2018 Program News

2018 Program News

  • Kiewit wins contract to demolish the viaduct

    Today, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. was named the apparent-best-value contractor for the project that will demolish the viaduct, decommission the Battery Street Tunnel and reconnect city surface streets just north of the new SR 99 tunnel.

    The project’s design-build contract, which includes both design and construction services, is valued at $93.7 million. Kiewit submitted the apparent-best-value bid – a combination of points received for their technical proposal and their price.

    Timelines for the work will emerge after the contract is finalized and the contractor receives approval to begin design work. After that point, WSDOT will be able to share more specifics about how demolition and decommissioning will proceed.

    Last year we combined three projects into one in order to save construction time and reduce risk, so this project entails more than just demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Kiewit will be responsible for:

    • Removing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
    • Removing the Columbia Street and Seneca Street ramp structures.
    • Decommissioning the Battery Street Tunnel, removing utility and mechanical systems, sealing the entrances and filling the tunnel.
    • Raising Aurora Avenue North to grade between Harrison Street and Denny Way, rebuilding the street, and reconnecting Thomas and John streets across Aurora Avenue North.
    • After viaduct demolition is complete, restoring waterfront roadways, sidewalks, street lighting and other elements to a temporary condition until the City of Seattle builds the new waterfront.

    Demolition cannot start until the tunnel opens to drivers, which could be as soon as this fall.

    — more —

    Order: 9.1

  • Sprucing up the north portal

    As we’ve mentioned before, the area surrounding the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal has changed a lot over the course of the project. Nearby cranes indicate that there’s still lots of construction in the area, but Seattle Tunnel Partners’ work is beginning to wind down.

    Last month, following years of utility and other construction, STP began restoring surface streets near the north portal. This work is occurring south and west of STP’s work zone, and includes sidewalk and street restoration.

    Closeup view of two crew members installing form work on Thomas Street
    Crews set up forms in preparation for paving Thomas Street near the tunnel's north portal.

    As roadway restoration continues, crews are building the remaining section of the tunnel’s north operations building. After building out the space that previously housed the tunneling machine’s disassembly pit, crews built the framework for the tunnel’s north operations building. They’re now working on the interior of the building.

    View of the tunnel's north operations building with street restoration in front
    Crews rebuild the tunnel's north operations building behind Thomas Street restoration.

    The latest notification for street restoration is available on our construction notifications page. You can also follow progress at the north portal on our construction cameras page.

    — more —

    Order: 9.2

  • Viaduct and Battery Street Tunnel closed this Sunday morning for bike ride

    Parts of northbound SR 99 will close from 6 to 11:30 a.m. this Sunday, April 8 between South Spokane Street and Bridge Way North in Fremont. This closure is part of the Emerald City Ride. Details for the closure:

    • 6 – 11:30 a.m. - Northbound SR 99 closed between South Spokane Street and Western Avenue.
    • 6 – 9:30 a.m. - Northbound SR 99 closed between Western Avenue and Bridge Way North.


    In addition, the bike ride will close the I-5 express lanes 6:45 – 10 a.m. Follow WSDOT Traffic on Twitter for updates on highway openings.

    — more —

    Order: 9.2

  • One year since Bertha’s final breakthrough

    One year ago, with a roar of water and concrete tumbling, the tunneling machine Bertha broke through into the disassembly pit, completing her 1.7-mile journey under downtown Seattle. It was and remains a remarkable engineering achievement.

    At the time, Seattle Tunnel Partners was working on the double-deck highway inside the tunnel and had completed about half of the upper roadway deck. Since Bertha’s dramatic breakthrough, the machine has been fully disassembled and crews have finished building the roadways and walls inside the tunnel.

    What happened to Bertha?

