Program Spotlight 2014

  • Information for residents and businesses in Pioneer Square

    Recently, our team detected approximately one inch of ground settlement near the pit Seattle Tunnel Partners is building to access and repair the SR 99 tunneling machine. Settlement was also detected on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and some of the buildings that we are monitoring; the amount of settlement lessens in the surrounding area. Our experts are still analyzing data and conducting daily inspections of the viaduct, but the initial settlement we reported publically on Dec. 5 has since … more

  • New pavement and walls add shape to the tunnel’s future north portal

    At the construction site for the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal, imagining the future is getting easier. While it all looks like one project, north portal construction is comprised of two separate contracts. Roughly everything south of the tunnel entrance near Harrison Street is part of the main tunnel contract being completed by Seattle Tunnel Partners. North of the tunnel entrance, crews working for Atkinson Construction are building the lanes and ramps  that will connect … more

  • Heavy lifting with some very big cranes

    Since SR 99 tunnel construction started, big cranes have become a familiar sight on the west side of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Recently, two new cranes have risen up, and they are like redwoods in a forest of pine trees. The “little” crane can lift up to 300 metric tons and stands 180 feet high. Its big brother can lift up to 600 metric tons and tops out at 236 feet high. That’s more than four times the height of the viaduct, or about the same height as the clock tower … more

  • Bertha soapbox car on display now at Milepost 31

    She’s like Bertha, but faster. Much, much faster.

    Meet “Bertha’s Last Stand,” runner-up at the 2014 Red Bull Soapbox Race in Seattle. Though not affiliated with or supported by WSDOT, a group of soapbox racers from Machias, Washington were so inspired by Bertha that they designed and built their own soapbox tunneling machine to drill through the competition. One of 36 teams that built and raced homemade cars through Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, … more

  • 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

  • Four-day SR 99 closure shines spotlight on tunnel’s north portal

    You may have heard that SR 99 will close for four straight days starting Friday night, Aug. 22. It’s the longest full closure of SR 99 in Seattle since crews demolished the southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2011. While this is probably not welcome news for travelers, it is a sign of progress at the tunnel’s north portal. 

    The 2011 demolition of the viaduct cleared the way for construction of the tunnel launch pit and the commencement of tunneling. During this … more

  • Remodeling Bertha’s launch pit

    Seattle Tunnel Partners, our contractor for the SR 99 Tunnel Project, is remodeling the giant concrete box where they assembled, tested and launched Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine.  

    Fittingly, Bertha’s launch pit is massive – 400 feet long and 80 feet wide. It was 80 feet deep, but it’s a little shallower now due to the remodel, which is turning the pit into part of the future State Route 99.

    Remodeling the launch pit isn’t too much … 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

  • Lots to see inside the tunnel launch pit

    You can’t see much from the surface, but there’s a lot of work happening in the launch pit where tunneling started last summer. Last week, Seattle Tunnel Partners removed the giant steel frame that Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine, pushed against to start her drive into the tunnel. The frame is now on its way to be recycled.

    Work is also well underway to dismantle the temporary concrete tunnel rings Bertha installed to give her additional leverage at the start of her … more

  • Keeping the Alaskan Way Viaduct safe until the tunnel opens

    We're looking forward to opening the tunnel to traffic and demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s the reason we come to work each day. But until we take down the viaduct, it’s our job to protect it and keep it safely open to drivers.

    And so this weekend, as they do four times every year, WSDOT crews will inspect the viaduct. They’ll start by closing the structure to traffic on Saturday and Sunday. Then they’ll begin a methodical weekend of work measuring … more

  • A tool that’s more important than Bertha

    Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine, is easily the most recognizable tool being used on the SR 99 Tunnel Project. But she’s not the most important tool.

    That distinction belongs to our 1,373-page contract with Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the joint venture we hired to design and build the tunnel. The contract can’t bore a tunnel or build the highway within it, but it can perform the project’s most vital function: protecting taxpayers.

    On most highway projects, … more

  • Tunnel crews keeping busy

    While we’re working with our contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), to get Bertha moving again, we’re also doing a significant amount of work elsewhere on the project. In fact, the vast majority of the 300 people who work on the tunnel each day aren’t anywhere near Bertha.

    Here are some of the things they’ve been up to:

    Building the tunnel’s south portal

    It’s hard to tell when you’re driving by on SR 99, but a good portion of the tunnel& … more

  • Building a better transportation system

    The Washington State Department of Transportation is working to build a safer, more durable, effective transportation system for our citizens. All across the state – from Bellingham to Vancouver, Forks to Spokane – we manage hundreds of important transportation projects each year to upgrade or replace aging roads and bridges, increase capacity for carrying people and freight, and create more environmentally sustainable travel options for the public.

    You’ve been hearing … more