West Seattle Blog... » Alaskan Way Viaduct http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 10:54:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 VIDEO: City Council told Alaskan Way Viaduct still ‘safe,’ but… http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/happening-now-tunnelviaduct-briefing-at-city-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/happening-now-tunnelviaduct-briefing-at-city-council/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:38:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306930 (5:12 PM UPDATE: Just added archived video of meeting – briefing starts about 1 hour, 9 minutes in)

10:38 AM: Click the “play” button to watch, live, as the City Council gets briefed on the Highway 99 tunnel project. Today’s big focus – as previewed in our morning traffic/transportation-news watch – is on how much settling is happening with the Alaskan Way Viaduct and vicinity. The briefing is accompanied by a sheaf of technical information, from the state and the city, which has done its own analysis (and has already issued a news release declaring that the AWV is safe to use). More to come – we’re adding toplines below, as this continues.

SETTLING:
*WSDOT project lead Todd Trepanier reiterates that the Viaduct is safe and that if any information indicated it weren’t, they would shut it down ASAP. But, he later says, data underscores that “this structure needs to be replaced.”

*Daily “automatic surveys” are “recording information all the time”

*So what would trigger a declaration of “this is unsafe”? Councilmember Bruce Harrell asked. Trepanier insisted there is no numerical answer to that, no “x” cracks or “x” inches, but that they keep monitoring and if something looks close to a trigger, they fix it. “It’s complex,” he insists. OK, says Councilmember Mike O’Brien, but “what are they comparing it to?” No numerical answer results. Trepanier mentions “demand and capacity.”

*WSDOT briefer Dave Sowers goes through the slide deck we’ve added below. Says that as long as a specific building, specific water line, etc., settles at same overall rate, it’s OK. Discussion also underscores that multiple entities are monitoring multiple points and not always finding exactly the same thing in (nearly the) same place; Sowers says they’re not yet sure why.

*March 28th inspection for which the Viaduct was closed: WSDOT says quarter-to-half inch of settlement at monitoring spots in Seneca Street vicinity, since last October. CM Sally Bagshaw asks why that area, since not near tunnel pit; WSDOT says they haven’t figured it out yet – it’s not the area where they’ve had settling near Seneca in the past. “Bent 76″ (monitoring point) is where some cracks showed movement, they add, and new gauges have been installed. CM O’Brien asks, is the deterioration getting to any certain point such as, the Viaduct could have survived an X quake a month ago but not now? WSDOT’s very technical answer does not hit a certain magnitude but does mention that despite the “large cracks” they believe it would be OK in a “108-year event” quake.

*Water main on Western in Pioneer Square to be replaced ASAP – design 90% done – will take about 8 weeks

*City’s technical analysis (second slide deck below): Bottom line, the city wants another analysis before tunneling resumes, since some parts of the Viaduct have already hit the inch-or-so of settling that it was expected to be able to withstand. They also would like to know what magnitude of quake the Viaduct is expected to be able to handle, currently, and whether more strengthening might be in order. Are we approaching a point at which the Viaduct would have to be closed? Councilmember Tom Rasmussen asks. Not necessarily, says SDOT.

SLIDE DECKS:
*Here’s the WSDOT presentation:

*Here’s the city’s technical-analysis presentation:

*Here’s the Seattle Public Utilities presentation (including the water-main-replacement plan):

OTHER PROJECT-RELATED POINTS:
*Seattle Tunnel Partners is making progress on machine-repairing project, says WSDOT, but “still too soon” to set or guess at dates for resumption of tunneling. Won’t be the “budget-breaking project” (some have feared), Trepanier says

*No rescheduling yet for the sign-related work that WAS going to shut down 99 lanes north of the Battery Street Tunnel for a while

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Inspection report finds central Alaskan Way Viaduct still settling http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/inspection-report-finds-central-alaskan-way-viaduct-still-settling/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/inspection-report-finds-central-alaskan-way-viaduct-still-settling/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:25:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306385 WSDOT has gone public this morning with a summary of what was found during the twice-yearly inspection that closed the Alaskan Way Viaduct a week ago Saturday. Toplines:

Survey crews measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch of additional settlement near Seneca Street. Some widening of existing cracks noted. Additionally, crews note two new cracks on columns near Yesler Way. New crack gauges and focused monitoring in these areas. Other crack measurements are stable.

