The Nisqually Quake shook Seattle in 2001 cracking the Aurora viaduct. Eighteen years later we have a tunnel. It has been a wild ride over those years with many different visions of Seattle coming and going. This morning the tunnel opens for traffic. For the first few months there is no tolling. Tolling is expected to begin in summer 2019.
The tunnel is several miles south of the neighborhood, but not far enough south to insulate us from its impact. Aurora Avenue was closed for the past few weeks in the stretch that the tunnel will replace. I definitely experienced the impact of that closure here in Wallyhood. North 50th was backed up a few extra blocks in the morning, and the level of traffic on the 51st also increased as people tried to avoid the backup on 50th. The backup at the I5 on ramps also were longer in the early morning commute.
I noticed similar impacts on other surface streets that connect Aurora to I5. It was not enough for me to cancel trips, but I definitely thought twice before heading out.
The city has done modeling of traffic patterns near the tunnel. However, I could not locate any modeling of the neighborhoods in the neighborhoods. I have an email into the city about neighborhood modeling. I had not heard back prior to posting. The tunnel opening is just the beginning of traffic changes over the next few months. The viaduct demolition will bring further interruptions, Alaskan Way construction continues, and tolling will further change traffic patterns.
Good luck to everyone out there over the next weeks and months. Be sure to keep providing input to city council as you feel the impacts of the new tunnel.