Get ready for 'Viadoom' when Alaskan Way Viaduct closes

Oct 20, 2011

The so-called "Carmageddon" in Los Angeles this summer was a bust — but its Seattle-based sequel "Viadoom" is being billed as the real deal.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct shuts down at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, nearly 90,000 drivers will face detours and delays. Transportation officials have been encouraging commuters to ditch their cars during the nine day closure. Otherwise, they say roads through the city will be total gridlock.

This is from the state department of transportation's website:

This closure will affect traffic along the length of the State Route 99 corridor. Expect delays on Interstate 5 and local roads, and allow extra travel time. You may want to consider traveling outside the peak periods.

Other changes you should be aware of:

City of Seattle officials announced today a temporary suspension of the $32 flat rate from the downtown hotel district to Sea-Tac Airport during the Viaduct closure, planned for 7:30 p.m., Oct. 21, to 5 a.m., Oct. 31. Fares will instead be computed by the taximeters to ensure cab drivers are fairly compensated for what are expected to be longer trips due to traffic delays. Fares are expected to be $40 or more depending on traffic delays. The flat rate will be reinstated when the Viaduct reopens.

Residential solid waste customers in Northwest Seattle are asked to put out their trash, recycling, and food and yard waste carts an hour early – 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. – on their normal pickup day October 24 – 28. The earlier pickup time is in response to the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Only Seattle customers living in Northwest Seattle, north of the Ship Canal and west of I-5, are asked to put out their carts an hour earlier. Customers are encouraged to set out their carts the night before.

Alternatives to driving

If you don't like sitting in traffic jams, you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • ride the bus
  • take light rail
  • bicycle
  • water taxi

Metro plans to have 30 extra buses on duty, so you have a decent chance of finding a seat. The water taxi to and from West Seattle is also adding trips. Boats could be pretty full, though, with the city adding 65 temporary park-and-ride spots for the extra passengers it expects. That's on top of the already 70% jump in ridership the service experienced last month.

If you can't do without the car

State and local agencies have spent nearly $125 million to keep traffic from grinding to a halt. Most of the assistance will come from high-tech aids, but extra police will also be on hand to direct cars the old fashioned way.

Some of the more advanced assistance includes:

  • 12 video-cameras streaming live video of traffic on Seattle streets, including the West Seattle bridge
  • email and Twitter alerts of traffic updates
  • traffic sensors along Aurora.

Some routines could change permanently

Don't expect normal routines even after the stretch of Highway-99 reopens at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, October 31st. It will detour around tunnel construction, slowing driving speeds down to 25 miles an hour in some spots. So, any adjustments commuters make could help even after the dreaded nine-day closure is over.

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