Sound Transit offers a few mass transit tips as the Alaskan Way Viaduct permanently closes to vehicles at 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11 in Seattle to make way for the new State Route 99 tunnel.
Before the tunnel opens, construction crews will need approximately three weeks to realign the highway into the new tunnel.
During the closure, up to 90,000 vehicles a day that use the viaduct could shift to surface streets through and around downtown Seattle. This will cause major traffic congestion and travel delays until the tunnel opens.
If everyone driving on the viaduct today tries to drive through downtown, traffic will grind to a halt.
Take the train
For commuters coming to Seattle from the north and south, Sound Transit’s Sounder and Link light rail trains don’t spend any time stuck in car traffic – this will be a great opportunity to try commuting by train.
Sounder serves 11 cities, including Kent, during weekday peak hours on two lines, from Everett to Seattle and from Lakewood/Tacoma to Seattle.
Link Light rail runs traffic-free through Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac, serving 16 stations from the University of Washington to Angle Lake.
The agency will have an extra Link train ready to help with crowding during the shutdown and all available cars will be in service.
Most Link trains have three cars and run every 10 minutes, and during peak hours we add several two-car trains to ensure that trains run every 6 minutes.
Sound Transit does not currently have enough light rail cars to run all three-car trains during rush hours.
Link trains are already very full during rush hours and riders should expect even busier trains during this work.
If possible, try to flex your work hours to take the train outside of the busiest rush hours.
In the morning, Link carries the most riders from about 6:30 to 8:30 a.m.
In the afternoon, Link is busiest from about 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Parking at the Tukwila and Angle Lake Link stations fills up early – often before 6 a.m.
Catch a ride to the station
Sound Transit is partnering with King County Metro, the City of Seattle and three of the area’s ridehailing/ridesharing companies – Uber, Lyft, and ReachNow – to encourage transit use during the viaduct closure.
Read more on this link about the program offering $2.75 discounts on ridehailing trips to and from select light rail stations and transit centers outside of downtown.
Sounder train options
Sounder trains will also be busy, but Sound Transit says it has room for more riders.
Sounder runs on tracks owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Sound Transit will not able to add trips during this work.
Note: all of the Sounder parking lots fill early, including a location in Kent.