'Perfect storm' for downtown Seattle traffic on the horizon

Starting in just about a year, construction projects will tear up roads, the viaduct will be coming down, and hundreds of buses will be kicked out of the transit tunnel. To move as many people as possible, the city and county are looking at making huge ch

SEATTLE - If you think traffic in Seattle is bad now, just wait.

From mid-2018 until 2021, there is what you could call a perfect storm for downtown traffic.

During that time period, the viaduct will be coming down and the new Alaskan Way will be built. Convention Center construction will force hundreds of buses a day out of the transit tunnel. Madison Street and First Avenue will be torn up for a rapid bus line and a streetcar connector, respectively.

To move as many people as possible, the city and county are looking at making big changes to streets downtown. That could mean a loss of parking, a loss of lanes for solo drivers, a loss of bike lanes, shortening bus routes, adding transit lanes north and south through downtown, or some combination of all of those.

Right now, the city, King County, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association are all looking for feedback from the public as to how to plan for the construction. Commuters have until March 3 to comment at onecentercity.org.

“We’re looking to talk to anybody who travels to or lives within Center City,” said Eric Tweit, project manager for Seattle Department of Transportation. “(We want) their thoughts on our near-term strategies.”

Tweit said eventually these projects will help the downtown move more efficiently, but there’ll be some pain in the coming years. He says they’re looking to hear from commuters like bus riders who are probably going to get hit with longer ride times.

“(There) could be a doubling of their travel time through downtown,” he said.

Reactions ranged from commuters, including those worried enough about congestion and parking.

“I don’t know where I’d park,” said Bill Henderson of Olympia.

Others were more understanding, like Johnathan Buell, founder of Dollar Donate Club, who works at the Galvanize co-work space in Pioneer Square.

“There’s some sacrifice that needs to be made for a short-term," said Buell. "And I’m willing to do that, because I love Seattle."

Copyright 2017 KING


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