West Seattle, Washington
(UPDATED 4:35 PM SUNDAY with new information from SPD)
10:30 PM: Seattle Police say they’re investigating a deadly motorcycle crash on the NB Alaskan Way Viaduct. Exactly where, we don’t know yet, but the eastbound bridge exit to NB 99 is reported to be closed. More information when we get it.
10:52 PM: SDOT confirms that the NB 99 closure starts at the West Seattle Bridge. A traffic camera indicates the crash happened on the rise to the elevated section of the Viaduct, in the stadium zone.
(Added: Traffic-camera image showing SPD investigator working at crash scene on NB Viaduct)
11:16 PM: This is at least the fifth deadly motorbike crash in that area of 99 in five years. From our archives, a crash killed a 34-year-old man in 2014, also on the northbound side, where 30-year-old Nathaniel Hammer died in 2013; less than 24 hours after that crash, a 52-year-old motor-scooter rider was killed in a crash. On the southbound curve at that end, 48-year-old West Seattle musician/therapist Lisa Mills was killed in 2012.
1:50 AM The highway has reopened.
ADDED 4:35 PM SUNDAY: From SPD Blotter:
Police were called to investigate a fatality collision on the Alaskan Way Viaduct around 9:40 p.m. last night. Preliminary indications are that speed played a factor in the collision.
According to witnesses, a 22-year-old man was traveling in the northbound lanes of the viaduct when he lost control of his motorcycle, struck a concrete barrier, and fell to the surface streets below.
Seattle Fire Department medics provided emergency care at the scene, but were unable to revive the man.
Traffic Collision Investigation detectives responded to the scene, processed the collision site and collected evidence.
This is an active and ongoing investigation. Information is subject to change as the investigation proceeds.
ADDED: The rider has been identified as 21-year-old Isaac Barajas.
We didn’t get a chance to write about this back on Thursday when WSDOT made it public, but here on a quiet Saturday night, we’re mentioning it in case you missed it: A 360-degree video tour of the Highway 99 tunneling machine and the in-progress tunnel. The 5-minute tour is narrated/hosted by Joe Hedges, current Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Administrator. Here’s the update that accompanied the video (including a reminder of how to watch/interact with 360-degree videos, if you haven’t tried it before).
The machine now has less than two blocks left to dig; here’s the page with the latest stats and map. When digging’s done, of course, there will still be a lot left to do – as the machine is broken into what WSDOT describes as “small pieces” over the course of several months, construction will continue in the tunnel, including road-deck-building (part of that, and some preparation, is shown in the video above).
Also yet to be settled before the tunnel opens – currently projected as early 2019 – is what the tunnel toll will be. That remains in the hands of the Washington State Transportation Commission, whose tolling plans for the year ahead are in this report. No date yet for them to make a decision; they meet monthly – next meeting March 21-22, though the agenda’s not up yet.
P.S. The summary of last weekend’s Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection isn’t out yet but should appear soon on this page, where other results are listed.
The Highway 99 tunneling machine is back on the move, and re-aligned after veering a half-foot off course, according to this update late today from WSDOT:
Seattle Tunnel Partners resumed mining today after conducting additional survey work to verify Bertha’s position and to make necessary adjustments to complete the tunnel drive. Crews performed routine inspections and maintenance while mining was stopped, including the replacement of cutterhead tools.
As of this afternoon, Bertha was tunneling north toward the intersection of Denny Way and Sixth Avenue North, less than 1,000 feet from the disassembly pit.
STP stopped mining on February 28 after survey data indicated the tunneling machine may be several inches off the tunnel alignment. Three independent surveys confirmed the 57.5-foot machine was approximately six inches off alignment.
STP designers made a slight change to the tunnel alignment between the machine’s current location and the end of the tunnel drive. Adjustments are common during tunneling, including on this project. STP made a similar adjustment to correct Bertha’s course after the machine mined out of the access pit following repairs.
Crews steer Bertha based on information they receive from its on-board guidance system. The system is now set to the new tunnel alignment. According to STP’s most recent schedule, Bertha will arrive at the disassembly pit in May.
This weekend’s Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection has ended early and Highway 99 has reopened. No inspection closure tomorrow but, WSDOT says, the Hot Chocolate 15K closure just north of the Battery Street Tunnel is still planned for Sunday morning. (added) Specifics on that:
Hot Chocolate 15k/5k details
6 a.m. to noon, Sunday, March 5
SR 99/Aurora Avenue North will close in both directions.
Southbound lanes will be closed between the Battery Street Tunnel and N. 38th Street.
Northbound lanes will be closed between the Battery Street Tunnel and N. 47th Street.
