• As the viaduct closure looms, officials warn about the unexpected

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - One day before the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes forever, Beverly Beppler wondered about her bus commute from Ballard.

    "We anticipate a lot more people riding the bus, which is awesome, but I hope that Metro's prepared," Beppler said. 

    King County Metro is among the agencies that have long prepared for the shutdown.

    Even with all the planning, there are still unknowns.

    "We know there will be problems," Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday. "You can do all the planning in the world you want and there will still be an accident or something happens that you can't foresee."

    Durkan visited the city's 24/7 transportation operations center with top regional officials, including the retired Air Force Major General she just hired to oversee citywide mobility operations, Michael Worden.

    "I think the plan is solid and they've thought through the contingencies," Worden told reporters.

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    Worden moves to a city with fresh memories of terrible traffic incidents, including a 2017 tanker truck crash on I-5, and most infamously, a 2015 overturned fish truck on the viaduct that soon will close.

    The fish truck led the city to put a higher priority on clearing wrecks quickly, a message officials now share with drivers.

    "If you're in an incident where no one is injured, please steer it and clear it," said Heather Marx, downtown mobility director for SDOT.

    Worden, who others in the news conference addressed as "General," had his own message for people in Seattle:

    "You can become part of the solution by listening to what's been said today," Worden said. "I found that whenever we bring a bunch of Americans together and we face all these challenges, we will find a way and we find a way by communicating, we find a way by being responsible for our own actions and not trying to second guess or game the system."

    Worden did not explain what he meant by second guessing or gaming the system and the mayor cut off a reporter who tried to follow up.

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