Demolition work necessary to bring Sound Transit's light-rail link to Sea-Tac Airport will disrupt the normal traffic flow at the airport beginning this week.
The airport's two "return-to-terminal" ramps will be permanently closed and demolished over the next several weeks. The drive leading to the main arrivals and baggage claim areas will close for up to 31/2 days beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.
No private vehicles will be allowed on the drive during that time.
The changes are necessary, airport officials say, to make room for the light-rail system's airport station. In the process, they'll also build a new return-to-terminal route with more capacity.
The return-to-terminal ramps are used mostly by drivers who circle the airport while waiting to pick up arriving passengers. They also are used by drivers who get to the airport's curbs from the south entrance off International Boulevard.
How to get around Sea-Tac
Upper drive open: To pick up arriving passengers while the lower drive is closed, use the upper drive, normally used only for departures. However, airport officials warn that the upper drive is likely to be congested. As usual, no parking or waiting will be allowed there, only active loading or unloading.
Use the garage: A better option for meeting passengers, airport officials say, is using the airport parking garage. To encourage use, they'll offer one hour of free parking in both the hourly and daily parking areas while the closure is in effect.
Free parking: To park free, drivers will need to take a ticket as they normally would when they enter the garage. When they leave, they'll go through one of the "Paid Ticket" lanes in the toll plaza. If they've been inside less than an hour, their ticket will let them out.
Meeting passengers: Airport officials suggest meeting passengers either on the fourth floor of the airport garage or in the airport's baggage claim area. During demolition, the airport will designate an area on the fourth floor of the parking garage as a passenger meeting place, marking it with signs and orange balloons.
Other transportation: Taxis and shuttles will pick up passengers at the south ground transportation lot immediately south of the main terminal on the baggage claim level.
Public buses will pick up passengers on International Boulevard (Highway 99) at South 182nd Street, a short walk from terminal.
"Courtesy vehicles" -- those serving off-site parking lots, off-site rental car agencies and hotels -- will be allowed to use a designated area in the central portion of the otherwise closed lower drive.
The drop-off area for scheduled airporters and charter buses will be moved from the upper drive to the south ground transportation lot during demolition.
Cell phone lot: The airport's popular cell phone lot will remain open. The lot holds only 40 cars, however, and is expected to fill quickly. Parking in the lot is limited to 30 minutes.
Sound Transit and the Port of Seattle are working together to build the 1.7-mile, $244 million light-rail link to the airport. The trains are scheduled to start running in December 2009.
By 2020 more than 45,000 riders a day are expected to ride the system connecting the airport and downtown Seattle.
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