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Traffic problem emerges around Seattle’s new tunnel after stadium events

The first major sporting event since Seattle’s new Highway 99 tunnel opened has revealed an issue that could be a big problem for drivers trying to get to I-90.

RELATED: I-90 lanes into Seattle are never coming back

KIRO Radio Host Dave Ross was driving to I-90 from Seattle Center after attending the opera on Saturday night. He planned to get off at Dearborn, at the south end of the tunnel, to access I-90 via Edgar Martinez Way. But he hit that route right as the Sounders match was letting out.

A Seattle police officer would not let him make the left turn from the Dearborn exit to get to the freeway. It’s part of the standard post-event traffic control that allows the stadium garage to empty out.

After speaking with SPD, it sounds like southbound tunnel drivers, who want to make the same move Dave tried last weekend, will have the same experience going forward. There will likely be no access to I-90 from the southbound tunnel if you hit that spot as games or events are letting out.

A Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson said they need to take a fresh look at post-game traffic control. SDOT officials will have conversations with police about the changing traffic patterns arising with the new tunnel.

Both SPD and SDOT said they’re studying those new traffic patterns and learning how drivers are now using the roads. They will do what they can to let drivers know of issues like this.

There are message boards the city and state could use to warn drivers in real time, but there are concerns about which signs and what locations should be activated with the messaging.

Just remember, this was the first game and the first time for this situation. Now that the city is aware of it, they will work to make it better. Our traffic patterns are changing, and we need to be flexible.

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