Latest Program News

  • New pedestrian bridge to Colman Dock being assembled (but you can’t walk on it just yet)

    June 17, 2019 update: The overnight closure of Alaskan Way scheduled for tonight and tomorrow has been moved to Wednesday and Thursday this week.

    A new pedestrian-only bridge to Colman Dock is taking shape near Seattle’s waterfront. This week and next the contractor Kiewit will place a prefabricated walkway atop columns along Columbia Street and Western Avenue. Most of the columns were poured over the past several months but the new bridge is also supported by two columns that were left in place from the Columbia Street on-ramp.

    This new bridge will connect to the current Marion Street pedestrian bridge at Western Avenue, then run via Western Avenue and Columbia Street to Colman Dock. After placing the prefabricated walkway structure, electrical work and other follow-on work will occur before the bridge is complete.

    The current Marion Street pedestrian bridge will remain open until sometime in August, when Colman Dock construction is ready to open the new bridge. After the new bridge is operational, Kiewit will demolish the narrow section of viaduct left in place over the current pedestrian bridge.

    A section of the viaduct with no structure on either side and the Marion Street pedestrian bridge running beneath it

    Above: Kiewit left this section of the viaduct standing so the pedestrian bridge beneath it can remain open during viaduct demolition.

    When removing the section of freestanding viaduct structure around Marion Street, Kiewit will also remove part of the current pedestrian bridge from Colman Dock to the edge of the building just to the east. The bridge we are building this year will stay open for about five years until the City of Seattle’s Waterfront Project builds a new pedestrian bridge at Marion Street.

    Traffic effects this week and next

    • Columbia Street is closed from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way to place the bridge spans. This block of Columbia Street is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, June 19. Sidewalks remain open.
    • Alaskan Way will close both directions between Marion Street and Yesler Way on Monday and Tuesday nights, 6/17 and 6/18 Wednesday and Thursday nights, 6/19 and 6/20. The closure will last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and include the multi-use sidewalk on the west side of Alaskan Way. People traveling north and south along this stretch of waterfront at night should expect detours and delays.
    • Western Avenue between Marion and Columbia streets has been closed for several months while crews built the new pedestrian bridge. One northbound lane is scheduled to reopen on this block in the coming month.

     

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  • Marching south: demolition approaches the southern end of the viaduct

    The southern stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was saved for last, and now its time is coming. WSDOT's contractor Kiewit is preparing to begin work on removing the section of viaduct that remains between Yesler Way and South Dearborn Street.

    Early this Friday morning Alaskan Way will be narrowed to one lane in each direction between South King Street and South Dearborn Street. Crews will use this space to establish a work zone so they can safely begin demolition later this month on the viaduct adjacent to Railroad Way South.

    Alaskan Way is a busy arterial in this area and a key connection to SR 99. Travelers approaching downtown from the south this summer should plan for longer drive times, especially during peak commute periods and on weekends. Consider taking transit and the King County Water Taxi as a driving alternative. Access routes to Colman Dock will remain unchanged for the moment.

    View of southern end of viaduct with work zone highlighted in orange

    Above: Alaskan Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction. The orange section of the viaduct is where demolition will begin later this month

    In July the contractor will add a second crew to the job of removing the viaduct's southern section. The plans for this work, including where that crew will start along the structure, are still being refined and we will share more information in the weeks to come. Drivers should expect that at some point streets connecting Alaskan Way to First Avenue South will close beneath the viaduct, and additional stretches of Alaskan Way will be narrowed. People traveling along Alaskan Way, especially to and from Colman Dock, should expect higher than normal congestion in the area through the end of August as we conclude work on one major component of the Seattle Squeeze.

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  • Site restoration: cleaning up after the viaduct comes down

    The process of removing the viaduct is more than just demolition work. Removing the viaduct is done in three stages: site preparation, demolition, and finally, site restoration. You can see where crews are on our viaduct demolition tracker, which is updated weekly.

    Once a portion of the viaduct has been demolished, crews must restore the work zone to its former condition. In this case, “restoration” means re-opening streets, sidewalks, and parking that was available before the removal process began.

