West Seattle Blog... » Alaskan Way Viaduct http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 14 Oct 2015 01:04:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 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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No update on Highway 99 tunneling schedule yet, stakeholders’ group told http://westseattleblog.com/2015/06/no-update-on-highway-99-tunneling-schedule-yet-stakeholders-group-told/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/06/no-update-on-highway-99-tunneling-schedule-yet-stakeholders-group-told/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 01:52:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=314744

(WSDOT photo from early June, installing new part for the tunnel machine’s cutterhead)
When will the Highway 99 tunneling machine be ready to resume digging?

(Added Monday – slide deck from stakeholders’ meeting)
WSDOT told its longrunning Highway 99/Viaduct stakeholders group today that it really has no idea – its contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners still hasn’t provided a new schedule for when it thinks the machine will be fixed and ready to go. So technically, they still only have a schedule that says it was expected to get going around August 1st, said Brian Nielsen, the new deputy program administrator (replacing Matt Preedy, who left for a job at Sound Transit). “Clearly they’re a couple months behind” where they would have had to have been to make that timeline, he said, but they haven’t heard from STP and will let the public know when they do. Once they start up, Nielsen said, they consider the session “a test section” with “essentially a new machine” for the first 500 feet or so, until they get to “Safe Haven 3,” where they’d have to stop down before going under the Viaduct.

We were the only news organization at the stakeholders’ meeting, held in a meeting room at Safeco Field, so we took notes on a few other items of general interest – they’re ahead:

GROUND SETTLEMENT IN THE PIONEER SQUARE AREA: This month, new meters and ground-monitoring walls have been installed “to help us understand the settlement that’s occurred,” said WSDOT’s Dave Sowers. Things seem stable now, he said.

SEATTLE PUBLIC UTILITIES: Water-main replacement “needs to be done quickly,” because the current water main is at risk of failure; the work zone is on Western Avenue between Yesler and Spring, and is also directly above Highway 99 tunneling machine path. Installation will start in July, SPU’s Ross Hathaway said, continuing into October.

NORTH PORTAL: A traffic shift is coming up later this summer – August 21st-24th, the Battery Street Tunnel and areas just north of it will close to move traffic from Aurora to the new 99 deck in that area. WSDOT says they’ve worked hard to arrange that weekend for the late Friday to early Monday closure.

COLMAN DOCK ACCESS: WSDOT says it’s created almost 70 more spaces on the dock itself to try to keep summer traffic off nearby streets, starting this week. But it’ll still be dicey, so if you’re trying to catch a state ferry westbound, use alternatives, including Fauntleroy, they’re urging.

WATERFRONT PROJECT: Another comment period for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Promenade/Overlook Walk is about to open, with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement going live next Monday, Angela Brady told the stakeholders. Comments will be accepted through waterfrontseattle.org, DEIS@waterfrontseattle.org, and by mail. A public meeting is planned July 22nd. 90 percent design is awaiting public comments – probably spring next year. Budget for total waterfront work remains $1.07 billion, Brady said in response to a question from West Seattle stakeholder rep Vlad Oustimovitch.

SEAWALL: Next Wednesday, central-waterfront businesses reopen after another construction season; “nearly 70 parking spaces will be restored near Waterfront Park, pedestrian loading/unloading zone will be adjacent to Pier 57, exit from the parking area will be at University to the south.” Then the final construction season will start October 1st.

OTHER PROJECTS: A few other projects of interest were reviewed – including the HOV lanes being added to mainline I-90 between Mercer Island and Seattle, with safety upgrades to the Mount Baker and Mercer Island tunnels; 25 more weekend closures are ahead, but not until fall, as they had agreed to have no closures between June and October. Light-rail construction will happen in the express lanes in mid-2017, he said. He also reminded everyone that 520 across Lake Washington will be closed this weekend (which means I-90, preferred by south-end travelers including those from our area, will be busier).

The meeting ended early; no date set for the next one yet, but it’ll likely be in September.

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Highway 99 tunnel machine damage ‘more extensive’ than expected, WSDOT tells City Council http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machine-damage-more-extensive-than-expected-city-council-told-during-briefing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/happening-now-highway-99-tunnel-machine-damage-more-extensive-than-expected-city-council-told-during-briefing/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 17:35:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=310775

(ADDED 12:11 PM: WSDOT slide deck as presented to City Council this morning)

10:35 AM: The damage to the Highway 99 tunneling machine is “more extensive” than expected, but not more extensive than they were expecting to fix. That’s how it was just announced by WSDOT’s Todd Trepanier during the scheduled periodic Highway 99/tunnel project briefing for the City Council. For as long as the briefing continues, we’ve embedded it above (click the “play” button to access the live Seattle Channel stream). Trepanier specifically mentions machine sealing that’s been “stripped away.” Trepanier says Seattle Tunnel Partners hasn’t said what caused it, and doesn’t have to, under terms of the design/build contract, but councilmembers are pressing the point.