    The machine needed to be removed from the tunnel so crews could finish the tunnel’s roadways. STP spent four months disassembling the machine, cutting it up into pieces small enough to be lifted out by crane. Roughly 8,300 tons of machinery were hauled out of the disassembly pit, to be repurposed or recycled. Approximately 6,850 tons of metal were sent to be recycled, but pieces of Bertha’s signature cutterhead were donated to the Port of Seattle and cutting tools and the machine’s control panel were given to Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

    Bertha is no longer around but you can relive her breakthrough moment with our drone video:

    A year in tunnel progress

    Since Bertha placed the last tunnel ring, crews have made great progress on the structures and systems inside. The roadways and walls inside the tunnel are done, with the last of the roadway panels that make up the tunnel’s northbound (lower) deck placed last month. Crews are hard at work installing the electrical, ventilation and other systems that will make the tunnel functional and safe.

    At the north and south portals, all signs of Bertha’s support equipment and the large pits that bookended the machine’s journey have disappeared. Crews have covered the launch pit and are preparing to build new city streets and intersections. The disassembly pit at the north end has been covered and the final section of the north operations building is taking shape on the surface.

    Other highlights of construction progress since Bertha’s breakthrough:

     

    While the past year has seen impressive progress, there’s still plenty of work left to do. Before the tunnel opens, crews must finish installing the tunnel’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, then test them to ensure they function properly. Stay tuned as we continue to report contractors’ progress building toward the tunnel’s opening, which could happen as early as this fall.

    — more —

    Order: 9.3

  • The roads are installed – now it’s time to finish the tunnel’s smart systems

    A double-deck highway now runs end to end inside the new SR 99 tunnel. Earlier this month, contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) installed the last of the 1,152 road panels that together form the lower (northbound) roadway.

    Now crews are installing and testing the tunnel’s operational and safety systems. It’s a big job. Inside the tunnel there are:

    • More than 300 cameras to monitor traffic and security at all times as part of an incident-detection system.
    • Automatic ventilation systems designed to keep air quality and visibility high.
    • Automated sprinkler systems designed to put out a fire quickly at its source.

    Together, these systems will make the SR 99 tunnel one of the "smartest" tunnels ever built. This video explains how the critical air quality and fire safety systems work together:

    Thousands of components that make up the safety and operational systems will be tested at least three times – once to make sure they work, then to make sure they work as a system, then together with other systems to make sure all systems are integrated and functional. After the systems are all certified, STP will hand the tunnel over to the Washington State Department of Transportation so a different contractor can realign SR 99 and build the final ramp connections to and from the tunnel.

    WSDOT estimates the tunnel may open to traffic as early as this fall. Stay tuned to our website and our program Twitter account for more updates as work progresses.

    By the miles:

    The SR 99 tunnel has approximately:

    • 95 miles of electrical wiring
    • 21 miles of sprinkler pipes
    • 15 miles of lights
    • 13 miles of fiber optic cables
    • 8 miles of linear heat detectors
    — more —

    Order: 9.4

  • Viaduct inspection closure complete, highway is open

    SAT 4:30 PM UPDATE: Inspection complete and viaduct is open. No closure on Sunday. 

    The Alaskan Way Viaduct will close the weekend of March 24–25 for the twice-yearly inspection WSDOT conducts to keep the aging roadway safe for everyday use. Both directions of State Route 99 will close between South Spokane Street and the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel.

    Closure details:

    • SR 99 closed between South Spokane Street and the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel.
    • Highway closed 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24 and 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday, March 25.

    Travelers will need to take an alternate route during the closure weekend and expect possible delays in the area.  If inspection work finishes early and the road can reopen before 6 p.m. Sunday, we will update this post and share via our Twitter account.

    These closures are conducted every March and October so engineers can closely inspect the viaduct. Take advantage of WSDOT’s travel tools and follow WSDOT Traffic on Twitter for updates on traffic in the Puget Sound region.

    — more —

    Order: 9.3

  • The disappearing signs of the SR 99 tunnel

    It’s been almost a year (April 4) since the tunneling machine Bertha broke through into the disassembly pit near Seattle Center. Today all visible signs of the machine and the large pits that bookended its 1.7-mile journey beneath downtown Seattle are gone.