    Two photos showing same section of waterfront, four months apart. In second photo, the viaduct is gone.
    Above: Looking north on Alaskan Way between Seneca and Marion streets, before removal and after restoration.

    The most easily visible part of site restoration is clearing the piles of viaduct rubble. The two main rubble materials – concrete and rebar – must be separated. Initial separation happens on site during processing, before rubble is loaded onto trucks and hauled south to Terminal 25 for additional sorting and processing. The concrete rubble is then hauled north to fill the Battery Street Tunnel.

    Cleanup also entails removing the “crush pad” placed on the ground before demolition began. This bedding of rock protects not only the surface of the street, but also the utilities buried below it. Site restoration includes clearing away this bedding and cleaning the ground beneath.

    Machinery sitting in the middle of a dirty intersection with no viaduct overhead

    Above: Site restoration in March 2019 at the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street 

    One of the last steps in site restoration is removing and filling the viaduct’s foundations. The viaduct’s support columns are connected to foundations buried beneath street level. Once the columns are munched away during demolition, crews hammer out the foundations, in most places to five feet below the surface. They then backfill the hole to prepare for final restoration activities. This time-lapse video captures demolition and site restoration at University Street along the waterfront (you can see a foundation dug out and filled in the foreground at the 0:39 mark).

    The last step is restoring the area to its “original” condition, including paving and striping the pavement, and opening it back up to parking and pedestrians.

    Restored only for a short while

    The land where the viaduct once stood will not remain static for long. Once the viaduct has been completely removed, the City of Seattle will step in to begin construction of the Waterfront Seattle project. The SR 99 tunnel was designed in tandem with a rebuilt Alaskan Way surface street, and Waterfront Seattle will build that street, along with new public spaces and an extended pedestrian promenade. Visit www.waterfrontseattle.org for more information on the project to come.

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  • First stage of Battery Street Tunnel filling wraps up this summer

    If you’ve traveled along Battery Street recently, you may have noticed large metal containers sitting on the side of the road. These specialized hoppers are placed above the Battery Street Tunnel’s ventilation grates, and trucks pour crushed concrete rubble through them into the closed tunnel beneath. (Have you seen our video of this work in action?)

    Battery Street with cones down the middle and a steel hopper sitting on the far sidewalk

    The contractor Kiewit is filling the Battery Street Tunnel with crushed concrete salvaged from the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Working from Denny Way southwest toward First Avenue, crews spend several weeks per block filling the tunnel beneath up to about seven feet from the ceiling.

    Kiewit’s current Battery Street Tunnel working hours are 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, with the filling from the surface stopping by 3 p.m.

    Compacting the rubble with vibration

    Inside the tunnel, Kiewit spreads the fill out along the tunnel’s old roadways and compacts it with vibratory rollers. The rollers produce vibration that may be felt in adjacent buildings. The amount of vibration felt in a nearby building will vary depending on the building’s distance from the active work area and what type of work the crews are performing. Crews may spread and compact the crushed concrete up to several blocks away from where the fill is poured into the tunnel.

    Below is the current schedule for the filling and vibratory work. The dates may change somewhat based on progress:

    Map of Battery Street with dates of work beginning on each block from Denny Way to First Avenue

     

    Lane closures

    Drivers on Battery Street should expect one lane to be closed 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. while crews are filling the tunnel beneath that block. There will be trucks, hoppers and crews working in that closed lane. Kiewit is also working with local utility companies to install utilities within the tunnel, which sometimes requires short-term lane or sidewalk closures on Battery Street or adjacent side streets. After the filling is complete, crews will return to repair the street grates and any damaged sidewalks or roadway.

    What comes next

    The crushed concrete work will wrap up this summer, filling up the tunnel to about seven feet from its ceiling. The top seven feet will be filled with a low-density cellular concrete pumped into the tunnel from the surface. This final tunnel fill work is scheduled for early 2020.

    Later phases of work will remove the grates from Battery Street’s roadway and sidewalks, and repair the holes. Crews will also install new street lighting, curb ramps and other pedestrian improvements. The project is expected to be complete by mid-2020. We provide weekly construction updates about the Battery Street Tunnel project via our construction email list. You can also contact the project by email, viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.

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