A Project Belltown walk inside the Battery Street Tunnel may keep the northbound lanes closed as late as 1 p.m.
6:27 AM: The Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s twice-yearly inspection is here, and Highway 99 is scheduled to be closed until 6 pm between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel. As noted in WSDOT‘s announcement, the closure also is scheduled for a second day tomorrow, 6 am-6 pm, with the Hot Chocolate 15K and a community walk in the BSTunnel extending the closure north a ways until early Sunday afternoon. If you’re headed downtown, 1st Avenue So. and 4th Avenue So. exits from the eastbound bridge are options as well as I-5. We’ll be watching traffic all weekend and will publish updates if anything changes with the closure (or with the alternate routes).
P.S. Metro bus reroutes are listed here.
5:16 PM: As tends to happen, the inspection has ended early and aside from the Hot Chocolate 15K closure north of the Battery Street Tunnel on Sunday morning, the Viaduct is open for the rest of the weekend.
WSDOT says tonight that the Highway 99 tunneling machine is expected to arrive in its “disassembly pit” in May. That news comes as they also announce that Seattle Tunnel Partners has stopped digging to get the machine ready for the “final 1,000 feet of the 9,270-foot tunnel drive.” They’re checking its position because, WSDOT’s update says:
Recent surveys show that Bertha may be several inches off of the tunnel alignment. STP is conducting additional survey work and will make adjustments as needed to complete the tunnel drive.
Adjustments are common during tunneling, including on this project. STP made a similar adjustment to correct Bertha’s course after crews mined out of the pit that was used to access and repair the machine.
Crews will continue to perform routine maintenance on the machine for the next several days. They plan to resume mining next week.
According to STP’s most recent schedule, Bertha will arrive at the disassembly pit in May. The pit is located approximately 960 feet north of the cutterhead’s current location beneath Denny Way and Sixth Avenue North. Mining rates will continue to vary based on maintenance needs and soil conditions.
Crews successfully mined under the final building of the tunnel drive earlier this week. Bertha has traveled a total of 8,310 feet and built 1,270 of 1,426 concrete tunnel rings.
Because the end-of-the-line pit is part of a construction site, WSDOT has said it’s not planning to have a big event for the public to watch the machine break through.
Meantime, yet another reminder – the Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to close for inspection 6 am-6 pm each day this Saturday and Sunday, with a few other events on 99 north of the Battery Street Tunnel – full details are here.
Since the last twice-weekly update, the Highway 99 tunneling machine has passed the 8,000-foot mark of its 9,270-foot route. To be specific, as of today, it’s dug 8,132 feet and has 1,138 feet to go – about two more blocks, according to today’s WSDOT update. It’s currently near 6th/Wall and set to emerge at 6th/Thomas.
P.S. If you missed it earlier today, WSDOT has announced the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s next weekend maintenance (etc.) closure will be March 4-5.
Just announced by WSDOT – the next inspection closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s scheduled to close both ways between the West Seattle Bridge and the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel between 6 am and 6 pm Saturday, March 4th, and Sunday, March 5th. Part of 99 will close for non-inspection reasons north of the BSTunnel – that Saturday, construction crews will be working on SB 99 between the tunnel and Valley Street in South Lake Union “so construction crews can complete the work needed to reopen Harrison Street.” And on that Sunday morning, the annual Hot Chocolate 15K will extend the closure north of the BSTunnel, while a Project Belltown walk in the BSTunnel will extend the NB lane closure until about 1 pm. Full details here.
Last weekend, we noted that the Highway 99 tunneling machine was in the zone where it would pass beneath the Battery Street Tunnel and the Seattle Center Monorail. This afternoon, WSDOT reported that it’s gone beneath the former and on its way to the latter. The machine is now 115 feet beneath the surface and climbing upward, 100 feet higher than the tunnel’s deepest point. WSDOT also reports that roadbuilding continues and is already halfway down the 7,692-foot path that’s been dug – here’s a document with updates on that and other parts of the project. WSDOT adds, “Work has also begun on the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems within the tunnel. Crews began installing these systems near the stadiums last week …” Read today’s full tunneling update here.
Somebody asked us how the Highway 99 tunneling machine is doing. While WSDOT hasn’t had many major updates lately, it’s continuing the routine of publishing distance updates on this page on Mondays and Thursdays, and according to the newest number – 7,499 feet dug, of the 9,270-foot route – it’s now more than 80 percent of the way to the end. The zone it’s in now goes below the Battery Street Tunnel, which will be decommissioned when the new tunnel opens, and beneath the foundation of the Seattle Center-to-downtown Monorail.
