… Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) started using barges to remove excavated soil from the SR 99 tunnel dig site this morning. The barges will take the excavated soil to Mats Mats, a quarry near Port Ludlow.
Prior to today, STP was using trucks to remove soil and dispose of it at facilities in the Puget Sound region. Moving forward, STP will use a combination of barges and trucks.
The labor issue that arose earlier in the tunnel drive has been resolved. Discussions between WSDOT and STP are ongoing. Details will be available upon the conclusion of those discussions.
By the way, a project-related closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is still looming, once the tunneling machine gets to the spot immediately beneath the existing structure, as first reported here back in April. We had asked Yerkan for an update and received this reply late Friday: “We still don’t have a date for when we will tunnel under the viaduct and thus close the structure to traffic for up to two weeks.”
(East-facing camera on the West Seattle Bridge; see other cams on the WSB Traffic page)
The blocked-off lane you see in the bridge-camera image is a reminder that this weekend’s planned Highway 99 closure is now in effect, both directions between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery Street Tunnel, plus the northbound stretch from the tunnel to Valley Street (map), until early Monday. (As always, if the highway reopens early, we’ll publish an update.)
(SDOT rendering of future South Atlantic St. overpass, via Flickr)
We’ve already mentioned this weekend’s planned Highway 99 closure, mostly for work on the Atlantic Street Overpass – but there’s more to it than The Viaduct. Here’s a detailed reminder from WSDOT, including details of a partial closure north of the Battery Street Tunnel:
Crews working above, below and on the ground will close State Route 99 through Seattle this weekend.
In SODO, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will unveil the permanent concrete shape of the South Atlantic Street overpass above SR 99 by removing temporary steel and timber beams that supported construction.
North of downtown, contractor crews working for the Seattle Department of Transportation will install a sewer line under the road for the Mercer Corridor project and grind the pavement in the southbound lanes of the Battery Street Tunnel.
Early heads-up – this week’s edition of the SDOT/WSDOT “construction lookahead” is out, and it includes first word of the next planned closure for Highway 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery Street Tunnel: 10 pm Friday, Nov. 8th, to 5 am Monday, Nov. 11.
P.S. If you’re driving north of downtown this Saturday, do note the lookahead also says the two right lanes of northbound SR99 over the Aurora Bridge will be closed 7:30 am-11 am Saturday (October 26th) for bridge inspection.
8:59 AM: Thanks to @hommesea for the tip via Twitter: There’s a crash on northbound 99, and the Battery Street Tunnel is closed in that direction as a result. If you have to head out sometime soon, you might want to wait a while or check out another route.
9:27 AM: Northbound 99 is now reported clear. HOWEVER – there’s scanner talk of a crash on northbound I-5 in downtown, though it’s not on the 911 log.
WSDOT announced tonight that the inspection work it had planned to do in two installments this weekend is all done – so it will NOT close Highway 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel again on Sunday after all. **BUT** the separate utility-work closure NORTH of the tunnel still will be in effect, so northbound 99 traffic must exit at Western Avenue until Monday morning. See the full update here.
(Live view from the east-facing WS Bridge camera; other cameras are on the WSB Traffic page)
5:04 AM: The bridge cam is usually a weekday fixture here but it’s up this morning so you can check for backups while the Viaduct/Highway 99 is closed 5 am-6 pm between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery Street Tunnel for its twice-yearly safety inspection. It’s supposed to reopen by 6 pm and then close again 6 am-6 pm tomorrow. If you’re going north of downtown, 99 is closed for the entire weekend between the BST and Valley Street. And there’s one other closure you might want to know about tonight – 10 pm Saturday to 5 am Sunday, the northbound I-5 ramp to the bridge is scheduled to close for re-striping.
8:01 PM UPDATE: The state has announced the Viaduct/99 stretch from the bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel will NOT close again on Sunday after all. BUT the 99 closure north of downtown continues until Monday morning as scheduled. Here’s our update.
