Alaskan Way Viaduct – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:39:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Weekend scene: Emerald City Ride on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Sun, 08 Apr 2018 21:29:26 +0000

Thanks to Gary Potter from Potter Construction (WSB sponsor) for the photos from this morning’s big ride on the Alaskan Way Viaduct:

Rode the Emerald City Ride with Cascade Bike Club this morning. Even the rain didn’t dampen the excitement of being on the viaduct. Great fun!

You can see some other scenes from the ride on the Cascade Twitter feed.

Share This

]]> 13
TRAFFIC REMINDER: Emerald City Ride on NB Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct Sunday morning Sun, 08 Apr 2018 04:22:15 +0000 One more reminder – Sunday morning, if you’re not participating in the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Emerald City Ride, you won’t be using northbound Highway 99. From about 6 am to 11:30 am, it’ll be closed from here to Western Avenue; 6 to 9:30 am, it’ll also be closed north of that stretch, all the way north to Bridge Way. Here’s the full WSDOT alert. (The full list of road-access changes for the ride is here.)

Share This

]]> 0
VIDEO: 2 Highway 99 tunnel updates, as it gets closer to completion Tue, 27 Mar 2018 16:18:19 +0000

WSDOT has just gone public with two new videos of/about the Highway 99 tunnel, as its completion and opening approach. The video above is described as work as the double-deck highway inside it was finished. Below, a narrated clip explains the next phase of work:

Now crews are installing and testing the tunnel’s operational and safety systems. It’s a big job. Inside the tunnel there are:

*More than 300 cameras to monitor traffic and security at all times as part of an incident-detection system.

*Automatic ventilation systems designed to keep air quality and visibility high.

*Automated sprinkler systems designed to put out a fire quickly at its source.

Together, these systems will make the SR 99 tunnel one of the “smartest” tunnels ever built. This video explains how the critical air quality and fire safety systems work together:

Read more here.

As we’ve been reporting, and as WSDOT reiterates today, the tunnel *might* open as soon as this fall. When it’s pronounced ready to go, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be shut down and two to three weeks of work to finish connections to the tunnel will commence. (We reported more about that – and the status of tunnel-toll-decisionmaking – recently here.)

Share This

]]> 9
VIADUCT REOPENS: Inspection ends early – no Sunday closure Sat, 24 Mar 2018 23:29:37 +0000

4:29 PM: Just in from WSDOT via Twitter: The Alaskan Way Viaduct has reopened early, and its inspection is fully finished, so NO closure will be needed on Sunday.

6:37 PM: And in case you’ve missed our recent reports of government officials saying the Viaduct’s permanent shutdown might be as close as September, something similar is reiterated in the WSDOT news release about the conclusion of today’s inspection: “These twice-yearly inspection closures help make sure the road remains safe for drivers until the new SR 99 tunnel opens. The new tunnel may open as early as this fall.”

Share This

]]> 4
REMINDER: Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closure next weekend Sun, 18 Mar 2018 16:56:15 +0000 As we first mentioned a week and a half ago, next weekend brings what just might be the last of the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s twice-yearly inspection closures. It’s officially scheduled for two days as usual – 6 am-6 pm Saturday, March 24th, and 6 am-6 pm Sunday, March 25th – but these closures have tended in recent years to just need the first day.

For history fans, summaries of the inspections going back more than 15 years can be read here. As for why we note that this might be the last semiannual inspection, yet another briefing last Thursday (like this one three weeks ago) suggested the AWV might be out of service before October arrives.

Share This

]]> 4
AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Highway 99 tunnel and tolling update @ State Transportation Commission Wed, 14 Mar 2018 20:27:20 +0000 (State Transportation Commission, meeting at Puget Sound Regional Council HQ downtown today)

1:27 PM: We’re downtown, where the State Transportation Commission is getting an update on the Highway 99 tunnel and the process of figuring out its tolls. We’ll be updating live.

Leading the briefing about the tunnel-project status, tunnel program leader David Sowers from WSDOT. “We have a big year ahead of us, and that’s an understatement. … The light at the end of the tunnel is upon us.”

“What do we need to do to open the tunnel?” Three bullet points: 1. Complete tunnel walls and roadway decks – the “final topping slabs” of the driving surface will be finished later this month, Sowers said. Second step, “commissioning” – installing and testing tunnel systems. Mid-August is when the contractor thinks those will all be done, Sowers said.

Then when the tunnel is verified as safe and ready to go, STP hands it off to WSDOT, and the Viaduct closure begins – “branded” as 17 days, but more like “about three weeks of time” to “reorient the existing corridor that now goes onto the Viaduct, into the tunnel,” says Sowers. He says there’ll be one big difference from past major closures – once the tunnel opens, post-closure, everyone will have to get used to the new connections from both ends.

Here’s his slide showing what happens on the south end during that closure time:

1:37 PM: Dearborn, in that slide, “is a street that doesn’t exist yet,” Sowers elaborates. He’s now on to explaining that the Viaduct demolition, Battery Street Tunnel decommissioning, and North surface street connections are being combined into one contract, and they’re expecting proposals from four contractors “in the middle of next month.” That contract will be worth about $100 million.

