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Mayor Durkan: Viaduct closure is ‘going to affect everybody’

(WSDOT)

As Seattle gears up for the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Mayor Jenny Durkan and the region’s transportation authorities had some final words for the city on the eve of what it’s calling the Seattle Squeeze.

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“Make a plan — this is going to be a long-haul project,” Mayor Durkan said in a Thursday news conference. “It’s going to affect everybody driving into [the city], riding buses, however you get in and through the city of Seattle.”

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien echoed that sentiment in his own statement.

“Even if your commute or trips come nowhere near downtown Seattle, you’re going to be affected,” he said. “Everyone in the Puget Sound region needs to be thinking about what they do to make this better.”

To ensure that, the city is asking people to bike, walk, take public transit, and even try and alter work schedules.

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For the city’s part, arrivals of public employees will be staggered during this period to ease the flow of traffic in and out of Seattle during commutes.

Additionally, the mayor encouraged commuters to carpool as much as possible.

“Change the method on which you get to town. Please — unless you absolutely need to — don’t drive into Seattle by yourself,” said Mayor Durkan.

The closure of SR 99 while the highway is realigned into the new downtown tunnel will take approximately three weeks, and is the first in a long line of city improvement projects that will affect traffic in the region.

“Seattle is under construction,” said Durkan. “We, right now, are rebuilding our city.”

Also present at Thursday’s news conference was recently-appointed Seattle Department of Transportation Director, Sam Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has yet to start in the role in a full-time, official capacity, but he’s already dipped his toes in to the department in the approach to the viaduct closure.

“As I’ve sat with members of SDOT, we’ve already got staff in the department operations center working 24/7, ready for what’s starting tomorrow,” he said.

The three-week SR 99 shutdown and permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct kicks off at 10 p.m., Friday.

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