WSDOT has just sent a reminder of this weekend’s Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 inspection closures – first noted here a week and a half ago: This time, instead of closing for an entire weekend, the closures will be 5 am-6 pm Saturday (October 5th) and 6 am-6 pm Sunday (October 6th). If you will be traveling north of the Battery Street Tunnel, there IS a weekend-long closure, timed to coincide with the other closures: SDOT says, “All lanes in both directions of SR 99/Aurora Avenue North will be closed between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and Valley Street from 11 pm Friday to 5 am Monday.”
9:04 AM: Avoid Highway 99 TFN – WSDOT says it is blocked both ways at the Battery Street Tunnel by a jackknifed semi-truck. More info as we get it.
9:21 AM: Good news – tipster Jonathan says the 99 problem has been cleared – and the camera view appears to verify that. (As does WSDOT via Twitter.)
11:50 AM: Now there’s a crash on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, before the Delridge on-ramp. Here’s the city camera for the Fauntleroy approach so you can check if the backup’s cleared:
1:39 PM: Commenters report trouble on 99 again. And there are some problems on I-5 too. If you really HAVE TO head out – here’s the custom list of traffic-related Twitter users (including WSDOT, which does tweet on weekends) that we watch. See traffic cameras here.
5:56 PM UPDATE: We’re about to launch a new traffic update for the evening. There’s a crash on the northbound Viaduct – no details, just that it’s on the SFD 911 log as “motor vehicle accident/freeway,” northbound 99 near Seneca. Meantime, the tree blocking 35th by 108th is now cleared.
6:25 PM UPDATE: Evening updates on traffic and weather are here.
Tunnel-digging – which resumed today – is NOT all that’s happening along the Highway 99 corridor nearest us. The photo above, shared by WSDOT on the WSB Flickr page, shows what’s being dug next to the tunnel machine’s launch pit south of what’s left of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This site will hold the South Portal Operations Building for the tunnel, explained by WSDOT: “The building – along with a similar one at the tunnel’s future north portal – will house the equipment needed for the safe operation of the tunnel, including emergency generators, ventilation fans and parking space for maintenance vehicles.”
This project is part of what the combined Stakeholders Groups were briefed about last Tuesday. We cover those quarterly-or-so briefings when we can, because they are usually chock full of news about road projects affecting us, but this time it was in direct conflict with the big Seattle Public Schools announcement – so we weren’t there. However, the presentation from the meeting is online now, and if you want a quick update on what’s up, the toplines include:
*Findings on another tunnel-tolling scenario (page 4)
*More on the aforementioned South Portal building and the Atlantic St. overpass (page 8)
*Progress report on the Highway 99 timber bridge project south of the WS Bridge (page 50)
From the just-published weekly “lookahead” with SDOT/WSDOT closure plans – always the first sneak peek at what’s ahead: The state’s next semiannual inspection closure of the Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct, both directions between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery St. Tunnel, will be 5 am-6 pm Saturday, October 5th, and 6 am-6 pm Sunday, October 6th. That same weekend, Friday 10/4 evening all the way until Monday 10/7 morning, Highway 99 north of the tunnel to Valley St. will close for utility work. See the full lookahead (including other projects we’ve already mentioned) here.
One week from tomorrow, a public dedication is planned for the machine that will dig the Highway 99 tunnel, known as “Bertha.” Today, West Seattleite Vlad Oustimovitch, who has been on the advisory committee for the project and related transportation issues, got a preview in a launch-pit tour – and is sharing his photos. Three more up-close photos – and some updated info – ahead:
(Machinery photographed at Highway 99 tunnel launch-pit site by Don Brubeck)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Highway 99 tunneling machine is here, and being re-assembled. But once it goes into the ground, it won’t be “out of sight, out of mind” by any means.
Drivers and bus riders, in particular, might wind up noticing in a big way:
WSB has learned that the Alaskan Way Viaduct might close for an unspecified amount of time later this year when the machine arrives 80 feet below what remains of the elevated roadway, despite the work that’s been done to reinforce it so it could stay “safely open” during the tunnel construction.
