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Seattle's Most Dramatic Traffic Reduction Will Occur Next Month

There will be no road closures, no traffic bans, no loss of parking, and no new transit lines opening. Call it the "tolling effect" on Nov. 9 when motorists have to pay to drive through the two-mile State Route 99 tunnel that opened last February.
October 9, 2019, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Seattle Tunnel Route
The program overview for the new State Route 99 in Seattle.

"Traffic inside the new SR 99 tunnel could see a big reduction when the tolls go into effect next month, state and city transportation leaders told the Seattle City Council on Monday," reports Kara Kostanich of KOMO News.

The Washington State Department of Transportation [WSDOT] says between 30% and 50% of the more than 80,00 drivers who use the tunnel daily could divert out of the tunnel when tolling starts on November 9.

WSDOT predicts drivers will use transit, work from home or find alternatives routes.

Five thousand cars travel through the tunnel every hour during during peak times. After tolling starts, that number is expected to drop to around 3,200 vehicles per hour [36% reduction].

Officials predict that after initial drop, traffic through the tunnel will creep back up over the next few months settling around 4,200 cars per hour [16% reduction].

Tolls, while 24/7 and bi-directional, are modest for the two-mile, four-lane tunnel (two lanes in each direction), ranging from $1.00 to $2.25, depending on the day, time and direction for those with a "Good To Go!" pass. Add $2 for "Pay-By Mail".

And the tolls are not punitive. As posted earlier, the state legislature determined in 2012 that tolling would be needed to raise $200 million of the $3.3 billion it cost for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program (including $223 million from cost overruns due to "Bertha" tunneling woes) and cover ongoing operation and maintenance costs.

The tunnel opened to traffic on February 3.

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Hat tip to IBTTA Smart Brief.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, October 7, 2019 in KOMO News
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