How can I manage the increased traffic expected when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes?

January 2, 2019

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Work will soon begin to permanently close the Alaskan Way viaduct in Seattle and open the SR99 tunnel. This project, known as the “Period of Maximum Constraint” or the “Seattle Squeeze,” will last approximately three weeks, beginning Jan.  11, 2019. All deans and division leadership have been fully briefed on this upcoming disruption and are prepared to set up plans that best meet the needs of their work groups based on their role(s) within the university. 

While the main closure of the viaduct is projected to take three weeks, additional ramp closures are anticipated for another three weeks. Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is advising commuters to expect a significant increase of region-wide traffic congestion and disruption for up to six weeks. This will be the longest and biggest highway closure in Seattle area history. 

All faculty and staff are encouraged to begin planning now for what is certain to be an unavoidable traffic disruption for many, as the closure will inevitably impact university business, including staff and class schedules. Start planning with your department and managers in regards to ways in which you may be able to adjust your commute patterns to address the traffic congestion during this time. HR is also available to answer questions and advise workgroups throughout this period. 

However, please be reminded that our commitment to SU’s educational mission and supporting and serving our students and university community will remain the same. Above all, we will maintain our commitment and responsibility of service to our students and the SU community. 

Things to think about: 

Look at Commuting Options 

Plan to discuss commuting/scheduling options during this time period with your supervisor before Jan. 11. 

  • Consider leaving earlier or staying later and adjusting commuting hours to avoid peak commuting times (typically 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.).
  • Consider scheduling (or rescheduling) meetings or campus events to occur outside of the typical commute time.
  • There are many SU events happening around campus after business hours. Stay on campus outside of business hours and enjoy one of the many SU-sponsored events before getting back on the road. 

Try alternative ways to get to campus.

  • Bike
  • Walk 
  • Take the bus (utilize park and rides) 
  • Water taxi/ferry, light rail
  • Carpool, Vanpool or Rideshare 

King County Metro is currently sponsoring carpooling trips for all King County commuters through the apps Scoop and Waze Carpool. Learn moreContact Public Safety if you have any questions. They will be happy to provide you with additional information or discuss some alternative ideas about your commuting options. 

One such option that will be offered during the “Seattle Squeeze” for faculty and staff who may be interested in trying commute alternatives is a one-month ORCA card at a significantly reduced cost of $14. Faculty and staff who have purchased a regular university parking permit can now purchase this discounted ORCA card from Public Safety. 

Increase Flexibility 

The viaduct closure will likely impact university business operations, including staff schedules. During this time, consider flexible options to your current work schedule, in conversation with your supervisor and whenever reasonable, such as: 

  • Shifting to an earlier or later start/end time for your daily schedule
  • Compressed work week
  • Using accrued vacation to take time off (with approval)
  • Telework and work from home arrangements 

Please note the following resources: 

Recommendations for Leaders and Supervisors to plan for the Viaduct Closure 

Guidelines and Considerations for Supervisors Related to Flexible Work Arrangements 

Information for the Telecommuter 

You should also plan to contact ITS as soon as possible for more information about access to technology programs and options for working remotely, such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Virtual Desktop: Be mindful however that flexible work arrangements will not be available to each department and/or position. Contact your manager or HR if you have questions or want to discuss and explore available options such as your availability to take time off or to establish a temporary work arrangement during this time. 

Additional Information and Resources 

  • SDOT Website: Check out SDOT’s website,, which is devoted to helping you coordinate and prepare for Seattle’s new era of tough traffic. This new website contains an explanation of the Period of Maximum Constraint, current traffic times to neighborhoods across Seattle, a Partners page full of resources and more. 
  • WSDOT Tips: WSDOT also has provided information, including tips on how to navigate during the closure to avoid gridlock at