The Seattle Department of Transportation will pull back some construction projects and implement parking restrictions on certain downtown Seattle streets during the three-week State Route 99 closure to help keep traffic moving and decrease emergency response times.
“Everyone is going to have to change things up a bit,” said Heather Marx, SDOT director of downtown mobility.
Downtown parking will be restricted on several streets, including Second, Third, and Fifth Avenues, Blanchard Street, and Olive Way. View a map of complete parking restrictions here.
Transportation officials also identified the most common intersections where drivers “block the box” during a red light, and Seattle Police will station officers at those intersections to help keep traffic moving.
Seattle Police Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak said he wouldn’t take tickets off the table, but the effort is about working with community and keeping traffic flowing.
Additional enforcement will also be focused on keeping bus lanes clear of cars, especially Third Avenue, which became transit-only last year. Violators could earn themselves a $158 ticket, according to Hirjak.
Emergency response times may be impacted by the closure, according to Seattle Fire Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon. However, Seattle Police and Seattle Fire said they will both be in communication with SDOT throughout the day next week to track emergency response times and make adjustments if they are impacted.
“Every second counts, so our goal is to stay the same,” Hirjak said. “We’ll find out next week exactly how the first week is.”
The viaduct closes for good Friday at 10 p.m. It will be about three more weeks before the new tunnel under downtown Seattle opens as crews remove and build new embankments, construct barriers, pave, and stripe.
During a nine-day viaduct closure in 2016, Marx said the city learned peak commute times will likely start earlier and end later. Peak travel times are typically 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.
Officials recommended people give themselves an additional 30-60 minutes to get to their destination during the closure.
When all else fails, Marx urged drivers to channel Mr. Rogers during the closure.
“We’re going to have to be kind, be patient, and think about other people and how they’re experiencing this,” Marx said.
Join KING 5's Seattle Tunnel Traffic Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest Seattle tunnel and Viaduct news and get tips to battle traffic during the three-week Viaduct closure in January.