The Viadoom Cometh in Seattle

A small taste of an earthquake disaster for traffic.

by Eric Holdeman / January 10, 2019

What happens when you lose one of three major north-south routes into Seattle? We are about to find out — starting next Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. That is when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes for good. The biggest immediate issue is that the tunnel that replaces it will not have the connecting road infrastructure for a minimum of three weeks or more. See the story below for the timeline:

Viadoom: Full timeline for SR 99 tunnel, viaduct, and Seattle closures. 

I have been following this closely, especially the messaging. Most people are only hearing "three weeks" and missing the part where it is weather dependent. Then too, as the article points out, there is another two weeks of construction needed to complete the fully changed route into the city. The new tunnel doesn't have any exits into the city's core downtown area — which the viaduct had. Traffic patterns are sure to be disrupted. In the near future, there will also be a toll on the tunnel. That too will make a difference in who chooses to take that Highway 99 route into the city. 

Did I forget to mention that the tunnel will carry 30,000 fewer cars than the 100,000 cars the viaduct carried each day? Traffic in Seattle will never be the same. 

This period of "maximum constraint" will be a small taste of what it will be like when even one major route/bridge in the region collapses in an earthquake.