It's going to be a painful weekend for drivers in Seattle. The Alaskan Way Viaduct and much of state Route 99 will be shut down at 10 o'clock tonight for construction.
We know about the pain, but will drivers see any gain?
“Mercer (Street) is often a nightmare,” driver Karen Merriken told KIRO TV from her convertible as she was stopped at a long red light. “Yeah, it's a nightmare in the middle of the day.”
Drivers will see some of the benefits of the weekend closures right away. Construction crews will take the opportunity to replace 81 panels of worn concrete on state Route 99 south of the stadium. They’ll also fix a broken expansion joint at Seneca Street.
But the primary reason for the closure is work to reconnect the street grid where the new tunnel will meet Mercer Street. And, of course, there’s the Mercer Street project itself.
Most of today’s backups are due to construction, but KIRO TV dug into old documents and found travel times won’t change much from preconstruction levels when the project is done. While traffic going westbound from Interstate 5 will move a few minutes faster, it will likely take two to three minutes to go eastbound.
“It will be a nice, slow ride on smooth pavement,” said commuter James Rajsdale.
The Mercer project is scheduled to be done next summer. The new tunnel replacing the viaduct is scheduled to be done in 2016.