West Seattle Blog... » Alaskan Way Viaduct http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 25 Nov 2015 23:35:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Alaskan Way Viaduct still sinking and cracking, inspection finds http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/alaskan-way-viaduct-still-sinking-and-cracking-inspection-finds/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/alaskan-way-viaduct-still-sinking-and-cracking-inspection-finds/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 19:39:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=329010 Almost two weeks after the last Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closures, the results are in. From this WSDOT webpage summarizing years of inspection results:

Survey crews detect between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of additional settlement between University Street and south of Seneca Street since the last inspection. The settlement is uniform in nature. Inspectors also note some additional cracking on columns and girders in the same general area, along with up to 1/2 millimeter widening of a few existing cracks. No additional repair work is necessary.

We know what you’re going to ask – here’s how WSDOT answers it: “It’s important to note that not all settlement is significant. In the case of the viaduct, no single number represents an acceptable level of settlement.” Bottom line, WSDOT says: “The viaduct remains vulnerable to earthquakes but remains safe for everyday use.” (In case you missed it, here’s the latest tunnel-machine update, published here Thursday.)

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Highway 99 tunnel-machine update: Component testing under way; still hoping for pre-Christmas tunneling http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/highway-99-tunnel-machine-update-component-testing-under-way-still-hoping-for-pre-christmas-tunneling/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/highway-99-tunnel-machine-update-component-testing-under-way-still-hoping-for-pre-christmas-tunneling/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 00:49:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328942 The state is circulating an update on the Highway 99 tunnel project this afternoon, saying some components are being tested, and the contractor is still working toward restarting tunneling right before Christmas:

Seattle Tunnel Partners and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen have begun testing components of the SR 99 tunneling machine as they prepare to resume mining. A few initial tests were performed last week, and several others are slated to occur in the coming weeks.

This week’s highlights include tests of various pumps inside the machine, as well as the screw conveyor system that carries excavated material from the cutterhead to the back of the machine and out of the tunnel. All of the tests are being conducted by STP and Hitachi, who are jointly responsible for ensuring the machine is ready to complete the remainder of the tunnel drive. Future tests will include rotation of the machine’s cutterhead, which, according to STP, will occur in late November.

Some reassembly work is ongoing. Major components of the machine are in place, but crews continue to weld pieces together and reconnect wires and hoses. STP’s most recent schedule shows that the machine will be ready to resume mining on Dec. 23. WSDOT cannot verify the contractor’s schedule. This narrated video explains STP’s repair effort in more detail.

Other work

STP crews have finished treating the ground north of the access pit. They began injecting grout into the soil there last month to stabilize the area where the machine will exit the access pit. Crews will soon place a thin layer of sand at the bottom of the pit; the rest of the pit will be filled after initial testing is complete.

STP crews are also preparing to install glass walls at the operations buildings located at each portal. The north building’s glass will be installed first. Read more about those efforts in this post.

The machine stopped tunneling in December 2013.

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TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Highway 99/Viaduct reopens early http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/traffic-alert-highway-99viaduct-closed-again-today/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/traffic-alert-highway-99viaduct-closed-again-today/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 15:35:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327801

7:35 AM: Reminder: Highway 99 is closed again today, between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel, as state crews continue its twice-annual inspection, along with some maintenance work. It’s scheduled to continue until 6 pm, but we’ll update if we get word it’s over earlier.

1:10 PM: It indeed reopened early! Inspection results will be available later this week.

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TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Highway 99 inspection closure over for Saturday, to continue Sunday http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/traffic-alert-highway-99-inspection-closures-todaytomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/traffic-alert-highway-99-inspection-closures-todaytomorrow/#comments Sat, 31 Oct 2015 15:45:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327686

8:45 AM: Just a note to remind you that Highway 99 is closed between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel until 6 pm, and scheduled to be closed 6 am-6 pm again tomorrow, for its twice-a-year inspection, plus some maintenance work.

5:29 PM: David points out that 99 is open again, with vehicles (as you can see above) going both ways.

