Chinese President Xi Jinping (Wikimedia)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Wikimedia)

[UPDATE 5:00pm: Sound Transit and Community Transit published erroneous info. Their routes serving Olive Way will make their normal stops. The post below has been updated.]

Chinese President Xi Jinxing’s historic visit to the Seattle area this week will come with more than its share of headaches for regional commuters. Security will be tight, and closures and reroutes will affect marginally more people than your typical Obama visit. Whereas Obama typically requires closures during active transit from Boeing Field to a fundraiser or occasional closures around the Westin, Xi’s visit will close the entirety of a 9 square block area of central Downtown for 3 full days, from Tuesday through Thursday. In addition, Xi will visit Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, Everett’s Paine Field, and Microsoft’s Redmond campus, scuttling travel regionwide . His schedule has not been announced for security reasons, but many arterial or freeway closures are likely to occur during peak hours.

So what does this mean for your commute?  The usual advice applies: telework if you are so privileged, walk or bike if at all able, take Sounder (especially to/from Snohomish County), take Link or a tunnel bus if possible, and/or just avoid Downtown. Mixed-traffic surface transit will likely break down significantly.

Some of these changes will be moving targets, so stay tuned for updates or corrections.

Here are the details:

  • General Restrictions: No through traffic will be permitted within the closure area, by any mode. Pedestrians with destinations within the secure area will be permitted, subject to additional security.
  • Cars: No through traffic or parking permitted, but parking garage access will be allowed.
  • Link Light Rail: Expected to operate normally, though tunnel operations will likely suffer as routes 41, 71, 72, 73, and 255 struggle to approach Convention Place via Stewart Street.
  • SLU Streetcar: will continue to operate, but will run empty south of Denny. All passengers will be required to deboard at at Westlake/Denny.
  • Monorail: expected to operate normally, though passengers may be subject to screening.
  • Pronto: The station at 6th/Westlake will be closed.

Bus Detours!

Metro Routes

  • Metro will detour 22 routes total
    • Routes that use Stewart and 2nd Avenue:
      • Southbound routes 177, 178, 190, 192, and 308 will use Stewart/8th/Lenora/2nd instead
      • Normal northbound routing
      • Also applies to late night trips on tunnel buses 41, 71, 72, 73, 106, and 150
    • Routes that use Stewart and 3rd Avenue:
      • Southbound routes 25, 66, 304, and northbound 355 will use Stewart/9th/Pine/3rd
      • Normal northbound routing
    • Route 70 will have a unique pathway, using Blanchard/8th/Virginia outbound, and Fairview/Boren/Pine inbound.
    • Routes that use Stewart to 5th Avenue:
      • Routes 64, 83, 252, 257, 268, 311, and ST 545 will use 9th Avenue, Convention Place, and Union Street
    • Expect significant delays on all other Pike Street routes, including routes 10, 11, 43, 47, 49, 301, 308, 312, and 522. If you’re traveling between Downtown and Capitol Hill, walking and biking are highly preferable.

  • Pierce County Sound Transit Routes:
    • Routes 577, 578, 590, 592, 594, 595 will operate normally in the southbound direction. Northbound, they will not serve 6th/Olive, but will operate via 4th/Blanchard/9th/Howell.
  • Community Transit and Snohomish County Sound Transit Routes
    • AM Community Transit Routes 402, 405, 410, 415, 417, 422, 424 and PM Routes 412, 413, 416, 421, 425, and 435 will operate via Stewart, 8th, Lenora, and 2nd.
    • AM Routes 412, 413, 416, 421, 425, 435 and PM Routes 402, 405, 410, 415, 417, 422, and 424 will operate normally

    • AM/Southbound ST Routes 510, 511, 512, 513 will use Convention Place, Union Street, and 5th. The first 4 inbound stops at Yale, 9th, 7th, and 5th will be skipped.

    • PM/Northbound ST Routes 510, 511, 512, 513 will operate normally

Closure Area, Lenora to Olive, 4th to 7th.
Closure Area, Lenora to Olive, 4th to 7th.

There are a number of ways to stay informed during what is sure to be an overall mess:

52 Replies to “Detours Announced for Xi Jinping’s Visit”

  1. Too bad ULink isn’t already open. It might at least redirect more traffic around the restricted zone.

    1. ST2 Link will really shine for events like this, as well as during ordinary freeway accidents. I expect Angle Lake P&R and Lynnwood P&R would be choc-full.

  2. Spoiler alert: regular people get shafted. I’d be very unhappy if I lived inside the perimeter. Working downtown will be bad enough.

    Unfortunately, this is an advertisement for living and working in the suburbs.

    1. A rather excessively large perimeter at that… Will buses on 4th avenue be affected? What if I want to go to the McDonalds across the street from the Westin?

