File photo

File photo

Seattle area braces for three-week SR 99 closure

Expect more congestion, longer commutes

State Route 99 will be closed for three weeks of construction starting Friday, Jan. 11. The closure begins near the West Seattle Bridge and stretches all the way to the southern end of the Battery Street tunnel.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), this is the largest highway closure that the Puget Sound region has ever seen. As a result, local residents must plan around high levels of traffic spilling across the greater Seattle metropolitan area until construction finishes in early February.

WSDOT is closing the highway to realign it into a new tunnel parallel to the Alaskan Way Viaduct, with eight new ramps connecting the tunnel to city streets. However, when State Route 99 reopens in February, the viaduct will stay closed until the city begins demolition later in the month.

As a result of the closure, commute times are likely to increase along major routes including Interstate 90 and State Route 520 between Bellevue and Seattle, according to WSDOT studies from the 2016 closure of the viaduct. The same statistics suggest commuters could spend an extra 30 minutes in their cars on Interstate 5 between Federal Way and Seattle, and between Everett and Seattle.

“There are 90,000 vehicles that travel the viaduct every day,” said Laura Newborn, media relations for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. Newborn recommends that Seattle area residents work from home if they can, take different modes of transportation around Seattle, or failing that, carpool.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct was built more than half a century ago. While it survived the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, the tunnel is still vulnerable to another seismic event. The new tunnel will replace the viaduct along with an Alaskan Way surface street on the same stretch as the viaduct.

Seattle commuters have four days left to use SR 99 before it closes.

More in News

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state

Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County approves bargaining agreement with 60 unions

Employees will receive wage increases and $500 bonus.

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

King County bail reform hinges on pretrial decision making

Data on inmates has shown that being held pretrial affects the likelihood of conviction.

State smoking age rising to 21 in 2020

Legislature approves change

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

Defense Distributed’s 3D printed gun, The Liberator. Photo by Vvzvlad/Wikimedia Commons
‘Ghost gun’ bill moves to Senate committees

Legislation would make 3-D printed guns illegal.

King County Council with Sarah Reyneveld, chair of the King County Women’s Advisory Board. Photo courtesy of King County
King County proclaims March as Women’s History Month

This year’s theme is Womxn Who Lead: Stories from the past and how they influence the future.

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.