How bad will Seattle Squeeze be? Past viaduct closure offers analytical clues

    Traffic data on past choke points during viaduct closure (PHOTO: KOMO News)<p>{/p}

    SEATTLE - With the shutdown of the Viaduct almost upon us, the question for so many is how long will it take to get where they're going. A lot depends on where people live, but there is research looking at where the choke points have popped up in the past.

    INRIX, the Kirkland-based traffic consultant firm, analyzed what commutes were like when the viaduct closed for nine days in 2016.

    A review of the data shows alternate routes in the heart of Seattle were overwhelmed. 1st Ave S and 4th Ave S between the stadiums and Spokane Street saw travel times jump 29 percent. That could add 20 minutes to an hour-long trip.

    Commuters coming from the north also came to a crawl. Drivers moved 44 percent slower on I-5 around the Ship Canal Bridge and one hour on the road became an hour and 25 minutes.

    “I think it's going to be rough when I'm in Seattle but frankly I tend to spend most of my time on the Eastside, so I'm driving 405,” said Hank Burton, who commuted by car every work day.

    However, I-405 was also hard hit. Between SR 167 and the I-90 floating bridge, trip times grew 18 percent, adding 12 minutes to an hour-long drive.

    Some of the worst jams - on average - were on I-5 south of the city where travel times increased 51 percent.

    “Best luck to all the other drivers out there and stay safe in this crazy weather,” said Lina Olund, an Uber driver.

    As for what INRIX found that still worked, the Aurora Bridge and Ballard Bridge still ran smoothly most of the time. The West Maple Valley Highway and I-405 north of the SR 520 bridge also avoided most of the impacts.

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