WSDOT offers alternatives for Monday commute during SR 99 closures

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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SEATTLE —

The Washington State Department of Transportation is telling drivers to brace for a very rough commute Monday morning -- so bad, you may want to stay home.

While the viaduct portion of State Route 99 will reopen in time for the start of Monday rush hour, about a half mile stretch of SR 99 will remain closed until Wednesday while crews remove the Broad Street Bridge, then repave the street.  WSDOT estimates 60,000 drivers use it every day.

 "How concerned are you for tomorrow morning's commute?" KIRO 7 asked WSDOT officials Sunday.

"We're very concerned that people may think everything is going to be just fine and take their commute like they always do,” said Dave Sowers, the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program deputy administrator.

WSDOT recommends you defer to Interstate 5, which means you can expect backups there, too.

Don Clapp lives about a quarter mile away from Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue and has been watching -- and photographing -- the gridlock for three years.

"I do have a picture of the very last car coming over as they were closing 99 down to start taking the bridge over Mercer out which was two bridges ago,” he said.

There are 20 parts to the Mercer project and four left. Clapp says he's never seen one run smoothly yet-- including the biggest, the tunnel set to replace the viaduct. But the boring machine has been stuck underground since last December.

KIRO 7 asked WSDOT why do they're doing the work now. Officials said the tunnel will be finished in summer 2016 and the rest of the projects have to be done then, too.  They said there's never a good time to snarl traffic; now is as bad a time as any.

"It's going to be very, very busy,” Sowers concluded of Monday’s commute.