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WSDOT creates videos explaining changes to commute after Seattle's new tunnel opens

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Ashley Gross
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KNKX
An on-ramp to Highway 99 at Royal Brougham Way in Seattle's SoDo Neighborhood will close on the evening of Jan. 4th. It will become an entrance to the tunnel when it opens in early February.

Commuters to and from downtown Seattle are bracing for the evening of Jan. 11, when a stretch of Highway 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel will close. But transportation officials say drivers also need to look farther ahead to when the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct opens.

The new two-mile tunnel underneath downtown Seattle is supposed to open in early February. The Washington State Department of Transportation has created videos to show how the tunnel will change the way drivers get into and out of downtown Seattle.

For example, drivers coming from West Seattle who want to head into downtown will no longer get off Highway 99 at Seneca Street or Western Avenue. They'll take a new exit at South Dearborn Street, or they can go through the tunnel and then get out at Mercer Street.

DRIVING NORTH TO, THROUGH SEATTLE

The tunnel will start out free, but a toll will go into effect as early as this summer. According to WSDOT, the toll will range from $1 to $2.25 with a Good to Go pass and will depend on the time of day.

A week before the closure of the viaduct, traffic to and from Seattle's SoDo neighborhood will get more challenging. That's because WSDOT will close ramps on and off Highway 99 near the sports stadiums. David Sowers, deputy program administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, said the closures are necessary to prepare the ramps leading into and out of the tunnel that will replace the viaduct.

DRIVING SOUTH TO, THROUGH SEATTLE

“Tackling some of that work this weekend and next week is paramount to getting ahead of and dealing with some of the work that then starts on the 11th,” Sowers said.

About 23,000 cars use those two ramps daily. Sowers said drivers heading to SoDo from the north will have to exit Highway 99 at Western. Otherwise, they'll wind up in West Seattle, he warned.

GETTING TO NB 99 FROM IN, AROUND SEATTLE

GETTING TO SB 99 FROM IN, AROUND SEATTLE

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