P.S. Here’s our day-by-day list of closures for the week ahead, also including the city’s Spokane Street Viaduct plus the bike-trail work by the “low bridge” the next two days.
(Photo via WSDOT’s Twitter feed)
The WSDOT media alert on Tuesday called it a ring, but we agree with those who say it looks more like a hoop (or even an echo of the new waterfront ferris wheel!) – 57 feet in diameter and shown off during today’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the Highway 99 Tunnel “launch pit.” It represents the diameter of the tunnel, which is scheduled to be bored starting next summer. Here’s the lineup of (mostly) politicians past and present at the ceremony:
(Photo via the Seattle City Council’s Facebook page)
West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is at the mike in that photo; locals King County Executive Dow Constantine (behind Rasmussen in the photo) and former mayor Greg Nickels (who was still in office when the state’s tunnel bill became law three years ago) were also there. Today’s groundbreaking represented the start of digging south of the remaining Viaduct, for the spot where the tunnel-boring machine will get started, heading underground and northbound.
SIDE NOTE/REMINDER: Speaking of the remaining Viaduct, the Highway 99 stretch from downtown to the West Seattle Bridge is scheduled for a full-weekend closure later this month, 11 pm June 15 through 5 am June 18, as first noted here last week.
From the weekly “lookahead” sent out on behalf of SDOT and WSDOT – it’s online, here – we get advance word of the next all-weekend Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 closure: Friday night 6/15 till Monday morning 6/18, so here’s your early warning.
The West Seattle Bridge-to-Battery Street Tunnel section of Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed all weekend for continuing reinforcement work, pre-tunnel construction – and that can lead to scenes like this one, shared by Anne from Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor). You can check West Seattle-relevant traffic cams “live” on the WSB Traffic page if you have to head that way before the scheduled reopening early Monday.
Thursday afternoon is when WSDOT and SDOT usually send out the next round of major closure alerts – and here are the biggies for our area for the next few weeks, highlighted by an all-weekend Alaskan Way Viaduct closure in two weeks:
- May 7-10, the westbound lanes of the Spokane Street Viaduct will be closed nightly at SR 99. All westbound traffic will exit at Harbor Island and be detoured via the lower Spokane St roadway/low bridge to West Seattle. The southbound SR 99 ramp to West Seattle will remain open. [This starts at 9 pm each night.]
- Beginning May 9 at 7 PM, expect changes on the Alaskan Way waterfront overnight. Traffic will be moved off of Alaskan Way and will be relocated underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct between S King St and Madison St. On the night of May 9th, S Washington St, Yesler Way, Columbia St and Madison St will be closed. Officers will be on-hand Thursday morning to assist traffic with the new road network and traffic patterns.
- May 18-21, the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR 99) will be closed between Denny Way and S Spokane St in both directions Friday night through Monday morning. All on- and off-ramps will also be closed.
The May 9 mention is the one that goes with the ferry-terminal-reroute video we’ve been featuring here – the big change will kick in the morning of May 10th. Other areas of the city have various smaller closures too, and you can see the complete grid for what’s in the works by going here.
Every few months, WSDOT convenes the “stakeholders” known as the South Portal Working Group to get a briefing on what’s up with the south end of the Highway 99/Viaduct/Tunnel project and everything that ties into it. They got together again late today at the usual meeting spot, Sound Transit‘s board room at King Street Station. Ahead, toplines of potential West Seattle interest:
SPOKANE STREET VIADUCT WIDENING PROJECT:
*Approaching 90 percent completion, says SDOT project manager Stuart Goldsmith. The project is now expected to be done in “early September.” The new westbound 1st Avenue South ramp won’t fully open till then.
*May 22nd is the date expected for reopening the 4th Avenue eastbound exit, and then closing the 1st Avenue South eastbound ramp for another 6 to 8 weeks.
*Exit confusion where the bridge meets 99 (and truckers going rogue): They’re still working on signage – covering the ones that point them to the Spokane St. Viaduct for I-5.
NEW HIGHWAY 99 BRIDGE (ELEVATED STRUCTURE) WHERE THE VIADUCT USED TO BE:
*WSDOT’s Matt Preedy says the first set of girders for the northbound bridge was set last night – right now both directions are running on the semi-recently-completed bridge that will eventually carry southbound traffic. They have met the milestone of “100 percent up out of the ground,” said Preedy, and are on track to complete the bridge and shift traffic onto it by fall of this year – earlier than what they thought last year.
