WSDOT: Crews making good progress on building connections to new SR 99 tunnel

(Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) continues to give drivers the thumbs up for heeding the warnings about the Seattle Squeeze.

Wednesday marked day five since the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed for good.

The good weather so far has allowed crews to make good progress on building the connections to the new 99 tunnel, according to a post on WSDOT's website. They're building barriers on the northbound on-ramp from South Royal Brougham Way into the tunnel, and continue work on the new intersection at First Avenue South and South Dearborn Street.

Crews are placing rebar at the north portal to prepare to pour concrete early next week, WSDOT said.

One of the big concerns going forward is the weather and the rain that could play on the commutes affected by the three week closure.

Typically, traffic volumes grow as the week progresses, and rain is expected to hit the region heading into the weekend, forecasters say.

WSDOT is still seeing some congestion in the typical choke points on Interstate 5 and Interstate 405, a spokesman told KOMO News on Wednesday. But the congestion is forming earlier.

"The duration has shifted as drivers have shifted their commutes," said WSDOT Traffic Engineer Maan Sidhu. "It looks like drivers are heading into downtown Seattle a little earlier in the morning commute periods, so the congestion is starting earlier in the day."

"In a long closure, you can get complacent or have drivers go back to their regular habits and see those regular commute patterns start to come back. But at this point – it’s still early," Sidhu added.

When rain hits, drivers tend to increase their following distance and drive a little slower, Sidhu said. The slick conditions can also increase the possibility of crashes.

WSDOT urges drivers to keep doing what they’re doing.

Remember, there are still two-and-a-half weeks left to go until the new tunnel is scheduled to open.

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