Viaduct project prompts many to turn to Sound Transit trains

EVERETT — A maintenance project that closed the Alaskan Way Viaduct has proved a bit of a boon for train ridership and a mixed bag for buses between Snohomish County and Seattle.

Sound Transit reported an 11 percent bump on its Everett-Seattle run during the first few days of the closure, according to preliminary counts.

“We are seeing more folks boarding the trains and forgetting the traffic,” said Bruce Gray, a Sound Transit spokesman.

The regional transit agency added a third car for its four round trips between Everett to Seattle. It also experienced more train ridership in other parts of the Puget Sound region.

The jump in ridership from Snohomish County amounts to about 200 riders a day.

“It’s 200 more cars off the road,” Gray said. “It’s a good chance to show folks what the train is all about.”

Community Transit has 13 bus routes that operate from Snohomish County into downtown Seattle every weekday.

Last week saw some days when ridership was up slightly and some days when it was down slightly, said Martin Munguia, a Community Transit spokesman.

“Different factors affect our ridership, including gas prices, traffic and whether it is sunny out or not,” Munguia said. “It would be hard to say there has been any particular impact on our ridership due to the viaduct closure.”

The morning commute into Seattle has not seen many delays.

However, the buses coming out of Seattle in the afternoon have been as much as 40 minutes late arriving at their destination. Much of that is due to the heavy traffic on Seattle streets.

State transportation officials Sunday said they expected to reopen the viaduct in time for Monday morning’s commute.

The viaduct closure was necessary to allow the tunneling machine Bertha to bore beneath the thoroughfare, a project that was expected to take two weeks. Work was completed early by tunneling around the clock.

Structural engineers inspected the viaduct Sunday and found the ground remained stable during the digging 15 feet below the viaduct’s foundation.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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