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Dealing With the 'Seattle Squeeze'

Sections of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will begin closing on January 4, 2019. The city's new tunnel to replace the route doesn't open until February.
December 24, 2018, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The long-awaited tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct will open in February, but not before the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes. Stephen Fesler provides details on the "Seattle Squeeze."

The first impacts from the closure of the SR-99 viaduct will begin on January 4th with the southbound S Atlantic St off-ramp and northbound Royal Brougham Way on-ramp. Other on- and off-ramps as well as the highway mainline will remain open until 10pm on January 11th when the remainder of the viaduct will fully closes.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) expects that the full viaduct closure will send an estimated 90,000 daily vehicle trips to other roads or convert to other types of trips until the new deep-bore tunnel opens in February.

As for what the state and the city will have to do to make up the difference in the meantime, Fesler provides lots of details:

WSDOT is planning to convert I-5 southbound high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to general purpose lanes from Mercer Street to S Corson St just for good measure–keeping motorists happy and suffering in equal measure while ensuring transit is exceptionally slow on I-5.


The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will roll out temporary transit lanes on Cherry Street, 4th Ave S, Aurora Avenue, and the West Seattle Bridge ahead of the viaduct closure.

Fesler notes that some of these changes could become permanent, like the measures taken in New York City to address the L Train closure. An earlier Planetizen post by Philip Rojc offers more insight and background on the Seattle Squeeze.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, December 21, 2018 in The Urbanist
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