SR99 Closure Recap: How 90,000 Vehicles Disappeared

by | Feb 11, 2019 | News

The three-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct has come and gone and we are looking back at what employers did to make your commutes even better. The tunnel may be open, but Seattle will continue to experience heavy traffic volumes for months to come.

The three-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct has come and gone. The new SR99 tunnel is officially open, allowing people to move through downtown more smoothly. We are grateful to everyone who changed their commute during this three-week period. We hope you tried something new and found ways that worked well for you. Whether you worked from home, rode your bike, or took the bus for the very first time, we hope you continue to take advantage of these options. The tunnel may be open, but Seattle will continue to experience heavy traffic volumes as large-scale construction projects continue throughout the region.

What Did Employers Do?

During the viaduct closure, we partnered with eleven Seattle employers to implement flexwork solutions, allowing their employees to avoid peak commute hours and take up less space on the roads. Participating companies included Amazon, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Nordstrom, Expedia Group, JPMorgan Chase, Chateau Ste Michelle, Airbnb, PATH, Grange Insurance Association, and Rad Power Bikes, as well as the City of Seattle. Here are some of the creative strategies that employers tried out:

Grange Insurance Association implemented a telework policy allowing employees to work remotely or work different hours to avoid peak commute times. Many Grange employees worked a half-day in the office during the closure, leaving midday and finishing their workday from home to avoid the evening commute peak.

Amazon encouraged West Seattle employees to take the water taxi into downtown Seattle by increasing Amazon shuttle service frequency from Colman Dock to South Lake Union.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation implemented a charitable giving feature through Luum, allowing employees to donate their daily financial non-SOV incentive to charity; the charity also received a 3-to-1 company match.

JPMorgan Chase encouraged employees to work from branch offices in their neighborhood during the closure to reduce commute trips into downtown Seattle.

Nordstrom asked all employees to develop an individualized plan to fit their family and work priorities and partner with their manager to implement before the closure began.

Expedia Group provided extra incentives to vanpools formed before or during the viaduct closure.

Airbnb continued to promote their existing Work from Home Wednesday policy, giving employees a midweek break from congested commutes.

What Did We Hear?

We heard that you loved your new commute options, and the effect they had on traffic volumes city-wide! Overall, most downtown Seattle workers did not experience significant delays in their daily commute. Many of you tried new methods of commuting, such as flexing your schedule, working from home, using public transit, and biking or walking. Here are some of the things our partners experienced during the past three weeks:

Grange Insurance Association had over 93% of their employees working from home or flexing their schedules. Employees stated they felt more productive and appreciated the flexibility of working from home provided.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noticed an increase in employees using public transit including the water taxi. Employees stated that their commute times did not change during the viaduct closure.

Sound Transit Link light rail ridership during the 3-week viaduct closure was up 14% from last year, to more than 79K daily boardings.

The Free Waterfront Shuttle ridership increased by 11% during the past three weeks. The shuttle expanded hours to run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Seattle’s three official bike counters recorded more riders in January 2019 than any prior January on record! We saw an increase in 34,000 bicycle trips (+27%) over January 2018 in those three locations alone.

King County Water Taxi ridership more than tripled from the same period last year.

What’s Next?

Commute Seattle will be collecting data from all Move the Needle employers to gain insight on how employees got to work during the viaduct closure. Employees who participate in the survey will have the chance to win prizes from participant companies. Prizes include a 2019 Rad Power Bike, tickets to Chateau Ste. Michelle summer concert series, and $50 credits for ReachNow.

Commute Seattle will share the results of our viaduct closure survey in the coming weeks. In the meantime, keep up those smart commute choices!


Follow Us

Subscribe to our newsletter
for the latest transportation news.