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How to navigate the longest highway closure ever in the Puget Sound region

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SEATTLE -- The new year is bringing a major new headache to drivers in the Puget Sound region.

The three-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which starts Jan. 11, will be the longest highway closure ever for the area.

The new SR-99 tunnel will replace the Viaduct in February.

During the transition, you can bet there will be even more gridlock than what we see today.

Asked whether the closure will be "as bad as we think," Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien said "it's going to be pretty bad."

"Even if you don't use the Viaduct today, even if you don't come to downtown Seattle for your commute, it's still probably going to impact you if you're in the region."

O'Brien, echoing what city and county leaders have been preaching for months, says the time to start planning is now.

The state Department of Transportation has the following list of tips for avoiding the traffic nightmare:

  • Shift your travel time to avoid the busiest times on the roadway
  • Bike or walk to work or school
  • Start or join a carpool, vanpool or vanshare
  • Start a telecommute program for employees
  • Use transit, particularly light rail and King County Water Taxi
  • Stay off the road: work from home, postpone discretionary trips, take time off
  • Be prepared for your new route when the closure ends and the new tunnel opens.
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