Seattle Scrambles to Handle Upcoming Traffic 'Squeeze'

Dubbed the "Seattle Squeeze," heavier traffic is expected in the new year as the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes and downtown construction projects continue. While the city prepares, activists want to use the opportunity to encourage other modes.

1 minute read

December 21, 2018, 2:00 PM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Alaskan Way Viaduct

The Alaskan Way Viaduct's closure is one factor in heavier expected congestion. | vewfinder / Shutterstock

"On Jan. 11, 2019," Josh Cohen writes, "the Highway 99 Viaduct will close, three weeks before its replacement tunnel opens. With the Viaduct's more than 90,000 daily drivers spilling onto other streets and highways, January is sure to be a mess." On top of that, major construction projects will continue to impact traffic conditions until 2024, a period some are calling the "Seattle Squeeze."

During the Viaduct closure and beyond, the city is "desperate to get fewer people to drive solo." But as the city focuses most of its attention on mitigating the Squeeze's immediate effects, activists want to use the moment to change how Seattleites get around in a lasting way. They include Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS), an advocacy group that has released a list of priorities for the city during the crunch.

Activists are focused on ways to improve bus service, build out bike lanes, and make it easier for commuters to walk to work. Making progress on those fronts, they argue, will make the city's long-term transportation goals more feasible as people contemplate getting out of their cars. Those goals include congestion pricing, "the centerpiece of [Mayor] Durkan's long term strategy." If implemented, Seattle would be the first U.S. city with such a policy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 in Crosscut

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