The words “Seattle Squeeze” are buzzing around the region.
Beginning with WSDOT’s permanent closure of the Alaska Way Viaduct on January 11 and continuing over the next three years, Seattle is entering a new era of tough traffic. Private and public megaprojects will continue to reduce capacity on our City streets and contribute to gridlock. We’ll all have to adjust to a new normal in and around downtown Seattle.
For many people who work downtown, this period will be particularly challenging and quite honestly, frustrating.
We’re entering a new era of really tough traffic. To help our region get through one of its toughest periods, we’re working together with partnering transportation agencies and organizations to reduce congestion during this challenging period and limit the impact on commuters and businesses.
Start your New Year’s resolution early. #GetReady
We’re approaching the new year. If this doesn’t sound the alarm for you, it should, because come January 11, 2019, we’ll witness history in the making with the final closure of the WA State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) State Route (SR) 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct (you know, that elevated structure along the Seattle waterfront) as one of the first big steps to realigning SR 99 to the new SR 99 tunnel. While all this is underway, travel patterns will change with people moving over to I-5, local downtown surface streets, and Alaskan Way, and we all know what this means:
Some of you have the power to decide how difficult this period will be: ☝️☝️ or 👇👇
Collectively, our commute choices will determine whether Seattle’s transportation system keeps moving. Every trip reduced or shifted off-peak, particularly vehicle trips, will help reduce congestion during the weeks of the viaduct closure and associated construction impacts. While your transportation agencies and partners work hard to mitigate the impacts of the closure, a partnership with the private sector is key to maximizing those efforts.
Employers have a significant influence on mobility choices…
…based on the policies, education, and incentives included in the employee transportation programs.
Every business – big or small – can help reduce traffic congestion during this time by encouraging their employees to make good choices.
To assist, Commute Seattle, (a nonprofit Transportation Management Association funded by the Downtown Seattle Association, yours truly (SDOT), King County Metro, and Sound Transit), will be providing free, personalized tools for Seattle-area employers to plan ahead for the period of maximum constraint.
Seattle employers have options.
Seattle employers of all sizes have a range of options to help their employees stay informed and make good travel choices.
Implementing a flex-work policy and encouraging employees to take advantage of remote work and flexible scheduling options can improve employee well-being and productivity while reducing vehicle trips to and through downtown.
For those who are able, biking and walking are easy, sustainable ways to reduce traffic impacts for part or all your commute trip, and employers can support these choices through flexible scheduling, bicycle storage, and shower facilities.
Investing in commuter benefits such as ORCA Business Passport makes transit an easier and more affordable option for employees, and helping staff members share their commute trips by establishing vanpool and carpool programs can be a great alternative for those who need to drive.
Need some success stories? We’ve got ‘em!
We’ve seen some pretty sweet success stories from employer efforts over the years, whether through our Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program or other business support efforts. Several Seattle employers have illustrated how employees can be flexible if their worksite embraces travel choices and provides the right support.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, located in Uptown, provides 100% subsidized transit, Monorail, and Vanpool/Van share commutes, as well as secure bike parking and HOV priority parking, resulting in over 65% of employees choosing commute modes other than driving alone.
Tableau, a software company in Fremont, has fostered a grassroots movement of employees who track their commutes and compete for most miles and days logged using alternatives to driving alone, encouraging employees to try new modes and building a sense of community around these options.
Let’s learn from our experience.
We’ve seen it in the past with major closures – commute times will increase throughout the region. Peak commute hours will start earlier and end later, and in some cases, morning commute times will more than double.
If they can, employers should urge employees to avoid trips during these busy hours, whether by shifting their schedule or compressing their work week. Staying flexible is the best way to reduce congestion on our roadways and will help employees stay productive and engaged.
With early planning and the correct tools, Seattle employers can reduce employee stress and lessen traffic congestion, keeping their business thriving. And remember, at the other end of the tunnel (literally and figuratively) there’s a better transportation system waiting for Seattle!
Contact Commute Seattle, today! #GetReadyNow
Commute Seattle is standing by to provide free assistance to your Seattle businesses, creating a personalized action plan tailored to your company’s individual needs. Contact us today at SR99@commuteseattle.com or visit our website at www.commuteseattle.com/SR99 to get started!
Commute Seattle is also offering a Flexwork Open House on Wednesday, November 28 from 11 AM – 12:30 PM to help Seattle employers learn more about flexwork solutions. Learn more and register here!
Other things you can do.
Stay informed. Visit our new website, www.seattle.gov/traffic, for all of the information and resources you need to get around during the #SeattleSqueeze. For detailed information about the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, new SR 99 tunnel, and SR 99 tolling, visit WSDOT’s website.
Plan your trip. We’re providing real-time construction and traffic information with popular navigation technologies: Google Maps, Waze, and TomTom. But try transit, ride a bike, form a carpool, or walk.
Spread the word. Share this information with your customers, delivery and service providers, and neighbors.