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South Sound drivers hit the worst during viaduct closure; some Seattle streets clogged with 40% more traffic

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SEATTLE -- Five days into the viaduct closure, drivers coming from the South Sound into Seattle are hurting the most.

“Staying with some friends who live close by,” said Jonathan Hart, an Olympia resident who has found a way to avoid I-5 altogether.

So he avoided the nightmare that developed Tuesday morning on northbound I-5 near Boeing Field.

A single accident caused more than a five-mile backup and a drive time of an hour from SeaTac to Seattle.

Incident response pushed the vehicle off the freeway pretty quickly but the slo down lingered for hours.  But even without an accident, WSDOT says commuters from the South Sound are sitting in traffic for 20 to 30 minutes more during the height of rush hour.

“Traffic patterns are different so we have big clumps of people leaving at different portions of time which causes extra congestion,” WSDOT spokesperson Travis Phelps said.

The backups have spilled onto U.S. 167 and I-405 as people look for alternate routes.

“Basically you play up one portion of the system, you are going to find the path of least resistance to pop up elsewhere,” Phelps said.

Downtown Seattle streets are also getting hammered as people find new ways around the viaduct.

For example, SDOT says 1st Avenue on Monday had 10,000 more cars than normal. Typically there are 24,000 cars in both directions on a Monday on 1st Avenue but that number jumped to 34,000.

That's another reason why many are counting down the days until they see the light at the end of the tunnel as Bertha slowly makes its way under the viaduct.



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