Despite the new cracks and added settling, WSDOT says, “The viaduct remains safe for everyday use.”

SIDE NOTE: The West Seattleite who has delivered so many briefings on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project – going back years pre-tunnel, too – is leaving WSDOT after 23 years. Deputy program administrator Matt Preedy announced last Friday that he’s moving to Sound Transit later this spring. In his announcement, forwarded to us by a recipient, Preedy wrote to his colleagues, in part, “Together, we have overcome a number of obstacles and challenges on this very complex construction project. No one ever said building a tunnel under downtown Seattle would be easy but I am confident we have the right team to see it through. … The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program will always remain the highlight of my career at WSDOT and I plan to celebrate with you at the ribbon-cutting.”

SPEAKING OF THE TUNNEL: The latest “expert review panel” report on the project is out – read it here.

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Touchdown, Bertha! Tunneling machine’s cutterhead now cradled http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/touchdown-bertha-tunneling-machines-cutterhead-now-cradled/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/touchdown-bertha-tunneling-machines-cutterhead-now-cradled/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:36:53 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305719

(From WSDOT’s project-site cameras)
After getting a day-and-a-half ride up from the pit and over to the cradle, the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s 2,000-ton cutterhead is now in place for repairs. The big red crane isn’t done with its work, though, according to the newest update on the project website:

… Crews will continue disassembling the machine’s 2,000-ton front end in the coming days, using the massive red crane that completed yesterday’s lift to arrange pieces on the repair site. Repair work will take place south of the pit beneath a large canopy that will soon be moved into place to protect the workers and machine pieces from the elements. …

No snags reported in the lifting process; if repairs are snag-free too, tunneling could resume by late summer.

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PHOTOS, UPDATES: Highway 99 tunnel machine’s big lift http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machines-big-lift/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machines-big-lift/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:54:04 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305594 2:54 PM: In case you haven’t already heard – the last and biggest to-be-repaired part of the Highway 99 tunneling machine is on its way up. Here’s the latest from WSDOT; you can check out the construction cameras here, but nothing spectacular is visible right now – this will be going on, slowly, for hours to come. We’ll update!

4:15 PM: Via Twitter:


Mike Lindblom, transportation reporter for The Seattle Times (WSB partner), says the cutterhead is expected to be all the way up and out by 7.

4:42 PM: Newest photo via Twitter:


9:07 PM: The cutterhead is out, and horizontal, facing down. Just took this screengrab from the WSDOT camera:

MIDNIGHT: WSDOT says Seattle Tunnel Partners has stopped for the night and will “wait until morning to place the SR 99 tunneling machine’s front end on the repair platform. The piece will remain suspended above the platform until a fresh crew arrives in the morning to complete the lift.” Meantime, West Seattle photographer Paul Gordon was at the site as the cutterhead came into view, and shared this image:

If the repair work goes the way they hope it will, STP says tunneling could resume in August – 20 months after it stopped.

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TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Viaduct open for rest of the weekend http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-update-viaduct-open-for-rest-of-the-weekend/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-update-viaduct-open-for-rest-of-the-weekend/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:53:55 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305427

7:53 PM: WSDOT says the Alaskan Way Viaduct not only has reopened for tonight, it will NOT have to close again tomorrow – the inspection work is all done. But that *only* affects the stretch between the West Seattle Bridge and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel; north of the tunnel, it remains closed until Monday morning, so if you head northbound on 99, you’ll have to exit by Western. Read the full announcement here.

9:55 PM: As of a short time ago, the “Viaduct Closed” lights are still flashing on signs approaching the bridge – but the road really is open.