10:42 AM: First among them is Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who wants to know the schedule and says he’s nervous every day the Alaskan Way Viaduct stays open. Trepanier says that the contractor has told them they’ll have a revised schedule next month. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen asks if there’s some deadline for this to get going again; Trepanier says they want the contractor to “take the time that (they) need” but adds on followup that the contract does include deadlines with monetary consequences. Those deadline dates are not close, though, Trepanier says. He tries to move along but O’Brien asks again, do they have any idea what went wrong? Trepanier replies no, that’s between the contractor and the machine’s manufacturer. He continues showing images of the damage (no slide deck provided yet). “If everything is going wrong like this right now, how do we know (it’s OK) before it gets back in the ground (and resumes tunneling)?” asks Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

Next, it’s on to a report about ground settlement in the area. One report has reached the conclusion that the drawdown of an aquifer by the “dewatering” for the access pit caused November’s settlement. But that has stabilized, Trepanier goes on to say. “That type of settlement is no longer going to continue,” they believe. In all, he adds, three reports related to the settlement are out – and they don’t all agree with each other regarding other points. One specific area, he adds, is believed to be an area “where there’s always been a problem” predating the dewatering.

11:03 AM: Trepanier is showing charts with details of which engineering firm says what. This part of the briefing has lasted much longer than the one about the specific damage has been found in the tunnel machine. After a few minutes of details, he recaps that they disagree with the city over what’s to blame for the Pioneer Square water main that needs to be replaced – “it’s always been a problem” in their view, before the tunnel-project dewatering. He also says that they haven’t found noteworthy structural damage in the area. He also says the aquifer related to the dewatering should eventually have a “rebound effect … when the pump shutoff takes place.”

11:21 AM: WSDOT moves on to an update on what other work is being done while the tunnel machine is being fixed. On this side, the South Operations Building is taking shape, he notes. And WSDOT is writing its response to the city’s evaluation of the Viaduct, Trepanier adds.

11:29 AM: Briefing is over. We’re taking down the live-video window; we’re expecting the slide deck from WSDOT in a bit and will add that when it’s available.

11:43 AM: WSDOT has published its own summary, here.

12:11 PM: And now we’ve received the slide deck, and added it atop this story.

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UPDATE: Southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct closed 2+ hours because of spool-carrying truck’s trouble http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/traffic-alert-another-lost-load-on-southbound-highway-99/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/traffic-alert-another-lost-load-on-southbound-highway-99/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:51:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308592 (UPDATED 4:41 PM with new post-incident info from SPD)

11:51 AM: The traffic backup on the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct looks more like afternoon commute right now than lunchtime. SPD says it’s because of a lost load – reportedly a “12-foot spool.” SDOT says it’s at Seneca Street and blocking the right lane. WSDOT describes it as “a truck striking the Seneca St. overpass.” More to come.

11:59 AM: Now SDOT says the southbound Viaduct is closed at the Battery Street Tunnel.

12:04 PM: Update from SFD:

Here’s a picture from the scene. (Added: Alan sent this photo looking southwestward toward the trouble spot, taken in the early going:)

12:16 PM UPDATE: The Columbia Street onramp to 99 remains open, per SDOT. And they’ve just announced they’re opening a lane beyond that.

12:29 PM: Southbound 99 is being closed again from the BSTunnel and Western – but again, access from Columbia Street is *not* affected. WSDOT now says, “Forklifts from the Viaduct project are going to the semi on the SB 99 Viaduct to help secure the large spools of wire.” (Added: Photo sent by Ben:)

1 PM: They’re still working to clear the situation.

1:52 PM: SPD says the semitruck driver will be cited. They’re close to clearing the scene.

1:57 PM: Reopened!

2:18 PM: It did not go unnoticed that all this happened one day after a City Council committee was debriefed on the 9-hour fish-truck crash closure – also on SB 99 – last month (here’s our coverage of the debrief). The mayor’s office just tweeted this:

We’re adding, above, some additional images that came in during the operation to clear the spools. Thanks to everyone who sent photos!

4:41 PM: Just in via SPD Blotter, including an update on the Viaduct’s structural status and the fine faced by the trucker:

olice received 911 reports at 11:34 AM that a semi-truck had lost a load of two 12-foot spools—each weighing between 700 and 1,000 pounds—on the southbound lanes of the viaduct, near Columbia Street. At least one of the spools struck the underside of the upper level of the viaduct, dislodging the massive load from the truck’s flatbed trailer.

Officers blocked traffic onto the viaduct between the Battery Street Tunnel and Stewart Street while officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light worked to bring in heavy equipment to remove the spools.

Crews were able to use a bulldozer to re-load and secure the spools back on the semi-truck, which was moved to a construction area. Officials reopened the viaduct shortly before 2 PM. Today’s efforts to clear SR99 were significantly aided by planning and partnerships developed after another incident involving a semi-truck in March, which led to a nine-hour closure of the viaduct.

The Seattle Department of Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforcement team cited the semi driver for “no oversized permit,” a violation of a state permit, and for “hitting a structure with impaired clearance.” The driver received $482 in citations, and could potentially face fines totaling thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the efforts to remove the spools. Oversized loads are not permitted on the portion of the viaduct where today’s collision occurred.

Officials have confiscated the driver’s commercial transportation permit, which he will need to reapply for before he can transport the load anywhere.

State officials say the spools—which were reportedly headed for Alabama—appear to have only caused minor damage to the viaduct. They will conduct a further assessment later this evening.

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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.

*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.

*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):

*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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