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New SR 99 tunnel now seeing almost 500,000 weekly trips

Freshly painted lane stripes on the northbound (lower) deck of the SR 99 tunnel (WSDOT)

It’s been just over two months since the new SR 99 tunnel opened under downtown Seattle, and a recent report from WSDOT dives in on just how many people have been using it in that time.

RELATED: SR 99 tunnel faces full traffic with 4-mile backup

As of the final week of March, the tunnel is seeing roughly 70,000 daily trips during the work week, and almost 500,000 trips every week between Monday and Sunday.

How does that measure up to the Alaskan Way Viaduct? According to WSDOT, the likeness is “not an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison,” citing the different locations of the tunnel’s ramps. That said, the viaduct got approximately 90,000 daily drivers while it was operational.

WSDOT also notes that “comparing traffic counts between Seneca Street and Western Avenue suggest the tunnel is now carrying about the same number of vehicles during peak travel times as the viaduct did.”

WATCH: A test drive through Seattle’s new tunnel

The data it cites says that at peak travel time (6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.), both the tunnel and viaduct between Seneca and Western saw around 5,200 to 5,300 daily vehicles.

WSDOT will begin collecting tolls for the tunnel in the latter half of the summer to cover construction costs, maintenance, and operations. Prices will range between $1 and $1.25 depending on the time of day.

After that happens, WSDOT “expect[s] to see a decline in drivers using the tunnel,” but still expects to see a gradual increase over time based on data from the SR 520 bridge, and other toll roads across the U.S.

On the surface where the viaduct is currently being demolished, the new Alaskan Way is still under construction and is expected to be finished in 2021.

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