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FOLLOWUP: Why did it take 9 hours to clear toppled truck from Highway 99? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/followup-why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-clear-toppled-truck-from-highway-99/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/followup-why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-clear-toppled-truck-from-highway-99/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:01:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305076 (UPDATED 6:07 PM after followup conversation with SPD)

(Reader photo texted shortly after the crash)
12:01 PM: “Why did it take 9 hours?” is the big question today, one day after a truck full of fish went sideways on southbound Highway 99 in the stadium zone, leading to a 9-hour shutdown that clogged traffic citywide. We have some early answers from Seattle Police:

Lincoln Towing responded to the scene with two large tow trucks and one standard-size tow truck.

Eventually Lincoln Towing personnel were able to raise the overturned trailer. However, the load of fish in the trailer’s container had shifted, causing the truck to become unstable. At this point the trailer was upright, but still blocking all southbound lanes. Lincoln Towing determined the trailer’s cargo of would have to be off-loaded in order to stabilize the trailer.

City officials ultimately had to rely on personnel from Seattle Tunnel Partners, and used their heavy equipment to off-load a portion of the container. Once about half of the container’s cargo was removed, the trailer was deemed stable enough to be moved from the viaduct.

STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the Highway 99 tunnel project. All of the above is from a long update published a short time ago on SPD Blotter; it also includes a dispatch-log timeline and aggregated tweets (some of which were featured in our as-it-happens coverage Tuesday afternoon/evening) about the incident.

We also have an inquiry out to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee and has pursued extensive followups on earlier incidents, most notably last June’s 4-mile, 5-hour shutdown after a head-on crash on 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge. Some of the changes promised in this September followup report/”after-action plan” (embedded below) were clearly in effect yesterday – SPD/SDOT communication, longer hours for the SDOT traffic-management center communicator(s):

But Tuesday’s truck mishap was a completely different type of incident, without a major criminal investigation to complicate things, so it brings up different questions. We’ll update this report with anything more we find out today.

P.S. We’ll mention again that SDOT leaders including director Scott Kubly were already booked for tomorrow night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm Thursday at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, if you want to ask your own questions and/or hear the answers firsthand.

4:30 PM: Councilmember Rasmussen says he has the same info that you see above from SPD, plus, “I have already requested that SPD and SDOT prepare reports for the Council. We will be scheduling a presentation of their reports to the Council and are working on that date and time now.”

5:26 PM: We talked a short time ago with SPD’s media-relations/public-affairs Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, seeking answers to several followup questions:

First: Commenters asked, couldn’t they just drag the trailer/truck off the highway? No, says Sgt. Whitcomb, there was no way to do that. They tried towing it, dragging it, pushing it; it just wouldn’t work, it wasn’t stable enough, so finally they tried Seattle Tunnel Partners’ heavy equipment. “It was an engineering problem – getting the damaged, jack-knifed truck up on its wheels, stabilized, just took a great deal of time and consideration … determining that additional tools were needed was part of the problem-solving process.”

Could STP have been involved sooner? Maybe, but, “at the heart of it, this was a towing operation,” said Sgt. Whitcomb. The circumstances “would be hard to replicate – complicated by the damage (to) and the position of the truck. It was fortuitous that (STP) were just right there and could help when needed – a spirit of partnership between the state and the city.” (STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the tunnel project.)

He said it was cleared as soon as possible, in the end, and they were at one point afraid it could have taken even longer – “there was a two am conference call planned” at one point, to see what the prospects were for the morning commute. The mayor’s office was notified early on, and the information loop went all the way to the top at SPD, including consultation with Deputy Chief Carmen Best, #2 in command. Originally, he said, they had hoped it would be cleared by the evening commute, but at some point, everyone but those directly involved in the towing/clearing were “spectators.”

Sgt. Whitcomb didn’t have details handy on whose truck it was or what happened to the fish, though he recalled a truck spill in the past (full of Mountain Dew) in which the contents of the trailer had to be disposed of because once there had been a mishap, the items weren’t salable.

