Pundits in Seattle have dubbed this week’s closure of one of the state’s major north-south highways, State Route 99, “Viadoom.” State highway officials say that unlike the non-event of Los Angeles’ Carmageddon this summer, traffic disruptions predicted through Seattle will be the real deal.
A front-page headline in the Seattle Times warned: "Caution: 'Viadoom' Ahead" and the Cascade Bicycle Club warned of the "second-coming of 'Carmageddon,'" urging local residents to dust off their bicycles to help mitigate the predicted traffic snarls.
Road crews shut down the route Friday night and it will remain closed a total of nine days while workers dismantle the southern end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and replace the aging elevated highway with a waterfront tunnel, according to a report by CBS News Seattle. More than 110,000 vehicles use the route over the viaduct daily.
"There's not one detour route that can carry that amount of traffic," state Transportation Department spokesman Travis Phelps said. "If drivers continue to do their everyday thing, you could see widespread congestion across Puget Sound."
Highway 99 and I-5 are Seattle's two major north-south arterials, and given the city's shape — essentially an hourglass bordered by water — those routes are crucial, Phelps said.
The 99 closure is unprecedented in duration and in that the highway will be closed entirely.