SOUTH ATLANTIC STREET OVERCROSSING FOR 99
*Bids will be opened later this month; this overpass bridge is to be complete by end of next year. How will bicycles get along? Preedy was asked. The path back to West Seattle will be “detoured a little further to the west” during construction.
EAST MARGINAL WAY SOUTH REBUILD
*On track for completion by June.
AIRPORT WAY SOUTH BRIDGE
*Still expected to reopen by the end of the year.
HOW WOULD SODO BASKETBALL/HOCKEY ARENA AFFECT TRAFFIC?
*One group member pointed out that the possibility completely tousles what’s been under discussion here for a very long time – 4 extra “events” a week – and wondered if it had been adequately discussed among transportation managers.
*The arena came up, by the way, in a new “what’s on your mind?” section of the meeting. Some members including West Seattle’s Pete Spalding had suggested the group’s meetings needed more time to listen to actual concerns regarding the south end traffic situation, and less on presentations that might or might not directly affect them.
ALASKAN WAY – NOW, FUTURE
*Wednesday or Thursday of next week, the detour announced last week – with the demonsration video repeated above – will take effect, and will be in effect until at least early 2014, “possibly longer, depending on the city’s seawall-replacement schedule,” Preedy says. Traffic will be under the Viaduct all the way to Madison. If continuing north, you veer over, and by Spring Street, you’re back in the current Alaskan Way lans. Through traffic will be southbound one lane; northbound, part two, part one. They will implement “bumper to bumper” ferry queueing on the dock, which means 100 more cars, with the help of an on-dock supervisor. There’s 100 extra potential spaces using some street/curb space.
*East/west, they will feed people directly off the dock with more options including going straight through and accessing 2nd Avenue Extension. The bike path will be on the east side of the viaduct path from Jackson to Yesler, but north of that, the bike path will cross the detoured Yesler then cross again at Madison. West Seattle group member Vlad Oustimovitch worried that would be creating a lot of “bicycle/vehicle conflicts” in the short run. He called the detour-and-detour again plan “convoluted.” WSDOT says they’re most concerned about safety. The sidewalk on the west side of Alaskan Way will remain open, but it’s not wide enough to be the primary route.
ALASKAN WAY WIDENED FOR STREET PARKING
*About 66 on-street metered parking spots are being created between Spring and Pike along Alaskan Way. That’s about a third of the 200 lost under The Viaduct.
WSDOT has just gone public with that new video showing a reroute of Alaskan Way that kicks in during the second week of May, preparing for Highway 99 tunnel work, and it’s likely to be of particular interest to people who use the downtown ferry terminal as well as pedestrian/bicycle path users. Here’s the detailed explanation.
From the citywide “lookahead” updated by SDOT each week (but also containing info on state projects): Just one round of major closures next week – nightly from Monday (April 23rd) through Thursday (April 26th and into early April 27th morning), the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 stretch will be closed overnight for four nights, between Denny Way and the West Seattle Bridge, 9 pm-5 am nightly.
Later tonight, we’ll have a followup on the city’s Spokane Street Viaduct work, two days after the big “traffic shift.” In the meantime, the state just sent word of ITS plans for Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct next week: Southbound between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge, overnight closures Monday night through Thursday night, 10 pm-5 am each night, “to reinforce both decks between South Washington and Columbia streets in Pioneer Square … in preparation for tunnel boring beneath this two-block section of the structure in late 2013.”
The weekend closure of the Visduct did end on schedule; the state says it reopened around 4:30 this morning.
(Newest traffic-cam image of traffic-less Viaduct)
If all is going according to WSDOT‘s schedule, the (remaining) Alaskan Way Viaduct, and Highway 99 from there to the West Seattle Bridge, is closing about now, and is scheduled to stay closed until Monday morning. This is the twice-yearly inspection closure, and some maintenance work is being done too. (Then it’ll close again the weekend after next, Friday night 4/6 through Monday morning 4/9.)
Meantime, a commenter asks about the reason for the early April closure – as explained by WSDOT here, it’s for reinforcement work in advance of tunnel-boring.
(UPDATED 8:41 PM with more traffic effects tonight, and tomorrow)
Drive 99? Note that the weekend closure mentioned on the sign is NOT the only Highway 99 closure ahead:
TONIGHT: Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct is CLOSED SOUTHBOUND OVERNIGHT.
EARLY SATURDAY TILL EARLY MONDAY: 99/Viaduct is closed both ways, 6 am Saturday till 5 am Monday (if it reopens earlier, we’ll publish an update).