    At the south end, the launch pit is now a smooth plane that will later become the roads and ramps connecting the tunnel to SODO, downtown and the Seattle waterfront:

    Camera view of the tunnel south portal with Safeo Field in distance at left

    At the tunnel's north end, the machine’s disassembly pit has been filled up to the surface, and now the final portion of the tunnel's north operations building (the building with the yellow ventilation stacks) is being built above it:

    The steel frame of the final part of the operations building being constructed

    Zooming back and you can clearly see where the closed block of Sixth Avenue North between Harrison Street (in the foreground) and Thomas Street (behind the operations building) will be rebuilt:

    North portal construction zone showing the disassembly pit fully covered

    Once completed, Sixth Avenue North will provide a north-south connection between Mercer Street and Denny Way, with an on-ramp to SR 99 southbound and the new tunnel. You can follow construction progress on our construction cameras page.

    — more —

    Order: 9.5

  • Battery Street Tunnel and portion of SR 99 closed this Sunday morning

    City of Seattle crews will close SR 99 in both directions 6 – 11 a.m. Sunday, March 4 between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and North 45th Street. This closure is part of the Hot Chocolate Run. Details for the closure:

    • 6 – 10:25 a.m. - Southbound lanes closed between North 38th Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel.
    • 6 – 11:15 a.m. - Northbound lanes closed between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and North 45th Street.


    Several city streets are also closing. Check here for a complete list.

    — more —

    Order: 9.5

  • New construction camera will capture south portal's ramps

    We’ve installed a new time-lapse camera to capture work on the SR 99 Connections Project, which will finish building the ramps and roads that connect SR 99 to the new tunnel.

    Seattle Tunnel Partners has completed some of this work, and the remaining work will occur in their existing work zones at the tunnel portals (near the stadiums in the south and near Seattle Center in the north). A new contractor, Scarsella Brothers Inc., will complete this work.

    Our newest construction time-lapse camera, "SR 99 Connections South," captures a wide view of the tunnel’s south portal (click to see the camera):

    Screen capture of web camera view of tunnel's south portal, with orange circle around concrete tunnel entrance

    The circled structure above is where southbound traffic will exit the tunnel. The rendering below shows that same tunnel exit in relation to the completed south portal. 

    Computer rendering of ramp configuration when all construction is done

    SR 99 Connections will start work this month along East Frontage Road South and South Royal Brougham Road, just to the west of Safeco Field. Crews will be installing drainage, illumination and signals, as well as building roadway, curbs and sidewalks. Crews are scheduled to complete this work by the end of May.

    If you live or work near the north end or south end construction areas, you can join the SR 99 Connections construction email update list by sending an email to viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov

    — more —

    Order: 9.6

  • Transforming Bertha's finish line

    The large pit north of Harrison Street that was the tunneling machine Bertha’s finish line has seen a series of dramatic transformations in the past few months. What was once a 90-foot-deep excavation to the west of SR 99/Aurora Avenue North will soon be entirely covered by a concrete lid, capping the future roadways and tunnel maintenance and systems corridors built within.

    In early January crews placed 10 girders across the pit. These girders, each 70 feet long and weighing 35 tons, will support the final section of the north portal operations building (the building with the four yellow ventilation stacks) that will be built atop the pit.

    This week, crews placed rebar and poured concrete to form a lid across the girders, burying the pit entirely from view.

     
    LEFT: The disassembly pit being built in 2014 (looking north)
    RIGHT: The disassembly pit on January 26, 2018 (looking north)

     

    Crews first began excavating the 450-feet-long and 90-feet-deep pit in 2013, in preparation for the completion of tunnel mining. Bertha broke through the pit's southern wall on April 4, 2017. Crews then used that space as the staging area for dismantling the 8,000-ton machine, a tremendous effort which they completed in August.

    Once the final piece of the machine was gone, the pit was ready for its second use: becoming part of the tunnel itself. Since August crews have been building walls and decks within the pit that will connect the bored tunnel’s roadways to the short section of cut-and-cover tunnel just to the north. Building these structures has slowly obscured the disassembly pit from view of our construction camera.

