The Alaskan Way Viaduct closed permanently Friday night. Highways, streets, buses and sidewalks will be more crowded at least until the new Highway 99 tunnel opens in about three weeks.
If you live in the Puget Sound region, you’re likely to be affected in some way by Friday’s permanent shutdown of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and closure of Highway 99 for about three weeks. The first weekday without the viaduct will be Monday.
Travelers can expect that highways, streets, buses and trains will be more crowded until the new Highway 99 tunnel opens the week of Feb. 4.
We asked readers how they plan to deal with the congestion. Here are a few responses.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Taking the bus — or not
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“I live in Madison Valley and take transit to work at Westlake Center. I’ve commuted on King County Metro’s Route 11 the last year and realized I could switch to Route 8 up to Capitol Hill and connect to light rail to Westlake. This keeps me off downtown surface streets on a bus route that’s been late every evening for the last year anyway and I’m sure will be even later with the viaduct work.” — Susan Curhan
“I live in Crown Hill and commute to Lower Queen Anne for work. I drive. Solo. I know, not good, but the buses just get me down. My employer is offering employees a free ORCA card for the month of January to encourage public transit during the shut down. But here’s the deal … the buses are crowded on a normal day. Are they going to be worse during the closure? Sorry, but I’d rather be in my car for a prolonged time rather than … crammed in a damp and sweaty bus.” — Jaime Wood
“I live in Des Moines and use the light rail from Angle Lake to get to and from Pioneer Square. I plan on taking the crowded light rail (leaving early …) and hopping off at Pioneer Square right behind the Smith Tower Observatory. Then I’ll use my Rum Runner’s card to get up there for free and watch the show! By show, I mean the traffic congestion as well as the empty viaduct and the work that will take place there.” — Joe Teeples
“I live in South Delridge very close to Chief Sealth High School and work downtown a block from Westlake Center at a law firm. I take the 120 bus both ways each day. My plan is to leave 30 minutes early on the first day I have to commute with the viaduct closed, then adjust from there. My backup plans include driving to the Othello light-rail station or getting one of my roommates who works on Beacon Hill to drop me off at the light-rail station up there.” — Wyatt Fisher
Riding a bike
“My office is at Fifth Avenue and Bell Street and I live in North Seattle. I’m lucky that I’m already a bike commuter and plan to ride. I typically ride year-round but not as often in winter. I plan to ride everyday during the viaduct closure. I assume biking will be more consistent and less frustrating during the traffic transition.” — Darren Schwend
“I live in West Seattle and am normally a water-taxi commuter. During the closure I’m afraid that the boat is going to be overcrowded with people waiting in lines. The folks who operate the water taxi are awesome and very efficient, but I’m not so keen on standing in lines. So I bought an electric bike to go the long way to and from West Seattle. I wish the closure weren’t in such a bad-weather month, but I’m trying to toughen up to be able to handle it.” — Brooke Belman
“I found a house in the Leschi neighborhood and work in Sodo. There is no one arterial we rely on to get anywhere in the city from our home. I ride my bicycle to work every day and also for errands if I don’t need a car. My wife is transitioning from working on First Hill to Capitol Hill and likewise can navigate around any obstacle.” — Jeff Flogel
“I live in Greenwood, so not too far to ride my bike to my office on Alaskan Way at Columbia Street, which is ground zero for viaduct demolition. I bought brighter reflective clothing because I am expecting more cars and many that aren’t used to the bikes in the lanes on Alaskan Way.” — Scott Goss
“I live in North Tacoma and work from home until traffic has subsided. Luckily for me, I have a great deal of flexibility, and most of our office work is handled online. My commute on Interstate 5 is now about 41 minutes with free-flowing traffic for the 36 miles, but I expect no less than 50 to 70 minutes to work even at 10:30 a.m.” — Mike Christensen
“I commute from Ballard to South Lake Union. I will up my work-from-home days to two days a week (from one currently), and transfer from Metro Route 28 to 40 in Fremont to get downtown. I generally take Route 5 home and walk home from Greenwood.” — Betty Springer
Taking an early retirement
“I live in south West Seattle and worked in Ballard. The viaduct was pretty much my only route to and from work. As a teacher, I couldn’t change my hours or work from home. Last April, I decided that the commute was only going to get worse so I retired a year earlier than I had planned.” — Constance Wood
Avoiding Seattle all together
“I live in Burien and don’t plan to go to Seattle until the new tunnel opens.” — Monty Berke