KaDeena Yerkan, WSDOT communications, 206-795-1876 (mobile)
SEATTLE – When Milepost 31 opened its doors in December 2011, contractor crews had barely broken ground on the State Route 99 tunnel. Two years later, the tunnel information center has welcomed more than 22,000 visitors and a five-story-tall machine is digging just a few blocks to the west of its Pioneer Square storefront.
The Washington State Department of Transportation will host a two-year anniversary celebration at Milepost 31 from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. The event is being coordinated with other festivities in Pioneer Square that evening, including the neighborhood tree lighting ceremony and the second annual Howlidays dog parade.
“Milepost 31 has become a neighborhood fixture,” said Leslie Smith, executive director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. “It has brought thousands of visitors to Pioneer Square to learn about the project and the history of our neighborhood. It’s everything we hoped it would be.”
The center, which pairs tunneling technology with local history, was developed in partnership with neighborhood advocates and historic preservation officials as part of a federal requirement to mitigate project effects on historic properties.
Visitors to Milepost 31, named for the point where SR 99 enters Pioneer Square, can view historic artifacts, pieces of tunneling equipment and a 10-foot-long scale model of Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Interactive exhibits show how Seattle’s landscape and shoreline have changed during the past 20,000 years, and how crews are building the massive tunnel that will replace the viaduct and reshape the SR 99 corridor. Staff are on hand to answer questions about the exhibits and the project, and lead public tours to the project’s viewing platform five days per week.
Located at 211 First Ave. S, Milepost 31 is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information about the SR 99 Tunnel Project, part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, visit www.alaskanwayviaduct.org.