Local Information

Gov. Inslee to cut ribbon for new SR 99 tunnel this weekend

Friday, February 1, 2019 - 09:49

Steve Peer, WSDOT communications, 425-301-2023

Thousands of participants slated to attend historic event in new tunnel and on old Alaskan Way Viaduct

SEATTLE – After nearly two decades of planning and construction, the State Route 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle is about to open. Foot traffic – not cars, trucks and buses – will be the first to enjoy a two-mile-long journey under downtown Seattle and nostalgic last visit of the old viaduct during the grand opening celebration.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will host a weekend-long celebration. The bulk of the fun will occur on Saturday, Feb. 2, with a fun run, a ribbon cutting, an opportunity for people to walk the tunnel and viaduct, an arts festival to celebrate the future waterfront, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities at the tunnel's entrances. Live music and food trucks will round out the family-oriented celebration.

The weekend culminates on Sunday, Feb. 3 with a 12.5-mile bike ride through the tunnel and onto the viaduct.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Washingtonians to celebrate a project that will transform Seattle and the region,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “The event celebrates the vision and innovation that is helping us plan and develop for our region’s future.”

“Together, we are building a city of the future, and Saturday’s ribbon cutting marks a major milestone in that journey. With the new SR 99 tunnel, we can finally bring down the viaduct and reconnect Seattle with its heart – the Puget Sound – and move ahead on our new “Waterfront for All,” with 20 acres of public spaces for everyone,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “I am grateful to the people of Seattle and the Puget Sound for helping us get through the challenge of the SR 99 closure together by changing their commute habits, and I am grateful to our partners at WSDOT, King County Metro, the Port of Seattle, and across the region for their collaboration.”

Saturday events
The first to set foot in the new tunnel will be more than 20,000 participants in an 8K fun run and walk sponsored by the HNTB Corporation. The route will take runners through the new tunnel, onto the viaduct and through the Battery Street Tunnel.

Officials will then cut a ribbon near the south portal, marking the ceremonial opening North America’s largest bored tunnel. After the ribbon is cut, the public can explore:

  • The new SR 99 tunnel
  • An arts festival featuring more than 100 local artists, installations and a community celebration on the viaduct tour.
  • Community festivals near the stadiums and Seattle Center, with food trucks, live music and STEM activities.

Sunday morning bike ride (sold out)
The weekend celebration concludes Sunday morning with the 12.5-mile Tunnel Ride, which has sold out with 12,000 riders. The bike ride is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and will take riders through the both south and northbound lanes of the new tunnel AND both the upper and lower decks of the viaduct. 

Know before you go
More than 100,000 people are expected for the weekend celebration. Most of the 75,000 free tickets are accounted for, the bike ride is sold out and the fun run is expected to have nearly 25,000 participants. WSDOT has posted a blog with more details that includes five things you should know in preparation for the event.  

What’s next
WSDOT expects to have the tunnel open to traffic in time for the commute on Monday morning, Feb. 4. Construction of a new northbound off-ramp to South Dearborn Street near the stadiums will continue for up to two weeks after the tunnel opens.  

For up-to-date information on highway closures and construction activity associated with SR 99, please visit the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program website, or follow the project on Twitter.

Get Our Mobile App

  • Our Android and iPhone apps include statewide traffic cameras, travel alerts, mountain pass reports, ferry schedules and alerts, northbound Canadian border wait times and more.