Next – Carl See, senior financial analyst for WSTC, leading the tolling-status section of the briefing. He’s focused on presenting results of a study that was requested about two months ago. He says some key factors have changed since the analysis began. Here’s the slide showing them:

Note “all requested toll rate scenarios maintain initial toll rates” in $1-$2.50 range, the former overnight and weekends, the latter during PM weekday commute, and other steps inbetween. Beyond the possible rates, there are a variety of scenarios the commission wanted to analyze, including how much tolls might rise over the years ahead. Most of the options performed similarly over the years ahead, See said. The analysis also included a look at whether traffic would be “ramping up” post-tunnel opening and a mention of the possibility that there might be a no-tolling period at the start for drivers to get used to the tunnel.

1:53 PM: Three tolling options came out “generally at or above preliminary coverage target” for debt service, See says – options 1a, 3a, 5a. Here are the two slides that explain (note that they are both variants of the $1-to-$2.50 assumption, which remains a proposal – no final decision for a few months):

A lot of what they’re analyzing involves not just how much money is generating but what kind of a “cushion”/reserves will be generated. That would be needed, one commissioner notes, in case toll revenue drops off at some point, so some other part of the state budget wouldn’t have to be dipped into, to cover for a shortfall. In response to a question, See says they still have time to analyze other options … but not much. The commission should “settle on key financing assumptions, and determine if other scenarios are needed” by next month. They need to get some updated information before making that decision – including “updated debt service requirements for $200 million capital funding from Office of State Treasurer.”

It’s pointed out from the commission side of the room that “everybody wants to keep it nimble … we’re going to have to keep it flexible” depending on what actually happens with traffic and resulting toll-paying once the tunnel opens.

Timeline for decisionmaking includes public meetings in late spring, according to what was just shown:

March-April, stakeholder discussions continue

April 17-18, commission meets, decides on finance assumptions and whether more analysis is needed

April-June, more stakeholder outreach and public input meetings – plus more toll-scenario requests IF needed

June 19-20, tolling subcommittee of WSTC will have recommended toll-scenario options for the full commission to review

June-July, more “stakeholder outreach and public input meetings”

July 17-18 meeting, proposed final toll plan approved by commission

July-September, more “stakeholder outreach and public input meetings”

Commission meeting September 11th – public hearing and final decision

And one commissioner stresses that even with a no-toll grace period at start of tunnel operations, the tunnel rates do need to be finalized before opening.

2:25 PM: The tunnel update is over. The financial analyst is now on to a somewhat-related item, status of a proposal to standardize exemptions across the state’s tolled facilities – tolls are the purview of the Transportation Commission, which is why the tunnel decision is in its hands. They’re also looking at systemwide fees and rates, which are charged in different ways (think about the difference between ferries and bridges, for example) – look for public-input meetings on all this later this year, too. So we’re wrapping up our coverage here.

Share This

]]> 3
TUNNEL TOLLING: Next discussion Wednesday – and not in Olympia this time Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:08:25 +0000 (WSDOT aerial photo of new tunnel’s south portal, taken last month)

The Highway 99 tunnel’s expected to open in a matter of months, but the toll rates have yet to be finalized. The decision is in the hands of the Washington State Transportation Commission, which usually meets in Olympia, but will be meeting in downtown Seattle next Wednesday (March 14th). It’s a day-long meeting with multiple topics; tunnel tolling is scheduled for 1:30 pm – it’s a briefing/discussion, not a vote, as there’s no final proposal yet. The meeting is at Puget Sound Regional Council HQ (1011 Western, fifth floor), open to all, with a public-comment period in its final half-hour, starting at 4:10 pm. Meantime, you can see WSDOT’s latest tunnel-construction update by going here.

P.S. Semi-related reminder – as we reported on Thursday, one of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s last pre-demolition inspections will close it Saturday, March 24th, 6 am-6 pm (and the next day if needed, though most recent inspections have just used the first scheduled day)

Share This

]]> 29
NEXT VIADUCT CLOSURE: March 24th and maybe March 25th too Fri, 09 Mar 2018 05:23:01 +0000 WSDOT won’t send out a notice until it’s closer, but for your advance planning, we’ve confirmed that – as listed on the city’s weekly Construction Lookahead – the next Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closure is set for Saturday, March 24th, 6 am-6 pm. The state also reserves the right to close it again the same hours on Sunday, March 25th, but recent closures haven’t needed that second day. In confirming this with AWV spokesperson Laura Newborn, we noted that many people are likely to be on the road on March 24th getting to and from the March For Our Lives; she says they set the date before the march was planned, but hope it won’t be too much of an impact since the march route is from Capitol Hill to Seattle Center.

P.S. The most recent estimate for the permanent closure of the AWV is September – that’s what County Councilmember Joe McDermott told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition last month.

