SEATTLE – Weekday commuters got their first chance to drive the new look Alaskan Way Viaduct Monday morning and experience the longer drive times that come with it.
The road was closed starting Oct. 21 for what was a planned nine day project to demolish the southern mile of the elevated structure. It reopened Saturday, two days earlier than planned.
Drivers will find a new bypass that will take them past the demolished section next to the sports stadiums. It will lead them to the remaining elevated section of the viaduct. Lanes on this bypass are a little narrower than drivers normally see.
The road connects back to the viaduct near King Street and expands back to three lanes.
What you need to know
- The speed limit on much of the viaduct is permanently reduced from 50 mph to 40 mph.
- The construction zone speed limit next to the stadiums will drop to 25 mph.
- Metro Transit's 11 bus routes that travel on SR 99 have begun using the new bypass.
- Drivers should prepare for delays of up to 10 minutes during peak travel times as traffic navigates the new bypass
- Narrower lanes on the new bypass
By 7 a.m. Monday, traffic was slowing down quite a bit. Larger vehicles like box trucks and buses were taking the new bypass pretty slowly.
An accident on Highway 99 at S. Holden Street around 6 a.m. added to the frustration for drivers coming in from the south end.
"For the next week or so as folks get the hang of this, you can expect to see some additional congestion. There is the Looky Lou factor, too. You've got a lot of really cool stuff to look at down here, so you can factor that in as well," said Travis Phelps, Washington State Department of Transportation.
The route will stay in place until the new tunnel opens in 2016.