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Monday, May 02, 2011
Travis Phelps, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, 206-462-0554 (cell)
KaDeena Yerkan, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, 206-805-2846, 206-795-1876 (cell)
$125 million investment made to help drivers avoid congestion
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SEATTLE – In two weeks, the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor will be reduced from three to two lanes in both directions between the West Seattle Bridge and Seattle’s sports stadiums.
This work is a critical step toward taking down the seismically vulnerable southern mile of the viaduct within the next year. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has invested $125 million in alternative routes, transit service and traveler information to prepare for this work.
The southern mile of the viaduct corridor will remain two lanes in each direction through 2013 and possibly longer, until the central waterfront portion of the viaduct is replaced. WSDOT is delivering its commitment to keep SR 99 open during construction; however, lane closures have always been a key part of the plan. The lane reduction provides crews working for WSDOT with the space they need to continue construction of the new southbound lanes.
“These long-term lane closures will enable us to take down the seismically vulnerable southern half of the viaduct within the next year,” said Ron Paananen, WSDOT Administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program. “We ask drivers to plan ahead and make use of the investments we’ve made in transit, alternative routes, and traveler information to prepare for this construction.”
Approximately 87,000 vehicles use this stretch of SR 99 each day, with the heaviest volumes during the morning and afternoon commutes. If traffic volumes in the SODO area remain at current levels, drivers can expect increased congestion and delays on SR 99 during the morning and afternoon commutes. Spillover traffic could also affect alternate routes, including I-5, the West Seattle Bridge and city streets.
WSDOT, King County and the city of Seattle agreed to a series of investments in 2008 to keep people and goods moving during construction. WSDOT’s investment of $125 million provided for:
- Roadway improvements: Improved SR 519 and built a new Spokane Street Viaduct Fourth Avenue off-ramp.
- Transit investments: Added bus service to and from southwest Seattle and new programs to encourage transit, teleworking and ridesharing.
- System reliability: New real-time driver information signs on I-5, SR 99 and other routes to downtown.
“Seattle drivers have pitched in during previous short-term WSDOT closures by using transit, carpooling and vanpooling, and working from home,” said Matt Preedy, WSDOT’s S. Holgate to S. King Street Viaduct Replacement Project Director. “We’re asking for a long-term commitment this time from those who are able to change their routine.”
Viaduct weekend closure
In order to reconfigure this section of the viaduct, WSDOT will close SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery Street Tunnel the weekend of May 14 and15. During the closure, crews will set up the new lane configuration and test the new automated viaduct closure system.
- Friday, May 13 through Saturday, May 14
- All lanes of SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel will close from 11 p.m., Friday to at least noon Saturday.
- Northbound SR 99 will reopen between S. Royal Brougham Way and the Battery Street Tunnel at noon Saturday, May 14
- The remaining sections of SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday.
- Lane reductions: May 16 through 2013
SR 99 will be reduced to two general purpose lanes in each direction through SODO. Northbound SR 99 will have a dedicated transit-only lane between Spokane Street and S. Lander Street. Information to help drivers plan for the lane reduction and learn about commute alternatives is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR99/HolgateToKing/ConstructionTraffic.
Drivers can find regularly updated traffic information for downtown Seattle and SODO through the construction traffic update. Bus riders can contact Metro Transit at 206-553-3000 or online at www.kingcounty.gov/metro. They should also sign up for Transit Alerts at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/signup.
For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement program, visit http://www.alaskanwayviaduct.org/.
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