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
With the Jumbo Fairpartner finally docking on Saturday – four days after its much-watched arrival in Elliott Bay – its cargo, the Highway 99 tunnel machine dubbed “Bertha,” is now coming ashore in its 41 pieces. Today, the most recognizable one – its “face,” aka cutterhead – was offloaded. WSDOT invited media onto the site for a quick look, and WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams was there.
The media opportunity ended before the machine’s 886-ton cutterhead was moved off the dock – but there were interesting views of the launch pit too, ahead:
(WSDOT photo from this afternoon, added here Saturday night)
Since its arrival Tuesday, the Jumbo Fairpartner – carrying “Bertha” the tunneling machine, in 41 pieces – has been anchored off West Seattle’s northeastern shore. Today, it finally sailed the rest of the way to Terminal 46, which means the WSDOT webcam is now live – it’s a live-video camera, too. The most recent tweet from @BerthaDigsSR99 says unloading might start later today.
(UPDATED LATE AFTERNOON with more views)
(Newest photo: 1:05 pm cameraphone view from Jack Block Park)
10:45 AM: The Jumbo Fairpartner, a heavy-lift ship carrying the custom-built Highway 99 tunnel machine nicknamed “Bertha,” is approaching Seattle – so we’re going on Bertha watch. For its latest position, check this MarineTraffic.com link – it’s traveling down the west side of Whidbey Island as we type this. Here’s the official WSDOT page with Bertha background and links – the state promises a live webcam as Bertha’s ship approaches its berth at Terminal 46. If you use Twitter, follow @BerthaDigsSR99. More shortly.
11:13 AM: Approaching Edmonds now, though it’s currently closer to the Kitsap County side than the Snohomish County side.
11:35 AM: Passing Kingston, per MarineTraffic.com.
11:58 AM: Seeing it in the distance from mid-Alki. If you’re coming down to the beach (or points east) for a look, get going!
12:12 PM: Bertha is now turning toward Elliott Bay. You can’t miss the cranes. Another pic shortly.
12:31 PM: Just substituted new photo above – still clearly visible from Alki but closer to the other side of the bay. Jack Block, Seacrest, Don Armeni will have good views shortly.
1:05 PM: The Fairpartner is now approaching Jack Block Park, where WSDOT executives have gathered to talk with the media, so we’ve moved there. Newest photo is atop this story.
1:30 PM: Adding a few more. The ship has stopped, for now, a ways off the park. WSDOT deputy program administrator Matt Preedy (above), the West Seattleite who you see so often speaking about the projects in this area, is here and says it’s going to anchor for a while; currently, the ship is pivoting to some degree. This is about the closest view we’re getting:
1:42 PM: WSDOT reps confirm to us here at Jack Block that Bertha is not coming all the way in to dock today – preparation will be done on ship and on shore, and they’re working around other marine traffic. Meantime, we have more great photos in the inbox, beyond what we’ve been sharing – here’s what WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli sent from Columbia Center downtown:
We’ll add more photos in a bit – and will get on to other news, too.
ADDED 4:52 PM: Also from Christopher, the pit that “Bertha” is destined for:
From WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams, the Fairpartner and The Needle:
Jesse Doerr photographed the ship looking out over its eventual docking area:
Chi Duong‘s photo is from downtown:
And Adam Dunko‘s is from Hamilton Viewpoint in North Admiral:
Still more to check out – thanks!
8:51 PM: If you’ve been awaiting an update on what time tomorrow we’ll see the ship carrying “Bertha,” the custom-built machine that’ll dig the Highway 99 tunnel, WSDOT’s newest estimate via Twitter tonight is for a “midday” arrival – get the backstory here. It’s in 41 pieces on board the Jumbo Fairpartner, a heavy-lift ship you’ll recognize for its giant cranes (see a photo in our story on its departure). The live monitoring website MarineTraffic.com still labels it “out of range”; we don’t know if that’ll change as it gets closer, since it’s already reported to be in Washington waters, but WSDOT promises updates via its Twitter account @BerthaDigsSR99, and we will have updates tomorrow morning in all our channels too.