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Highway 99 tunnel-machine update: Projected restart date now Christmas Eve-Eve http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-machine-update-projected-restart-date-now-christmas-eve-eve/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-machine-update-projected-restart-date-now-christmas-eve-eve/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2015 21:15:50 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=326832 Tunnel update just in from WSDOT: The newest monthly construction schedule from its contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, has slid another month. If this one holds, the tunnel machine will resume work on December 23rd, and if all goes well, the tunnel would open in April 2018. Read WSDOT’s update in full – including what’s happening near the access pit along the Viaduct – by going here.

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TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Battery Street Tunnel back open http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/late-night-traffic-alert-battery-street-tunnel-closed-both-ways/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/late-night-traffic-alert-battery-street-tunnel-closed-both-ways/#comments Thu, 15 Oct 2015 05:11:50 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=326024

10:11 PM: If you’re heading out – or back this way – via Highway 99, be aware the Battery Street Tunnel is closed both ways again. Haven’t heard yet if it’s the recurring sprinkler malfunction or something else.

11:42 PM: After about an hour and a half, the tunnel is open again. Still no explanation.

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Highway 99 tunnel: State sues its contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners, to ‘protect … taxpayers’ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-state-sues-its-contractor-seattle-tunnel-partners-to-protect-taxpayers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/highway-99-tunnel-state-sues-its-contractor-seattle-tunnel-partners-to-protect-taxpayers/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:38:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325495

(Added: Image from webcam over tunnel-machine access pit tonight)

No hint of this just two days earlier, when WSDOT released a video update on the Highway 99 tunnel-machine repairs, hours before its quarterly stakeholders meeting, but, late today, the state sent out a very different update, saying it’s suing its contractor:

WSDOT is committed to working with Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) to complete the SR 99 Tunnel Project.

We are also committed to protecting taxpayers.

Today, WSDOT filed a lawsuit against STP in King County Superior Court. This filing was prompted by recent court filings by STP and their insurance companies. Filing this lawsuit ensures WSDOT will have a right to make legal claims in the future. This lawsuit does not prevent STP from pursuing claims under the terms of the design-build contract.

Taking action to preserve WSDOT’s rights in court was a necessary step. Our focus remains on completing the project, and removing the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct. We intend to ask for a stay of WSDOT’s lawsuit until the project is completed and asked STP to join us in this request.

This delay in the lawsuit will allow for work on the SR 99 Tunnel Project to be completed before litigation takes place.

The intent of today’s action is simple: protect the interests of Washington taxpayers.

There will be no further statements on this legal matter.

While WSDOT provided the case number – 15-2-24943-6 – we checked the online files, and no documents are available there yet, just “Case Title: Washington State Department of Transportation vs Seattle Tunnel Partners” on the page. We’ll keep checking.

This follows news earlier this week, first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal, that WSDOT has told insurers it expects costs to rise more than $78 million because of the tunnel-machine trouble. That in turn came out as part of another lawsuit, one filed in New York state by insurers against STP, which says it’s hoping to get the machine going again in November, almost two years after its underground breakdown.

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EARLY TRAFFIC ALERT: Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closure planned for Halloween weekend http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/early-traffic-alert-alaskan-way-viaduct-inspection-closure-planned-for-halloween-weekend/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/early-traffic-alert-alaskan-way-viaduct-inspection-closure-planned-for-halloween-weekend/#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:40:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325263 From today’s quarterly meeting of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholders meeting:

The dates are set for this year’s semiannual AWV inspection closure – scheduled for Halloween weekend, 6 am-6 pm on Saturday, October 31st, and again on Sunday, November 1st. The Viaduct will be closed both ways between the West Seattle Bridge and Battery Street Tunnel. WSDOT said at this afternoon’s meeting that besides the inspection, they’ll do some maintenance as usual – in particular, fire-suppression systems in the BSTunnel need some work.

Also at the meeting, WSDOT played the video that we featured here earlier in the day, showing what’s been happening with the tunneling machine as work continues to get it ready to start tunneling again later this year. The Viaduct closure that’s expected when the machine goes beneath the structure could last up to two weeks. Assuming everything goes as currently projected, the machine will stop in a long-planned “safe zone” just outside the edge of the structure, so it can get a checkup to see how it’s doing after what would be the first few weeks of digging.

