Belltown, get ready for an extended carmageddon. Starting tonight, the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 will be closed for the next two weeks or more, resulting in certain traffic mayhem. The closure, which commenced early Friday morning (at midnight), is between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and South Spokane Street.
This is part of WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, which requires the time for the tunneling machine, Bertha, to dig safely underneath the structure. Close to 100,000 cars use the Viaduct every day, and the closure will certainly put traffic pressure on other routes throughout the city, such as Alaskan Way, the surface street underneath the Viaduct, which is expected to remain open during the next two weeks.
The extreme traffic congestion resulting from this closure is precedented by an infamous accident from last year in March, when a fish truck overturned on 99. The highway was shut down for more than nine hours and affected traffic throughout the city in a bad way. New traffic response plans were initiated, but won’t notably alleviate the effect of a planned shutdown of the Viaduct for Bertha’s tunnelling efforts.
WSDOT recommends that commuters who normally use the route plan ahead for extended congestion, take alternate routes, travel at non-peak times, and stay informed on the progress of the closure to respond accordingly. “WSDOT is coordinating with partner agencies to keep people moving during the closure, which is a necessary part of a vital transportation safety project that will transform the SR 99 corridor.”
In response to the closure, several Downtown businesses are attempting to make the workday more flexible, by running building HVAC two hours longer. Other companies are doing what they can to relieve the traffic as much as possible.
Featured photo source: WSDOT