First responders say viaduct closure could affect fire, police response times

VIDEO: First responders prepare for viaduct closure

SEATTLE — Ahead of the final viaduct shutdown, first responders want you to know they’ve prepared for 18 months to make sure they can respond to 911 calls quickly during the Seattle Squeeze.

But still they warn response times could be slower.

“We fully recognize the fact that our response times may be impacted by congestion during this historic event,” said Seattle Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Ron Mondragon in a press conference Wednesday.

Content Continues Below

“This closure is going to be like nothing like we've ever experienced,” said Heather Marx, an SDOT spokeswoman. “There is no street that is going to be un-impacted,” she said.

First responders have been working with each other, the city and county for the last year and a half to figure ways around "Car-mageddon."

Seattle police will have a commander constantly staged at the SDOT traffic operations center, monitoring live video.

Scroll down to continue reading

More news from KIRO 7

“They’re going to be able to immediately respond to anything that happens within the minute. They have the authority to redirect our police resources and SDOT resources where they need to be,” said , Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak, “Noticing something is backing up, or a crash, even before someone can call 911.”

He said that commander will be able to direct roving police crews, get SDOT’s Incident Response Team on scene and even get tow trucks to a scene as quickly as possible.

Hirjak said you’ll also see more uniformed officers at intersections, making sure people don't block the box, as well as officers enforcing bus only lanes.

Plus, fire, police and SDOT have teamed up to reduce some parking downtown so people can pull over and let emergency vehicles through.

SDOT’s map shows 1st, 3rd, and 5th avenues -- to name a few- will have reduced parking starting Monday.

You'll need to pay attention to the temporary “No Parking” signs.

“We’ll be towing with alacrity. We're really going to get out there, so do not park in those no park areas,” Marx said.

WSDOT said take a deep breath- and plan for your trip to take an extra 30 minutes to an hour.

“But we'll all get through it,” said David Sowers with WSDOT.

The first portion of the viaduct to come down will be near 1st Avenue South and S. King Street. A few pillars will be removed “hours” after the full viaduct shutdown at 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, to allow workers to open up the new S. Dearborn Street as quickly as possible.