Getting around when the tunnel opens

Posted on Jan 2 2019 8:34 AM

January 2019 marks the start of a series of dramatic changes to Seattle’s traffic landscape. The Alaskan Way Viaduct will close permanently as crews rebuild portions of State Route 99 to move it off the viaduct and realign it with the new tunnel.

When the new SR 99 tunnel opens in early February, getting to and from Seattle via SR 99 will be a very different experience for drivers than it is today.

The tunnel is a direct, 2-mile trip underneath downtown Seattle. The tunnel entrances and exits, near Seattle’s Space Needle to the north and the stadiums to the south, work differently than the entrances and exits on the viaduct.

These four new videos are designed to help you understand some of the changes ahead and how to get around when the new tunnel opens. Watch to learn:

The tunnel will be free to use when it first opens, with tolling starting as soon as summer 2019.

We expect it could take weeks or months for traffic patterns to settle down as drivers try different routes to get to and from their destinations.

Counting down to the viaduct closure

At 10 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 4, the SR 99 on-and-off-ramps close near the stadiums. An estimated 22,000 vehicles a day use those ramps.

At 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel. During this time, both the viaduct and the tunnel will be closed. This disruption is unavoidable due to the large amount of work needed to realign SR 99 into the new SR 99 tunnel.

After the new tunnel opens in early February, it will take up to two additional weeks to complete the northbound off-ramp into downtown Seattle – meaning the closure will cause up to six total weeks of traffic disruptions.

Make a plan. Now.

About 90,000 vehicles a day use the viaduct. Our roads and highways will become gridlocked if every driver decides to stay in their cars. This is why regional transportation agencies are asking everyone to make a plan to get around differently during the 3-week viaduct closure.

Resources and ideas are available from WSDOT, King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Order: 6.1