Workers will spend three weeks realigning Highway 99 to connect to a new four-lane tunnel between the Sodo neighborhood and South Lake Union. The $3.3 billion project includes the tunnel, ramps, surface streets and waterfront promenades.
The double-decker viaduct carries 90,000 vehicles daily through downtown Seattle so the closure will have a significant impact on traffic until the tunnel’s expected opening on Feb. 4.
“We have to be compassionate with each other, and compassionate with ourselves,” Heather Marx, Seattle’s downtown mobility director, told the Seattle Times.
She encourages people to wake up earlier, rearrange work shifts, or at least take a deep breath.
The city will have more buses, more incident-response trucks and more limits on construction.
“When we’re done with it all, it’s going to be totally worth it,” Mayor Jenny Durkan told the Times.
She said it’s an opportunity for Seattle residents to change their commuting habits.
“In doing so, we will also help reach our climate goals,” Durkan said. “One of the number-one contributors for carbon emissions in the city of Seattle are vehicles, and primarily single-occupancy vehicles. So during this difficult time, hopefully, one good thing that will come out of it is not just this great new Seattle that we’re building, but that people will actually change how they get around.”
The city will also encourage people to telecommute.
Employers are encouraged to waive discipline for employees who arrive late due to transportation issues. The city is encouraging companies to contribute to transportation costs by paying for public transit access.
The closing is being dubbed Viadoom.
Companies, including Airbnb, Chase, Nordstrom and Amazon signed a “Move the Needle” pledge to allow employees to find alternative commutes and flexible working options.
After the tunnel opens, the old viaduct will be torn down carefully because it’s so close to buildings
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