Share This

TRAFFIC ALERT REMINDER: Battery Street Tunnel closure Sunday morning Sun, 04 Mar 2018 01:40:23 +0000 If you are headed out of West Seattle tomorrow morning, remember that – as we’ve been mentioning in our weekday morning traffic coverage – the Battery Street Tunnel and part of Highway 99 north of it will be closed for several hours because of the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K. The BSTunnel will be closed both ways between 6 am and 11:15 am; north of it, NB lanes will be closed to North 45th Street until 11:15 am, and SB lanes will be closed from N. 38th southward until 10:25 am. See other downtown closures here.

Share This

OVERNIGHT TRAFFIC ALERT: SB Alaskan Way Viaduct lane closure all week Tue, 13 Feb 2018 07:04:06 +0000

Thanks to Bruce for the tip via Twitter: Road work has a lane closed on the SB Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99, and that’s backing up traffic, even at this hour. We found the advisory on the right sidebar of this WSDOT page – it says the left lane will be closed between Columbia and Royal Brougham every night through Thursday night/Friday morning, 7 pm-5 am.

Share This

ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT: Your chance for a bicycle ride before it’s gone Tue, 30 Jan 2018 19:20:39 +0000 Since the Alaskan Way Viaduct might close forever before this year is out, this might be one of your last chances for an up-close-and-personal look: Cascade Bicycle Club is including The Viaduct on its Emerald City Ride route this spring, and even if you’re not up for the full route, you can sign up for the 3-Mile SR 99 Viaduct Experience, “designed for families with children and beginning riders.” It’s not a race, so, the club explains, “You’ll be able to stop, look around, take a photo, and enjoy the view.” This is happening the morning of April 8th on the northbound Viaduct (so even if you’re not interested in the ride, note that it’ll be closed to motorized vehicles for a few hours). Registration just opened today, and you can find out more here.

Share This

]]> 13
TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct reopens after truck crash Thu, 25 Jan 2018 21:49:28 +0000

1:49 PM: That photo tweeted by SFD shows a truck crash that has closed the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct from the Battery Street Tunnel southward. No injuries, and the driver got out OK, but the SB lanes of The Viaduct will be closed until this is cleared.

(Image tweeted by SDOT)

Buses are being rerouted too, according to an alert just in from Metro. Updates to come.

2:32 PM: A tow truck is on scene.

3:23 PM: No time estimate yet on SB Viaduct reopening. But there’s some bad news if more people head to the West Seattle Water Taxi to get around the 99 problem – King County just sent an alert that the smaller Spirit of Kingston is on the WS route tonight. Meantime, most SB surface routes are backed up, according to info including the SDOT Travelers’ Map (look for the red).

3:32 PM: The southbound Viaduct has just reopened. The left lane is closed for repairs, though.

6:35 PM: The repair closure isn’t over yet, according to SDOT.

6:57 PM: All lanes are open again. (See comments below for some examples of this afternoon/evening’s nightmarish traffic.)

Share This

]]> 54
TRAFFIC ALERT UPDATE: Battery Street Tunnel closure over Sat, 13 Jan 2018 14:18:29 +0000

6:18 AM: Reminder that the Battery Street Tunnel closure is under way right now – closed for an inspection related to plans for its decommissioning after the Alaskan Way Viaduct is taken out of service. The closure is scheduled to continue until 10 am; if you are headed northbound on 99, you will have to exit at Western, and if you are headed southbound, you will have to exit at Denny.

10:19 AM The SDOT webcam above verifies the tunnel has reopened.

Share This

]]> 3
HIGHWAY 99 TUNNEL: It ‘could open … as soon as this fall’ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 01:29:39 +0000 (Northbound deck inside Highway 99 tunnel – WSDOT photo from last week)

WSDOT‘s newest Highway 99 tunnel update is out, and the state says that Seattle Tunnel Partners‘ newest schedule indicates “the tunnel could open to drivers as soon as this fall.” They’re not ready to estimate a date yet, and WSDOT notes that a “significant amount of work remains between now and tunnel opening,” but it’s getting closer. And WSDOT’s update includes the reminder that when “the tunnel is ready to open, SR 99 through downtown Seattle will be closed to traffic for approximately three weeks” so that connections can be finalized. You can read the entire update here.

P.S. As we’ve been reminding you in the morning traffic/transportation updates, the Battery Street Tunnel will be closed for four hours this Saturday morning, 6-10 am, for an inspection related to its future decommissioning

Share This

]]> 46
ADVANCE ALERT UPDATE: Battery Street Tunnel closure January 13th Fri, 05 Jan 2018 23:15:44 +0000 ORIGINAL JANUARY 5TH REPORT: Early heads-up: One week from tomorrow – on Saturday morning, January 13th – the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close for four hours, both ways from Seneca to Denny, including the Battery Street Tunnel. This is for an inspection related to plans for decommissioning the BST when the Highway 99 tunnel goes into service and takes the Viaduct out of service. The closure is scheduled for 6 to 10 am on January 13th.

JANUARY 8TH UPDATE: The boundaries of the closure, originally published on SDOT’s weekly construction/closure advisory, were wrong, WSDOT tells us today, and it’s basically just the Battery Street Tunnel, so if you are northbound during the closure, you will be able to exit at Western; if you are southbound, you will be able to exit at Denny. And the Elliott Avenue onramp to SB 99 will remain open.

Share This