Boat traffic likely to add to the viaduct closure gridlock

SEATTLE -- The boat season kicks off Saturday in the middle of the viaduct closure, which means boats could be stopping more traffic as bridges are raised for the vessels.

The Coast Guard says federal laws prevent last-minute restrictions on when vessels can cross.

“That would violate the laws,” said Mike Fischer, bridge administrator for the Coast Guard's 13th district.

That's why they are asking boaters to delay passing under the Spokane Street Bridge and any of the Lake Washington ship canal bridges until the viaduct reopens.

“If they can delay till after rush hour, we are asking them to voluntarily do that,” Fischer said.

For drivers already a week into dealing with alternate routes, peak hours are shifting earlier and the chokepoints are getting worse in parts of downtown Seattle.

On Thursday, 1st avenue had 15,000 more cars than normal -- a 60% increase.

If you add any accidents to the mix, even a minor one, it creates significant delays.

“It’s been clustered,” said Paul Lemos, who started biking to work and who says his new mode of transportation cut his commute time in half.

“This is kind of nice,” Lemos said.

He plans to keep his habit even after the viaduct reopens.

“This is hats off to the public; they have done a great job of adjusting the way they travel,” said Lytang Kelley, analytics market manager for Inrix, a Kirkland-based traffic data company.

Inrix says gridlock overall isn't as bad as they expected, because of people like Lemos.

“You have to make it work,” Lemos said.

The weekend will be busy. There is a Sounders match Saturday and all day boating Sunday, bringing the Montlake Bridge up. You can download the Q13 Fox News app for live traffic updates.