Latest Program News

  • Update on opening the northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way

    The remarkable snow Seattle received last week and weekend slowed construction of the one remaining SR 99 tunnel ramp not yet open. At the tunnel’s south end, the northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way remains under construction.

    This ramp is a critical link to downtown for drivers and transit coming from the south and west. Without it, there are no exits on northbound SR 99 between Spokane Street and the north end of the tunnel. This ramp was always going to open later than the rest of the tunnel, but the snow delayed some construction activities.

    With a break in the weather, crews are working to get back on track. Barring more bad weather, they hope to complete forming and pouring the barriers on the ramp in the next few days. Sand that was placed on the ramp during the storms will be cleaned up over the weekend in preparation for lane marking. Signing, lane striping, wiring and lighting also must be done before the ramp can open. The photos below show barrier work in progress.

    A section of rebar formed in the shape of a highway barrier

    Above: The rebar and conduit are in place for this section of ramp barrier, but the concrete has not yet been poured.

     

    Crew working on newly poured concrete for a highway barrier

    Above: Crew work on a section of barrier for the new off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way.

     

    Wide angle shot of south portal of tunnel with seattle skyline in background

    Above: The blankets at right are covering concrete sitting to cure.

    If the weather cooperates and work goes well, the ramp could open next week – perhaps in time for the Sounders match on Feb. 20 at CenturyLink Field. We’ll continue to provide updates as work progresses. You can watch crews work on the ramp on our construction cameras.

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    Order: 4.2

  • Work on viaduct, Battery Street Tunnel and Aurora Avenue North begins later this week

    Update 2/15/19 9:00 a.m.: The closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison St and Denny Way will occur tonight.

    Update 2/13/19 11:50 a.m.: The closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison St and Denny Way planned for tonight will be rescheduled for a later date.

    With the SR 99 tunnel open, work can begin on removing SR 99’s old route through downtown Seattle. This big project is broken up into three work areas: removing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel, and building North Surface Street connections along Aurora Avenue North.

    The recent snow has made the start of work unpredictable, as icy roads are making it difficult to get equipment to the job site. Below is what to expect from construction this week, although further weather developments, especially icy roads, could change these plans further.

    Want to stay current on this construction as it begins? Sign up for our weekly construction email.

    Viaduct removal: What to expect the rest of this week

    • Overview:
      • The main challenge with starting viaduct demolition is having safe roads for trucks that need to carry machinery to the job site and haul away demolition debris. The new dates below could change if road conditions improve or deteriorate from what current forecasts predict.
    • Columbia Street on-ramp
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition.
      • Crews will work on the ramp east to west. Fencing will extend west along the structure as demolition progresses.
      • Columbia ramp removal will follow the process outlined on our website.
    • Viaduct between Blanchard and Battery streets
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin demolition later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition.
      • Crews will remove the viaduct starting at Battery Street and working south. Fencing will extend south along the structure as demolition progresses.
      • Viaduct removal will follow the process outlined on our website.
    • Viaduct between Pike and Virginia streets
      • Demolition was previously scheduled to begin today, Feb. 12. Now, due to current weather conditions, crews plan to begin demolition later this week.
      • Crews will continue preparing the site this week in preparation for demolition..
      • Viaduct removal will follow the process outlined on our website.

     

    Battery Street Tunnel: What to expect the rest of the week

    • Initial work will take place inside the tunnel, as well as staging equipment and trailers at the south end of the tunnel.
    • While crews are working in the tunnel, the ventilation fans will run intermittently from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Keeping the fans on provides fresh air for crews working in the tunnel. This safety measure will be maintained until fall 2019.
    • Crews will place plastic sheeting at the Battery Street Tunnel’s north end. This sheeting helps contain debris generated from the early work occurring inside the tunnel.

     

    North surface streets: What to expect the rest of the week

    • An overnight closure of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison Street and Denny Way had been planned for Feb. 11. This been rescheduled.
    • The closure could occur as early as tomorrow night, or at a later date depending on weather, transit and construction considerations. During the closure, the southbound lane will be closed 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. The northbound lane will close an hour later, at 9 p.m., and will also reopen by 5 a.m.
    • This closure will allow crews to install protective barrier around the center median work zone where the first phase of this project will occur.
    • Visit King County Metro's website for the latest on bus routes during inclement weather.
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    Order: 4.3

  • SR 99 tunnel now open to traffic

    The party was over, but after more than 100,000 people spent the weekend saying goodbye to the viaduct and hello to the new SR 99 tunnel, one very important event remained: the opening of the tunnel to drivers.

    Crews began the tunnel opening sequence at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The first vehicle rolled through the tunnel's northbound lanes just after 11 p.m. and by 12:15 a.m. Monday, all ramps to and from the tunnel were open to drivers. The one exception is the new northbound off-ramp to South Dearborn Street, near the stadiums, which will take crews another one to two weeks to complete.

    WSDOT, SDOT, Seattle Police and Washington State Patrol coordinated closely to ensure the tunnel was opened safely. Uniformed police officers will remain on hand at some entrances overnight to ensure continued safety.

    Some intersections at the tunnel portals opened Sunday afternoon, including the intersections at South Dearborn Street, and the northbound entrance to SR 99 from Harrison Street. The new connection from Alaskan Way to East Marginal Way South also opened on Sunday. Learn more about the new intersections in this post. You can also watch these videos to better understand how to use the new tunnel.

