Fewer drivers on Alaskan Way Viaduct, more on I-5



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Posted on October 19, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 19 at 8:26 AM

Travel patterns in Seattle have changed in the year since construction crews tore down the south end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct for good.

Fewer cars travel on the viaduct every day. Instead, thousands of drivers take alternate routes to avoid long delays because of the tunnel construction.

A big reason for the change is congestion at a choke point near the stadium that curves around the tunnel construction.

"We took it down from 3 lanes to 2 lanes but with a limited amount of real estate you have to be innovative and yeah it's going to cause congestion but at least we're not going to take a highway out of commission for 7 years,” said Travis Phelps with WSDOT.

Prior to the demolition, 110,000 cars were driving on the viaduct every day.

In the past year:

  • 23 percent decline in viaduct traffic
  • 25,300 fewer cars daily
  • I-5 traffic is up 3 percent

Along with increased traffic on the freeway, more people are driving through downtown, carpooling or taking public transportation. WSDOT estimates travel delays have gone up by 5 - 15 minutes.

"It's gotten especially bad on the side streets and on I-5. You do what you have to do and deal with it pretty much," said Dale  Stenquist, a truck driver who makes deliveries from Utah to Washington. Dale says it takes him an extra 30 minutes to reach his destinations.

Another big issue a year later: a shortage of parking spaces.

According to WSDOT, construction eliminated more than 1,000 parking spots around SODO to the waterfront.

WSDOT has added 60 new parking spaces along the waterfront and is working with neighboring parking garages to provide more space for drivers.