There were some delays — even a tale of a two-hour ordeal — but many readers say their first workweek of post-viaduct commuting has been unchanged and even improved.
In the weeks leading up to the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, transportation officials urged commuters to use almost any form of getting around apart from driving alone. And for the most part, people listened.
Despite a few crashes, broken transit-station escalators and elevators, and wet weather, drivers and bus riders largely raved to The Seattle Times about quicker travel times and slowly let out their breath that the “new normal” may not be a frightening reality.
Here’s a sample of notes people have sent about their commuting experience during the first week since the viaduct shut down Jan. 11.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
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“I took the 12:20 p.m. Bainbridge ferry and could not believe my ears exiting Colman — sweet silence! Having grown up with the viaduct from its inception, this was the most lovely day I think I have ever spent in Seattle — of course the beautiful weather helped, but the calmness that seemed to settle on the city was magic. Bring on the future, this is heaven!” — Michael Ditmore
“I commute from North Ballard to Issaquah, via the 18 Express and the 554 Express. The 18 Express was early and sailed down 15th Ave NW through Interbay, arriving early to my transfer in downtown Seattle. Because I had a half-hour to kill, I actually wandered through Pike Place Market and took pictures on this lovely sunny morning! After boarding the 554, I arrived in Issaquah early with time to get a latte. All in all, a pleasant surprise!” — Ellen Craft
“I live in West Seattle, and my two boys go to school downtown. We were prepared for “Viadoom” and had planned to take the [RapidRide] C line from West Seattle to South Lake Union. I checked online and it would have taken double the time to take the bus than to drive. We prepared for Viadoom, but it was smooth sailing driving to and from school today. ” — Chris Metcalfe
“Normally I drive my car to work in Pioneer Square and the viaduct was my only route at 6 a.m. Today my wife dropped me off at the Angle Lake Link [light rail] Station (first stop, no problem getting a seat) and I enjoyed using my Senior Pass ($1) for the ride. My office is a half block from the Pioneer Square station. Question to self: Why did I wait so long to engage in such relaxed commuting? I will be looking at parking my own car at Angle Lake, or even riding my bicycle there when it warms up a bit.” — John Rizzardi
“Ballard to SeaTac on I-5 southbound took 29 minutes, leaving at 4:30 a.m. I-5 southbound was clear throughout the trip (including through downtown), but I-5 northbound south of downtown was already getting congested around 4:40 a.m.” — Annie Kramer
“My morning commute consist of biking to the light rail from Olive and Pine, then riding the light rail from Westlake to Columbia City. On the light rail, there was twice the amount of people that normally ride it. On the road while biking the amount of cars seemed the same as normal.” — William Brown
“I travel from Wallingford to Pioneer Square via the E line for my commute. I normally leave around 7:30 a.m. My commute today was dead average, about 35 minutes.” — Matt Hall
“What closure? My commute from North Seattle to downtown via Elliott on the metro at 8 a.m. was exactly the same as any other day.” — Athena Bertolino
“Everything was completely normal from Kent Station this morning. The parking garage was not noticeably fuller at 6 a.m. than it has been and no bigger crowds than normal, to my eye, getting on the Sounder train.” — Dennis Higgins
“I have a 30 mile each way commute from South Snohomish through downtown Seattle to my office in the Seattle Center area. I left home at 6:30 a.m. I almost always use the express lanes both ways. On my commute generally coming into the University District on the express lanes, it flowed pretty well although a little on the heavy side. The State Patrol was ticketing in the express lanes so that might have made traffic worse.” — Matt Epps
“Easiest and fastest commute ever from Ballard to Pioneer Square on the bus. I left at 6:50 a.m. and arrived by 7:30 a.m.” — Jan Johnson
“My daily commute is from North Seattle to SeaTac. Generally, it takes me 25-30 minutes using I-5 Express Lanes southbound. I leave at 5:05 a.m. most mornings. The past two days, I have left 15 minutes earlier to beat any perceived added traffic. Imagine my surprise both days to find that the Express Lanes were not yet open. This in effect forces all the Canadian truckers into the mainline along with all the other people like me trying to get through Seattle.” — Chris Funk
“My commute on the 312 bus from the Kenmore Park & Ride to the Convention Center Tunnel was 7:15 a.m. — 8 a.m. today, just like normal.” — Krista Rhea
“The bus was crowded with probably twice its normal volume but still on time. The light rail remains a very uncrowded form of transit that I took to Beacon Hill, and then route 60 to my job was entirely packed, which I’ve never seen before.” — Wes Moran
“My commute from Capitol Hill in Seattle to Bothell has not been much affected by #Viadoom. The 522 bus might be slightly more crowded, but that could also be more students going to classes at the beginning of the quarter!” — Chelsea Nesvig
“I was one of the people stuck on the Burien 121 bus on Spokane Street for 45 minutes at the train crossing! No trains for much of the time, as traffic backed up behind us, and down First Avenue. We were boxed in, plus driver couldn’t deviate from the route anyway. We had to just sit. My commute, which used to be a 20 min drive was 2 hours.” — Holly Sanders
“Smooth sailing from Tacoma heading northbound via Sound Transit at 6 a.m. The halt happened once we merged off of the freeway offramp and headed down near Sodo. The first stop in Sodo took 33 minutes to even get onto Busway. We hit Columbia and 4th in 11 minutes so that’s pretty consistent to normal weekday commuting.” — Natasha
“I drove from Kirkland to the Seward Park neighborhood via I-405 and I-90, leaving about 1:45 p.m., then from Seward Park to the University Village at about 2:45 p.m., then from University Village back to Kirkland via SR 520 at about 3:30 p.m. During that entire loop, the traffic on every leg was lighter than I’ve seen it in a decade, and I travel all those legs fairly often. Too bad the viaduct wasn’t shut down long ago!” — Bill Daugaard
“My plan: Spend the first week of the Seattle Squeeze in Palm Springs. The outcome: It has rained every single day! So much for escaping!” — Ann Wittkowsky