Viaduct to close March 22nd for ‘follow-up inspection’ after cracks found

March 10, 2014 at 10:47 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

Alaskan Way Viaduct - Column 79B Top N Face

(WSDOT photo, added 3:27 pm)
WSDOT has just announced results of the recent Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection, and says they’ll need a followup inspection as a result:

Washington State Department of Transportation bridge engineers have scheduled an additional in-depth inspection of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct on Saturday, March 22.

During the viaduct’s most recent inspection on March 1, engineers observed new cracks, as well as movement and widening of existing cracks along girders and supports near Spring and Seneca streets. While the viaduct remains safe for travel, engineers need a second inspection to gather more information about the cracks before they can make repairs. The inspection requires a one-day closure that will take place Saturday, March 22. Details of the closure will be available soon.

During the March 22 inspection, engineers will conduct an in-depth evaluation of the area, perform tests to determine how the cracks respond to heavy loads on the viaduct, and look for other issues. They will also install monitoring devices on the columns to track the movement and growth of the cracks over time. They will use this data to help identify potential repairs. If additional work is needed, such as filling the cracks with epoxy, further closures will be required.

This section of the viaduct is more than a half-mile north of the current location of the SR 99 tunneling machine. While the cause of these cracks is still to be determined, it is not related to tunneling activity.

No other significant changes to the viaduct were observed during the March 1 inspection. …

Read the entire news release here; see the Viaduct’s inspection history here.

15 Comments

  1. E-gads — just what we want to hear with Big-Bertha taking a snooze below.

    Comment by bbuddy — 12:16 pm March 10, 2014 #

  2. I love it when WSDOT makes a statement like they have here. What a joke.
    ” While the cause of these cracks is still to be determined, it is not related to tunneling activity ”
    Amazing how quickly they come out and say it has nothing to do with the tunnel project. I am sure it has nothing to do with problems their starting to have with under ground vaults, building foundations, utilities… in the area also.
    Results from this project are almost the same as having someone jack hammering the street in front of your house and in some cases might be felt blocks away. With the ground being all fill just multiples the problems (liquefying). I can’t wait to see all the issues that will come from the waterfront rebuild, lots of pile removal/driving. Be interesting to see if the shaking causes any tunnel movement (sinking). But then they might finish the waterfront before the tunnel : )

    Comment by wetone — 12:46 pm March 10, 2014 #

  3. All the more reason for West Seattle to secede and become our own city.

    Who’s with me? Secret meeting of the West Seattle Liberation Front coming soon. wink wink

    Comment by Smokeycretin9 — 1:08 pm March 10, 2014 #

  4. You’re thinking what I thought, wetone, when you commented on WDOT’s statement: ” While the cause of these cracks is still to be determined, it is not related to tunneling activity ”
    How quick WSDOT is to jump to conclusions and say it isn’t because of the tunneling. Could be it isn’t, but could be it is. Why don’t they say they don’t know until they do more tests? Seems like they are being very defensive regarding the tunnel project and perhaps letting this emotion get in the way of clear, honest assessment and communication with the public.

    Comment by iggy — 2:43 pm March 10, 2014 #

  5. Since the details of the engineering analysis performed by WSDOT to reach their conclusion have not been disclosed, claiming that they “jumped to conclusions” is also jumping to conclusions.

    Comment by twobottles — 3:07 pm March 10, 2014 #

  6. Why don’t they just spackle the cracks like usual and just get on with the 99 rebuild?

    Comment by East Coast Cynic — 3:30 pm March 10, 2014 #

  7. I always eye-roll at the armchair engineering that goes on in here.

    Comment by Marty — 3:57 pm March 10, 2014 #

  8. Yes just keep believing everything WSDOT and the city tells and informs you about this project and the waterfront rebuild. They need people to trust them and believe in them so when the taxes,usage fees, levy’s go up or need voted on people will just pay to cover their bad spending habits/ ideas without asking any questions. Their tract record with spending and trust is a big zero right now. Tunnel work/vibrations might not have anything to do with the cracks growing, but with WSDOT’s quick statement… I’ll think other wise. Interesting how engineering use to involve common sense… not so in Seattle.

    Comment by wetone — 5:16 pm March 10, 2014 #

  9. How would becoming our own city help? Those of us who have jobs that aren’t in West Seattle or nearby still have to go over the bridge to get to work. We still have to use the viaduct, and whatever they build to replace it.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 5:24 pm March 10, 2014 #

  10. It does seem really odd that they were so quick to say the crack wasn’t caused by the tunnel boring machone–how do they know!

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 6:15 pm March 10, 2014 #

  11. Now I want this as a bumber sticker. Viva la Alki!

    Comment by West Seattle Liberation Front — 8:51 pm March 10, 2014 #

  12. Seems strange WSDOT is so quick to state the latest cracks are from the Nisqually quake 13 years ago, and have absolutely nothing to do with Broken Bertha. Really? These are the same brainiacs who disregarded the tunnel boring experts/consultants who recommended a cut and cover because of the unique soil conditions were not conducive for a boring machine to work properly here. (These were also the same consultants who learned a few things from the big dig in Boston) Now the machine has “bad seals”, but the truth is the cutter bearings are shot due to lack of lubrication and severe overheating. As any mechanical engineer knows, you can’t run anything out of lubrication without severe damage occurring, that’s a fact of life. Of course, it didn’t help that they hit one of their own pipes placed by WSDOT eight years earlier. My bet is, Bertha’s cutter head was jumping like a jackhammer the last couple hundred feet before it crapped out and died. But that wouldn’t ever cause any cracks to the Viaduct…right? At least we have a nice 1000 foot long parking lot. My faith in WSDOT is fading fast. McGinn was right to be opposed to this project. Should we just cut our losses now, and cut and cover?

    Comment by Born on Alki — 9:11 pm March 10, 2014 #

  13. They know it’s not caused by tunneling because it has been settling and cracking for years. They probably only mentioned it wasn’t caused by tunneling because they knew people would jump to erroneous conclusions if they didn’t.

    Comment by Paul — 7:24 am March 11, 2014 #

  14. wetone and iggy … let’s deal in facts here … the cracking was discoverd near the Seneca St. exit – more than half a mile from the excavation point where Bertha is stuck. By your twisted logic, the cracking should be in the vertical elements all the way back to the TBM.

    I realize the haters who don’t want the project to go forward are looking for every morsel of information to seize upon and criticize. So be it. But jeez people … try relaxing on the conspiracy theories just a tad.

    Comment by wscommuter — 9:14 am March 11, 2014 #

  15. wscommuter ..

    spoken like a true city politician/employee. I am not a hater just someone with a little common sense and one that will get stuck paying for this city’s very poor decision/spending habits. Tunnel will do nothing for traffic except make it harder and slower for people to get around the city whether work or pleasure. What’s positive with that. Oh I almost forget the tolls.

    Comment by wetone — 4:41 pm March 12, 2014 #

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