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Will SPD hammer drivers with tickets, towing during viaduct closure?

(WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

The City of Seattle said it’s ready to handle the upcoming three week closure of Highway 99 through Seattle, but just how far is it willing to go to keep the streets open?

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If the city wanted to make a ton of money during the closure by writing traffic tickets, it could. I guarantee there is going to be no shortage of moving violations committed as people try to get around, but the city has adopted a more neighborly posture when it comes to tickets.

“It’s about working with the community,” Seattle Police Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak said. “I’m not taking tickets off the table, we’re still police officers, but at the same time we just want to keep traffic moving — that’s the primary goal.”

The Seattle Police Department is going to position uniformed officers at intersections around the city to help direct traffic. They will focus on intersections where they see the most block-the-box violations, crosswalk violations, bike lane violations and bus-only lane violations.

“The officers are going to be stationed there where they can prevent vehicles from blocking that spot where the bus can cross the street or make it across the intersection,” Hirjak said. “We planned strategically to prevent that from happening in the first place.”

Speaking of buses, those officers are going to keep them from going into intersections too.

The bottom line for the city is that we’re all in this together.

“It’s vitally important that you keep those intersections clear,” Hirjak said. “If you try to make it through that red light, you’re just going to block traffic for thousands of other commuters. Please do your best to obey the laws.”

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Expect to see these officers treating intersections like they do the streets after a Seahawks or Mariners game.

Where you won’t find a loose attitude toward tickets is on the new no parking zones that the city has put-up across the area. The city has eliminated parking on key streets to provide emergency corridors for first-responders.

The city’s director of downtown mobility, Heather Marx, said you need to obey these zones or you will pay the price.

“People should really pay attention to those signs because we’re also going to be towing with alacrity,” she said.

If you don’t know what “alacrity” means, Marx is saying the city is looking forward to towing violators, and the city will be doing it with a smile.

So, you’ve been warned. The city means business when it comes to keeping intersections and roads moving as best as it can.

You should also be prepared for longer potential response times, if you call 911. Those first responders have to navigate the same congestion you do.

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