Read our Seattle Squeeze Fact Sheet here. Check out our Seattle Squeeze Postcard, and print and share with your friends and families to spread the word! We also have translated versions of the postcards.
I thought the Seattle Squeeze was over? What is happening now?
The Seattle Squeeze continues over the next five years, as significant private and public construction projects continue to challenge how we get to and through downtown.
Another big set of changes are coming this fall and winter, and we want to help you be prepared. You can expect:
- Ongoing impacts and road closures related to Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition;
- The start of construction of the new Alaskan Way on the Waterfront;
- Weekend Link light rail closures in downtown Seattle on October 12-13, October 26-27, and November 9-10 to prepare for a 10-week period of major light rail service impacts beginning in January 2020, known as Connect 2020; and
- The start of tolling in the SR 99 tunnel on November 9, 2019.
There’s also going to be more transit service added to help you get into downtown by bus starting on September 21 through King County Metro and the Seattle Transportation Benefit District.
How long will the Seattle Squeeze last?
Construction impacts will continue to constrain travel until Link light rail opens to Northgate (2021), the Eastside (2023) and Lynnwood, Redmond, and Federal Way in 2024. Other construction projects will occur during this timeframe as well.
What should I do?
We’re in this together. Stay informed by signing up today for alerts, and whenever possible, don’t drive alone. Take transit, ride a bike, or form a carpool to visit downtown. When working, be flexible and innovative by working from home, compressing your work week, coming early, or staying late.
Thanks to the changes you made to how and when you get around during this year’s SR 99 closure, we got through the longest closure of a highway in the Puget Sound Region without total gridlock. We saw more people biking, taking the water taxi, teleworking and changing their travel times. While there were definitely challenging times and commutes, by working together, we got people and goods where they needed to go. And we need your help to do it again.
Will there be more transit this fall to help me get downtown?
Yes! Over 65,000 annual service hours will be added on Metro routes on September 21 to expand the frequent transit network, address overcrowding, and improve reliability. 50,000 annual service hours funded by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District will be invested into 22 routes. Added trips on routes serving downtown Seattle to address overcrowding and provide additional shoulder-peak service levels include the routes D, E, 1, 3, 5, 11, 14, 17, 21, 28, 36, 40, 41, 120, 218, 252, 255, and 311. Additional trips on routes connecting to Link light rail to connect riders to regional high-capacity transit will be added to the routes 44, 48, 65, 67, 107, 271, 372, and 373.
When will tolling start in the SR 99 Tunnel?
Tolling in the SR 99 tunnel will start on November 9. Rates will range from $1 to $2.25, depending on the time of day, with a Good To Go! pass. This pass is the way to pay the lowest toll. Good news – WSDOT is currently giving the passes away for free! Visit 99tunnel.com for more information.
What will happen when tolling starts?
Traffic patterns changed with the permanent closure of the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct in January and changed again when buses stopped using the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in March. Tolls will result in changing downtown Seattle traffic patterns yet again.
When tolling first begins, we expect the number of vehicles traveling through the tunnel to drop to between 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles per hour during peak periods. This means that as many as half of the current tunnel drivers might choose to leave the tunnel to go to I-5, Alaskan Way, or local streets.
We also expect a gradual return to the tunnel as more drivers create Good To Go! accounts and get a better sense of the value of the time they save by using the tunnel. WSDOT saw this pattern on the SR 520 Bridge and it’s the same on other toll roads around the country.
What is Connect 2020?
Connect 2020 is Sound Transit’s project to prepare for the 2023 opening of the Blue Line, which will provide one-seat light rail rides between Northgate (where light rail service will open in 2021) and Redmond’s Overlake area.
To build the connection between the existing light rail system in downtown Seattle out to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond, there will be ten weeks of around-the-clock heavy construction beginning in January 2020. During this time, track closures will significantly reduce light rail service, and both northbound and southbound riders traveling through downtown will have to use a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square to continue their journeys.
In preparation for Connect 2020, Link light rail will not run downtown on three weekends in fall 2019 while construction crews build a temporary center platform. Plan ahead for closures on October 12-13, October 26-27 and November 9-10. Extra buses will be on-hand to transport travelers between SODO and Capitol Hill.
What is the City of Seattle doing about these changes?
To keep people and goods moving safely and efficiently through Seattle, the City has five key strategies to manage congestion from 2019 – 2024:
- Managing construction projects in the public right-of-way
- Reducing drive-alone trips downtown
- Investing in transit to meet demand and expand access
- Coordinated regional communications
Other initiatives from City of Seattle departments include:
#ShoptheSqueeze: On March 15, 2019, the Office of Economic Development and the Seattle Department of Transportation launched #ShoptheSqueeze, a social media contest encouraging locals to post about their favorite Downtown small businesses and the alternative transportation options they use to visit them. Every week, winning posts will receive prizes like $100 pre-loaded ORCA cards and Visa gift cards. Our campaign mascots, Simon the Sasquatch and Pearl the Squirrel, deliver family-friendly campaign messaging about important transit milestones, ideas for creative commuting, and photo contest details. To join the fun, follow @SeattleEconomy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For more information and full contest rules, visit www.seattle.gov/shopthesqueeze.
Access & Attract: Seattle Center encourages visitors to determine their best walking, cycling or transit route in advance, building in time to travel to the area for their activity. Their Access & Attract campaign includes a new online resource, Find Your Ride, that provides ideas, information and incentives on accessing Seattle Center. A new video lays out the many ways for people to find their way to Seattle Center. Information on current road construction affecting access to Seattle Center and alternate routes may be found on the Seattle Center Transportation Updates webpage.
How long will it take to demolish the Viaduct?
Demolition of the Viaduct is underway and expected to be finished later this year. Removing the viaduct will be unavoidable disruptive and result in temporary street and lane closures. WSDOT has a weekly demolition tracker that you can follow to see how this effort is going!
Will there still be construction on the waterfront once the Viaduct is demolished?
You bet! In 2019, Waterfront Seattle will begin construction of the new Alaskan Way, Elliott Way, and Columbia Street two-way transit pathway in the footprint of the demolished viaduct. Throughout that construction, two-lanes of traffic on Alaskan Way will typically remain open.
Come on down and watch the Waterfront take shape! Through October 2019, you can ride the Free Waterfront Shuttle along the Waterfront between Pioneer Square and the Seattle Center.
What other changes are happening on downtown streets?
Construction and events continue to impact streets and sidewalks in and around downtown. Keep your eyes peeled and stay informed as we continually monitor and adjust to traffic conditions and events.
For your best information, sign up for traffic alerts and follow us on Twitter at @seattledot.
Got a question for us?
We are here to help! 684-ROAD@seattle.gov.