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VIDEO: See what’s left to do before Highway 99 tunneling resumes http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/video-see-whats-left-to-do-before-highway-99-tunneling-resumes/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/video-see-whats-left-to-do-before-highway-99-tunneling-resumes/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:48:23 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325223

If you’ve wondered what’s happened in the six weeks since the repaired cutterhead was lowered back into the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s “access pit” – and what’s left to do before Seattle Tunnel Partners turns it back on again – that video should answer your questions. It’s provided by WSDOT and narrated by STP’s Chris Dixon, who’s in charge of the project. We’re also expecting to hear a status report at the quarterly Highway 99 stakeholders’ meeting later today. (And yes, according to a recent city doc, transportation officials are still expecting to close the Alaskan Way Viaduct for about a week and a half while the tunnel machine passes directly beneath it. No way to know when that’ll be until the machine again gets going, and stays going – it’s currently “forecast” for February.)

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VIDEO: See how the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s lift-and-lower operation went down, and what happens next http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/video-see-how-the-highway-99-tunneling-machines-lift-and-lower-operation-went-down-and-what-happens-next/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/video-see-how-the-highway-99-tunneling-machines-lift-and-lower-operation-went-down-and-what-happens-next/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:20:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=320993

That one-minute video shows you how the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s repaired front end was lowered into the pit where the rest of the machine awaited. WSDOT just made it public along with this update on what’s happened since then, and what’s next:

Seattle Tunnel Partners has reconnected the SR 99 tunneling machine’s 2,000-ton front end to the section that remained in the access pit during repairs. With the two sections of the machine now bolted together, crews from Mammoet have unhooked the front-end piece from the massive red crane that performed this week’s lift.

Significant work remains for crews tasked with reassembling the machine. Three large pieces of the machine’s outer shield will be lowered into place for reassembly in the coming days, according to STP’s most recent schedule. Crews also must weld the pieces back together, in addition to the lengthy task of reconnecting the hundreds of wires and hoses that are integral to the tunneling operation. STP and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen will conduct a series of tests following reassembly to ensure the machine is ready to resume mining.

WSDOT has said its contractor’s most-recent schedule anticipates that could happen in November.

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FOLLOWUP: Operation complete – Highway 99 tunnel machine’s front end fully lowered into pit http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/followup-operation-complete-highway-99-tunnel-machines-front-end-fully-lowered-into-pit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/followup-operation-complete-highway-99-tunnel-machines-front-end-fully-lowered-into-pit/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:43:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=320841

(The webcam view 24 hours ago, when part of the repaired front end was still visible above the pit’s rim)

Just in from WSDOT:

Seattle Tunnel Partners and crane crews from Mammoet have successfully lowered the 2,000-ton front end of the SR 99 tunneling machine to a platform at the bottom of the access pit.

Crews will now use the crane to fine-tune the position of the piece. When that process is complete, they will begin reconnecting the piece to the portion of the machine that remains in the ground.

The effort to return the tunneling machine’s front end to the 120-foot-deep access pit began early Monday morning. Crews started by vertically lifting the piece, which includes the machine’s cutterhead, motors and the new main bearing assembly. The crane then moved horizontally on its rails to the north. When the piece was above the pit, crews rotated it to a semi-vertical position and lowered it partway into the pit before breaking for the evening. Work resumed early Tuesday morning, with the piece reaching the bottom of the pit Tuesday afternoon.

Three pieces of the machine’s shield that remain at the surface will be lowered and reinstalled in the coming days, according to STP’s latest schedule. After the machine has been reassembled, STP and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen will conduct a series of tests will follow reassembly to ensure the machine is ready to resume mining.

STP has said it hopes to do that in November, by which time it will be almost two years since the machine overheated and was stopped – longer than the tunnel-boring itself is supposed to take.

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HAPPENING NOW: Highway 99 tunnel machine’s repaired front section headed back into the pit http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machines-repaired-front-section-headed-back-into-the-pit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machines-repaired-front-section-headed-back-into-the-pit/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:43:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=320758

If you’ve been southbound on the Alaskan Way Viaduct recently, you’ve probably seen the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s repaired/reassembled front end sitting by the “access pit,” as WSDOT’s contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners prepared it to be lowered into the pit for reattachment. This morning, WSDOT says STP has started the process, which could last at least 14 hours:

Contractor crews will use the super crane next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct to:

-Lift Bertha’s repaired cutterhead and cutter drive unit from its surface-level platform
-Move the entire piece horizontally over the access pit
-Rotate it into a vertical position
-Slowly lower the cutterhead and drive unit on to a platform inside the access pit

“Lifting more than 2,000 tons is a long, slow process,” notes WSDOT in its announcement. If you want to check in from time to time, here’s the link to the webcams, whose images update frequently. It’s been five months since the machine’s front end was brought out of the pit to be fixed.