So what now? In addition to the reports about the 9-hour closure, the collision remains under investigation, Sgt. Whitcomb said. No indication of DUI, but, he pointed out, generally “somebody will be cited … ‘accidents’ don’t just happen, it’s either mechanical failure or operator error – a rule of the road has been violated and somebody will be cited.” And when it comes to commercial vehicle operation, that kind of ticket is “a big deal,” he notes.

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UPDATE: Southbound 99 reopens after 9-hour closure caused by overturned semitruck full of salmon http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-southbound-highway-99-blocked-by-overturned-truck/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-southbound-highway-99-blocked-by-overturned-truck/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:39:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304959 (SOUTHBOUND 99 IS OPEN AGAIN AS OF 11:40 PM)


2:39 PM: All lanes of southbound Highway 99 are blocked by an overturned semi-truck in the stadium zone. More to come.

2:55 PM: The southbound Viaduct is now closed at the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel, so if you are headed that way from north of downtown, you’ll have to exit on Denny Way. Otherwise, to head south from downtown, you’ll need to take I-5 or surface streets such as 1st or 4th. We’ll keep updating this since we’re heading into the pm commute.

3:14 PM: This is affecting buses too:


3:22 PM: For those stuck on the Viaduct when this happened, here’s what’s being done:


We have another view of that courtesy of Chi Krneta:

3:43 PM: Still closed. And southbound I-5, we’re told, has a stall on the south side of downtown. Another alternative for getting back to West Seattle: The Water Taxi. Its afternoon schedule is just now starting up:


Here’s the schedule. Meantime:


And a view texted to us:

We’re still trying to find out if there’s any ETA for this being cleared. For now, just assume it’ll be hours, and plot your homeward alternative (or don’t leave until you hear it’s clear).

4:07 PM: SPD says a tow truck’s on the case – but that still doesn’t mean it’ll clear fast:


4:19 PM: Keep in mind that there’s a domino/spillover effect in many other places. For example, if you click around on the live video cameras in the general downtown area accessible via the SDOT Travelers’ Map (lower right) – you’ll see scenes such as vehicles STILL clearing off the Viaduct backward – right now at the Columbia onramp, a bus can be seen backing toward 1st, and someone is directing traffic. Also, via Twitter, SDOT says they’re hoping to have at least one lane open within a half-hour or so.

5:40 PM: SPD now says two tow trucks are on scene.

5:45 PM: And the problem has finally been explained – “a very large load of fish” is what the semi was carrying.

6:11 PM: The Sounders FC/Club Tijuana match has been pushed back to 7:23 pm. And SPD has an update on the semitruck’s driver:


6:33 PM: Latest tweet from the scene – “Responders have separated the tractor from the overturned trailer and are attempting to put the trailer back on its wheels again now.”

6:57 PM: Making progress:


7:12 PM: After 4 1/2 hours, the truck is right-side up again:


7:47 PM: Now they’re moving on to cleanup.

8:19 PM: And that’s not so easy, tweets SDOT: “Trailer contents have shifted, making it unstable to transport. They will detach trailer from truck and pull it off roadway.”

9:30 PM: Now going on 7 hours since this happened. The trailer has to be unloaded before it can be moved. We asked via Twitter, just out of curiosity, what kind of fish? Answer: Salmon.

10:05 PM: Still closed while crews work with the trailer.

10:47 PM: According to discussion just monitored via scanner, the problem is that the trailer remains unstable. It’s about a third empty now and they might try to move it again once it’s half empty. We are now in hour 9 of the total southbound 99 closure from the Battery St. Tunnel southward.

11:34 PM: They’re about to start reopening southbound 99, now that the truck and trailer have been moved successfully. They’re reopening starting at Denny, and then from Columbia.