    Thanks again to everyone who changed their travel habits during the #Realign99 closure. If you found a new way to get around that works well, we encourage you to keep it up. If everyone makes better commuting decisions, all of us will be better off.
     
    Travelers from the south will continue to face congestion until the new Dearborn ramp opens. Until it does, the last exit on northbound SR 99 approaching downtown will be at South Spokane Street. The next exit after that point will be at the north portal, near the Space Needle.  
     
    The tunnel is currently toll free. Tolling could begin as soon as summer 2019. Toll rates will range from $1 to $2.25 with a Good To Go! pass, depending on time of day. You can learn more about how tolling will work at our tolling page.

        

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    Order: 4.4

  • Know before you go: the SR 99 tunnel’s new ramp intersections

    The Feb. 4 opening of the SR 99 tunnel brings big changes to several important intersections at the tunnel’s north and south ends. New intersections can be confusing, so use the renderings below to help familiarize yourself with what you will encounter on the road. You can also preview the intersections via narrated videos.

    North end of the tunnel: Harrison Street and Aurora Ave North

    What’s changing:

    • New northbound SR 99 on-ramp
    • New southbound SR 99 off-ramp
    • Harrison Street open east-west across Aurora Avenue North

    The new tunnel dives underground at Harrison Street, several blocks north of where the now-closed Battery Street Tunnel begins. The new intersection of Harrison Street and Aurora Avenue North is where the northbound on-ramp begins, and the southbound off-ramp ends. Harrison Street  is now also open east-west across Aurora Avenue North.

    Rendering of Harrison and Aurora intersection

    Note: Construction begins this month on the inside lanes of Aurora Avenue North between Denny Way and Harrison Street (yellow zone at bottom). Learn more about how the North Surface Streets project is rebuilding Aurora Avenue North.

    North end of the tunnel: Republican Street and Dexter Avenue North

    What’s changing

    • New northbound SR 99 off-ramp

    The intersection of Republican Street and Dexter Avenue North is where the northbound SR 99 off-ramp ends. New signals will control traffic coming off the highway. From the off-ramp drivers will be able to turn left toward Mercer Street, head straight toward South Lake Union, or turn right to head toward Denny Way. Stay alert for people using the Dexter Avenue bike lanes on both sides of the street.

    Dexter and Republican intersection rendering

    South end of the tunnel: Alaskan Way, South Dearborn Street, and First Avenue South

    What’s changing:

    • New southbound SR 99 on-ramp
    • New northbound SR 99 off-ramp [NOT YET OPEN]
    • New east-west street, South Dearborn Street
    • New primary path between First Avenue South and Alaskan Way
    • Alaskan Way extended farther south

    One of the biggest changes to surface streets is at the tunnel’s south end, just west of CenturyLink field. Alaskan Way no longer ends with a jog under the viaduct onto Railroad Way South. Instead, it continues straight to a new intersection with a new road, South Dearborn Street.

    South Dearborn Street is the new east-west connection between Alaskan Way and First Avenue South. This intersection connects SR 99, Alaskan Way and First Avenue. Alaskan Way continues south from this intersection toward East Marginal Way South. Railroad Way South is currently closed from First Avenue South, and when it reopens it will be a local-access-only road.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The northbound SR 99 off-ramp bridge is still under construction and will open one to two weeks after the tunnel opens.

    Dearborn and Alaskan intersection rendering

    Note: The rendering above does not show the now-closed Alaskan Way Viaduct, which sits in the yellow-highlighted work zone and will be removed section by section over the next six months.

    South end of the tunnel: South Royal Brougham Way and First Avenue South

    What’s changing:

    • New northbound SR 99 on-ramp
    • New southbound SR 99 off-ramp
    • Colorado Avenue South with two-way traffic to South Atlantic Street

    Drivers who previously joined SR 99 northbound from Royal Brougham Way will find striking changes to that intersection. Where once there was a ramp to the viaduct, now there are two ramps to the tunnel. This is where southbound drivers in the tunnel will exit to reach SODO, the stadiums, and I-90 and I-5. This is also where drivers coming from I-90 or the stadiums will enter the tunnel for northbound SR 99.

    Royal Brougham Way and First Ave intersection rendering

    Note: A shared-use path along Colorado Avenue South will be built in a future phase of the project.

    South end of the tunnel: South Atlantic Street and Colorado Avenue South

    What’s changing:

    • New surface-street connection to Alaskan Way South
    • Colorado Avenue South with two-way traffic to Royal Brougham Way South

    The changes around South Atlantic Street are less drastic but still worth knowing. The Atlantic Street overpass over SR 99 is now a complete connection to Alaskan Way (to the north) and East Marginal Way South (to the south). You can now reach both via South Atlantic Street by taking the ramp labeled below.

    Colorado Avenue South (previously called East Frontage Road) is now a two-way street, providing a north and south route between South Atlantic Street and SR 99 on- and off-ramps. A common path from SR 99 southbound to reach I-90 will be to take Colorado Avenue south, then take a left turn onto South Atlantic Street.

    South Atlantic Street and Colorado Ave intersection rendering

    Note: At tunnel opening South Atlantic Street does not pass beneath the SR 99 overpass to Alaskan Way South. That connection will open later in winter/spring 2019.

     

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    Order: 4.5