EARLY TUESDAY: Got a tip around 1:30 am that Fairpartner now shows up on MarineTraffic.com – just put its name in the “vessel” box.
TUESDAY 8:30 AM: We’re tracking Bertha right now in the daily traffic report, and will switch that over to a standalone report a bit later.
Time flies. Or, sails. It’s already been 10 days since the heavy-lift ship Jumbo Fairpartner carrying the Highway 99 tunnel machine left Japan (as noted here, with photo). Tuesday’s the day you’ll see it sail past West Seattle shores on the way into Elliott Bay, reports Seattle Times (WSB partner) transportation reporter (and West Seattleite) Mike Lindblom, whose story includes this tracking link. We’ll of course track it with specific viewing times as it gets closer! P.S. WSDOT is offering a launch-pit walking tour next Thursday.
In less than two weeks, it’ll be quite a spectacle along West Seattle (and other) shores, so you might as well get ready now. The ship above, the Jumbo Fairpartner, set sail hours ago from Osaka, Japan, carrying “Bertha,” the Highway 99 tunnel-boring machine. WSDOT says it’ll arrive around April 1st – no foolin’! The machine is in 41 pieces as it begins its 5,000-mile journey across the Pacific, bound for Terminal 46 on the downtown waterfront, where it will be unloaded and reassembled before it starts heading north from the launch pit just south of where what’s left of the Alaskan Way Viaduct ends. WSDOT is already tweeting about the trip at @BerthaDigsSR99.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The groups, it should be noticed, are far from perfunctory. The map above – showing the traffic reconfiguration in the works for the about-to-start “timber bridge” project on Highway 99 – is an example of the groups’ value, the result of a recent request by one West Seattle member.
More on that, ahead. First: After gaining some reassurances that their issues won’t be lost in the ensuing shuffle, members of the South Portal Working Group – which has focused on what’s happening and coming up in the West Seattle/SODO areas — agreed that would be OK with them.
That was the final point on the agenda of that group’s most recent meeting, held in the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project headquarters’ 23rd-floor conference room downtown. The group had been meeting in Sound Transit‘s board room, but that location was described as “unavailable … for a while.”
Toplines from the wide-ranging agenda – tolling, tunneling, even RapidRide ridership – ahead, along with the details on the map’s origins and the project launch:
January 14 to January 17, Southbound SR99 will be closed between the Battery St Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge from 10 PM to 5 AM the following morning. The Elliott Ave and Columbia St onramps will also be closed. One lane of northbound SR 99 will be closed from S Holgate St to S Royal Brougham Way during these times.
You’ll recall these closures were frequent for a few months last year; we’ll check with WSDOT tomorrow to see if this is isolated, or the start of a new wave of shutdowns.
12:08 PM: Thanks to Travis Phelps at WSDOT for adding the info in comments – before we even had sent the inquiry – that this will be happening the next three weeks.
Good news: WSDOT will NOT be closing a lane of southbound 99 again this weekend after all, only the Atlantic Street offramp, as work continues on the new Atlantic overpass. Here’s the announcement:
Crews working with the Washington State Department of Transportation will close the southbound State Route 99 off-ramp near Seattle’s stadiums this weekend to complete pile driving for the new South Atlantic Street overpass.
Thanks to hard work last weekend, contractor Atkinson Construction will not close a lane on southbound SR 99 as previously planned. Crews were able to drive 48 of 53 pilings last weekend. They will drive the remaining five pilings and finish welding on another 20 pilings while the ramp is closed this weekend.
· At 4 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, crews will close the southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street.
· Crews will reopen the ramp at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for fans heading to the Seahawks game at CenturyLink field. The ramp will be closed again at 5:30 p.m., 10 minutes after kickoff.
· The ramp will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday.
(WSDOT rendering of the 99 “south portal” including the future overpass)
First road-work announcement for 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct in a while – from WSDOT:
Drivers should plan for delays on southbound State Route 99 through downtown Seattle the next two weekends. Crews working for WSDOT will reduce SR 99 to one lane near the stadiums and close the southbound off-ramp to South Atlantic Street. During the closures crews will drive more than 50 pilings to support construction of the new South Atlantic Street overpass.
