As we say #GoodbyeViaduct and hello to the new SR #99Tunnel, we’re preparing for more changes to traffic patterns downtown.
We’re almost there! When the new SR 99 tunnel opens, which is on schedule to open before the morning commute Monday, February 4, traffic patterns will change as travelers encounter this new tunnel and new route options. This will affect everyone who travels to and through downtown Seattle, even if you’re not using the tunnel!
WSDOT’s website for the new SR 99 tunnel, www.99tunnel.com, is your best resource for learning all about the new tunnel. Watch these videos that show you how to use the new tunnel and how connections to downtown will be different. Check it out!
Read on to learn about some upcoming street changes and actions we’re taking to keep people and goods moving safely, including reconfiguring key streets and restricting parking downtown.
Bye-bye, Battery Street Tunnel!
The Battery Street Tunnel will close for good at 10 PM on Friday, February 1. The tunnel is vulnerable to earthquakes, just like the Alaskan Way Viaduct (it’s over 60 years old!), and continuing to use it for any purpose would cost lots of money in restorations and repairs. Additionally, closing the Battery Street Tunnel allows us to “reconnect” streets at the north end of the tunnel that were previous cut off by the approach to the tunnel. Over the next year and a half, John Street and Thomas Street will be reconnected, and Aurora Avenue North rebuilt between Harrison Street and Denny Way. Learn more about the project here!
Aurora Ave N Detour and Construction Impacts – Plan Ahead!
Traffic Detours: Between Friday, February 1 at 10 PM and the opening of the new SR 99 tunnel, traffic will be detoured off of Aurora Ave N at Valley Street. Please note that 5th Ave N will be closed for Saturday’s Tunnel to Viaduct 8K Run/Walk from 7 AM until the end of the event. Please be aware of these changes to traffic and plan ahead if you’ll be heading either northbound or southbound on Aurora Ave N.
Temporary Parking Restrictions and Uniformed Police Officers – Keeping Transit and Emergency Responders Moving!
During the #Realign99 closure, we restricted parking in key locations and placed uniformed police officers at specific intersections to keep traffic moving and to make room for transit and emergency responders. Since traffic patterns will again be changing when the tunnel opens, we are continuing to restrict parking and keep UPOs in certain locations to maintain that capacity.
The parking restrictions will continue from February 4 for up to two weeks. The parking restrictions are from 6 AM to 7 PM, Monday – Friday.
The uniformed police officer locations are also in place Monday-Friday, and will be stationed during the peak morning and evening commute periods: 6 – 10 AM, and 3 – 7 PM.
Click here to view our flyer: Seattle Squeeze Alert – Parking Restrictions and Uniformed Police Officer Locations
Lane Changes – Be Prepared For Changes To Your Commute
We reconfigured lanes around downtown to make space for transit and freight vehicles during the Realign 99 closure. This included a temporary bus-only lane on the Spokane St Viaduct and 4th Ave S. This bus lane will remain in place until the new northbound SR 99 off-ramp to S. Dearborn St opens, which will open about one week after the new SR 99 tunnel opens.
We also installed a freight and transit-only lane on Alaskan Way during the closure, which will be removed this weekend between February 2 – 3. Visit King County Metro’s Get Ready site to view bus routes once the new tunnel opens.
Lastly, we are striping a bus-only lane on Cherry St between 1st and 3rd Ave to keep transit moving eastbound once the S Dearborn St northbound off-ramp from SR 99 is in place. Now that buses will not be traveling on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, this dedicated bus lane allows these bus lines to keep people moving quickly and efficiently through downtown.
- This work is scheduled to occur the weekend of February 9 – 10 at the latest, but may occur during the week of February 4 to ensure that crews have good weather to restripe this lane. If work occurs over the weekend, it will begin at 5 AM. If work occurs during a weekday, work will begin at 3 AM to be completed before the peak morning commute period begins at 6 AM. Work will take up to two hours and impacts to traffic will be minimal.
Why are we making these changes?
These changes are going to make travel times more reliable and help keep people moving during this time of increased traffic. By installing temporary and permanent changes to Seattle’s streets, we will keep transit and vehicle travel reliable and improve our emergency response times as responders address incidents downtown.
What does this mean for you?
On-street parking options downtown will be limited. People, businesses, schools, manufacturers, and many others rely on the timely delivery of products and goods, and we want to ensure they move as predictably and efficiently as possible.
If you need to drive, plan ahead and be prepared for your new route and parking locations downtown. Use the Seattle Parking Map to make a plan before you leave. Keep our Vision Zero goal in mind, follow the rules, take a deep breath and travel safely.
This is a great time to try a new commute! Try transit, biking, walking, carpooling or vanpools. View our Tools page at www.seattle.gov/traffic for helpful resources.
We recognize the impacts that parking restrictions can have on local businesses, and we’re here to provide support during this time. We’ll closely monitor our downtown streets to confirm traffic is moving smoothly and adjust as needed. If you have any concerns, please contact our Customer Care Center team at 684-ROAD@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-ROAD.
We’re working hard to make sure we’re keeping people and goods moving safely and efficiently, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we all adjust to this new normal.
Notice of future impacts related to the closure of SR 99 and other projects impacting traffic during the Seattle Squeeze are posted to our blog at www.seattle.gov/traffic.