Memorial Day weekend brings Northwest Folklife back to the Seattle Center

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 7.31.42 PMA reminder to those who’ve lived here for a while and a heads up to newcomers: Northwest Folklife Festival is this weekend, and that’ll bring crowds, traffic, and festival-ness to our neighborhood.

Folklife runs from Friday, May 27th to Monday, May 30th at the Seattle Center. Festival hours are 11am to 10pm, except for Monday, when the event closes up at 9pm.

Folklife celebrates a wide range of arts and cultural activities, with performances that include dancing, poetry readings, films, storytelling, musical acts, and more. Last year, Folklife featured 133 community showcases, 5,000 performers on 25 stages, 160 street performers, 90 hours of participatory dance, a Kid’s Discovery Zone, and roughly 235,000 attendees. You can get the full schedule of events for this year’s Folklife Festival here.

The City estimates that Folklife will bring 60,000 people to our neighborhood each day. Plan ahead, secure your parking spot, and be patient with the influx of people and traffic that comes along with them.

 

Viaduct to be open by Monday morning

You can breathe a sign of relief and perhaps the extra-heavy Mercer traffic will ease a bit. The Viaduct will be opening early after being closed for Bertha tunneling. Drivers can expect the Viaduct to be open starting tomorrow morning, Monday, May 9th.

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Here’s the scoop from WSDOT:

Alaskan Way Viaduct to reopen for Monday morning commute
Washington DOT Posted on May 8 2016 2:07 PM

After 10 days of around-the-clock tunneling, Bertha’s biggest hurdle is now behind her. That hurdle – the Alaskan Way Viaduct she was built to replace – will reopen for the Monday morning commute, bringing an early end to the much-anticipated closure.

Structural engineers with the Washington State Department of Transportation completed a thorough inspection of the viaduct on Sunday. Their inspection confirmed what a team of engineers observed throughout the past 10 days of tunneling: continued stability of the ground and the viaduct.

By Friday, the machine had successfully tunneled through complex soils only 15 feet below the viaduct’s foundation – the closest the machine will come to any structure at any point in its drive beneath Seattle. On Sunday, STP completed installation of the rings beneath this critical location, clearing the way for the final inspection and the early opening of the highway. WSDOT’s 24-hour command center will remain open until the machine has successfully tunneled 385 feet, the distance at which it will be completely clear of the viaduct.

Tunneling progress

Seattle Tunnel Partners has installed 47 rings and excavated 312 feet of the approximately 385 feet of tunnel to be completed beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Crews continue to work around the clock to tunnel, build rings and perform ongoing machine maintenance.

WSDOT worked closely with Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Police Department, King County Metro, King County Water Taxi, Sound Transit, Community Transit and the Port of Seattle to keep traffic moving and provide travel options during the closure.

We are extremely grateful to those commuters that shifted their travel routes and timing during the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. Every person that chose alternate transportation helped to reduce traffic regionally. Thank you for all your efforts.

Carmageddon starts tonight when 99 shuts down for 2 weeks

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.09.51 AMIf you haven’t heard the news, surprise! 99 is going to shut down starting tonight for 2 weeks. 99 will be closed at 12:01am Friday, April 29, between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel.

Will it be bad? Remember the fish truck incident on 99? And, consider that 99 is the preferred route for 90,000 cars each day. Even with preparations and a heads up, traffic will be bad. It’s still unclear how it will affect Queen Anne, but don’t be surprised if there are extra cars on the surface streets and Elliott/15th Ave W.

Here’s the official news from WSDOT:

Alaskan Way Viaduct closes Friday – It’s not too late to make a plan

SEATTLE – On-ramps to the State Route 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct will begin closing at 10 p.m. tonight, Thursday, April 28, and the road will be fully closed at 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 29, between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel.

The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all drivers to consider alternate commutes as the closure takes 90,000 vehicles off one of Seattle’s two north/south highways. The website 99closure.org has resources and ideas for commuters throughout the Puget Sound region.

“Whether you drive or take the bus or train, everyone should have a backup plan,” said Dave Sowers, WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct deputy program administrator. “And make sure you have a plan for the weekend as well. Seattle has Mariners games, a Sounders game and Sunday’s May Day activities all scheduled this weekend.”

