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New SR99 tunnel under Seattle ‘running smoothly’ on first day

Widespread snow overshadowed Seattle’s new tunnel Monday morning, but as promised, it did open for the commute.

The tunnel is “running smoothly,” according to KIRO Radio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan. He reported that it was him and maybe three other drivers in the tunnel early Monday morning. And low and behold, there’s snow at both ends.

“It’s a good facility,” Sullivan gushed.

Saying goodbye, what to expect

Thousands of runners, walkers, and bike riders toured Seattle’s new tunnel on the waterfront over the weekend.

KIRO Radio traffic reporter Tracey Taylor has an important reminder: the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Battery Street tunnel are closed for good, which means drivers should expect the new tunnel to change traffic patterns significantly.

“It’s hard to predict what is going to happen,” Seattle’s director of mobility Heather Marx told KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan. “We have some theories and some hypotheses about what’s going to happen, and we’re ready for those. When things don’t turn out quite the way we expect them to, we’re also ready to make changes in real time.”

WSDOT says the new northbound off-ramp to Alaskan Way at the tunnel’s south portal won’t open for another one to two weeks, which will affect drivers approaching downtown from the south. Drivers on northbound SR 99 won’t be able to exit before the tunnel and will have to wait until the north portal near the Space Needle.

South Dearborn Street

Crews  spent the weekend demolishing a ramp that carried northbound SR 99 from the construction detour onto the viaduct. They built a new street: South Dearborn Street, connecting the south portal’s on- and off-ramps to First Avenue South.


The tunnel is free to drive in until summer, when tolling is expected to begin. Depending on the time of day, toll rates will range from $1 to $2.25 with a Good To Go! pass.

The Washington State Department of Transportation released videos to help drivers navigate:

Driving North:

Driving South:

Getting TO NORTHBOUND 99 from Seattle:

Getting TO SOUTHBOUND 99 from Seattle:

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