Local Information

This is only a drill: First responders conducting full-scale emergency exercise in SR 99 tunnel Sept. 27

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 07:50

Barbara LaBoe, communications, 360-705-7080
Laura Newborn, communications, 206-805-2871; 206-639-8577 (mobile); day of exercise contact

SEATTLE – Those around the new State Route 99 tunnel’s north portal will see emergency responders in action Thursday, Sept. 27 – but there’s no cause for alarm. The full-scale exercise is a training event for all agencies involved in responding to tunnel events or emergencies.

The Washington State Department of Transportation, along with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Seattle fire, police and transportation departments, and King County Metro Transit, will conduct a full-scale exercise inside the tunnel. All agencies train throughout the year to keep skills current; the full-scale exercise will allow them to practice working together on-scene as they would in a real-life event.

The exercise will involve staged crashes, actors playing injured travelers, emergency response crews and activation of the tunnel’s deluge fire suppression system. Most of the activity will take place inside the tunnel, but people near the north portal – by the Space Needle – may see emergency vehicles or actors made up to look as if they are injured. WSDOT will signal the start and end of the drill on social media channels.

The TSA helps organize full-scale exercises through its Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program, which provides training and security planning tools to transportation agencies. The full-scale exercise also helps emergency responders familiarize themselves with the new tunnel and its safety features, including extensive monitors, ventilation and fire suppression system.

The 2-mile-long tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic in 2019 after a three-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct to complete final roadway and ramp connections to the new tunnel.

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