WSDOT: Travel times 'close to normal' on many routes amid viaduct closure

SEATTLE -- Work on realigning the SR-99 tunnel is proceeding as planned thanks to dry weather, and overall, travel times are close to normal on many routes amid the viaduct closure, according to the Washington Department of Transportation.

Officials said Tuesday morning's commute wasn't quite as painless as Monday's commute, with several incidents slowing traffic during the earlier than normal peak commute times.

South end commuters had slower travels than most. Travel times on northbound I-405 and northbound SR 167 were approximately 10 minutes slower than usual.

Other corridors were flowing smoothly, and in some cases better than normal. Travel times on southbound I-5 between Everett and Seattle were faster than usual. Overall, travel times were close to normal on many routes, DOT officials said.

In West Seattle, the West Seattle Water Taxi ridership was up 269 percent from the same day last year, with some capacity remaining on boats.

The aging, double-decker, 2.2-mile Alaskan Way Viaduct, which carries about 90,000 vehicles each day, is being replaced by a four-lane tunnel under downtown. Officials say tearing down the viaduct, damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, will allow Seattle to reimagine its waterfront with new parks, paths and other amenities.

But the new tunnel won't open until about three weeks after the viaduct closes as workers realign the highway into it.

Washington's transportation agency says this will be the longest major highway closure the Puget Sound region has ever seen -- dubbing it the "Seattle Squeeze."

During the "Seattle Squeeze," school bus drivers will start their days earlier, and officials are advising commuters to work from home or adjust their work hours if they can. Those who can't are being asked to walk, bike, join a carpool or use transit including buses, light rail or water taxis — all to avoid driving solo into downtown during peak commute times.

Click here for everything you need to know about the Viaduct closure and the upcoming SR-99 tunnel.