11:40 PM: Official confirmation, 9 hours after the closure began:


That’s almost twice as long as the much-dissected 5-hour closure in June of last year following a head-on crash south of the West Seattle Bridge. Different circumstances here – no life-threatening injuries, but the wreckage posed a major challenge to clear. Some of what was promised in reports following the June incident (most notably this one) has been implemented, notably longer coverage hours in the city’s Traffic Management Center. We’ll be following up on this tomorrow, and certainly we won’t be the only ones.

11:16 AM WEDNESDAY: We did indeed inquire with SPD this morning. No direct response but they’ve published a long report on SPD Blotter which includes photos and tweets from yesterday (some of which we featured in real-time in this report) – we’re writing a separate story on this.

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3 pieces up, one big piece to go for Highway 99 tunnel machine http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/3-pieces-up-one-big-piece-to-go-for-highway-99-tunnel-machine/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/3-pieces-up-one-big-piece-to-go-for-highway-99-tunnel-machine/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 22:11:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304846

(WSDOT photo)
A third big piece of the Highway 99 tunneling machine was lifted up from the repair-access pit today – and that means just one BIG lift to go, the cutterhead, for which Seattle Tunnel Partners will use that large red assembly you’ve been seeing next to the Viaduct. It’s shown in this bext photo shared with WSB by Gatewood photographer/pilot Long Bach Nguyen (taken before today’s lift):

The previous two lifts were on Thursday – with the big half-circle piece you see toward left center of the LBN photo – and on Saturday. No exact date announced yet for the cutterhead to be brought out. STP has said that if repairs go well, it hopes to be tunneling again in August.

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Highway 99 tunnel machine’s road to repairs: 2nd piece lifted tonight http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/highway-99-tunnel-machines-road-to-repairs-2nd-piece-lifted-tonight/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/highway-99-tunnel-machines-road-to-repairs-2nd-piece-lifted-tonight/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 04:28:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304649

From the archives of the camera that peers into the pit from which pieces of the Highway 99 tunneling machine are being lifted for repairs, the view above shows the second part to be brought up. It happened early this evening and was just announced by WSDOT:

Seattle Tunnel Partners has successfully hoisted the second piece of the SR 99 tunneling machine to the surface for repairs. This evening crews lifted one of the machine’s upper sections, which weighs less than 100 tons.

Two more pieces of the machine will be removed from the pit as part of STP’s repair plan, which this narrated video explains in detail. Up next, crews will lift the right side body section of the machine, which weighs approximately 90 tons. The final lift will bring to the surface Bertha’s massive cutterhead and main drive unit, which weigh a combined 2,000 tons.

Here’s the view after tonight’s lift was done:

If you haven’t seen the time-lapse video of the first lift on Thursday, check it out here.

By the way, this gives us another chance to remind you the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be closed for its twice-yearly inspection next weekend, 6 am-6 pm Saturday and 6 am-6 pm Sunday. A section of Highway 99 north of the Battery Street Tunnel, meantime, will be closed throughout next weekend, late Friday through early Monday.

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Traffic alerts for NEXT weekend: Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closures, Highway 99 to the north, I-90 http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alerts-for-next-weekend-alaskan-way-viaduct-inspection-closures-highway-99-to-the-north-i-90/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alerts-for-next-weekend-alaskan-way-viaduct-inspection-closures-highway-99-to-the-north-i-90/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 19:00:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304506 A week and a half after first mention, the official alert about next weekend’s Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closures is out, including details of other Highway 99 work PLUS another westbound I-90 constriction (a similar closure a few weeks ago backed up I-5 just north of the bridge, so beware). Read on for details from WSDOT:

Highway construction and a regular inspection of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close portions SR 99 through Seattle during the weekend of March 27-29. Lane closures along both directions of SR 99 begin at 7 p.m. Friday, March 27. By 10 p.m., SR 99 will be closed between the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel and Valley Street until 5 a.m. Monday, March 30.

