Commuters and Travelers Adapt to Viaduct Closure

SDOT’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) has been monitoring traffic on our streets since 6 a.m.  Over the last couple of days, engineers have adjusted signal timing on main corridors as needed to keep traffic moving. We’ve observed that the commute peak is earlier (around 6:30 a.m. vs. 7:30 a.m.) but also tapers off earlier in the morning (around 8 a.m.), which means most people are leaving earlier than usual.

All major corridors are experiencing heavier traffic due to the viaduct closure. But overall, we noticed that people are changing their habits. Please keep in mind that accidents will affect the flow of traffic and lead to more congestion on the roads and highways.

As a side note, you may want to consider using Airport Way for your travels, since it is not congested. Another option for travelers coming into Downtown Seattle from the sounth end would be to use Boeing Access Road to Martin Luther King Jr Way as an alternate.

The West Seattle Bridge has seen more congestion during the morning commute as well.  But some drivers are considering the First Avenue S Bridge as a route. We noticed a great increase in traffic on First and Fourth Avenues also (about 65 percent) which resulted in delays of a few more minutes. Also, please remember that you should not be driving on the “Bus Only” lane on the bridge. Seattle Police Department’s Aggressive Driver Response Team (ADRT) has been conducting enforcement on the West Seattle Bridge during the morning commute.

Plan ahead before you leave by checking out SDOT’s Travelers Information Map – you can click on “Travel Times” to display these or scroll down the page to see the “Live Traffic Video”.

King County Metro and Sound Transit are observing that ridership is up. While a lot of people took the West Seattle Water Taxi to get to Downtown Seattle on Monday and Tuesday, we are seeing numbers down today.

The evening commutes have been challenging as well; again, starting earlier (before or around 4 p.m.) and lasting a bit longer than usual (after 6:30 p.m.)

Biking to work from West Seattle is perhaps still the best way to avoid traffic congestion. Results from a count this morning at the lower West Seattle Bridge between 6:30 and 9 a.m. showed 382 people took to the road on their bikes.  This compares with 308 counted in 2008 and 246 counted in 2010 –  a 55 percent  increase over the 2010 count!

Whether you are biking or walking to work, please ensure your safety by making yourself visible to driversand wear your helmets! (It’s the law.) See more tips at walkinginfo.org and cascade.org.

Visit the Washington State Department of Transportation’s “What’s Happening Now” site for more information about the viaduct demolition and traffic updates.