Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Get ready: Four-day closure of SR 99 begins Friday at 10 p.m.

By Chad Schuster

In October 2011, we closed State Route 99 through Seattle for more than a week so we could demolish and replace the southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Traffic was a challenge during the closure, but with help from flexible and patient commuters, we made it through and ended up with a better highway to show for it.

On Friday night, we’ll begin another extended closure of SR 99, this time a four-day closure that will enable crews to demolish and replace (pdf 2.5 mb) a section of the highway at the north end of downtown. As it did three years ago, we expect that closing SR 99 will cause congestion and perhaps frustration among travelers trying to get to and through Seattle. But with your help, we’ll manage, and we’ll complete important work related to our efforts to replace the remaining section of the viaduct.
Please plan ahead for SR 99 closures from Friday night, Aug. 22 to Wednesday morning, Aug. 27. Here are the details:
  • From 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22 to 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25, SR 99 will be closed in both directions from the West Seattle Bridge to Valley Street.
    • Northbound SR 99 will be open from South Royal Brougham Way and southbound SR 99 will be open from Columbia Street until midnight on Friday, Aug. 22 for exiting Seahawks traffic.
  • From 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25 to 5 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, SR 99 will be closed in both directions from the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel to Valley Street.

Lots of work to do

It’s never easy to close a major highway, but it might make it easier to accept if you know how much work we’ll be able to accomplish due to the sacrifices being made by you and your fellow travelers. The main need for the closure is to allow crews building the future north portal of the SR 99 tunnel to demolish and replace the section of SR 99 that crosses above Broad Street. To minimize the need for additional closures, separate crews will complete the following work elsewhere along the SR 99 corridor during this time:
  • Utility work at Harrison Street
  • Concrete panel replacement in SODO
  • Expansion joint repairs on the viaduct near the Seneca Street off-ramp
  • Ivy removal from the viaduct

Driver tips 

The closure will likely cause backups on city streets and I-5. Travelers should consider the following:
Thanks in advance for your patience, and for doing your part to minimize congestion as we build a better SR 99 corridor.


Anonymous said...

Awesome job of making sure there were flaggers and police around for the Monday evening commute to help it go smoothly. I took your advice and took Metro. 45 minutes to get from 3rd and Seneca to 3rd and Broad, where the driver was nice enough to let me out so I could walk past all the gridlocked intersections. Stellar. Please repeat this at least once a month.

WSDOT said...

Thank you for sharing your concerns about traffic in Seattle during the recent closure of SR 99.

We recognize that with closures of SR 99, traffic impacts on city streets are unavoidable. This most recent closure was necessary for crews to complete critical work related to our efforts to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Most notably, crews building the future north portal of the SR 99 tunnel demolished and replaced the section of SR 99 that crosses above Broad Street. It took just four days to complete the work and rebuild the highway (see how in this newly updated time-lapse video. Nearby, crews relocated major utility lines beneath SR 99 near Harrison Street that were in the way of portal construction. 

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle Department of Transportation worked together to minimize congestion through an extensive public outreach campaign. We notified the general public well in advance so that drivers could plan ahead and choose alternate commuting options, where possible, during the closure. WSDOT, SDOT and King County Metro coordinated closely before and during the SR 99 closure. SDOT made adjustments to signal timing in real time to help facilitate of movement of traffic. Additionally, SPD provided uniformed police officers at various intersections to keep them clear and safe for drivers.

Replacing the viaduct is a matter of public safety, and we will continue to try to minimize the impact and frequency of closures of SR 99 during construction. During future closures, we will continue to monitor any impacts to nearby residential streets.

For the most up-to-date information on the program, visit

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