SR 99 closure details

7 p.m. Friday, March 27, until 5 a.m. Monday, March 30

Seattle Public Utility crews will close two northbound lanes and one southbound lane of SR 99 between Ward Street and Highland Drive from 7 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
WSDOT and SDOT contractor crews will close SR 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and Valley Street from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29

WSDOT bridge inspection crews will conduct a scheduled inspection of the Alaskan Way Viaduct between Spokane Street and the Battery Street Tunnel.

Westbound I-90 closure

The SR 99 closures are part of a busy weekend of highway construction in the region. Drivers heading across Lake Washington from the Eastside will see westbound Interstate 90 detoured to the express lanes as crews upgrade tunnel operations systems inside the westbound Mount Baker and Mercer Island tunnels.

11 p.m. Friday, March 27, until 5 a.m. Monday, March 30

Contractor crews will shift all westbound I-90 traffic between Bellevue Way and Rainier Avenue South to the express lanes from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Drivers wishing to access Mercer Island will need to exit westbound I-90 at East Mercer Way.

There are no westbound exits to Mercer Island from the express lanes.

Those wishing to travel from Mercer Island to Seattle should enter the express lanes at 77th Avenue Southeast or Island Crest Way.

Westbound I-90 drivers will be unable to exit to Rainier Avenue South and should follow the signed detour via Fourth Avenue South and South Dearborn Street.

Drivers needing to transport flammable materials westbound across Lake Washington must use alternate routes such as Interstate 405 or state routes 520 or 522.

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Bertha goes to pieces, where tunnel-tolling decision stands, and other notes from Alaskan Way Viaduct stakeholders’ meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/bertha-goes-to-pieces-where-tunnel-tolling-decision-stands-and-other-notes-from-alaskan-way-viaduct-stakeholders-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/bertha-goes-to-pieces-where-tunnel-tolling-decision-stands-and-other-notes-from-alaskan-way-viaduct-stakeholders-meeting/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:49:10 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304106

(Screengrab taken this morning from camera pointed into the tunnel-machine repair pit)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Much has happened since the Alaskan Way Viaduct (Highway 99) project stakeholders met three months ago.

Just days after their early December meeting (WSB coverage here), the “settling” was revealed.

For the first time since then, the stakeholders’ group (membership listed here) convened Monday afternoon in a lower-level meeting room at Safeco Field, and WSB was the only news organization there. Among other things, the group was told that the ground has stabilized, and that the partial deconstruction of the Highway 99 tunnel machine (aka Bertha) is likely to hit a milestone this week.

Other topics tackled included the work that’s out of sight but not out of mind, updates on related projects including the seawall, and what’s up with the decision-making process on tunnel tolling. (Here’s the full slide deck.)

VIADUCT SAFETY/AREA GROUND SETTLEMENT: Lead briefers for WSDOT were 99/Viaduct project head Todd Trepanier and deputy project administrator Matt Preedy. The Viaduct remains safe and they’re “comfortable” about keeping it open because of continued monitoring, they said, including the twice-yearly major inspections, with the next one coming up March 28-29 (here’s our most recent reminder).

The Pioneer Square ground settling, they said, appears to have preceded the digging of the rescue pit for the tunnel machine, and “the full cause is not known” yet – they’re still investigating. The survey area has been expanded; a map that was shown stretched from CenturyLink Field to Marion St. “The ongoing monitoring in this area is robust and being done by multiple agencies,” and they’re not seeing any “appreciable downward trend … the ground movement in the area has normalized.”

TUNNEL MACHINE’S PARTIAL DECONSTRUCTION: That’s continuing to be done from the inside and outside, and the activity is noticeable on the construction camera (see the screen grab above from this morning). As soon as tomorrow (Wednesday) you will see part of the “top shield piece” being lifted out of the pit, one of three pieces in which that part will be taken out. Side pieces will follow, and then the only part that will be removed via the giant red lift assembly you’ve seen alongside the Viaduct – the cutterhead. (Smaller cranes are being used for the other pieces.)

