Seattle residents have known it was coming, and now they knows when. Bertha has a dig date that will close down the Alaskan Way Viaduct for two weeks.
Starting April 29, the viaduct will close between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel. The hope is for it to re-open after May 13. The viaduct is closing as Bertha digs underneath it and constructs the new SR-99 tunnel.
That means the nearly 90,000 vehicles that use the viaduct daily will be finding alternate routes through downtown Seattle. Drivers on other area roads can expect heavier traffic during this time.
“When we closed the viaduct for nine days in 2011, we saw significant congestion on Seattle city streets and nearby highways,” said David Sowers, deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “We’ll do everything we can to ease congestion, but, unfortunately, there’s no way to close a major highway without disrupting traffic.
“We understand this closure will be a major inconvenience for many drivers, but we need their help to keep traffic moving,” Sowers added. “We will all get through this together if everyone starts the planning process now and adjusts their commutes.”
The Washington State Department of Transportation is recommending certain alternatives to using the viaduct, including:
• New ways to commute: The recently opened Sound Transit University Link Extension can take commuters from the University District to downtown in eight minutes. In addition, Seattle’s new First Hill Streetcar can carry more commuters to downtown.
• Alternatives to driving: Take the bus with King County Metro. Share a ride in a carpool, vanpool or van share.
• Explore other transit options using the Puget Sound Trip Planner. Remember that while taking transit is a great alternative to driving, buses are expected to be crowded during the closure.
• Take the water taxi: King County Water Taxi is adding extra trips to and from Vashon Island to Colman Dock. There will be additional parking in West Seattle for the water taxi’s new, larger-capacity boat.
• Work from home: Many employers offer options to work from home. Even teleworking one day a week will help ease congestion.
• Adjust the work schedule: If possible, adjusting a work schedule can help avoid the longer commutes. Rush hours will start earlier and end later than normal. Use WSDOT’s travel tools or SDOT’s traveler information page to plan your trips.
• Consider biking or walking for the last part of a trip into downtown to avoid the heaviest congestion