Given the Seattle Time's and other media's doomsday warnings about the nine-day closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, I expected this morning's commute to and from West Seattle to be akin to driving drunk without hands (gridlock, chaos, mass commuter suicides, etc). Since that's a particular hobby of mine, I drove the route. Does eliminating those lanes on Highway 99 bring Seattle to its knees, as we've been told, and are drivers incapable of adjusting their patterns?

Here is my experience:

7:40 a.m.—I began in downtown Seattle driving south on 1st Avenue to SODO, equipped with a full tank of gas, 12-ounce coffee, pastry, two newspapers, a sack lunch, toothbrush, first aid kit, map, Bible, and handgun. Traffic: heavy but flowing. Mood: Prepared.

Where are the cars?
  • On the West Seattle Bridge—but where are the cars?
7:45 a.m.—Got lost in SODO. Finished pastry, no time to read newspapers or polish gun. Traffic: Heavy but flowing. Mood: Anxious.

8:10 a.m.—After a detour to Beacon Hill and a few illegal U-Turns, I merged onto the West Seattle bridge with five other cars and a hearse bound for West Seattle. Heavier, eastern-bound traffic moved at a clipped pace.

8:30 a.m.—After celebrating my successful commute to West Seattle by buying another cup of coffee on California Avenue SW, I turned around, expecting to crawl back to Seattle with the thousands of other commuters kneecapped by the Viaduct closure. I then merged onto a deserted West Seattle Bridge headed east, driving approximately five miles over the speed limit. Where is the traffic? Am I too late for carmaggedon? The mass commuter suicides?

Merging onto 1-5.
  • Merging onto I-5.
8:35 a.m.—Merged onto I-5 headed north. Traffic is heavy but moving at 35 mph. We stop once; I pull out my phone to take a picture and am honked at.

8:45 a.m.—I take the Seneca Street exit into downtown. My coffee is still hot, my gun still cold. Mood: Victorious.

Lest you think my trip was an anomaly, the Seattle Times saw exactly the same thing: Traffic was moving easily as early as 6:52 a.m. and their headline was properly incredulous—"Commute from West Seattle: easiest of the year?"

Not to hump a dead horse but remember how, as recently as three months ago, the Seattle Times editorial board was declaring that surface/transit was an unworkable alternative solution to the tunnel because it "amounts to gridlock"? It seems that West Seattle drivers aren't lemmings running towards a cliff—they're intelligent people able to instantly change their habits to avoid congestion if given alternatives (i.e. beefed up Metro bus and water taxi services).

But as many people are sure to point out, there's no use dwelling on the past. I just thank God we're spending $4.2 billion to make sure this morning's commute never happens to anyone again.