WSDOT just published that new video about working hyperbarically with the Highway 99 tunneling machine as it continues a maintenance stop before moving on to dig the final 25 percent of its 9,270-foot path – explaining, among other machines, that the machine is underwater as well as underground and is therefore something of “a submarine.” During the maintenance work that’s been under way since January 5th, crews have replaced 250 cutterhead tools, like these:
10:48 AM: As mentioned earlier in the morning traffic watch, a collision investigation at 1st/Columbia has closed the SB Alaskan Way Viaduct onramp many use to get to West Seattle from downtown. A pedestrian has life-threatening injuries, according to Seattle Fire, and Seattle Police are expected to be on scene investigating for several hours. We’ll update when there’s word it’s reopened.
11:18 AM: This is affecting transit too:
Transit Alert – Expect possible transit service delays near the SB on ramp to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Use the stop SB 2 Av at Cherry St.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) January 5, 2017
1:17 PM: SDOT has just tweeted that the investigation is over and the intersection and onramp are open again. We haven’t heard any updates about the pedestrian.
1:44 PM: On SPD Blotter, police say the incident started with a truck headed southbound on 1st colliding with a car headed west on Columbia; the pedestrian and a third vehicle were then hit.
5 PM: We spotted the signage for these closures while heading over the bridge a little while ago to cover an event downtown – they have not yet been announced otherwise, but we’ve just obtained the details from WSDOT:
Drivers headed into downtown Seattle on Friday and Saturday nights should prepare for a full closure of northbound State Route 99 near the stadiums. Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will use the closure to repair damaged pavement.
Friday, Jan. 6 to the morning of Saturday, Jan. 7
From 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. the following morning crews will close all lanes of northbound SR 99 between South Spokane Street and South Royal Brougham Way.
Saturday, Jan. 7 to the morning of Sunday, Jan. 8
From 10:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. the following morning crews will close all lanes of northbound SR 99 between South Spokane Street and South Royal Brougham Way.
During the closures all northbound SR 99 traffic must exit at East Marginal Way.
Eastbound West Seattle Freeway ramp to northbound SR 99 will be closed.
This weekend’s work is weather-dependent and could be rescheduled in the event of heavy rain or snow.
ADDED 6:12 PM: SDOT has announced some closures too, to fix the street lights toward the west end of the bridge:
The Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle City Light will be working on the Fauntleroy Expressway over two nights next week to make repairs to the street lights.
Sunday night, January 8, the curb lane for eastbound traffic will be closed from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. Monday morning, January 9. The lane closure will extend eastbound from approximately where the roadway turns in and out of West Seattle to the Delridge Way onramp. The other eastbound travel lane will remain open; motorists are not likely to experience any delay.
On Monday night, January 9, the westbound exit at Admiral Way will be closed from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, January 10. Motorists who would use this exit are asked to instead consider taking the Harbor Avenue SW/Avalon Way SW exit.
(Map showing the zone where the tunneling machine is now, from WSDOT’s update page)
Among those taking time off for the holidays, the Highway 99 tunneling-machine crew. Here’s the last update of the year from WSDOT, with a bit more than one-fourth of the way to go on the tunnel route:
Seattle Tunnel Partners crews built their final concrete tunnel ring of the year on Tuesday before stopping for the holidays. The remaining days of 2016 will include a break for crews, followed by scheduled maintenance on Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling the machine.
In the year since STP restarted tunneling, Bertha has traveled approximately 5,700 feet and built almost 900 rings. Along the way, crews continued to control the ground as they mined beneath streets and structures, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
When mining resumes early in the new year, Bertha will be less than 2,500 feet from the pit near Seattle Center where she’ll emerge at the end of her journey. STP will continue to inspect and perform maintenance on the machine as needed.
Bertha’s cutterhead is located approximately 160 feet below Third Avenue between Blanchard and Bell streets. Progress updates are posted on Mondays and Thursdays at our Follow Bertha page. You can also follow Bertha on Twitter @BerthaDigsSR99.
Happy holidays from the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. We’ll see you in 2017.
Current estimate is for the tunnel to open in early 2019. That’ll be almost a decade after the waterfront ceremony formalizing the plan; at that time, the hope was for a 2015 opening.
That time-lapse video shows road-building inside the under-construction Highway 99 tunnel, and it accompanies WSDOT’s latest update on tunneling progress. The tunneling machine is now more than 70 percent of the way along the 9,270-foot route, according to WSDOT, which included the video in this update published today. It’s the second update of the week – this one details progress at the tunnel’s “south portal.” It’s been almost a full year since tunneling resumed on December 22, 2015, two years and two weeks after the machine stalled.
