WSDOT: New Highway 99 tunnel could open around Thanksgiving

SEATTLE – Baseball, soccer, gay pride and more: It’s going to be a busy, busy weekend in Seattle.

It’s also the first few days of summer and that means construction season is in full swing.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says portions of Highway 99 will be closed and its information you should know before you hit the road.

Thousands of drivers still use the viaduct to get around, especially when Interstate 5 is busy. But coming this weekend, those heading into Seattle will be forced to avoid this main highway – at least southbound.

“We’ve got a little utility work to do, we’re going to straighten out the detour southbound a little bit, shifting the road to the east,” said David Sowers with WSDOT.

Beginning at 9 p.m. Friday and lasting through 6 a.m. Sunday, the southbound lanes of Highway 99 will be closed between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge.

Plus, before the new underground tunnel opens, WSDOT says it will have to close both directions of Highway 99 for about three weeks. Officials say this weekend could be a good opportunity for drivers to think about alternate routes, or even taking transit before the extended closure happens later this fall.

“Encouraging people to telework find other ways to get into town over that period of time, be patient give yourself extra time to get to work,” said Sowers.

Meanwhile underground, crews are busy putting final touches on the new double-decker tunnel. Once it opens to traffic, WSDOT says, contractors will begin tearing down the old viaduct.

WSDOT says they are anticipating traffic to begin flowing in the tunnel around this fall’s holiday season.

“Our goal all along is to try to have this open by Thanksgiving,” said Sowers. “There’s a lot of work that’s got to happen in order to make that date.”