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  • Jan. 27 project update

    Last week, we shared with the public that the dispute review board for the SR 99 tunnel contract had heard and made recommendations on a request by Seattle Tunnel Partners for a differing site condition at the tunnel launch pit. A differing site condition can occur when: 1) actual subsurface or latent physical conditions encountered at the site differ substantially or materially from those indicated in the contract, or 2) unknown conditions at the site are unusual in nature and differ materially from those ordinarily encountered in the type of work.
    To clarify, this dispute is related to a differing site condition experienced while building the launch pit; it is not related to the stoppage of the tunneling machine or recent settlement near the access pit. And, there are funds set aside within the existing project budget to deal with differing site conditions.
    There has been interest from the public in being able to review the board’s recommendations, which are attached to this WSDOT memorandum (pdf 880 kb). Because these recommendations are technical in nature, there may be questions about what they mean.
    As we review the board’s recommendations on the differing site condition in the launch pit and determine our next steps, we will use the terms in the contract to reach the best possible outcome for taxpayers as we continue to build this critical safety project. We will not be offering our opinions of the board’s recommendations or speculating on next steps until our analysis is complete.
    It is also important to remember that the board’s recommendations are just that, recommendations. They are not binding. While STP requested $20 million in compensation for this differing site condition, the board’s recommendations did not address the cost and schedule impacts. Thus it is too early to speculate as to the cost and schedule impacts of this recommendation, should it be accepted by WSDOT.


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  • Jan. 22 project update

    It is not uncommon for disputes to arise between owners and contractors during a construction project. One way to resolve disagreements is through a dispute review board. The review board, a panel of three experts chosen by the parties jointly, reviews the facts of a dispute and makes recommendations to the owner and contractor. The SR 99 Tunnel Project contract between WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners established a dispute review board.
    In 2013, the board heard arguments related to STP’s request for a change order for work associated with strengthening the Alaskan Way Viaduct in advance of tunneling under it. WSDOT denied this request and the board issued a recommendation that was consistent with WSDOT’s denial. STP may pursue reconsideration, which is allowed under the contract.
    In late 2012, Seattle Tunnel Partners requested a change order for an alleged differing site condition in the launch pit at the south portal. STP’s request was for $20 million. WSDOT rejected this request. Last year, both WSDOT and STP agreed to ask the board to make a recommendation and the matter was heard in October.
    To clarify, this dispute is related to a differing site condition experienced while building the launch pit; it is not related to the stoppage of the tunneling machine or recent settlement near the access pit. And, there are funds set aside within the existing project budget to deal with differing site conditions.
    On Jan. 16, the board submitted its recommendation, which stated in part that a “differing site condition was encountered in the glacial soils and that STP is entitled to relief” to the extent it incurred costs or delays because of that condition. The board did not determine what costs or delays were caused by the differing site condition it identified. STP promptly sent a letter accepting the board’s recommendation.
    We are still reviewing the board’s recommendation. As a reminder, the board’s recommendations are just that, recommendations. If WSDOT or STP disagrees with a recommendation, either party can ask for reconsideration or simply move to the next process allowed under the contract. The next steps will be determined after our analysis is completed. 


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  • Nighttime lane closures on SR 99/Aurora Avenue North near South Lake Union

    Seattle drivers should plan for possible overnight delays next week on State Route 99/Aurora Avenue North between Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union.

    Closure details

    • From Monday, Jan. 26, through the morning of Friday, Jan. 30, crews will close up to two lanes in each direction of SR 99/Aurora Avenue North between Valley and Halladay streets from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night.

    During the closures, construction crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will continue work to locate existing utilities in advance of upcoming installation of overhead signs.

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  • Take a virtual tour of SR 99 tunnel construction

    Keeping the public informed about our work to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct is an important part of what we do every day. Our goal is to give you as much access as possible to this amazing project, which is why we regularly post updates, photos and videos of our progress. We even offer walking tours from our information center, Milepost 31, to a viewing platform that overlooks the pit where tunneling began in summer 2013.

    Unfortunately, there’s one frequently received request … more

  • New narrated video explains Bertha repair work

    As reported elsewhere on our website, work to access and repair the SR 99 tunneling machine is coming along. We’ve heard from some people that Seattle Tunnel Partners’ repair plan is hard to picture. Enter STP’s Chris Dixon, who was nice enough to narrate a video that explains what crews are doing to resume tunneling by March 2015. Watch it on YouTube or download a WMV file.

    Other resources 

    Seattle Tunnel Partners repair work plan (pdf 4.8 Mb) … more

  • What we’re doing to keep traffic moving during the four-day SR 99 closure

    We’ve been asking you to do your part to reduce congestion when SR 99 closes for four days starting Friday night, Aug. 22. That includes things like changing your commute habits and choosing an alternate way to get around.

    But what are we, the agencies tasked with keeping traffic moving during this closure, doing to help? Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a roundup of some of the steps we’re taking to help you and your fellow commuters through the closure.

    Washington … more

  • Traffic shift underway on State Route 99 near the stadiums

    Less than three years ago, crews demolished the southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. When they did, they shifted traffic onto a new section of State Route 99 south of downtown Seattle.

    Much of that new section of SR 99 is permanent, but the piece west of the stadiums is temporary. This curving stretch of road takes drivers around the SR 99 tunnel construction site and connects to the remaining section of the viaduct near South King Street. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s … more

  • Celebrate Bike Month on our new path

    Just in time for Bike Month, we opened a new permanent connection between the on-street bike lanes south of South Atlantic Street and the shared-use path from South King Street. Here’s a map that shows the improvements, which include:

    A dedicated, 14-foot-wide shared-use path with improved paving.

    Improved lighting.

    A separate northbound and southbound path for more efficient navigation.

    Signs warning of vehicles crossing the intersection of … more

  • The SR 99 tunnel contract you’ve never heard of

    You may have noticed more construction along State Route 99, just north of the Battery Street Tunnel. That work is part of the SR 99 Tunnel Project, but it has its own name – the North Access Project. It’s also being built under a completely different contract than the one we have with Seattle Tunnel Partners, the contracting team responsible for most of the tunnel work. A map of major contracts within the program can be found here (pdf 1.1 Mb).

    Our contractor for the North … more

  • SR 99 tunnel’s north portal taking shape near the Space Needle

    A few blocks northeast of the Space Needle, crews are building the north portal of the SR 99 tunnel. It’s a huge piece of the overall tunnel project, but it’s largely invisible to the thousands of people that pass by it every day.

    About the only place you can see the north portal taking shape is from the viewing deck of the Space Needle because most of the construction is underground, inside a pit that’s every bit as impressive as the launch pit where Bertha, the SR 99 … more