Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Viaduct Reopens Early, Seattleites Rejoice

    The busy, fast-paced city of Seattle seemed to slow down with the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on April 29. Traffic doubled on most major highways and the increased volume of cars on the road annoyed commuters and business owners. On the evening of Sunday, May 8, the viaduct reopened because engineers believe it to be safe enough to drive while tunneling.

    The city of Seattle planned to close the Alaskan Way Viaduct for duration of two weeks, while “Big Bertha” —the nickname of the drill used in the project—continued to drill. Fortunately, that time was cut short and the closure only lasted 10 days. In early 2016, sinkholes threatened the project, so as a precaution, access to the Viaduct was closed while drilling.

    Isabella Fernandez, a student at Seattle University who lives in West Seattle, commutes to school everyday and was inconvenienced by the closure.

    “I usually took the back roads anyway because I’d let everyone else take I-5 or the viaduct, but now everyone is kind of encroaching on my back road usage,” Fernandez said.

    Fernandez did not spend much time in traffic before the closure because she chose these alternative routes. As the detours directed traffic to the same roads that Fernandez had previously used, her commute time doubled.

    Jordyn Kirchgessner, another student at Seattle U, commutes to classes from the North side of Seattle.

    “I commute from Lynnwood every single day, five days a week…I wasn’t expecting [the closure] to be that bad, and it probably added about 20 minutes to my commute,” Kirchgessner said. “[It] doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re in stopped traffic and you have a place to go, it can be a hassle.”

    Kirchgessner had prepared for the expected traffic, as did many of the commuters around the city. She mentioned that during the first couple of days the viaduct closure had increased traffic. However, as drivers learned about the closure and started taking that into consideration, the amount of traffic had little effect on her commute.

    The city made an effort to alert people early about the Viaduct closing. There were signs on most major highways throughout the city. In the first couple of days, it seemed as though travelers under-anticipated the volume of drivers that would be added to the major highways. Traffic times took a toll; however, as everyone became aware of the closure, the times started to decrease.

    For a student commuter, the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was more of an inconvenience than anything. However, for local businesses in the downtown area, the closure of the viaduct was a larger issue.

    “It sucks! You know it makes traffic a nightmare—and deliveries, because everyone is, instead of going on the viaduct, they’re coming down First Avenue, which is right in front of our warehouse,” said James Pond, warehouse manager at Davidson Distributing. “It’s backed up until 10:30, 11:00 in the morning and it’s making deliveries hard because the trucks don’t have…anytime to get here.”

    Business owners and managers like Pond were frustrated by the closure as it made it difficult to operate smoothly.

    “We have a lot of customer deliveries this week and next week, and we had to prepare for the viaduct by getting vendor pick ups and purchases ahead of time,” said Crystal Goodner, the operations manager at North American Fishing Supplies. “That’s made it hard because some vendors weren’t prepared with our product, and while it’s been closed, we’ve had to make alternate driving decisions, so it’s kind of given us a time crunch.”

    The viaduct closure was frustrating for many people. For students, it increased the amount of time they spent sitting in traffic and for businesses, deliveries showed up late due to traffic. Kirchgessner and others noticed immediately a drastic decrease in traffic after the viaduct’s reopening. Now that the viaduct has reopened, Seattleites rejoice as their busy days can go back to normal.

    Monica Elk
    Volunteer Writer

    The editor may be reached at [email protected]

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