WSDOT, the Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro and many other public agencies are working together to help lessen the effects of the closure. They will provide real-time traffic monitoring, police officers at key intersections to keep traffic moving, additional water taxi runs, additional response vehicles to clear accidents and more.

Tips to create a viaduct closure plan:

The SR 99 tunneling machine Bertha will build more than 350 feet of tunnel past Yesler Way to clear all the foundations of the viaduct. WSDOT is closing the road to better monitor the structure and avoid any unplanned closures.

Traffic Alert: Bruce Springsteen at Key Arena tonight and Sakura-Con this weekend

Heads up if you have plans that involve navigating around Key Arena tonight, Thursday, March 24th – Bruce Springsteen will be performing at the Key, with doors opening at 6pm.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 9.13.39 AMThe show begins at 7:30pm, so expect crowds during rush hour and again when the concert lets out late in the evening (10:30-11pm).

SDOT has not provided a number for estimated attendees, but it’ll number in the thousands. Expect impacts on both traffic and parking around Lower Queen Anne/Uptown.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 9.13.23 AMA second heads up: Sakura-Con is at the Washington State Convention Center tomorrow, Friday, March 25th through Sunday, March 27th. This anime convention is incredibly popular, with over 20,000 people expected each day, many will likely hop over to the Seattle Center to see the sights.

 

Several weeks of Aurora lane closures begin Monday, January 18th

Back in December, we first gave the heads up on the upcoming Aurora Ave N lane closures that will surely impact traffic on both Aurora and Queen Anne. The closures begin the evening of next Monday, January 18th, and WSDOT estimates that the lane closures will take “several” weeks, with estimates from 4-8 weeks. Each direction of Aurora will have one lane closed through potentially March (timetable below).

January Aurora Closure

SDOT is emphasizing the following warning to drivers:

“While two lanes in each direction of SR 99 between Highland Drive and the Aurora Bridge will remain OPEN during peak commute hours, buses and vehicles will share the bus-only lane. We anticipate the possibility of backups and are urging commuters to use all the tools available to them from WSDOT, SDOT and Metro to stay informed about current traffic conditions once the extended lane closures start.  In addition, we want to ask drivers to consider commuting/traveling in off-peak hours or telecommute if that’s an option available to them.”

Why the closure? Sign foundations with communication lines, power lines, and traffic sensors to provide alerts for the future tunnel. This work requires access to the median lanes of Aurora.

Here are the closure details & timetable from WSDOT:

Jan. 18 through mid-February

  •  Median lanes close in both directions between the Aurora Bridge and Highland Drive
  • An additional lane will close at night and during several weekends including Jan. 23-24

Mid-February through early March

  • Median lanes reopen. Northbound traffic returns to normal pattern
  • The southbound curb lane near Comstock Street will close for approximately three weeks
  • An additional southbound lane may close at night

WSDOT is encouraging drivers and bus riders to plan ahead as additional congestion is expected on Aurora. For those of us on Queen Anne, expect more non-local traffic in the neighborhood, especially on the arterials and East Queen Anne.

Aurora Bridge sidewalk closure January 18 through September

As part of the restoration/painting work on the Aurora Bridge, pedestrians, runners, and cyclists need to take note of an extended closure of the northbound (east side) sidewalk. This closure begins Monday, January 18th and runs through September. During this time, sidewalk-users will be directed to the opposite southbound (west side) sidewalk.

Reminder: there are also upcoming extended lane closures planned for Aurora between the Aurora Bridge and Highland Ave that start the same night, January 18th that are estimated to run 7-8 weeks. We will post a reminder about these closures shortly, the original heads up is at the bottom of this post.

Here are the details from WSDOT:

Aurora Bridge sidewalk“Cyclists and pedestrians should prepare now for an extended closure of the northbound sidewalk over the State Route 99 Aurora Avenue Bridge in Seattle.

The sidewalk will be closed Jan. 18 through September with signed detours in place for cyclists and pedestrians.

The closure is necessary while contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation attach a containment system to the sidewalk for the Aurora Avenue Bridge preservation project.  Drivers may also notice the containment system which is a large tarp that will stretch up and over the bridge’s safety fence. The system is designed to keep paint and debris falling into the water below while crews repaint portions of the bridge.

A contact number and emergency phone for a vehicle pickup will be available at either end of the bridge to assist ADA users who are unable to use the cyclist and pedestrian detour.”

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