‘Take a deep breath’ — Get ready for the viaduct closure just two days away

SEATTLE - The viaduct’s days are numbered, meaning our days are about to get frustrating.

The viaduct closes permanently this Friday at 10 p.m. The new tunnel that replaces the viaduct will not be open to traffic until early February. So in the meantime 90,000 vehicles that travel on the viaduct everyday will clog highways and downtown Seattle streets.

“Trips are going to take longer no matter where you live in the metropolitan area,” David Sowers of WSDOT said.

When the viaduct shut down in 2016 for a little over a week WSDOT says traffic started a lot earlier and lasted longer on all major highways whether you were coming from Federal Way, Tacoma or Bellevue.

“We saw a lot of added commute times on Westbound routes on 520 and I-90,” Sowers said.

WSDOT told Q13 News last week that traffic on I-5 starting Monday morning could begin as early as 4:30.

As for downtown Seattle streets, good luck trying to predict the worst roads.
“We are not focusing on corridors because it’s really going to be dispersed everybody is going to try and find their back way,” SDOT’s Director of Downtown Mobility Heather Marx said.

But Q13 News dug up some data from 2016 when 1st Avenue saw 12,000 more cars on one of the viaduct closure days. That was a 60% increase.

Right now half a million cars travel through the downtown core everyday but even if you live in  neighborhoods like Ballard or Wallingford, expect backups too.

“This closure is going to be nothing we have ever experienced before, and it’s going to have region-wide impact,” Marx said.

If there is any consolation, we are all in it together.

“Take the temperature down because we really have to look out for each other,” Marx said.

So here are some naughty things we shouldn’t be doing.

For one, blocking the box.

“If you try to make it through that red light you are just going to block traffic for thousands of commuters,” Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak of the Seattle Police Department said.

If you see no parking signs don’t even think about it. SDOT says those parking signs are there in case emergency responders need to use them.

And if you get into a minor accident don’t just sit there until police arrive.

“You are in a fender bender and your car can move pull over into the nearest parking lot get yourself off the road,” Marx said.

As we all prepare for the longest closure Puget Sound has ever seen here is another piece of advice.

“A bad commute can ruin your whole day. Everybody just take a deep breath,” Marx said.

You know it's bad when SDOT tells you to take a deep breath.