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Seattle’s Snowy Streets Welcome The New Tunnel

The new SR99 tunnel opened this morning after this weekend’s concurrent grand opening and farewell events. The tunnel to viaduct walk, run and ride introduced Seattleites to the new tunnel while allowing them to say goodbye to viaduct one last time. Governor Inslee was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

governor Inslee cutting the ribbon at the tunnel opening ceremony

If you were expecting an easy commute once the tunnel opens, you might be wrong. The snowy conditions this morning kept many commuters off the road, while others ended up in fender benders all over the city. We all know how well Seattleites drive in the downtown snow. So get ready for an even more confused and cluttered commute, at least temporarily.

The SR99 closure is over, but we won’t be going “Back to Normal” again. We won’t have any downtown exits for a few more weeks so, for those commuting to downtown, surface streets and public transportation are still going to be the only option unless you want to double back through SLU. The new tunnel doesn’t have the capacity to carry as many vehicles as the former viaduct, and it isn’t serving the same geographical population. More transportation projects are slated for the coming years, including the removal of busses from the tunnels to accommodate additional light rail lines. Continuing to commute via public transportation will be vital to the success of the region. Biking and water taxi use have seen record numbers, which made the viaduct closure tolerable these last few weeks.

Some things to keep in mind as we move forward in this new traffic landscape:

  • Your decision as an individual impacts the whole system. Every person that decides to reduce drive-alone trips by utilizing alternative transportation methods makes the traffic better for everyone!
  • Seattelites still haven’t figured out how to drive in rainy and snowy conditions. Allow extra time on bad weather days and work from home if you can.
  • Do not drive in bus lanes or block intersections. The tickets are big and it negatively impacts traffic flow for everyone. 
  • Making smart commuting choices is the best way to get through the #SeattleSqueeze 


viaduct to tunnel bike ride participants alongside bus

To help you navigate the city streets, check out the links below. These official WSDOT videos show you how to get to and through downtown from the north and south of downtown as well as the ways to get you back home

snowy street in west seattle

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