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SR 99 tunnel construction brings big changes to Seattle’s downtown waterfront

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Date:  Monday, April 30, 2012


Travis Phelps , Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, (cell) 206-462-0554 (Seattle)

KaDeena Yerkan, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, 206-805-2846, (cell) 206-795-1876 (Seattle)

SEATTLE – It’s not yet time for the downtown waterfront’s big makeover, but it is make-room time for the State Route 99 Tunnel project. Crews clearing space for tunnel construction are preparing to reroute six blocks of waterfront traffic from Alaskan Way to a newly improved road beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The traffic switch – which will happen during the second week of May and last through at least early 2014 – will change ferry access as well as parking and traffic patterns along the waterfront south of Spring Street. A detailed map of the changes, along with a drive-through simulation that shows new routes to the ferry terminal, is available on the program website. To maintain public transit access along the waterfront, the bus stop that serves Metro routes 16 and 66 will be relocated to a new bus island in front of the ferry terminal.

Moving traffic off Alaskan Way allows crews to expand the tunnel work zone north to Yesler Way. The space will be used to prepare the ground beneath Alaskan Way, where the project’s tunnel boring machine will begin its journey in 2013.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation are rerouting existing roads along the waterfront and in Pioneer Square, and implementing strategies to keep traffic moving while maintaining access to businesses in those neighborhoods, including:

  • Allowing drivers to use Yesler Way to exit the ferry terminal
  • Increasing the width of Alaskan Way between Yesler Way and Spring Street to accommodate ferry holding lanes
  • Adding more than 60 temporary on-street parking spaces on Alaskan Way between Spring and Pike streets

“The waterfront is changing as construction picks up, but people will still be able to get where they need to go,” said Linea Laird, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program administrator. “Construction of this magnitude can be disruptive, and we’re doing everything we can to keep the area vital. This work is also really quite amazing, too, and we hope people will come down and see it for themselves as we build this once-in-a-lifetime project.”

Crews are preparing for the delivery and launch of the tunnel boring machine in 2013. In addition to digging a pit to the west of CenturyLink Field where the machine will launch, construction crews are also relocating utilities and reinforcing a two-block section of the viaduct above the path of the future tunnel.

For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement program, visit

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