SEATTLE – Demolition of the southern mile of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct is right on schedule, but drivers will need to plan ahead if they want to stick to their schedules during heavy congestion expected for this afternoon’s commute.
“Drivers clearly did their part to keep traffic flowing during the Thursday morning commute,” said Matt Preedy, WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement program deputy administrator. “We saw less congestion on many of the key routes leading into Seattle; however, based on afternoon commutes this week, drivers can still expect gridlock if they don’t plan ahead.”
Crews have their eyes on the prize. With nearly six days of construction and demolition completed, crews are closer than ever to reopening SR 99 for the 110,000 drivers who depend on it daily, Preedy said.
Thursday morning recap
North end: Some travel times on southbound I-5 between Everett and Seattle were 15 minutes longer than usual. Drivers who used 15th Avenue West and Elliott Avenue West into downtown Seattle and onto I-5 experienced delays of up to 10 minutes.
South end: The commute on northbound I-5 from Federal Way to Seattle took drivers 20 minutes longer than usual. Traffic between Boeing Field and downtown was stop-and-go. Drivers who chose northbound I-405 between Renton and Bellevue saw delays of up to 23 minutes.
Even though traffic increased on First and Fourth avenues south, they continued to be a good alternate routes for drivers. As a result, the commute on First Avenue South from South Lucile Street to the sports stadiums was a few minutes slower than normal. Drivers on Fourth Avenue South saw delays of seven minutes. More drivers shifted their commutes to Airport Way South where delays of up to five minutes.
West Seattle: Drivers using the West Seattle Bridge to the I-5 interchange saw free flowing traffic for most of the morning, while drivers coming from Fauntleroy Way to the stadiums via First Avenue South experienced delays of up to 10 minutes.
Thursday afternoon look ahead
Thursday afternoon’s commute promises again to be congested on I-5 and I-405 if drivers continue to follow the same patterns as they have earlier this week. On Wednesday evening, drivers saw commute times stretch from 20 minutes to one hour longer than usual depending on when and where they were traveling.
Seattle city streets did not fare better Wednesday evening. Interbay-bound commuters have experienced delays of up to 25 minutes, while downtown traffic kept drivers behind the wheel for up to an hour.
Airport Way South and Martin Luther King Drive remain good alternate routes for drivers traveling through SODO with delays of just a few minutes.
Overnight, crews continued to remove debris from the demolition site and removed steel protective plates from the roadway. Today, crews are concentrating their efforts on demolishing the lower bridge deck near South Atlantic Street, striping the new construction bypass and paving. Later tonight, crews will begin installing approximately 40 truckloads of concrete traffic safety barrier along 3,000 feet of the new bridge and bypass.
When SR 99 reopens at 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31, both directions of traffic will be shifted onto the new SR 99 bridge – two lanes in each direction – and crews will begin construction on the new northbound roadway in the footprint of the demolished viaduct. A step-by-step simulation shows how traffic will use the construction bypass.