THEN, TWO WEEKS LATER: The Viaduct/99 will close again from 11 pm Friday, April 6th, till 5 am Monday, April 9th.
ADDED 8:41 PM: Sorry to have not had this all in one place sooner but there are a variety of things to note for tonight, and tomorrow, besides tonight’s overnight 99/Viaduct closure. First, from the weekly lookahead:
*Tonight, per SDOT: “The 1st Ave S off-ramp from the West Seattle Bridge will be closed overnight. The 4th Ave off-ramp will remain open from the Spokane Street Viaduct for access to the SODO and downtown area.”
*Also tonight, per SDOT: “The northbound on-ramp from S Royal Brougham Way to the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR99) will be closed overnight.”
*And more for tonight: “A single eastbound lane on the Spokane Street Viaduct will be closed overnight. Access to I-5 will be maintained.”
*Yet more for tonight: “Eastbound S Spokane St will be closed between East Marginal Way S and 1st Ave S each night.”
*And for Friday morning, this too from SDOT, announced late today: “Tomorrow morning, March 23, motorists traveling in the vicinity of the Seattle Center may encounter heavier traffic than usual. Between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. a crowd of 3,500 or more will be attending a private event at the Key Arena. Traffic could build in the area as early as 7 a.m. and likely will impact the morning commute between the Center grounds and I-5. Charter buses will be unloading and loading attendees during the event on streets near the Key Arena.” (Multiple WSB’ers tell us the “private event” is the Amazon all-hands meeting.)
Just got a heads-up about work that might cause some backups on southbound Highway 99 if you’re heading this way in the early afternoon: The steel plates at Holgate need to have a few things “tightened up,” so the right lane will be closed approximately noon-2 pm. We asked if those plates will ever go away, since they’ve been a source of concern for a while – they’re actually lids for “vaults,” but the closure for inspection and maintenance work NEXT WEEKEND may include replacement with new lids that “aren’t so bumpy.”
The latest weekly roundup of upcoming traffic alerts (see it here) brings us first word of plans for the next weekend-long closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It says Highway 99 will be closed from 6 am Saturday, March 24, till 5 am, Monday, March 26, “in both directions around the clock for the bi-annual Alaskan Way Viaduct Maintenance Inspection.”
(Added 6:30 pm – photo courtesy Dan Murphy)
5:25 PM: Hearing this from multiple sources – a stalled or broken-down bus (one person says it’s a 56) is blocking a lane on southbound Highway 99 around S. Atlantic, so it’s much slower going out of downtown than usual. If you haven’t left yet, you might consider an alternate route TFN.
6:20 PM UPDATE: As commenters point out, this hasn’t cleared yet. Metro has just tweeted that 99-traveling buses are delayed. Two commenters have mentioned reroutes. Thanks again to everyone who texted/tweeted/called/e-mailed about this.
6:39 PM UPDATE: According to a tweet from Metro, all lanes of southbound 99 are now open.
The NEXT bridge crunch; bike/pedestrian path alert; more, @ Viaduct South Portal Working Group briefingFebruary 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments
(Spokane Street Viaduct construction photo, from presentation at Wednesday meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Get ready for another traffic crunch on the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the West Seattle Bridge. That was one of the toplines from Wednesday’s meeting of the South Portal Working Group, an advisory group convened mostly on behalf of the ongoing Alaskan Way Viaduct/Tunnel work, but typically briefed on other major road projects affecting our side of the city, so we usually cover this group’s quarterly meetings as a place to get MEGA-EARLY heads-up.
First – if you want to cut to the chase, here’s the entire 42-page presentation given to the group, covering the north and central area progress on 99 as well as components of more interest here. Tons of information.
Now, back to that aforementioned crunch: According to SDOT, sometime next month, all Spokane Street Viaduct traffic will have to be shifted onto the new north-side structure, so that work can be done on the old south-side structure for at least six weeks. When that happens, there will be three traffic lanes – one eastbound, and two westbound.
More on that – and other toplines from the meeting, including some discussion of last week’s eastbound bridge-closure backups, ahead: Click to read the rest of The NEXT bridge crunch; bike/pedestrian path alert; more, @ Viaduct South Portal Working Group briefing…
Since Alaskan Way is part of the surface connection between here and downtown/points beyond, you might be interested in this WSDOT announcement about a reroute taking effect tomorrow (see the map here):
Drivers who use Alaskan Way South along Seattle’s waterfront can expect major changes beginning this week as crews make way for the SR 99 tunnel construction zone.
