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Get a preview of the SR 99 tunnel closure

SR 99 tunnel warning for drivers

SEATTLE, Wash -- State Route 99 through downtown Seattle will be realigned into the brand-new tunnel starting January 11. The three-week closure of of SR 99 will be longest in our region’s history.

The final road of construction is underway into the brand new two-mile tunnel.

“The pavement is done, there’s some striping to do, there’s barrier work to do, it’s basically just exhuming all this material,” said David Sowers who is the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program deputy administrator at the Washington Department of Transportation.

It’s material that is blocking the ramps on the south end of the project that will eventually connect the mainline to the tunnel.

“The closure of SR 99 marks the beginning of a time of really tough traffic in the city of Seattle,” said Heather Marx who is the director of mobility for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

SDOT said the traffic the city will experience during the closure will be likely be like nothing Seattle has ever experienced.

“We are asking people to be ready, we are asking employers and employees to work together to consider flexible work hours, to consider alternative means of commuting,” said Bill Bryant who is the managing director of service development at King County Metro.

That means trying transit, riding a bike, using the water taxi or carpooling downtown. King County Metro says 12 bus routes that travel downtown daily with approximately 30,000 riders will see significant impacts.

“We also expect delays to spread beyond just those 12 bus routes,” said Bryant.

Traffic troubles that are expected to continue far past the three-week closure.

“For the next five years big public and private infrastructure and development projects are going to change the way we travel through the city forever,” said Marx.

SDOT says Seattle is entering a new era of tough traffic, adding more than 1,000 projects will be underway downtown between now and 2023 impacting every driver in Seattle and far beyond.

“We just need to be ready for a fairly turbulent times,” said Bryant.

The Seattle Department of Transportation launched a new website Thursday to help commuters navigate their way through traffic and congestion.

www.seattle.gov/traffic

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