It was announced this week that the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be begin on January 11, 2019. The date was moved from a potential closure this fall to avoid disrupting holiday shopping and celebrations, potential weather issues, and to provide advance notice for commuters to prepare alternative travel plans.
According to WSDOT, the closure will be the longest major highway closure to ever hit the Puget Sound Region. The southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street exit will close a week earlier, on January 4. Following the closure of the Viaduct, on January 11, SR 99 will be closed through Seattle for about three weeks to allow for crews to complete the necessary connections to allow travelers to enter and exit the tunnel.
The closure is sure to cause a headache for all as the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s 90,000 drivers will have to use alternative routes navigating through downtown. This announcement comes as we are entering the “period of maximum constraint,” a term transportation officials are using to define the time period from 2018-2021 as the number of upcoming projects in the area will affect mobility in the city.
The $2.2 billion project ($3.3 billion overall including ramps, demolition, and connecting roads) has now been stretched well beyond its original schedule for completion in 2015. The Alaskan Way Viaduct closure date also pushes the demolition phase past a potential completion in May and into the city’s summer tourism season.
Once complete, the new two-mile SR 99 tunnel will offer a direct route for vehicles from the stadium district to Aurora Avenue North by Seattle Center. Tolls for the new State Route 99 tunnel won’t begin until a few months after opening. Potential rates show $1 for off-peak hours to $2.25 for late afternoon commutes.