Monday, October 17, 2011

Viaduct Closure Could Delay Later Commuter Buses

By Tom Pearce, Public Information Specialist

While Community Transit does not operate bus service on the Alaskan Way viaduct, there are 110,000 reasons a nine-day closure of that structure starting Oct. 21 could impact the agency’s service. Each day the week of Oct. 24-28, there could be 110,000 cars forced onto city streets instead of their regular trip along the viaduct.

The City of Seattle expects delays of about five minutes to cross downtown on city streets from all that extra traffic. In Community Transit’s case, those five minutes will add up, literally. Many Community Transit commuter buses make their first trip through the city, then return for a second, third and even fourth trip. That’s a five-minute delay each trip. And that doesn’t account for other potential delays – heavy traffic, accidents, traffic signals. We expect delays of 20 minutes or more on some of our later trips due to the closure.

So what’s a commuter to do? Here are a few suggestions:
• Try to take an earlier trip, before those delays have a chance to pile up.
• Look at other Community Transit routes. Several routes go to more than one transit center, offering several alternatives to a destination.
• If you travel with an ORCA card, you can ride a bus to one transit center, then transfer to a local bus to get to where you parked without paying extra.
• Talk to your boss about flexing your schedule or even working from home.
• Consider taking Sounder. Trains should not be impacted by the viaduct closure, and buses connect Sounder with several transit centers.

The viaduct closure will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. It will allow crews to demolish the southern mile of the viaduct and attach the remaining portion to the new Highway 99. The Washington State Department of Transportation expects to work to be completed by 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31.

Of course, all the media hype about our own Northwest "Carmageddon" could influence enough people not to drive their cars downtown that week, and things won't be so bad. That's reason enough to watch the morning traffic report and check our online Rider Alerts to see how things are going during the closure. With some advance planning and flexibility, we’ll all get through this.

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