SO WHEN WILL DIGGING RESUME? Preedy mentions STP’s “optimistic” schedule projecting that the machine could be fixed and back in action as soon as August, but, “if it takes a little bit longer, that’ll be OK because the project manager says it has to be done right.” They’re tracking the schedule “very closely” and getting monthly updates from the contractor. While the most-recent one projects tunnel completion in fall 2017, Preedy explains that’s an “unmitigated” schedule – not allowing for any possible make-up time, which they won’t be able to project until digging actually resumes. “It’s hard for (STP) to put a mitigated schedule on the table because they can’t say for certain when this machine will be going again.”

CLOSURES AHEAD: Preedy mentioned a traffic switch on 99 north of the Battery Street Tunnel that will be done over a “long weekend” this summer, probably July. Otherwise, no major work that will affect traffic – he reminded the group that the closures for the sign-foundation work on Aurora have been postponed TFN.

THE WORK YOU CAN’T SEE: “There’s a lot more to this job than just the (deep bore) tunnel,” Preedy noted, including the cut-and-cover tunnel section in the Holgate-to-King vicinity, which is nearing “roughed-out” completion and is about as long as the 1,000 feet of deep-bore tunnel that’s been finished so far.

The stakeholders’ meetings also include briefings on related projects, including the seawall, waterfront-redevelopment planning, and the Mercer corridor:

SEAWALL UPDATE: Project manager Jessica Murphy had a thorough show-and-tell – you’ll see it in the slide deck. She noted that the seawall has a major link to the Viaduct project, since a seawall failure would remain a major risk factor for Viaduct failure. The work is continuing in two zones right now, Pike-Madison and in front of Colman Dock (Madison-Yesler). In-water work for this season had to be completed before this week, she said, because of salmon season: “This project is riddled with crazy (calendar) milestones.” Next big one is reopening waterfront businesses by July 1st – “last summer was very busy on the waterfront and we’re expecting the same this year” – and the project is still on track for completion in June of next year. The new seawall’s “design life,” by the way, is 75 years.

Stakeholders’ group member and former City Councilmember Jan Drago asked where and how the public can observe the work. While there’s a fence that can be peered through in spots, Murphy said, her best advice: Take a tour. You’ll find them mentioned at waterfrontseattle.org. (We checked during the meeting, and while tours are on the calendar for this Friday and Saturday, both are already described as “full.” So check often if you’re interested!)

WATERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT: The key message was that they’re “heavily working on design” right now. The project includes the replacement of Alaskan Way and Elliott “under the current viaduct footprint.” The recently announced Pike Place Market project is considered to be a boon for the waterfront work, and its 300-space parking garage was touted. If the tunnel stays on its new schedule, followed by demolition of what remains of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, construction of the waterfront project would start toward the end of 2017. (Earlier in the meeting, a stakeholders’-group member had asked if any scenario envisioned the Viaduct coming down before the tunnel opened. Not outside of a “force of nature,” was the reply.) The Freight Advisory Board’s rep on the stakeholders’ group expressed concern he hadn’t heard mention of a “truck street”; that’s definitely in the Alaskan Way/Elliott design plan, he was assured.

MERCER CORRIDOR: We didn’t take many notes on this but one thing of note – travel times went down from August to January, with a bump up in February. Extensive discussion of components such as signal timing ensued.

Last but not least:

TOLLING: This update was in response to a request at the last meeting. Not much has changed, says Trepanier. The budget still calls for $200 million from tolling; advisory committee took a look at it and put recommendations together, as completed last year. “We’re continuing to move in that direction – we move from that committee work by ACT committee, work toward official … study, being done under WSDOT’s Tolling Division, more detailed look on how traffic would respond, what can be expected from revenues. That could be complete this year, maybe a little bit into next year but well under way.” Eventually, the rate-setting process will be led by the state Transportation Commission, and a public process will allow for citizens to comment.

