(WSDOT photo of the new 99 bridge-in-progress, taken last month)
If you drive 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to downtown, you’ve noticed that the eastern elevated section of the highway, south of the remaining Alaskan Way Viaduct, is taking shape fast. Once it’s done, that new bridge will carry the northbound 99 traffic, while its semi-twin, which has carried both directions since last year, will be the southbound-only side. This morning, WSDOT announced that the new bridge will be done this fall, with the entire south end demolition/construction project complete “one year ahead of schedule and on budget.” Read on for the announcement:
The southern half of Seattle’s State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct is gone, a vanishing act performed by demolition crews last fall about six months ahead of schedule. Now comes the encore: completion this fall of the new SR 99 south of downtown.
The Washington State Department of Transportation announced today that a $114.6 million contract to build the new SR 99 roadway near Seattle’s stadiums – known as the South Holgate Street to South King Street project – will be completed one year ahead of schedule and on budget.
“In a little more than two years, our construction crews have replaced a mile of busy highway in our largest city and removed a significant section of the seismically vulnerable viaduct,” Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said. “We’re making good on our commitment to Washington taxpayers for quality project delivery.”
Crews are putting the finishing touches on the second of two side-by-side bridges, which will eventually connect to the SR 99 tunnel. When complete, expected this fall, the east bridge will carry northbound SR 99 traffic with southbound traffic remaining on the west bridge.
The new bridges will provide drivers with three lanes in each direction. A temporary construction bypass connects the new roadway to the remaining viaduct along the downtown waterfront. The bypass will stay in effect until the SR 99 tunnel opens in late 2015.
More savings on the way
The early-completion announcement follows WSDOT’s recent award of a construction contract for a new overpass at South Atlantic Street that will allow freight and other traffic to bypass a busy train track. Atkinson Construction bid $29.4 million to build the overpass, $6.2 million under WSDOT’s estimate. Construction will start next month, just as work on the new SR 99 bridges wraps up. The new overpass, part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, is scheduled to open by December 2013.
“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Matt Preedy, deputy administrator for the WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “Finishing the SR 99 bridges early not only saves time and money, it gives the adjacent Atlantic Street overpass and tunnel contractors more elbow room to efficiently complete their work.”
Preedy said the success of the current south-end work is due to the can-do partnership between WSDOT and its contractor, Skanska USA. WSDOT set high expectations for the project and Skanska delivered, Preedy said, noting that strong communications, coordination and cooperation with project partners and neighbors were also key.
In June of last year, WSDOT had declared the project to be 6 months ahead of schedule.