Gridlock starts early on first day of viaduct closure

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SEATTLE -- Traffic started picking up an hour earlier than usual on most highways and arteries Friday morning on the first day of the viaduct closure.

The morning rush hour also lasted later. At 9:30 a.m. it was still 85 minutes to get from Tacoma to Seattle on I-5.  Kimberly Moua says her commute to Seattle from Des Moines took three times longer than usual.

“It usually takes me 30 mins to get here; it took me an hour and 45 minutes today,” Moua said.

From a command center, SDOT has eyes on hundreds of cameras, focusing on the mess of the moment.

The West Seattle Bridge, the Sodo district and 1st Avenue got a beating.

Places like 4th Avenue were packed with drivers using it as an alternate route.

“Look at what’s going on because the unexpected is happening,” said SDOT, which expected heavier traffic but commuters say for a Friday the gridlock is more than they predicted, leaving them worried about the rest of the two weeks of the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure.

“Honestly, I am thinking of taking the light rail to come to work because I think it's more effective than driving to Seattle,” Moua said.

As drivers try to find a new path for the remainder of the viaduct closure, some hope the shutdown won’t last any longer than the two weeks projected by WSDOT.

“With everything that’s happened with Bertha, I don’t think it’s going to be two weeks,” Cori-Ann said.

Many are keeping their fingers crossed, taking it one day at a time, starting with Friday night’s Mariners game.

“It’s keeping me from not going to the Mariners game tonight. I wanted to go watch Felix pitching,” Charles McFadden said.



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