Transportation briefing at Chamber on key actions during Seattle Squeeze

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 12/21/2018

Traffic patterns will change significantly

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We’re less than a month away from the Seattle Squeeze – when several transportation and construction projects converge, increasing pressure on our transportation system.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Leadership Group and Transportation Task Force hosted a presentation on transit plans and commute alternatives during the Seattle Squeeze.

What to know before the Seattle Squeeze:

Heather Marx, Director of Downtown Mobility with the Seattle Department of Transportation, discussed how important it is for employees and employers to create commute plans before the Seattle Squeeze transit impact.

The Viaduct is set to permanently close on Jan. 11.

Click here to see a detailed timeline.

In early 2019, the tunnel is scheduled to open. The Washington State Department of Transportation and City of Seattle will host a grand opening celebration on Feb. 2 and 3 to mark the final days of the viaduct.

The tunnel will initially open toll-free, Marx said, and as early as late summer, will be tolled.

“Traffic patterns are going to change significantly,” Marx said.

Inevitably, Marx noted, the toll will cause disruption and some diversion as people come to terms with the new structure.

Marx spoke about five pillars for downtown mobility:

• Monitoring and managing our transportation system
• Reducing the number of drive-alone trips downtown
• Investing in transit and expanding access
• Managing the public right-of-way
• Communicating with the public

Transportation leaders are working hard to ensure these pillars are upheld during the Seattle Squeeze. 

Some of the ways Washington transportation leaders have prepared ahead of increased commute pressure: 

• Monitoring and responding 24/7 to changing traffic conditions and weather
• Adding traffic cameras and monitoring devices
• Increased traffic incident response teams
• Increasing use of real-time construction, bridge openings, railroad closing, and travel time data by 3rd party applications
• Adding temporary transit lanes on Cherry, West Seattle Bridge, 4th Ave S. and Aurora 
• Eliminating eastbound contraflow lanes on Seneca Street
• Opening transit and freight bypass between Alaskan Way and E. Marginal Way
• Allowing all traffic to use the southbound HOV lane from Mercer to Corson
• Restricting on-street parking on key arterials
• Expanding hours when key bridges do not open for mariners 
• Expanding transit priority hours on 3rd Avenue to 7 days/week (August 2018)
• Identifying and preparing staging areas for Metro relief buses to maintain transit reliability
• Increasing West Seattle Water Taxi service – extra boat added

If you’re a Chamber member who would like to get involved with our Transportation Task Force, please contact our Vice President of External Affairs, Dominick Martin.

Click here to read about what employers can do