SEATTLE - The Chinese president's first stop in his trip to the United States this week -- is Seattle. While China's president Xi Jinping visits the Puget Sound area, commuters should be ready for what is expected to be a traffic nightmare.
As commuters struggled on Tuesday, traffic leaders say Wednesday will be worse.
- President Xi Jinping arrived at Paine Field on Tuesday morning
- Intermittent closures of freeways, arterials and downtown Seattle streets are expected
- Get free traffic alerts on the KIRO 7 News app every time there's a closure
- Buses will be rerouted in the north part of downtown Seattle
- SDOT encourages commuters to work from home Tuesday-Thursday
Where will Seattle traffic be delayed?
Officials can't tell KIRO 7 News where president will stop for security reasons -- so the Department of Transportation may not know until hours, perhaps even minutes before, they have to close freeways.
The President's motorcade is expected clogged traffic when he left Paine Field in Everett Tuesday morning. Traffic leaders know the following:
- Intermittent closures of freeways, arterials and downtown streets are expected.
- Like many important people who visit Seattle, Jinping will stay in the Westin Hotel downtown.
- So streets surrounding the hotel -- from Fourth to Seventh avenues and Lenora Street to Olive Way -- will be closed.
- Freeway routes to avoid on Wednesday include: I-5 North Seattle to Everett, I-5/I-405 South to Redmond, I-5/I-405 South to Tacoma.
Travelers in Seattle are advised to plan ahead and expect traffic delays on all three days of Xi's visit this week. Streets around where Xi is staying will be closed.
The city says fans attending the Seattle Sounders game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday should expect significant traffic delays.
What’s DOT’s advice to commuters?
Travelers in Seattle are advised to plan ahead and expect traffic delays on all three days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Those who can postpone trips downtown or work from home are encouraged to do so.
What should bus riders know?
King County Metro
Buses on 22 routes that travel on Stewart and Virginia streets will be rerouted all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and early Thursday.
Impacted routes include 25, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 73, 83, 106, 150, 177, 178, 190, 192, 252, 257, 268, 304, 308, 311, 355 and Sound Transit 545.
Additionally, intermittent brief street closures and traffic slowdowns will affect travel time on area arterials and freeways. Check with King County Metro Alert for routes impacted.
All ST Express transit riders should expect significant delays and possible unannounced reroutes.
A few planned reroutes in the downtown Seattle area for ST Express 510/512 and 511/513 are listed below.
Southbound to Seattle Missed Stops:
- Stuart St and Yale Ave
- Stuart St and 9th Ave
- Stuart St and 7th Ave
- 5th Ave and Pine St
- Use Stops
- 5th Ave and Seneca St
- 5th Ave and Marion St
- 5th Ave and Jefferson St
- 5th Ave S and S. Jackson St
Northbound to Everett
- Missed Stops:
- 4th Ave and Pike St
- Olive Way and 6th Ave
- Olive Way and Terry Ave
- Use Stops
- 4th Ave S and S Jackson St
- 4th Ave S and S Washington St
- 4th Ave and Cherry St
- 4th Ave and Seneca St
- 4th Ave and Union St
Northbound to Seattle Missed Stops:
Olive Way and 6th Ave
Howell St and 9th Ave
Howell St and Yale Ave
Eastlake Ave E and Stewart St
- No Missed Stops
Why is Xi here?
Xi is visiting the United State to meet with President Barack Obama at the end of the week -- as the world's two biggest economies are trying to rework their tangled relationship as partners and rivals.
The visit to Washington state highlights the ties between the state and China.
Gov. Jay Inslee invited President Xi to Washington State in recognition of the state’s strong economic, academic and cultural ties to China. Last year, Washington state sent more than $20 billion in airplanes, wheat, apples and other products to China, and some in the state hope to capitalize on the president's visit -- no matter the economic woes facing China at the moment.
Below is an outline of his itinerary.
- As mentioned, Xi will land at Paine Field Tuesday morning where a welcoming committee will be led by former Washington governor Gary Locke. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Starbuck CEO Howard Schultz will join him.
- Five U.S. and six Chinese governors will convene Tuesday afternoon for collaboration on clean technology and economic development. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office said Friday that in addition to Inslee, the American governors include Jerry Brown from California, Rick Snyder from Michigan, Terry Branstad from Iowa and Kate Brown from Oregon.
- He will give his only policy speech of his trip at a dinner banquet where dignitaries such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will be in attendance. The Seattle Times reports the banquet will be held at the Westin Hotel.
- Xi is scheduled to attend a business roundtable by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose Chicago-based Paulson Institute promotes sustainable economic growth in the U.S. and China.
- Gov. Jay Inslee’s officer says Xi will Lincoln High School in Tacoma, more than a decade after the Chinese president made a trip in 1993.
- Xi plans to visit Boeing's plant in Everett. A big driver of Washington's top ranking in terms of China exports is Boeing, which last year sold a record 155 airplanes to Chinese customers.
- He will visit Microsoft's Campus in Redmond. With backing from Microsoft, the University of Washington and Beijing's Tsinghua University are opening a new technology graduate school in Bellevue called the Global Innovation Exchange. It's the first Chinese research institution to establish a U.S. location, with students and faculty from both universities working to tackle complex global problems.
- According to the New York Times, Xi will attend the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum.
Who is Xi Jinping?
Xi is the fourth consecutive Chinese leader to visit Washington state. His Seattle visit is part of his first U.S. state visit since becoming president in 2013.
BBC reports Xi, president of China and Communist Party chief, is expected to lead China for the next decade.
He has urged the country to achieve the "China Dream", something he has linked to a Chinese renaissance, where the country can take its rightful place in the world.
The president’s first name is Jinping. When writing full names in Chinese, the last name come first in the series.
Where will he go after Seattle?
Xi will attend a White House state dinner on Friday.
Obama last week said he would tell Xi that China must reform and transform its economy.
"You can't simply pursue an export-driven strategy, because you're too big," Obama said. "You're not going to be able to grow your economy at the same pace over the next 20 years that you did in the last 20 years."
Why are the stakes high as Obama and Xi confront evolving economic ties?
For four straight years, China's economy has slowed and almost surely is decelerating again this year. The International Monetary Fund expects China's gross domestic product to expand 6.8 percent in 2015 — fast by normal standards but the slowest for China since 1990. Many economists suspect that growth is even slower, perhaps below 6 percent.
China's economy isn't just slowing. It's also begun a vast transformation. Beijing is trying to shift the economy away from unsustainable dependence on exports and often-wasteful investment in factories, real estate and infrastructure such as railways and airports. In its place it envisions a new economy — slower-growing but steadier — on a foundation of spending by China's consumers.
"We're into uncharted territory," says Stefan Halper, research professor at the University of Cambridge and author of "The Beijing Consensus," about China's challenge to America's global leadership.
The United States has a huge stake in a successful transition. The old Chinese model delivered cheap products to U.S. consumers. It also helped produce gaping U.S. trade deficits — imports far exceeding exports — that sapped American economic growth and bred tensions.
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