City work on bike lane and streetcar bring traffic closures

The Seattle Department of Transportation began work on two significant projects Tuesday, and even bigger traffic impacts are on the horizon.

Construction started on a new protected bike lane along 7th Avenue between Westlake Avenue and Union Street.

On Tuesday, traffic was down to one lane for about a block.

Work is expected to continue through April.

In Pioneer Square, all northbound traffic between South Jackson Street and Yesler Way is shut down to make way for utility work prior to construction of the new City Center Connector streetcar.

A westbound block of Jackson Street is also closed.

SDOT expects the closure to last through May.

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It concerns Terry Derosier, whose store, Agate Designs, is on First Avenue in the construction zone."I don't know, we've never had this kind of impact before," Derosier said.

The city is permanently taking away parking on that stretch of First Avenue to make way for the streetcar, and on Tuesday KIRO 7 saw workers removing parking signs and meters.

The street closures come as Washington State Ferries renovates Colman Dock and the state makes plans to remove the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2019, after the tunnel replacing it opens.

Another big impact in 2019, either in March or September, will be the move of King County Metro buses out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and onto city streets.

That move is due to both the expansion of Sound Transit's light rail and the Washington State Convention Center.

"There's just a lot of investment going into downtown right now. We're playing catchup on stuff we didn't do over the past few decades so it's coming now all at once," said Don Blakeney of the Downtown Seattle Association.

The DSA is working with government officials on strategies to keep people moving downtown after 80 buses are added to street traffic each afternoon.