SEATTLE – Drivers face increased congestion for the next six weeks on southbound State Route 99/Aurora Avenue North approaching downtown Seattle. Anticipated backups begin March 6 when crews building the SR 99 tunnel narrow southbound Aurora from three lanes to two between Republican and John streets, just north of the Battery Street Tunnel.
The lane closure is scheduled to last through at least mid-April and will give crews space to relocate utilities buried up to 15 feet beneath the westernmost lane of the roadway. Relocating the utilities will allow crews to begin building the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal, which will be located near Harrison Street between Sixth Avenue North and Aurora.
Approximately 31,000 vehicles use this stretch of southbound Aurora each day, with the heaviest traffic volumes during the morning and afternoon commutes. The southbound exits at Broad Street and Denny Way will remain open, maintaining vital connections to the neighborhood as the community prepares to host a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair.
“This is a busy time for Seattle Center and the surrounding neighborhood, and we are doing everything we can to keep traffic moving through the area,” said Linea Laird, WSDOT Administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “Drivers will have access to businesses, residences and events throughout construction.”
Drivers will use Broad Street and Denny Way to reach businesses on Republican, Harrison, Thomas and John streets while the southbound lane on Aurora Avenue North is closed for construction.
SR 99/Aurora Avenue North closures at a glance
Monday, March 5 – Tuesday, March 6: Crews will close the two right lanes of southbound SR 99/Aurora Avenue North from Republican to John streets between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to install a concrete barrier in the right lane. The southbound exit to Denny Way will be closed while the concrete barrier is installed.
Tuesday, March 6 – mid-April: The southbound right lane of Aurora Avenue North from Republican to John streets will close around-the-clock through mid-April. Crews will use this lane closure to install a new underground electrical vault and duct bank. Two lanes will remain open on mainline SR 99 approaching the Battery Street Tunnel.
King County Metro Transit will detour southbound buses off Aurora Avenue at Valley Street while construction has the southbound lane closed on Aurora Avenue North. This will affect approximately 385 bus trips a day on Route 5, Route 5 Express, Route 26 Express, Route 28 Express and Route 358.
Southbound buses turning at Valley Street will detour to Fifth Avenue North and travel into downtown Seattle to resume their regular routing and stops. The southbound bus stops on Aurora at Broad and John streets, plus the one westbound on Wall Street at Fifth Street, will not be served on the detour. Also, buses will not stop along the detour route with two exceptions – they will stop on Fifth Avenue North at both Mercer and John streets.
Metro will begin detouring buses at 9 p.m. Monday, March 5. More information will be available at King County Metro’s Alert Center.
Drivers can find regularly updated traffic information for downtown Seattle through the construction traffic update.