will provide a viable option to move commuters, tourists and residents through downtown at peak commute times during the upcoming SR 99 viaduct closure. The free service is brought to you by the WSDOT-funded and managed by Commute Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association.

Additionally, all shuttles are now equipped with real-time arrival information that can be found online along with other shuttle information at

The Free Waterfront Shuttle service launched in July 2018, and has given over 90,000 free rides to downtown, Pioneer Square, and the historic waterfront. Tourists and locals have embraced this free service as a way to get to and from the waterfront. Adding early morning operational hours makes the shuttle a viable commuter option during the upcoming months of viaduct closure and removal. The North/South Loop will connect Chinatown/International District, Link Station, King Street Station, Ferry Terminal, and Seattle Center to different locations along the waterfront from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. The shuttle will continue to operate on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Visitors and residents love the free shuttle, and we’re thrilled to expand the service. We worked diligently with public and private partners to increase the operating hours that will provide more access to our vibrant downtown and historic waterfront,” said Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes. “Expanding hours during peak commute times will provide another option to help move through our city during the viaduct closure.”

Additionally, real-time arrival data displays precise shuttle location allowing riders to know exactly when their shuttle should arrive at 15 stops along two routes throughout downtown Seattle. The app and mobile site will display exact shuttle location and approximate arrival time. Real-time arrival maps can be viewed online or by downloading the free DoubleMap mobile app for Apple and Google Play devices. Once downloaded, select the Waterfront Shuttle route option.

“Nearly 90 percent of riders say they are spending more time on the Waterfront and other area destinations because of the shuttle—which arrives every 15-20 minutes,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle. “Now traveling to and from the waterfront is even easier for commuters and visitors with longer hours of service and real-time information. We are working to make this experience a breeze.”

The shuttle offers two routes, North/South Loop and East Loop, linking the downtown core with the waterfront businesses and Pioneer Square.

Here’s a map of its stops.

COUNTDOWN: 8 days before Viaduct closes, the latest briefing – and our adventure getting there

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

What happened to us on the way to today’s Viaduct-closure briefing was a reminder of why you’ll want to know enough about options for getting around that you’d be able to switch routes if you have to.

Leaving at 9:15 am to travel the 8.5 miles from Upper Fauntleroy to City Hall should have been enough time for a pre-Viadoom, post-holiday morning.

Taking the high bridge to the 4th Avenue S. exit is our preferred route, as City Hall is on 4th.

Today – so was a crash with a “rescue extrication” response; one person was taken to the hospital. 4th was blocked just north of the end of the NB exit ramp.

Kind fellow drivers let us switch lanes to the SB exit ramp, and we headed south, diverting to 1st Ave. S. at the first possible opportunity.

But – the story will be different if something like this happens in the tunnel-transition time post-Viaduct closure (10 pm Friday, January 11th). The 4th Avenue offramp will devote one of its two lanes to buses. Temporary transit lanes like that are part of the city’s toolbox for trying to ease the “Seattle Squeeze” that kicks off when the Viaduct is closed for the ~3 weeks of work that’ll be needed to #Realign99.

Today’s briefing was primarily about what the city and other transportation/transit agencies, like Metro, are doing, and most of it is information we’ve already reported, but now that the end (of The Viaduct) is in sight, it’s time to sit up and really pay attention.

So first, here’s the slide deck from the briefing (13 MB PDF). Next, video of the briefing, from our late arrival:

Seattle Channel also recorded the briefing, and you can watch via the SC website here.

Of continued interest are the bus changes. The latest version of the South End Pathways map is in the slide deck linked above. Metro’s Bill Bryant recapped the metamorphosis that’s in store for the routes that currently use the Alaskan Way Viaduct – their temporary routes for the Highway 99 closure (three weeks plus the extra week-or-two to finish the new Dearborn exit ramp from NB 99 into downtown), the transition period over the next up-to-a-year while the Viaduct is being demolished and the new Alaskan Way is being built, and the routes’ permanent changes after that. The transitional time will put 40 to 50 buses an hour on 4th Avenue during peak hours, Bryant noted. And if transit gets overloaded, Metro will have 20 coaches on standby, ready to augment any route. Meantime, as the “pathways” map shows, Metro has two options for outbound (pm commute) routes and will be ready to “quickly shift” between them if needed – that’s part of why those routes will be passing through SODO but NOT STOPPING in that area.

