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October 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

The road ahead: WSDOT drops speed limit to 40 mph on Viaduct

While roaring pincers and lances break apart the Alaskan Way Viaduct stretch in Sodo, the state quietly changed the speed limit on the remaining waterfront section of the double-deck highway — from 50 mph, where it’s been for decades, down to 40 mph.

The new limit will stay in effect until 2016, when the waterfront viaduct is replaced by a tolled bypass tunnel. Drivers can reach the northbound top deck from Pioneer Square weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., and so far today, officials haven’t announced any mid-day closure as happened Monday. After the nine-day demolition period ends Oct. 31, the waterfront north- and southbound decks will reopen for full-time service.

(For an update on today’s Viadoom traffic, read my full story here.)

New speed signs on the upper deck were visible during this morning’s commute from Sodo to South Lake Union.

The reason for 40 mph is that southbound drivers will find themselves suddenly meeting slowdowns near the stadiums, where a winding detour at surface will be posted at a 25 mph advisory speed, said spokeswoman KaDeena Yerkan.  Going from 50 mph to 25 mph was just too dangerous, she said.

So if the speeds are 40 mph southbound, they should be 40 mph northbound, or else “it gets really confusing for drivers,” she said.  A lower speed is also suitable because of weaving traffic around the two northbound exits, she said — but acknowledged that issue has existed for well over a decade, and demolition work provided an opportunity to drop the overall speed.

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Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: speed limit, Traffic, viadoom

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