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Highway 99 tunnel machine: WSDOT’s contractor starts ‘reconnecting’ its biggest pieces http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/highway-99-tunnel-machine-wsdots-contractor-starts-reconnecting-its-biggest-pieces/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/08/highway-99-tunnel-machine-wsdots-contractor-starts-reconnecting-its-biggest-pieces/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 03:13:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=320229

(Late-afternoon screengrab from WSDOT webcam)

Five months after parts of the Highway 99 tunnel machine were lifted out of its “access pit” along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the state says its contractor reports they’re getting close to putting the repaired parts back in. From WSDOT’s update today:

Seattle Tunnel Partners has begun reconnecting the two largest pieces of the SR 99 tunneling machine’s front end. On Saturday, Aug. 15, crane crews from Mammoet lifted the machine’s bearing block into place atop the cutterhead and drive unit. The newly reconnected front end of the machine will remain at the surface while Hitachi Zosen installs its motors. When installation of the motors is complete, Mammoet will lower the 2,000-ton piece back into the pit. … STP’s most recent schedule indicated the lowering of pieces would begin in early August, but some parts had to be remanufactured due to tight tolerances – measured in millimeters – that need to be met as the machine is reassembled. Those new parts have since arrived and been successfully installed. … Once the machine is in the pit, crews will begin the lengthy task of reconnecting wires, hoses and other parts to the portion of the machine that remains in the ground. A series of tests will follow to ensure the machine is ready to resume mining.

So far, WSDOT says, its contractor still “has a plan in place to resume tunneling in late November as scheduled,” but it notes that it “cannot verify the contractor’s schedule.”

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Highway 99 tunnel’s newest schedule: Digging again by year’s end? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/07/highway-99-tunnels-newest-schedule-digging-again-by-years-end/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/07/highway-99-tunnels-newest-schedule-digging-again-by-years-end/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 15:14:55 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=316920

(WSDOT-provided photo: Working on machine’s ‘main bearing’)

With a big reminder right in the middle of its announcement – “The state is not able to verify the contractor’s schedule” – WSDOT went public this morning with the newest projected schedule for the resumption of Highway 99 tunneling. It says contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners believes it will be digging again in late November, almost two years after its machine stopped, with a projected opening date of spring 2018. The schedule document made public by WSDOT is dated last month and goes through the tunnel-machine repairs piece by piece; WSDOT’s news release (read it in full here) quotes an STP executive as saying they couldn’t tell how long the repairs would take until they took the machine apart. It also says the cause of the damage discovered after the machine was shut down in December 2013 “has not been determined.” While the repair work continues, so does work on the tunnel’s portals, and WSDOT is showing off south-portal progress to media crews this morning.

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About those big, bright, yellow stacks you’re seeing by The Viaduct http://westseattleblog.com/2015/07/about-those-big-bright-yellow-stacks-youre-seeing-by-the-viaduct/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/07/about-those-big-bright-yellow-stacks-youre-seeing-by-the-viaduct/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 00:36:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=315901

5:36 PM: That photo from a Highway 99 project webcam shows a new landmark in progress – two of the four bright-yellow ventilation stacks going up at what will be the “south operations building” for the tunnel. Each one is 40 feet tall, made of 3/8-inch-thick steel, and built in Longview; the other two will be within a day or so, according to WSDOT. The “north operations building” at the other end of the tunnel route will also have a set of stacks like this. Read more about this week’s installation here.

P.S. Still no new schedule for the tunneling machine, so far.

ADDED 6:38 PM: But there will be one soon, WSDOT says tonight: “Today, the Washington State Department of Transportation received a new schedule from Seattle Tunnel Partners, the SR 99 tunnel contractor. We intend to release this schedule information to the public, but first need time for a preliminary review. WSDOT and STP will provide an update on their repair efforts and their schedule sometime next week.”

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