A few miscellaneous points that caught our ear:

-SDOT is now up to six “incident response teams” to try to clear trouble faster
-43,000 people have signed up for the Viaduct farewell visits on February 2nd (go here if you haven’t already)
-The city has 7,000 employees downtown, about a tenth of them driving single-occupancy vehicles, and the city is working to provide incentives (teleworking, flex hours, etc.) to reduce that
-If everything SDOT does to try to manage traffic isn’t enough, SDOT’s Heather Marx said, there’s a “Plan B” with more signal modifications, increased street-parking restrictions, more transit-only lanes, potential operations of some streets as transit only, modified I-5 ramp availability/signal timing, restricted turning, expanded hours for transit priority/restrictions, increased “call to action” messaging and more.

WHAT’S NEXT: Tomorrow (Friday, January 4) at 10 pm, the Highway 99 ramps in the stadium zone (Royal Brougham and Atlantic) close permanently so the #Realign99 work can begin. Exactly one week later, the Viaduct closes permanently (10 pm Friday, January 11). If all goes well, WSDOT hopes it can open the tunnel at the end of the celebration weekend – the night of Sunday, February 3rd. The NB 99 Dearborn ramp – which West Seattleites will use to get into downtown from 99 – won’t be ready for “a week or so” after that.

Transportation managers plan more briefings/availabilities in the week-plus ahead, so keep asking questions, and we’ll seek answers. (Tomorrow morning’s briefing topic: Expanded availability of the temporary free downtown waterfront shuttle.)

VIADUCT-TO-TUNNEL: Countdown updates, including new videos showing how you’ll get to and from downtown

(WSB photos)

With nine days left until the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes forever for the tunnel transition, the countdown is revving up. We’re just back from a media briefing in SODO at one of the two 99 ramps that will close this Friday – a week before the Viaduct itself – for transition work to begin. What’s new: WSDOT has released videos that try to more clearly answer the persistent questions about how getting into and out of downtown will work after the transition. Two of the clips are particularly relevant to West Seattle – first, how you’ll get into downtown from NB 99:

Second, here’s how you’ll get to SB 99 to get out of downtown:

(The other two new videos are linked here.) For months, WSDOT has been warning that the new Dearborn ramp into downtown from NB 99 won’t be ready for another two weeks or so after the tunnel opens. But when we previewed the video about getting into downtown, we noticed it says the ramp should open after “a week or so.” We asked project deputy administrator Dave Sowers about that at today’s briefing.

He acknowledged that finishing the new ramp could take as little as five extra days of work post-tunnel opening. We recorded the entire 15-minute briefing on video and will add it here when it’s uploaded. (Added 1:55 pm – here it is:)

Other highlights: Sowers said WSDOT is ready to go for the tunnel transition work. If all goes well, the tunnel could open right after the weekend of “goodbye/hello” celebrations February 2-3, Sowers said, possibly that Sunday evening. … The Atlantic and Royal Brougham ramp closures that take effect this Friday night (10 pm January 4th) will mostly affect those who live and work in SODO – 23,000 vehicles a day use the ramps. “There’s a fair amount of work we need to get ahead,” Sowers said, starting with removal of the geofoam that’s under the soon-to-be-closed ramps, revealing more of the permanent northbound tunnel onramp.

SIDE NOTE: Today’s briefing was WSDOT only, and focused on the tunnel transition work itself, not getting around during it. We will be covering a city-led briefing about the latter tomorrow, so if you still have questions about that, let us know and we’ll do our best to get them answered!

VIADUCT-TO-TUNNEL: West Seattle ‘low bridge’ to temporarily restrict maritime openings

(March 2010 view of the “low bridge,” from its tower, by then-Councilmember Tom Rasmussen)

With the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s permanent shutdown and tunnel transition now three weeks away – 10 pm Friday, January 11th – recaps and reminders are rampant. New information continues to emerge, too. In her weekly update, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold includes this:

(T)he U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates bridge openings, has approved a temporary restriction from January 11 to February 9 to limit Spokane Street Bridge openings (i.e. the “lower bridge” adjacent to the West Seattle Bridge). The restrictions will be in place from 7-10 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m., and prohibit openings for vessels of 5000 or more gross tons (see page 3 of the Coast Guard’s Notice to Mariners).

