Commuting in Seattle is about to change immensely, with more tolls and traffic after the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes on Jan. 11.

The SR 99 on-ramp at Royal Brougham Way and the southbound off-ramp from SR 99 at the stadiums will close permanently, and the whole highway will be closed on Jan. 11, three weeks before the new State Route 99 tunnel is scheduled to open, so the highway can be connected to the tunnel.

This is one of many projects that will impact traffic in the city for the next few years.

During a public meeting SDOT, Mayor Jenny Durkan described the future congestion as the new normal, and encouraged commuters to carpool and employers to let people work from home. SDOT has tagged the conglomeration of projects and the congestion they will cause as the “Seattle Squeeze.”

“Over the next five years, Seattle’s downtown will be in a state of transition to meet the needs of our growing city,” SDOT states on its website. “All of this will be worth it, but everyone needs a plan.”

“In early February the new State Route 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle opens which will forever change the way people get around Seattle,” WSDOT states in a Dec. 27 news release. “Unlike the viaduct, the new two-mile long tunnel will be a direct route from the stadiums to the Space Needle without any midtown entrances or exits.”

The SR 99 tunnel will be toll free for the first few months, and then WSDOT plans to charge tolls beginning in the summer. Tolls will range from $1 to $2.25 with a Good To Go Pass, depending on the time of day.

“There are 90,000 vehicles a day that use the viaduct now,” according to WSDOT. “We are asking everyone who can to consider alternate ways to get to and through Seattle.”

During the Dec. 20 meeting, SDOT presented a timeline of projects that will affect traffic between now and 2023:

• Between now and 2022, the Key Arena redevelopment and other large construction projects will impact surface streets.

• Beginning on March 23, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel becomes light rail only, bringing seven significant regional bus routes onto city streets. This will coincide with the start of construction of the Washington State Convention Center Addition.

• Construction of the new Alaskan Way begins in early summer and will last until 2021.

• Light rail will open in Northgate in 2021 and on the Eastside in 2023. The light rail project will not open in Ballard until 2030.

SDOT and Durkan emphasized the city’s goal to shift commuters away from single-occupancy vehicle trips. SDOT recommends coming to work earlier or later, leaving the car at home and choosing to bike, carpool, vanpool, walk or use public transit, and to allow extra time for travel.

Local transportation groups have been working with the city’s top 25 employers, including the City of Seattle and Amazon, to create “flexible work options” for those who commute downtown daily. According to the Dec. 20 presentation, more support is being given to employer shuttle access in transit zones and park-and-ride locations.

“Of the 12,000 city employees, approximately 7,000 commute to the downtown core each day,” according to the Dec. 20 presentation. “ Approximately 10 percent commute via a single-occupancy vehicle … currently 13 percent of the total city workforce utilizes alternative work arrangements … we are committed to increasing that number to 20 percent in 2019.”

After the SR 99 Tunnel opens in February, the city expects it will take six months to remove the current Alaskan Way Viaduct, 24 months to complete the filling and sealing of the Battery Street Tunnel, and 15 months to create north surface street connections.

To help with the squeeze, SDOT, WSDOT and King County Metro will begin 24-hour, seven-days-a-week monitoring for traffic conditions and weather. Temporary transit lanes on Cherry Street, the West Seattle Bridge, Fourth Avenue South and Aurora will be created. Also, the eastbound transit lanes on Seneca Street will be eliminated, transit and freight bypasses between Alaskan Way and East Marginal Way will be opened, all traffic will get to use the southbound HOV lane from Mercer to Corson streets, on-street parking on key arterials will be restricted and the hours where key bridges do not open for boats will be expanded.

The local transportation departments are also working together to invest in more public transit opportunities. This includes permitting free-floating bike share to improve first-mile and last-mile access. According to SDOT, the free-floating bike company Lime provided more than two million rides in Seattle since its launch.

Extra boats were added to increase water taxi services too, and the mayor’s new Orca Opportunity program was launched to give high school students and income-qualified middle school students passes to use King County Metro and Sound Transit buses.

While commuters begin to dread the upcoming squeeze, SDOT says the next few years of rough travel will lead to a more efficient Seattle.

“All this will be worth it,” according to the department. “We’re building a reimagined waterfront, more light rail and other important investments to keep pace with our fast-growing city. Together, we can get through one of our region’s toughest transitions.”

People can check road congestion conditions here. More Seattle Squeeze resources are available at the recently launched seattletraffic.org website.