Detour ahead: On-ramp to Alaskan Way Viaduct coming down



Posted on February 18, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 19 at 12:07 AM

SEATTLE -  The warning signs are everywhere. More big changes are coming to the the south end of Pioneer Square, as the state DOT prepares to tear down the south half of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and begin drilling the tunnel. 

Starting 7 p.m. Friday, WSDOT began tearing down the northbound on-ramp to the Alaskan Way Viaduct near Qwest Field. Cars will be forced elsewhere, even onto 1st Avenue through Pioneer Square.

"It's going to jam everything up - absolutely, you know. It will make my commute to work a little harder," said Jarod Burke, who works in Pioneer Square.

About 11,000 cars a day use the northbound ramp onto the upper deck of the viaduct.  That's about 10 percent of the 100,000 cars that traverse the aging structure.  

But with the ramp torn out for the next six weeks until a temporary replacement can be hooked up, what are the alternatives? You could drive onto 1st Avenue or double back to 4th, the next main northbound arterial. You can also driving along the waterfront.

"I like to go from SoDo right up to the Pike Place Market where my office is, " said J.J. Gray, who lives on the eastside. He comes across I-90 and works his way onto 1st Avenue and up the ramp.  He is hopeful things will all work out.

"I'll probably cut through downtown another way," he said.

But as for the impact onto local streets, it's something transportation officials did not spend the money on to study the traffic impacts.

"What we're trying to do is get a lot of information out ahead of this closure so people know what they're getting themselves into before they come down here," said Travis Phelps, Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman.

Phelps expects people will find alternative routes. Just how much extra traffic will spill onto I-5 is anybody's guess.