Latest Program News

  • Crunch time: Demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is underway

    Contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., began demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct today, Feb. 15. Over the course of approximately six months, they will use large machinery to crunch, munch and cut the structure into pieces to be hauled away by truck. When the viaduct is gone, the City of Seattle will begin work on a new surface street and public open space along the waterfront.

    Demolition started today in two locations: at the Columbia Street on-ramp, and a section of the viaduct near Pike Street. Soon a third crew will begin work at the viaduct’s very north end near the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street. Demolition will occur in sections, with crews generally spending no more than 30 days working in each area. This video explains the demolition plan in more detail. A new interactive web tracker will provide weekly work zone progress updates.

    The demolition contract requires Kiewit to protect buildings, streets and utilities as they complete their work. They also must keep businesses open and people moving. Alaskan Way will remain open throughout demolition, though it will be reduced to one lane in each direction in areas directly adjacent to the work zone. Closures of streets that intersect with Alaskan Way will be minimized as well, to keep east-west access between the waterfront and downtown open.

    The waterfront, Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square will all be open for business throughout demolition, and will provide good vantage points for watching this historic transformation unfold. Visitors can take advantage of the free Waterfront Shuttle that runs between the downtown waterfront and three nearby neighborhoods (Seattle Center, Pioneer Square and the Central Business District). The shuttle program, extended through summer 2019, is paid for with WSDOT funding set aside to help neighborhoods most affected by the project. Information about nearby parking is available at downtownseattleparking.com.

    In addition to viaduct demolition, Kiewit’s contract includes work to decommission and seal the Battery Street Tunnel. They will also reconnect John and Thomas streets across Aurora Avenue North, just north of the Battery Street Tunnel. Those streets have been closed to east-west crossings for more than 60 years. This work will involve lane reductions and closures near the new SR 99 tunnel’s north portal.

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    Order: 4.1

  • Update on opening the northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way

    The remarkable snow Seattle received last week and weekend slowed construction of the one remaining SR 99 tunnel ramp not yet open. At the tunnel’s south end, the northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way remains under construction.

    This ramp is a critical link to downtown for drivers and transit coming from the south and west. Without it, there are no exits on northbound SR 99 between Spokane Street and the north end of the tunnel. This ramp was always going to open later than the rest of the tunnel, but the snow delayed some construction activities.

    With a break in the weather, crews are working to get back on track. Barring more bad weather, they hope to complete forming and pouring the barriers on the ramp in the next few days. Sand that was placed on the ramp during the storms will be cleaned up over the weekend in preparation for lane marking. Signing, lane striping, wiring and lighting also must be done before the ramp can open. The photos below show barrier work in progress.

    A section of rebar formed in the shape of a highway barrier

    Above: The rebar and conduit are in place for this section of ramp barrier, but the concrete has not yet been poured.

     

    Crew working on newly poured concrete for a highway barrier

    Above: Crew work on a section of barrier for the new off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way.

     

    Wide angle shot of south portal of tunnel with seattle skyline in background

    Above: The blankets at right are covering concrete sitting to cure.

    If the weather cooperates and work goes well, the ramp could open next week – perhaps in time for the Sounders match on Feb. 20 at CenturyLink Field. We’ll continue to provide updates as work progresses. You can watch crews work on the ramp on our construction cameras.

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    Order: 4.2

  • Work on viaduct, Battery Street Tunnel and Aurora Avenue North begins later this week

    Update 2/15/19 9:00 a.m.: The closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison St and Denny Way will occur tonight.

    Update 2/13/19 11:50 a.m.: The closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison St and Denny Way planned for tonight will be rescheduled for a later date.

    With the SR 99 tunnel open, work can begin on removing SR 99’s old route through downtown Seattle. This big project is broken up into three work areas: removing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel, and building North Surface Street connections along Aurora Avenue North.

    The recent snow has made the start of work unpredictable, as icy roads are making it difficult to get equipment to the job site. Below is what to expect from construction this week, although further weather developments, especially icy roads, could change these plans further.

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    Viaduct removal: What to expect the rest of this week

    • Overview:
      • The main challenge with starting viaduct demolition is having safe roads for trucks that need to carry machinery to the job site and haul away demolition debris. The new dates below could change if road conditions improve or deteriorate from what current forecasts predict.
    • Columbia Street on-ramp
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition.
      • Crews will work on the ramp east to west. Fencing will extend west along the structure as demolition progresses.
      • Columbia ramp removal will follow the process outlined on our website.
    • Viaduct between Blanchard and Battery streets
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin demolition later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition.
      • Crews will remove the viaduct starting at Battery Street and working south. Fencing will extend south along the structure as demolition progresses.
      • Viaduct removal will follow the process outlined on our website.
    • Viaduct between Pike and Virginia streets
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin demolition later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition..
      • Viaduct removal will follow the process outlined on our website.

     

    Battery Street Tunnel: What to expect the rest of the week

    • Initial work will take place inside the tunnel, as well as staging equipment and trailers at the south end of the tunnel.
    • While crews are working in the tunnel, the ventilation fans will run intermittently from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Keeping the fans on provides fresh air for crews working in the tunnel. This safety measure will be maintained until fall 2019.
    • Crews will place plastic sheeting at the Battery Street Tunnel’s north end. This sheeting helps contain debris generated from the early work occurring inside the tunnel.

     

    North surface streets: What to expect the rest of the week

    • An overnight closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison Street and Denny Way had been planned for Feb. 11. This been rescheduled.
    • The closure could occur as early as tomorrow night, or at a later date depending on weather, transit and construction considerations. During the closure, the southbound lane will be closed 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. The northbound lane will close an hour later, at 9 p.m., and will also reopen by 5 a.m.
    • This closure will allow crews to install protective barrier around the center median work zone where the first phase of this project will occur.
    • Visit King County Metro's website for the latest on bus routes during inclement weather.
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    Order: 4.3

  • SR 99 tunnel now open to traffic

    The party was over, but after more than 100,000 people spent the weekend saying goodbye to the viaduct and hello to the new SR 99 tunnel, one very important event remained: the opening of the tunnel to drivers.

    Crews began the tunnel opening sequence at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The first vehicle rolled through the tunnel's northbound lanes just after 11 p.m. and by 12:15 a.m. Monday, all ramps to and from the tunnel were open to drivers. The one exception is the new northbound off-ramp to South Dearborn Street, near the stadiums, which will take crews another one to two weeks to complete.

    WSDOT, SDOT, Seattle Police and Washington State Patrol coordinated closely to ensure the tunnel was opened safely. Uniformed police officers will remain on hand at some entrances overnight to ensure continued safety.

    Some intersections at the tunnel portals opened Sunday afternoon, including the intersections at South Dearborn Street, and the northbound entrance to SR 99 from Harrison Street. The new connection from Alaskan Way to East Marginal Way South also opened on Sunday. Learn more about the new intersections in this post. You can also watch these videos to better understand how to use the new tunnel.

    Thanks again to everyone who changed their travel habits during the #Realign99 closure. If you found a new way to get around that works well, we encourage you to keep it up. If everyone makes better commuting decisions, all of us will be better off.
     
    Travelers from the south will continue to face congestion until the new Dearborn ramp opens. Until it does, the last exit on northbound SR 99 approaching downtown will be at South Spokane Street. The next exit after that point will be at the north portal, near the Space Needle.  
     
    The tunnel is currently toll free. Tolling could begin as soon as summer 2019. Toll rates will range from $1 to $2.25 with a Good To Go! pass, depending on time of day. You can learn more about how tolling will work at our tolling page.

        

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    Order: 4.4