City of Seattle engineers expect to see a change in traffic patterns on some Seattle city streets when the state of Washington begins charging tolls on the SR 520 Bridge across Lake Washington tomorrow, December 29. There will be drivers who choose to take the I-90 Bridge or drive around the north end of the lake to avoid paying the toll. Brian Kemper, SDOT’s Traffic Signal Manager, predicts it will take a week or two for people to try different routes before they settle into consistent travel patterns. For example, Kemper expects more traffic on Lake City Way Northeast, which connects to Bothell Way at the north end of the lake.
“It will take until after the first of the year after the holidays when traffic returns to normal to determine what the patterns will be,” Kemper explained. “Our traffic engineers will monitor the city’s arterial streets during the transition and will look for ways to adjust traffic signal timing to keep traffic moving.”
Engineers in SDOT’s traffic management center will observe street views from traffic cameras and coordinate with Seattle Police and WSDOT to keep drivers informed. Commuters can find links to SDOT’s Twitter site and SDOT’s Traveler’s site with traffic camera views on SDOT’s home page, http://www.seattle.gov/transportation. “Check the web sites before you get behind the wheel, or have a passenger check on a mobile device,” Kemper advised. “It is very dangerous to be looking at a mobile phone while driving and it certainly is not worth the risk.”
Kemper advises commuters to take public transit, car pools or share rides where possible. Traveling outside of rush periods (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and telecommuting may be an option for some people.
For more information on SR 520 tolls, see http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo .