4 things to do before your commute
- Stay informed: Download the free Q13 FOX app for traffic alerts and to check live travel times
- Watch Q13 News 4:30 - 10 a.m. and 4 - 6 p.m. on TV and online for updates from traffic expert Adam Gehrke
- Seek alternatives: If you can avoid driving, do it. Use buses, light rail, trains, carpool/vanpool, bike or walk
- Adjust your commute time: WSDOT expects peak travel times to start earlier each morning and end later each night
Starting Friday, April 29, Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct shuts down -- from the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel to Spokane St. -- for approximately two weeks while tunnel boring machine "Bertha" digs beneath it.
Closing the viaduct, which carries 90,000 cars a day, could create a traffic mess. To avoid that congestion, many commuters are thinking about parking the car and jumping on buses, light rail and trains.
During a 2011 viaduct closure, the morning commute started two hours early, at 4 a.m., and lasted until 10 a.m. Going home, traffic built up as early as 2 p.m. and stayed congested until 8 p.m.
And don't think you'll only feel it in Seattle. The gridlock will likely stretch up and down Interstate 5, I-405 and the bridges between Seattle and the Eastside.
More resources from WSDOT:
- Puget Sound trip planner
- Commute Seattle trip planner
- Planned King County Metro detours during closure (PDF)
- Commuter alternatives handout (PDF) for ideas on adjusting your commute by taking alternate modes or travelling at non-peak hours
- Seattle bike map and Cascade Bicycle Club's many resources
WSDOT has set up a website with other suggestions about navigating around the viaduct closure here.
Metro Transit is adding 22 additional buses to help with the added rider, but if you’ve never taken public transit, here are a few tips.
You should figure out your trip well before you hit the bus stop. You can still find printed schedules at transit centers and other locations, but going on line to the Metro Transit website makes planning easier. Just type in where you’re leaving from, and where you want to go, and the site will tell you the bus number, where to catch it and what time.
Metro also has an app where you can do the same thing on your phone.
Know what to pay
If you are paying cash, you must have the exact change. During peak hours, 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning, and 3:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon, it’s $2.75, or $3.25 if you cross outside the city limits.
Off peak hours is $2.50.
The easiest way to pay is with an Orca card. They are available at all transit stations and several retailers like Safeway. You just put money on the card, and tap it on the Orca box when you step on board.
Give yourself extra time
Anita Moor, a bus rider from West Seattle, says it’s already crowded when she boards her bus.
“Think sardine can,” said Moor.
Often full buses will roll right past a bus stop, and you will have to wait for the next one.
“It’s why you plan your route and get to the bus stop early,” said Moor.
Metro Transit recommends that new riders make a practice run with the bus they want to catch before the viaduct closes.
Ultimately, you may save some time if you switch from your car to a bus, but the next two weeks will be unpredictable, and you should pack a lot of patience for your trip.
Thousands of sensors will monitor movement as Bertha digs under viaduct
Bertha will dig directly beneath the viaduct and will have to get through about 385 feet for this phase of the project.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has hired a contractor called Soldata to monitor Bertha's dig.
Thousands of sensors both underground and on buildings along a two-mile stretch downtown will pick up any movement as Bertha digs just 15 feet below the foundation that supports the viaduct.