    2. Not really. The suburbs are going to be completely slammed on Wednesday when the motorcade goes to Overlake and then Tacoma, not to mentioned the Everett-Lynnwood travelers who had a tough drive or bus ride today.

  3. If Seattle were going to be immobilized by a visit from the Chief of State of a democratic republic with an enforced Bill of Rights I could make a case for saying the inconvenience is just good manners on the part of a leader of the free world.

    For the President of Finland- where their capital city designs and builds its own streetcars, I’d eve accept this short a notice.

    But frankly, I think that We the People of The United States of America need to show that we’ve had it with friendly relations with totalitarian dictators who in their every fiber deserve to be considered an enemy of our people.

    Since I’m talking about basic values, I’ll leave out the 40 years’ worth of US productive capital literally pulled out the hands of our workers, and reinstalled in a place whose only recommendation has always been the free labor made possible by labor relations owing to torture and death for all who protest.

    China isn’t the only one. In addition to outdoing Bashir Al Assad in above labor relations, exactly what values do the USA and Saudi Arabia have in common? Pray God, none. Am I the only one that puked at the sight of a US President walking, literally, hand in hand with one of their top people?

    So the shut-down of one of our own cities at absolutely no notice should give Seattle the opportunity to put a stop to this piece of collaboration. Have the Mayor say that the tyrant isn’t welcome here. Hundred percent, the Secret Service will cancel the appearance.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I tend to agree.

      The USA public school system hammers home to us/our kids that we are “the land of the free” and our Presidents are “leaders of the free world”, etc… Etc…

      Seems awfully contradictory to go through so much trouble for a foreign President of a country that operates with many values that we oppose…

    2. It’s not like Xi is the only head of state to visit the US. He’s just the only one coming to our state. And that has more to do with a century of Pacific Rim relations than anything else.

    3. This, x infinity.

      A police perimeter around a nine-square block area of a major metropolitan downtown, complete with “papers please” checkpoints, designed not for security (there have been many other heads of state visiting our fair city, including our own, without requiring a perimeter with anywhere near this extent), but to keep him from having to see those icky people whose views may differ from his.

      IIRC, this was also done when a previous Chinese leader visited, although I believe he was at the Olympic that time. Same thing happened.

      Like Mark said, it would be somewhat easier to countenance this with a democratic leader at least somewhat in tune with what this country purports to stand for. Unfortunately, Xi has quickly built a reputation for not only being a totalitarian, but more so than his predecessors–the BBC recently said the most so in the PRC since Mao.

      You, I and the thousands of regular commuters be damned, though–our fearless and great business leaders will go hat-in-hand to Xi today and tomorrow, which is the whole point of his visit here. Unfortunately our political leaders lack the will to say “piss off–your hotel will be secured like we do for everyone else; the rest of the city remains open.”

  4. I don’t see how any security screening of citizens in a public right of way can be considered constitutional.

    1. Boston does this for the Marathon now. If you live on Boylston near the finish line you must go through a security checkpoint to access your residence. However, there aren’t many people who actually live on Boylston – it is mostly shops and offices. And, it is a public holiday.

      The obvious flaw with this sort of perimeter is the residences that are already within the perimeter. Unless checkpoints are set up to screen residents as they leave their buildings, it would be extremely easy to defeat the perimeter.

    2. My family went to the Atlanta Olympic Games years ago. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games not only created security zones, but also forced all the local shop owners to shut down for the duration of the event. We had to go through security an extra time to get on the bus from remote park & rides to go to the secure zones. I wanted to ride the subway, but we couldn’t drive to anywhere where we could take the subway.

  5. I just talked to my 545 driver and he informed me that there will be changed to that well-used route tomorrow, but they haven’t told him what they are. Can STB staff follow up??

    1. From the post: “Routes 64, 83, 252, 257, 268, 311, and ST 545 will use 9th Avenue, Convention Place, and Union Street.”

  6. Apart from the obvious constitutional questions (really, you can be subject to a search in order to go to your own home via public ROW?) a mechanics question:

    Why shut down 4th and 7th? Seems like total overkill and shutting 5th/6th would give them a perfectly large no-car zone.

  7. Wow, great job, ST, CT and Metro. Nice to see you proactively figuring this out and getting the info out as soon as possible. NOT.

    You finally publish the detours the day before the event, then you get it wrong, this is hilarious (in a bad way). This is even worse than the woefully inadequate amount of time in advance you publish PERMANENT route changes (less than two weeks).

    Seriously, is it like they didn’t know about the president’s visit until today? Well, actually not, because a few days ago, they said “there will be detours next week” (exactly what detours, I guess they just didn’t decide to figure that out until later?).

    For something like this, I honestly would have expected the transit agencies to figure this stuff out and put it out there at least a week before the event. How many people won’t check the Metro or ST website today (because they would have to), and won’t realize where their bus is going until they are on it?

