From Starbucks to Safeco Field, drivers are traveling on a new State Rte. 99—an entire year earlier than expected.
At 5:07 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, crews opened newly completed northbound S.R. 99 lanes through SODO. This followed a weekend closure to connect existing S.R. 99 lanes to the second of two side-by-side bridges. Southbound traffic remains on the west bridge, which opened in October 2011, while the new east bridge now carries northbound traffic.
Crews completed this new section of S.R. 99 a year ahead of schedule and within the contract budget.
“The new S.R. 99 through SODO is a big upgrade over the seismically vulnerable viaduct, since these bridges meet the latest standards for earthquake safety,” said Matt Preedy, deputy administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “Drivers will notice wider lanes and shoulders, and can help keep traffic moving by paying attention to signs and striping as they get used to the new configuration.”
The full benefit of the new lanes won’t be realized until they connect to the S.R. 99 tunnel at the end of 2015, Preedy said. Until then drivers will continue to use the curvy four-lane construction bypass between the new S.R. 99 and the remaining section of viaduct along the downtown waterfront.
What drivers can expect on the new S.R. 99
Southbound S.R. 99: Drivers travel in two lanes through a construction bypass from South King Street to just south of South Atlantic Street. At South Atlantic Street, the road widens to three lanes with shoulders.
Northbound S.R. 99: Drivers use newly completed lanes from the Starbucks building to just south of South Atlantic Street. This section has three lanes, with the right lane reserved for buses. The bus lane ends south of South Atlantic Street, and the remaining two lanes shift west and connect to the construction bypass.
Construction bypass: The 25-mph advisory speed limit remains in effect on the S.R. 99 construction bypass that curves traffic around the giant S.R. 99 tunnel construction site. The bypass will stay in operation until the tunnel opens in late 2015.
For more information about the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, visit http://www.alaskanwayviaduct.org.