Though the “low bridge” is a city-owned structure, the Coast Guard has jurisdiction over the waterway’s use for maritime traffic, and it’s generally rejected calls over the past decade-plus for longer-term restrictions on the times when it “closes” to vehicle traffic. The Coast Guard did agree to pm restrictions during the 2011 closure related to demolition of the AWV’s southern section.

VIADUCT-TO-TUNNEL: What’s closing when? See the ‘final’ Highway 99 realignment timeline

WSDOT has announced the specific shutdown times for what it calls “Realign 99,” the viaduct-to-tunnel transition. Note the actual shutdown is now starting later in the evening than previously announced:

10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4: Stadium ramps close

Northbound SR 99 on-ramp at South Royal Brougham Way closes (near stadiums; connection to I-90 and I-5).
Southbound SR 99 off-ramp at South Atlantic Street closes (near stadiums; connection to I-90 and I-5).

10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11: Full SR 99 closure through downtown Seattle begins

SR 99 closes both directions from South Spokane Street to the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel.
Battery Street Tunnel remains open with one lane in each direction. Ramps to and from Western Avenue remain open.

West Seattle Bridge and off-ramps to First Avenue and Fourth Avenue remain open and do not close as part of Realign99.

10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1: Battery Street Tunnel closes

Battery Street Tunnel closes. All southbound SR 99 traffic must exit at Valley Street. Northbound SR 99 traffic can join highway at Valley Street.

Early February (exact date TBD): New tunnel opens

SR 99 reopens about three weeks after Jan. 11, with highway using new SR 99 tunnel. Alaskan Way Viaduct and Battery Street Tunnel remain closed. One SR 99 off-ramp remains closed (see below).
Approx. 2 weeks later: Final ramp opens

New SR 99 northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way (just south of tunnel) opens, about two weeks after SR 99 tunnel opens.

Earlier this week, King County announced the Water Taxi’s extra-service schedule for the shutdown, which will continue running until the spring/summer schedule starts in late March, while also announcing a new shuttle service for part of WS.

1 MONTH TO VIADUCT CLOSURE: West Seattle Water Taxi expanded schedule now out; new Ride2 service starting for part of WS

(WSB photos)

2:47 PM: Ever since King County announced that the West Seattle Water Taxi would add service when the Alaskan Way Viaduct shuts down for the tunnel transition, we’ve been asking about schedule specifics. Today – with exactly one month to go until the AWV is closed forever on January 11th – the schedule is out. It was released along with other transit-related announcements at a media briefing at Seacrest, led by County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan. We were only able to drop in briefly after getting sidetracked by breaking news, but we did get the info you need to know:

Scroll through that document (or here in PDF) to see the new Water Taxi schedule, which will continue not only through the three-week Highway 99 closure, but all the way until the WT’s seven-days-a-week spring/summer schedule begins in late March. It also includes the expanded Route 773 and 775 shuttle schedules. Also, there’s word a new on-demand app-based ride service will start serving parts of West Seattle, Ride2:

(Ride2 van on display at today’s briefing

The new mobile app Ride2 Transit will make it possible for commuters to hail an on-demand van to and from two locations in West Seattle – the Water Taxi dock at Seacrest Park and the Alaska Junction – that will provide first- and last-mile transit.

Here’s the map of the area that Ride2 will serve:

The county says the Ride2 pilot program will start December 17th and last a year. Find out more here. Meantime, today’s new county info also includes this reminder about expanded parking for those who choose to get to the Water Taxi that way:

Harbor Ave SW will have overnight parking restrictions south of Seacrest Park on the southeast (water) side to allow open morning parking for approximately 120 cars.

SW Bronson Way is an unpaved parking area south of Salty’s restaurant which holds about 40 cars.

The Pier 2 parking lot is a secured parking facility holding more than 250 cars. It will be staffed Monday through Friday from 5:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cars will not be accessible outside of these hours. We suggest you park here 20 minutes before sailing time. The shuttle will run the .6 mile route continuously between Pier 2 and Seacrest Park.

Again, the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes forever on January 11th, for about three weeks of work required to “Realign 99” with the new tunnel. Ramps to and from 99 in the stadium zone will close a week before that, on January 4th, and the new NB 99 ramp into downtown won’t open for two to three weeks after the tunnel (as first announced last June), so West Seattleites headed north are facing more like a six-week squeeze.

3:23 PM: Added photos. Also, if you’re interested in the official news release about today’s event, read it here.