Photo tour, time-lapse video: Atop Highway 99′s new section

September 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

(Through the windshield, as WSDOT drove media onto the new bridge)
Nine months ahead of schedule and under budget, the elevated section of northbound Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement near the stadiums will be open by Monday (as announced last week). This morning, WSDOT executives led a quick news-media tour of the about-to-open section, and WSB was there.

(WSDOT executive Matt Preedy talking with notebook-holding Mike Lindblom of The Seattle Times [WSB partner])
They also have gone public with this time-lapse video of what’s transpired since that section of the AWV started coming down less than a year ago:

More photos ahead – plus a WSDOT graphic of how you’ll get through the area:

First, that graphic:

It’s actually from a three-part display also showing past and future – you can see it full-size (with the other 2 parts) here. Now, from today’s tour, meant to highlight that this section is finishing ahead of schedule and under budget. Participating media were allowed up onto the new bridge section. Here’s the view looking southwest toward West Seattle:

The new section, northbound, has two general-use lanes and one bus lane (extending the one that’s been in place to the south of it), while the southbound side will be three general-use lanes. Here’s the view of the new section looking northeast, toward downtown:

And looking a bit to the west, where both directions of travel have been using what will now be the southbound-only side.

Here’s the view looking south toward where this section appears unfinished – it’ll be tied into the surface route before opening, and then the permanent connection will be done in 2014:

For perspective, here’s an aerial view of the area that we published last October during demolition, as received from crane operator Erick:

(October 2011 photo; click for larger version)
WSDOT says the new section will be open by first thing Monday morning. If it opens earlier, we’ll of course have an update here.

21 Comments

  1. An amazing and complicated dance of construction.

    Comment by candy — 2:09 pm September 13, 2012 #

  2. Where is the Atlantic St. exit on the NB 99 which we’ve been promised? Or does that have to wait till the tunnel is connected?

    Comment by chas redmond — 2:10 pm September 13, 2012 #

  3. My memory admittedly is lousy. But I don’t recall ever having heard of an Atlantic Street exit – just the overpass (I checked the archives and Google, going all the way back into the working group’s origins, etc.) and of course the exit before the tunnel, to feed into downtown … do you have any past links/graphics on that?

    Comment by WSB — 2:37 pm September 13, 2012 #

  4. That’s all great and all, but the two lane choke point remains and so will the traffic… *golf clap*

    Comment by Beth — 4:10 pm September 13, 2012 #

  5. What will happen to the other lanes that were used ??

    Comment by Darren — 5:19 pm September 13, 2012 #

  6. Darren – Traffic currently is going in four lanes in space that was meant for three, so there will be no unused lanes – before the new northbound side is opened “by Monday,” the southbound side will be rearranged into three lanes. (I believe also some kind of shoulder – if you drive it, you know it has none, and that one particularly narrow stretch has been a little nervous-making along the way.)

    Comment by WSB — 5:38 pm September 13, 2012 #

  7. It’s a simple sentiment, but I miss the old viaduct.

    Comment by jenny — 7:06 pm September 13, 2012 #

  8. WSB – I’d assumed Atlantic Street would be the exit area – but here’s the quote from the WSDOT FAQ -
    -
    How will drivers from West Seattle and south King County get to downtown Seattle?
    Drivers heading north on SR 99 will have access to downtown Seattle via an off-ramp to a new Alaskan Way street. The new Alaskan Way will provide several east-west connections to downtown. This access will replace the function of today’s single midtown viaduct off-ramp. Depending on the destination, some trips will get shorter while others may take a few minutes longer.

    West Seattle residents can also reach downtown using the new Spokane Street Viaduct off-ramp to Fourth Avenue South. Portal design provides more details about the SR 99 tunnel’s north and south connections.

    Comment by chas redmond — 8:29 pm September 13, 2012 #

  9. I’m with jenny, I like the viaduct and bringing my out-of-town guest over it to see the view of the water, mountians and West Seattle. I’m also with Beth being concerned with getting through the “CHOKE POINT”.

    Comment by tp — 9:15 pm September 13, 2012 #

  10. Chas, I don’t know where you got the quote from WSDOT about the new Alaskan Way access points to DT for WS and southenders, but it’s the best news I’ve read in a long, long time.

    Comment by dsa — 11:52 pm September 13, 2012 #

  11. We need Super Mario to do the initial test run.

    Comment by Celeste17 — 12:05 am September 14, 2012 #

  12. We’ve reported that multiple times. Every time somebody brings up the hoary old “no exit to downtown” we have explained that there’s going to be an exit before a tunnel. It’ll be further south than currently, but you will be able to get into downtown that way OR via 1st/4th exits on the SSV. It’s also part of the discussion re: the “transit pathway” into downtown – here’s our August discussion on that – the Alaskan Way exit will link to whatever “pathway” is chosen. http://westseattleblog.com/2012/08/columbia-street-in-the-lead-as-post-viaduct-transit-pathway

    Comment by WSB — 12:19 am September 14, 2012 #

  13. That’s not even close to the WSDOT quote as far as I can see.

    Comment by dsa — 12:45 am September 14, 2012 #

  14. The exit will connect to Alaskan Way/surface, is the bottom line. I’ve been covering the “South Portal Working Group” for the past couple years, and that’s where all this has been discussed, in stages. Here’s the page with a graphic and toplines:
    .
    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR99/Tunnel/Portals.htm

    Comment by WSB — 8:23 am September 14, 2012 #

  15. All of that construction is paying off. The Spokane Street viaduct and the associated 1st street on/off ramps and 4th ave. off ramps are HUGE improvements over what used to exist. The much wider roadway is another HUGE improvement.

    Yes, the huge bottleneck onto northbound I-5 still exists, but not much can be done about that as long as northbound I-5 remains a backed up mess…

    Comment by West Seattleite — 8:45 am September 14, 2012 #

  16. We’ll always find something to whine about, won’t we? Nine months early and under budget, that’s great!

    Comment by AJP — 8:48 am September 14, 2012 #

  17. Thank you, Thankfully it says: Ramps to and from both directions of SR 99. The off-ramp to a new Alaskan Way street will connect drivers to downtown Seattle.

    Comment by dsa — 9:00 am September 14, 2012 #

  18. West Seattleite, a couple of hundred feet more of widening eastbound would have taken care a lot of congestion. I suspect WSDOT did not want to cooperate as the bottleneck acts as something they call a “meter”. I meter is a device limiting flow onto the freeway such as the traffic lights at other ramps.

    Comment by dsa — 9:06 am September 14, 2012 #

  19. Have to say I’m excited about the extended bus lane. Hopefully it cuts down the time morning commuters are stuck in the “choke-point”.

    Comment by Brian — 12:57 pm September 14, 2012 #

  20. Can I still take 99N to the Seneca exit? That hasn’t changed with all of this right?

    “The new Alaskan Way will provide several east-west connections to downtown. This access will replace the function of today’s single midtown viaduct off-ramp.”

    That’s not right now? Right? The Seneca exit is the only portion of my commute that does not include bumper to bumper traffic. I hope I don’t lose that now!

    Comment by shed22 — 10:27 pm September 14, 2012 #

  21. Right. Nothing changing now except some widening through SODO. What’s left of the elevated Viaduct doesn’t go away till the tunnel’s done.

    Comment by WSB — 10:54 pm September 14, 2012 #

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