    1. Whoa bud, first of all, NO ONE had any idea what/where/how traffic was going to be effected. You can blame Seattle for that and not publishing the information out sooner.

      Secondly, it is no different than a Presidential stay… If anything, the extra security is important just in case…

    2. Actually, Chinese diplomatic department opened Xi’s trip detail on Sep.17 and it may need some time for American media to get the message. I think those transit agencies was not too late to make the detour plan.

    1. Because if you want to be a world class city then you will have visits from presidents from other countries and in this case security for the President of China is determined by the Secret Service who have overall command on all security. Their mission is to ensure that he is safe and the Secret Service will take all measures that they feel necessary to do so. Is it too much possible but if something were to happen to him while he was in the city it would be a major diplomatic problem for the United States. Hence the security that will be in place for the next 3 days.

    2. Blame Theodore Roosevelt. Ever since his run-in with a streetcar the Secret Service has viewed public transit as evil and incompatible with presidential visits.

    1. I don’t think you want their version of high speed rail. If it derails and falls off a trestle, they just bury the evidence like nothing happened.

      1. 40 fatalities out of 3 billion cumulative riders over 8 years on a ~9,800-mile system as compared to the 61 people killed on 1,143 miles of Washington highways in one year alone? I’d take the HSR.

        Going nationally, in 2009, the US had 59,007 miles of highways on which there were 4,837 fatalities for a factor of a fatality for every 12.2 miles of highway in the US for that year (I’m using miles per fatality because I can’t find info on passenger miles traveled for China’s HSR).

        According to Wikipedia, China’s HSR has been in operation since 2007, has ~9,800 miles of track, and has suffered 40 fatalities, which equates to 1,960 miles of track per fatality per year.

        So as far as system length goes, you’re about 161 times as likely to die per mile built of American highway as compared to Chinese HSR. While I’d prefer Japan’s Shinkansen record of a single fatality since 1964, I’d still much rather have China’s version of HSR over our current state of driving on dangerous highways.

        Yes, they handled that collision very poorly, but it’s still far far safer to travel by China HSR than it is by American highways.

      2. One thing that I noticed is the speeds they are quoting for the LA-Las Vegas China built train seems a lot more Medium Speed Rail ( ~150 mph) rather than HSR (200 mph+).

        Even the CalTrain HSR I believe is specced at 220 mph.

      3. Sure, with no noise mitigation, massive community impacts, zero environmental considerations…please let’s ditch how we do it now so we can build rail the way I-5 was constructed.

  8. Streetcar: Outbound passengers can board at Westlake/7th Stop, and as noted Denny will be the last inbound stop. (

    Monorail: there is an alert posted the monorail will have reduced service Tues and Weds only, and will leave on clock face intervals (:00, :15 etc) with bag screening security in place. ( see right side bar near top “Rider Alerts”)

    Also worth noting, many reroutes/situations will wrap up Thursday Morning since he leaves in the AM. For example Metros 71 reroute shows an end time of 10am Thursday morning.

  9. Can Metro scrounge enough diesel coaches to motorize the 70 throughout the closures, especially during peak? The posted reroute via Blanchard lacks overhead wires.

    I suppose they could assign all 4300s to the 70 and use the APU on the detour, but apparently they’ve been discouraging use of the APU except in emergencies or when cleared by a supervisor since the batteries are expensive.

    1. I wonder whether Metro will suddenly consider this an emergency when reality hits, probably around 9AM?

    2. maybe its for rare use, but this would seem to be a good chance to test them in service, afterall they ordered the buses with this capability so it would make sense to use it especially for such a small 5 or so block detour and batteries do need to be used (as my laptop constantly plugged in knows all too well)

  10. I5 express lanes going south are closed? I don’t engender reading that… Making buses extra slow…

  11. A visit from the leader of the world’s most populous nation, which owns most of our debt, … combined with a futbol match Wednesday night at the Clink, … winner-take-all conclusion to the Scotiabank Champions League group stage, … against the Vancouver Whitecaps, … and included on all the season tickets …

    Can ST put out 4-car trains in revenue service in the DSTT yet?

  12. Why can’t I find any revisions to 255? I got dropped off on 1st Ave today vs. Yale st so there must be changes this week. 255 goes through the tunnel as well and the tunnel is closed? Where will it pick you up to go back to Kirkland? Please let me know!

    1. I am wondering the same thing! 255 is normally in the tunnel but we were dropped off at 5th and Seneca this morning. I asked the bus driver if this is where we will get picked up and he said “check with Metro, us drivers are always the last to know”. I check Metro and see nothing about 255. Guess I’m walking back to Kirkland tonight?

      1. I left early because I didn’t want to take any chances and it came through the tunnel! I got picked up at Convention Place Station. I hope this helps!

Comments are closed.