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates/alerts http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffictransit-today-tuesday-updatesalerts/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffictransit-today-tuesday-updatesalerts/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:39:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=303376

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Good morning! We start the day with updates …

47TH/ADMIRAL SIGNAL WORK BEGINS: As noted here last night, SDOT says prep work for the 47th/Admiral signal (and new crosswalks and curb ramps) starts today.

99 LANE CLOSURES POSTPONED: If you missed the news at midday Monday, WSDOT heeded the suggestions that it postpone the Highway 99 lane closures that were supposed to start tomorrow and run for weeks north of downtown, since the work is for something that won’t even be needed until the tunnel is finished.

NEXT INSPECTION CLOSURE, MARCH 28-29: Same link as above – the morning briefing also included word that the next Viaduct inspection closure (the kind they’ve been doing twice a year dating way back before the tunnel project) is set for March 28-29. We’re still waiting for the hours – whether it’ll be an all-weekend closure or a “daytime only” as had been done recently.

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Highway 99/Viaduct updates: Lane closures postponed; inspection closure ahead; repair-work update http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/highway-99viaduct-updates-lane-closures-postponed-inspection-closure-ahead-repair-work-update/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/highway-99viaduct-updates-lane-closures-postponed-inspection-closure-ahead-repair-work-update/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:11:30 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=303317 From a two-part briefing on the Highway 99/Viaduct project (and side issues) that just concluded at this morning’s Seattle City Council meeting:

99 LANE CLOSURES POSTPONED, BUT TONIGHT’S CLOSURE STILL ON: The big breaking news came mid-briefing – WSDOT apparently has heeded the observations that the work that was going to lead to weeks of lane closures north of downtown is NOT urgent, and they’ve decided to postpone it TFN. The work was to pour foundations for signs that won’t even be needed until the tunnel opens. However, tonight’s overnight closure of NB 99 north of the Battery Street Tunnel, in order to remove the “Mercer wiggle,” IS still on.

Also on the subject of closures:

INSPECTION CLOSURE: When WSDOT started its part of the briefing, it was revealed that the next major inspection closure of the entire Viaduct will be the last weekend of this month, March 28-29. We’re checking to see if that will be a wall-to-wall all-weekend closure, or a “6 am to 6 pm each day” closure.

TUNNEL MACHINE UPDATES: WSDOT’s Matt Preedy went through the steps of how the machine’s cutterhead will be dissembled.

(Added: 11:38 am screengrab from repair-pit camera)
The main piece is likely to be lifted toward the end of this month, and if all goes well, the machine could restart in August, he said. (See the WSDOT slide deck here.)

CITY BRIEFING: The council-meeting discussion began with an SDOT update on the in-progress “what if the Viaduct had to be closed before the tunnel is open?” SDOT leaders stressed that this is NOT intended to make people think a closure is expected, just that they are continuing to make sure the city is ready just in case. One unsettling point, though – the amount of bus service that would be needed to help mitigate a longterm Viaduct shutdown would take two years to ramp up. (See the SDOT slide deck here.)

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VIDEO: Time-lapse view of tunnel machine moving into repair pit http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/video-time-lapse-view-of-tunnel-machine-moving-into-repair-pit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/video-time-lapse-view-of-tunnel-machine-moving-into-repair-pit/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 05:54:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=302836

Following up on this morning’s news that the Highway 99 tunnel machine had made it as far into the repair pit alongside the Alaskan Way Viaduct as it needed to go, WSDOT has released the 1:14 time-lapse video embedded above. According to this morning’s update, taking its cutterhead apart to be lifted out for repairs is expected to take weeks.

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Traffic alert: Highway 99 closure north of downtown this morning http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-highway-99-closure-north-of-downtown-this-morning/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/traffic-alert-highway-99-closure-north-of-downtown-this-morning/#comments Sun, 01 Mar 2015 13:13:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=302485 One more reminder in case you’re heading north this morning: Highway 99 is scheduled to be closed both ways from the Battery Street Tunnel to N. 47th for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, 6 am-11 am.

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