Dec. 14-17 weekend
Crews will close the right lane of southbound SR 99 between Columbia Street and South Royal Brougham Way and the southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street from 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, to 5 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17.
Dec. 21-24 weekend
Crews will close the right lane of southbound SR 99 between Columbia Street and South Royal Brougham Way and the southbound off-ramp to South Atlantic Street from 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, to 5 a.m. Monday, Dec. 24.
Crews will reopen all lanes of SR 99 and the South Atlantic Street off-ramp two hours prior to the Sunday, Dec. 23, Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field. The ramp and southbound lane will close again an hour after kickoff, and reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, Dec. 24
Construction on the overpass started last summer and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. The overpass will improve mobility by allowing freight haulers and commuters to bypass the rail crossing near the entrance to the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46.
Neither the Spokane Street Viaduct nor Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled for any sort of closure in the next week. (We’ll be checking with WSDOT to see if this means they’re done with the work that had been causing the frequent overnight southbound 99 closures, or if this is just a break.) No date yet for the reopening of westbound surface Spokane St. under the SSV, but it’s expected to be soon. And here’s one other surface-street closure, in the Pioneer Square/stadium zone, you might want to know about:
Monday, Oct. 15 – the morning of Friday, Oct. 19 – First Avenue South will be closed between South King Street and Railroad Way South [map] from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. Note: on Wednesday, Oct. 17 the closure start time will be delayed until two hours after the Sounders game at CenturyLink Field.
Yet another reminder if you see this before Monday night – ALL transportation/traffic/transit topics are on the table for the Sustainable West Seattle Community Forum that night (October 15th), 7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon; WSB sponsor).
99/ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT CLOSURE REMINDER: In case you’ve somehow missed it – one last reminder before tomorrow, Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge will be closed in BOTH DIRECTIONS for most of the weekend. The closure for the twice-yearly inspection (and ongoing maintenance work) is scheduled to start at 6 am Saturday and end no later than 4 pm Sunday. Bus riders, note there is a reroute associated with this too:
From Saturday morning, October 6 at 6:00 AM, until Sunday afternoon, October 7 at 4:00 PM, Metro bus routes 120, 125, & the RapidRide C Line will be rerouted off the Alaskan Way Viaduct to accommodate work being performed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
Viaduct bus routes will use alternate surface streets instead to and from the West Seattle Bridge. The only bus stops that will be missed are westbound on Columbia St at 2nd Av when leaving downtown to West Seattle, and eastbound on Seneca St between 2nd and 3rd avenues when arriving downtown. Heading to West Seattle, board buses southbound on 3rd Av between Seneca and Spring streets, or just south of Columbia St. There are not stops after Columbia St.
SPOKANE ST. VIADUCT RAMP CLOSURE SATURDAY MORNING: Also, a reminder that the 1st Avenue South OFFRAMP on the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct is scheduled to be closed 3 am-9 am Saturday.
WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI RUNS FOR SOUNDERS FANS: This Sunday, and again October 21st, the county will add West Seattle Water Taxi runs for Sunday night Sounders games. See the shaded times on the schedule. (And remember that the WT will change to its offseason schedule at the end of this month – starting Monday, October 29th.)
Very short list for this week’s traffic alerts. We’ll group them by projects, instead of days:
SPOKANE STREET VIADUCT: Nothing in the coming week, says SDOT.
ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT/99: Tonight through Thursday night, it’s closed southbound, 9 pm-5 am, between the Battery Street Tunnel and West Seattle Bridge, says WSDOT.
P.S. If you drive through SODO, remember that there’s a Seahawks game Monday night and a Huskies game Thursday night, both likely to affect traffic. As noted here on Friday, the West Seattle Water Taxi has late-night runs for both games.
Thursday is when state and local transportation planners go public with updates on road-closure schedules, and we have advance warning of the next both-directions Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct closure: Friday night 10/5 through Sunday afternoon 10/7, according to this roundup of all major closures/changes.
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