While the Highway 99 tunneling machine hasn’t made much news lately, it’s continuing to dig steadily along, says WSDOT. Their latest twice-weekly update, published this afternoon, says it’s more than two-thirds of the way down the route – 6,337 of 9,270 feet. It’s already gone past the deepest point on the route and is starting to climb back toward the surface, currently in the zone beneath Belltown. The current estimated opening date remains early 2019, and as noted in this tweet, Viaduct demolition would follow over much of the rest of that year.
The Highway 99 tunneling machine has passed the one-mile mark as of this morning, according to WSDOT. It’s also made a new video showing how the machine is steered along its designated path underground, considering there’s no GPS:
The machine is at its deepest point – around 200 feet underground – with just under 4,000 feet remaining on the route, which is shown on this map, along with the machine’s approximate current location. The most recent timeline says that absent any further major problems, the tunnel will open in 2019.
10:30 AM: If you’re headed out, avoid NB 99. A two-vehicle crash on the Alaskan Way Viaduct – one vehicle on its side – is blocking the road and already resulting in backups, as the webcam above shows.
10:44 AM: Update from SDOT:
UPDATE: Collision now also blocking SB left lane on the Viaduct. Expect heavy delays. pic.twitter.com/noP7sBjUz0
— seattledot (@seattledot) November 1, 2016
10:50 AM: Metro just texted that the C Line and Routes 120/125 are routed off NB 99, and will be diverting onto 1st Avenue S. instead.
11:10 AM: Via scanner, it’s confirmed that traffic is getting through, one lane NB, but that still means slow going.
11:59 AM UPDATE: Thanks for the photo, taken from Pike Place Market by an anonymous reader who says pieces of railing/siding fell away – which is why SDOT is still working at the scene, and one lane remains closed in each direction. No major injuries reported, by the way.
12:48 PM: Metro just texted to say the buses that use the NB Viaduct are all back on their regular routes.
2:38 PM: SDOT says the NB lanes are all open now; the left SB lane remains closed.
5 PM: Sorry, we had that backward; SDOT was working in the left NB lane – and still is, per this tweet a few minutes ago – while the SB lanes have all reopened.
WSDOT just announced that – as often happens – the Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection has ended early. So Highway 99 is back to being fully open (as of 5 pm), AND no closure Sunday.
While the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed this weekend for its twice-yearly inspection, the machine digging its replacement will be taking a break for inspection too. WSDOT announced this afternoon that the Highway 99 tunneling machine has made its third maintenance stop of the year and will likely be stopped for about a month.
It’s currently stopped about 190 feet under First Avenue, north of Pike Street, and has now gone 4,721 feet, more than half the 9,270-foot tunnel route. You can read WSDOT’s update in full here; in short, crews will be inspecting and changing some of the machine’s 700+ cutting tools. This year’s two previous maintenance stops were March 12-April 29, just before the machine went under the Viaduct, and June 23-July 18. The newest schedule revision says the tunnel will open in early 2019.
P.S. Above ground, the Viaduct inspection closure is scheduled for 6 am-6 pm Saturday and Sunday. These often end early, and we’ll let you know if/when this one does.
WSDOT‘s big alert announcement is expected tomorrow, but in the meantime, we brought you early warning September 22nd that next weekend (Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9) will bring the next twice-yearly inspection/maintenance closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and we’re reminding you again today. This is scheduled once again as a shutdown 6 am-6 pm each day, but recent closures have tended to end early.
Also note, next Saturday’s closure will include a stretch north of the Battery Street Tunnel, between Denny Way and Valley Street, 6 am-3 pm, with Valley remaining open for detours.
P.S. We also expect to hear tomorrow if the Highway 99 tunneling machine has passed the halfway point along its 9,270-foot route – WSDOT updates this page on Mondays and Thursdays, and as of three days ago, it was less than 100 feet from that milestone.
ORIGINAL SEPTEMBER 22ND REPORT: Another road-closure alert: The weekly “lookahead” published today by SDOT includes the news that the next twice-yearly inspection/maintenance closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is set for the weekend of October 8-9, 6 am-6 pm each day. The most recent shutdowns have lasted just one day, with the second “reserve” day going unused; we’ll be checking with WSDOT to see what they can tell us in advance.
P.S. WSDOT continues to update its tunnel-progress page on Thursdays and Mondays; as of today, the machine has traveled 4,362 feet of the 9,270-foot distance.
ADDED: WSDOT confirms the closure plan. The official announcement is expected on Monday, October 3rd, but it’s on their website already:
Plan ahead: Semiannual Alaskan Way Viaduct Inspection
Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9
The Alaskan Way Viaduct/SR 99 will be closed between South Spokane Street and Denny Way from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Additionally, there will be a full closure of SR 99 between Denny Way and Valley Street from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. Valley Street will remain open for detours.
ADDED MONDAY: And, the final confirmation.