    In the coming weeks and months crews will begin constructing the final section of the operations building. They will also restore the block of Sixth Avenue North that has been used as a construction staging area for the north portal work.

    — more —

    Order: 9.7

  • Highway construction inside the tunnel moves north

    This week, Seattle Tunnel Partners shifted gears and moved its road-building operation north for the final 3,000 feet of lower roadway inside the SR 99 tunnel.

    Unlike the southbound (upper) roadway, which was built using concrete pours, the northbound (lower) roadway comes together one 22-ton panel at a time. The pre-made panels are trucked into the tunnel, lifted with a specialized crane and joined together to create a functioning highway.

    This new time-lapse video shows how the road comes together:

    STP installed the first 6,000 feet of lower roadway by hauling the panels from the south portal to a point roughly under Virginia Street and First Avenue. From there, they worked their way south, installing panels as they went. Following the recent completion of the upper roadway at the tunnel’s north end, crews can now deliver panels via the north portal and work south-to-north to finish the final 3,000 feet of lower roadway.

    There’s still a lot work ahead before the tunnel is ready for traffic. STP must complete installation and testing of all the operational and safety systems that will make the tunnel function. You can follow the work on our tunnel progress tracker.

    — more —

    Order: 9.8

  • Looking forward to a busy 2018

    There’s a lot to be excited about as the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program enters 2018. We’re working toward several important construction milestones.

    Pushing toward tunnel completion

    STP made great progress last year. They finished tunneling, disassembled the tunneling machine and completed the southbound (upper) roadway inside the tunnel. Based on STP’s newest schedule (PDF), the tunnel could open to drivers as soon as this fall. Our goal is to safely open the tunnel to traffic as quickly as possible and begin removing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but it’s too early to accurately predict a tunnel opening date. Safety and quality remain our top priorities, and will continue to guide all work on the program.

    A significant amount of work remains between now and tunnel opening. Crews must complete construction of the roadway within the tunnel, and finish installing many interconnected systems that will be required to operate the tunnel. They also must complete a series of thorough tests and certification by the Seattle Fire Department to ensure the systems are working properly. This includes testing approximately 5,000 individual components and nearly 90 tunnel systems. 

    As always, WSDOT will continue to closely monitor STP’s work. You can do the same at our construction tracking page.

    The road to tunnel opening

    As STP continues their work, construction of final ramp and highway connections to the tunnel is set to begin. The SR 99 Connections Project will build the final connections between the existing highway and the tunnel. Scarsella Bros., Inc. is the contractor for this work, which will be performed under a $22.6 million contract awarded by WSDOT last month.

    Scarsella will break ground soon and continue their work throughout this year. When the tunnel is ready to open, SR 99 through downtown Seattle will be closed to traffic for approximately three weeks. Ramps to and from SR 99 will also be affected during this work. The final connections to the tunnel can only be built after the viaduct has been closed because crews must demolish portions of the current roadway to realign SR 99. When these roadway connections are complete, drivers will begin using the new tunnel.

    We recognize that this temporary closure of SR 99 will affect the entire region. We’re also aware that the tunnel is one of many projects under construction in downtown Seattle. We will continue to coordinate construction activities with the City of Seattle, Port of Seattle and King County to minimize disruptions to the public. As we always do during major highway closures, we will coordinate with our partner agencies to spread the word, and help keep people and goods moving while crews complete their work.

    After the tunnel opens

    After the tunnel opens to drivers, we can begin the challenging task of demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The demolition contractor will also be responsible for decommissioning the Battery Street Tunnel and reconnecting surface streets across Aurora Avenue North. These three projects were combined under a single design-build contract to shave off approximately one year of cumulative construction time. 

    As we explained this summer, the contractor will determine how the viaduct will be demolished within parameters set in the contract. We plan to select a contractor in late spring, and will share the demolition plan and schedule after the contractor is chosen.

    We’re excited about the work that lies ahead in 2018. Stay tuned for new photos, videos and social media updates as we push toward tunnel opening.

    — more —

    Order: 9.9