What’s Seattle traffic got to do with getting in and out of Bellevue? Well, for (at least) three weeks, mobility for employees, shoppers and others traveling between Downtown Seattle and Bellevue will be tough during the “period of maximum constraint”; and if that title doesn’t strike fear into the heart of every commuter...
The Alaskan Way Viaduct is slated to close on January 11 for three weeks, at which point the new two-mile long SR 99 tunnel connecting Seattle Center to the stadiums will open. Then, on March 23 the buses that currently go through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will be brought up to surface streets to allow for better light rail scheduling.
Map of SR 99 closure through downtown Seattle via WSDOT
These changes, coupled with construction on both sides of the lake and our region’s usual traffic will likely make for long commutes in the months ahead, and not just in Seattle; “Drivers should expect up to six weeks of region-wide congestion”, says WSDOT.
News agencies, transit agencies, SDOT and WSDOT all recommend making a plan and doing as much as you can to stay off the roads during the ‘period of maximum constraint’, the three weeks (ish) when both the new tunnel and the viaduct will be closed, which in this case means doing as little driving as possible.
So, what does ‘making a plan’ mean? Some of us can’t change our work schedule, or the way we work, but for those of us that can, Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien says, “think about this as what can we do for the common good.”
Telework – The best way to avoid being part of traffic is to stay home!
Shift your work day – Can you travel outside peak travel times? Start your work day later and catch a less crowded bus for your commute.
Carpool – Talk to your neighbors and coworkers to form a carpool; or let an app like Waze, iCarpool or Scoop do it for you! To help with congestion and encourage carpooling, King County Metro is partnering with Waze and Scoop dynamic carpooling apps to offer discounts and incentives to those commuting to, from or within King County. Learn more here.
Take transit – Your employer may provide you with an ORCA card transit pass (if not, click here), and transportation experts like those at Choose Your Way Bellevue will plan your commute for free! There are a few easy bus routes that go between Seattle and the Bellevue Transit Center including: