Port of Seattle preps for Alaskan Way Viaduct closure
As we all scramble to figure out how we’re going to get-around during the three week closure of Highway 99 through Seattle, there are thousands of truck drivers trying to do the same thing. That being so, how will this closure impact the Port of Seattle?
We have a lot of truck drivers that listen to Seattle’s Morning News, and they have been hitting me up for any info on potential changes to Port of Seattle operations because of the Highway 99 closure.
And while most of them do not use the Alaskan Way Viaduct to get in and out of the Port, they are worried about the congestion on the routes they do use, like East Marginal Way, I-5 and I-90, because of all the diversion.
The Port of Seattle’s Peter McGraw said the agency has been warning truckers on both sides of the Cascades since August about the three week closure.
“We are urging them to stay in-touch with their dispatchers and watch for traffic reports and for them to determine the best route,” McGraw said.
Terminal 46 is the closest terminal to the closure, running along Highway 99, just south of the stadiums. Thousands of trucks use it and the other terminals.
For those truck drivers coming from the east side of the mountains, McGraw has alternate plans.
“They can use 405 south to come up from Tukwila or they can take I-5 south and exit at Michigan Avenue and then start lining up south of Terminal 46,” he said.
To make sure all those queuing trucks don’t block cars along East Marginal Way, McGraw said the Port will be opening Terminal 46 about three hours earlier than normal each day.
“Terminal 46 will have earlier gate hours, starting at 5 a.m., and also the Little H flyover (ramp) there will be available for general traffic as well for people moving out of downtown that want to start moving south on East Marginal Way,” he said.
If you are not familiar with the Little H flyover ramp, it is the direct access to East Marginal Way. A lot of drivers shy-away from it or don’t realize it’s an option.
“It goes over the railroad tracks,” McGraw said. “That allows people to move from Atlantic Street over the railroad tracks to East Marginal Way. If you’re moving southbound, that will be an option.”
Buses will also be able to use that flyover ramp during the closure.
The key to this closure, McGraw said, will be flexibility and adaptability.
“We don’t know what this will look like, and as we get further into the closure we will be assessing what’s working and what isn’t and we will modify our plans as necessary,” he said.
And for drivers, just be prepared to see more container trucks on surface streets as they try to negotiate the closure with you.