SEATTLE - Mayor Jenny Durkan toured the Seattle Department of Transportation just one day before the iconic viaduct is shut down forever.
“We know there will be problems. You can do all the planning in the world you want and there is still going to be an accident,” Durkan said.
The mayor was talking about the traffic mess that is about to grip Puget Sound.
“Please unless you absolutely need to, don’t drive into Seattle by yourself,” Durkan said.
Even if your commute is nowhere close to Seattle, expect backups because of the spillover effect coupled with the everyday incidents that happen on our streets and highways.
“We have 60 incidents a day on I-5 between Marysville and Tumwater,” WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar said.
The viaduct closure will pose unprecedented challenges for our region leading the mayor to hire retired Air Force general Michael Worden to troubleshoot transportation problems citywide.
“We felt like we needed one point of contact for collaboration and communication,” Durkan said.
Q13 News asked Worden what unique skills he brings to the region.
“Fresh eye, I am not a Seattleite. I have been outside the city but I have seen a lot of complexities, have seen people behave in crisis conditions and under stress conditions and how to work with coalitions in this case the regional partners,” Worden said.
The mayor says Worden will help coordinate the city’s 29 different departments to get on the same page for incident response and other challenges. Worden will be working closely with incoming SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe.
“General Worden and I have had a chance to sit down we already have a collaborative working relationship,” Zimbabwe said.
Two new leaders who will not only play a pivotal role during the 3 week viaduct closure but also during what’s been coined the Seattle Squeeze, a 4 year period where mega projects will test our patience getting around Puget Sound.
“Seattle is under construction. We right now are rebuilding our city. We have to do it in a way that is the best thing for the next generations,” Durkan said.
The viaduct shuts down Friday at 10 p.m.
Leaders region wide have been asking people to change up their commutes. On Thursday Q13 News randomly asked 5 people about their plans. 4 out of 5 said they are tweaking their commutes.
“The water taxi I am going to try,” West Seattle resident Mike Quinlan said.
“My switch is concentrating on the a bus route,” Lake City resident Leslie Basel said.
Basel says she will pick a new bus route that has less stops in hopes of avoiding the most crowded buses.
“I catch the Sounder, I just know I wont be driving in and trying to leave around 4,” Kent resident Toni said.
“I bike year round and I will probably bike more during the viaduct viadoom,” Queen Anne Resident Jon Fine said.
Fine happens to also be the CEO of United Way of King County. His organization is allowing employees to change up their work hours or work from home if they have to.