Correction 1: The original claim on this post of free water taxi service was incorrect. The author apologizes for the error.
Correction 2: Only one ramp will still be closed Monday — the northbound ramp from Highway 99 to Dearborn St — while the seven other ramps will be open. Northbound bus re-routes will continue as they are now, while southbound bus re-routes will shift to 1st Ave S, Dearborn and then S Hwy 99. See the map below.
The Highway 99 tollway under downtown opens Monday, and will be free for a few months, at least until summer. However, the downtown off-ramp to Dearborn St will not be open yet. That is expected to take another 1-2 weeks to be ready.
New ramps will include:
- NorthBound off-ramp to Alaskan Way S./Downtown (before tunnel, still closed for 1-2 more weeks)
- NB on-ramp from South Royal Brougham Way (into tunnel)
- NB on-ramp from Harrison Street
- NB off-ramp to Mercer Street/I-5 (after leaving tunnel)
- SouthBound off-ramp to Denny Way/Downtown (before tunnel)
- SB on-ramp from Sixth Avenue North (into tunnel)
- SB on-ramp from South Dearborn Street
- SB off-ramp to Stadiums, Interstates and Ferries (after leaving tunnel)
The Battery Street Tunnel closes at 10 pm tonight to car traffic. Forever. Then pedestrians and bicyclists will have the final access to that tunnel this weekend.
WSDOT is spending $4 million ($) to encourage you to get back in your car and check out the tunnel (starting Monday). Expect a lot more car traffic then, with many car drivers surprised to find that they cannot exit into downtown yet. Consider letting others get stuck in that car gridlock first. If you want a less-gridlocked commute, keep riding your bike or riding transit.
Re-routed buses will switch to their long-term re-route paths southbound, but the northbound paths will stay the same at least until the Dearborn off-ramp opens.
Per Jeff Switzer, King County spokesperson:
Current reroutes that are southbound will switch to the long-term interim pathway once the tunnel opens around Feb. 4. Current northbound reroutes will remain in place until 1-2 weeks after the SR 99 tunnel opens and will then shift to SR 99 and use the Dearborn off-ramp. Travel time is an important factor for switching to SR 99 and Dearborn to First Avenue instead of staying on Fourth Avenue South. The northbound SR 99 bus-only lane begins about 1,000 feet north of the Spokane-to-SR99 loop, and once the Dearborn off-ramp is open, we’ll have a continuous bus lane from that point to Dearborn. Down the road when Alaskan Way is complete, Metro will switch from First to Alaskan Way and a bus-only lane will continue through to Columbia Street.
New stops on First Avenue for the long-term interim period are under assessment. Once the waterfront project is completed, buses will stop at Alaskan Way and Jackson and Alaskan Way and Columbia in both directions.
The amped-up West Seattle Water Taxi service, which has resulted in a 235% ridership increase year-over-year through January 25, per Switzer, will remain in place until March 27, the last day of the winter sailing schedule.
WSDOT is throwing a party this weekend in which the public (with those who obtained time-set tickets getting first entrance priority) can walk, run (on Saturday), or bike (on Sunday) on the viaduct and through the tunnel. The bike ride has long since sold out, even while the City keeps delaying bike infrastructure.
Various local streets will be closed to car traffic for Saturday and/or Sunday.
Metro bus routes 3, 4, 5, 21, 26, 28, 131, 132, and the E Line will be re-routed just for this weekend to avoid party traffic.
The West Seattle Water Taxi will be running this Saturday, and will charge regular fare
be free, but with no bus service to the Seacrest dock.
Link Light Rail remains the most congestion-free option to get to any downtown party, with nothing but 3-car trains on weekends (so board the third car). Stadium Station gets you closest to the south portal.
Metro will be running free shuttles between the south event hub and the north portal. Riders may board the shuttle buses northbound on E. Frontage Rd. S., west of 1st Ave. S. and just south of S. Royal Brougham Way. But if the event is anything like the SR 520 bridge party, expect to wait in a long queue to get on those shuttles.
The Seattle Center Monorail will be open 6:30 am to 8:00 pm Saturday, for a 2-seat (transfering to Link at Westlake Station) minimal-wait-time grade-separated connection between the portal areas. Those who plan to ride the monorail are encouraged to buy a ticket before getting there, on the Transit Go Ticket app. The monorail accepts debit/credit cards now, and cash, but those options involves waiting in a queue at the ticket booth. (The monorail still doesn’t take ORCA, but now they have at least begun the process of getting permission from the ORCA pod to start doing so.)
Look for our coverage next week on when the northbound bus re-route re-routes will take effect. In the meantime, do enjoy the party. You may never be able walk through The Tunnel or on The Viaduct again. I can’t speak to whether it will be safe to bike through The Tunnel after Sunday.