Washington State Department of Transportation crews will reroute Alaskan Way South between South Main and South King streets beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 5. Drivers will travel on a new temporary roadway located underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct, while crews use the old roadway to relocate utilities and prepare for tunnel work.
Just minutes apart, WSDOT sent two news releases that relate to tolling. The first one is perhaps of the most interest here – the committee that’s going to discuss tolling for the future Highway 99 tunnel, and how to reduce the likelihood it will lead to “diversion” (people using other roads instead), has its first meeting set for tomorrow. The second one – Tolling on the 520 bridge across Lake Washington is now set for December 29th. For full details, here’s the 520-toll-date news release; read on for text of the news release about the 99 tunnel tolling committee: Click to read the rest of 2 tolling notes: 1st meeting ahead for 99 committee; 520 date…
(Viaduct demolition photo taken last week by WSDOT)
WSDOT has more information today about the partial Alaskan Way Viaduct closure we reported here last night – including accompanying ramp closures. The main shutdown is 10 pm Monday (December 5) through 5 am Tuesday, but two main access points will close an hour earlier, and there will be some “rolling” northbound effects – read on for details: Click to read the rest of Traffic alert: More details on next week’s partial Viaduct closure…
The weekly construction update from WSDOT mentions an Alaskan Way Viaduct closure coming up next week – Monday night (December 5th), 10 pm-5 am, all southbound lanes will be closed between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge. There are some ramp closures in SODO coming up, too; here’s the full list.
The Seahawks will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday evening, starting at 5:20 p.m. with an estimated attendance of 67,000 fans. Drivers can expect heavy congestion in the areas around the stadium, in the downtown area, and on major routes to the stadium (I-5 and I-90). Seahawks fans are advised to arrive early. Commuters leaving the downtown area may also want to leave early, or wait to leave downtown until after kickoff.
(Photo by Doug Branch)
While demolition continues, three weeks post-”Viadoom,” on the remaining section of no-longer-used south end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, several West Seattleites have asked if we know the plans for those three columns left standing along the new stretch of 99. We finally got a moment to ask WSDOT, and Greg Phipps replied:
I had the same question that you had after taking some pictures of the columns last week. The answer is the three columns will be used as falsework to support construction of the Atlantic Street overpass. The columns and other falsework structures will hold up the concrete and rebar of the overpass until they can stand on their own. The pipe piles in the middle of the SR 99 construction bypass will be used for the same purpose. Below is our visualization with an arrow added to show roughly where the columns are. Construction on the overpass will begin next summer.
Current construction updates can be found here.
What you see on Highway 99 north of the West Seattle Bridge is what you get … till the tunnel’s done (projected: end of 2015). The first commute is on, after a week in which WSDOT says it demolished 2,825 feet of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, resulting in 6,000 estimated truckloads of concrete rubble (to be reused in the tunnel project) and steel rebar (to be recycled). We’re watching traffic cams, traffic reports, and other sources and if there are any problems, we’ll note them here; your observations about the new route are welcome too!
Yes, the rollercoaster week of “Viadoom” is in our rear-view mirrors. But things are different tomorrow, in various ways:
VIADUCT/HIGHWAY 99: Both directions were open again by 1 pm Saturday. Our subsequent report includes dash-cam video recorded as we tried the trip in both directions. It’s narrower in spots, and the speed limit is lower, so we’ll be publishing commute updates again in the morning with word on how that’s shaking out.
(Melissa Ann on the West Seattle run last Monday morning, which it’ll also handle today)
WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: The Rachel Marie, which broke down during the pm rush hour on Friday, is not yet ready to return, so its twin Melissa Ann, which usually handles Vashon, will be on the West Seattle run tomorrow morning (the Spirit of Kingston will fill in for Vashon). Remember that the new winter schedule starts tomorrow, which means commute hours only (here’s the new schedule) – first trip from Seacrest is 6:45. Also, for those who asked, the WT will NOT be running late for the Sounders game on Wednesday, or any other fall/winter sporting event – the staffing doesn’t permit for that, the county says.
METRO: Buses were scheduled to be back on their “Viaduct routing” as of this morning. Metro says it will watch closely to see how the new configuration – including the two-lanes-each-way elevated section – affects their schedule. Their official advisory:
Routes 21 Express, 37 southbound, 54, 54 Express, 55, 56 Express, 113, 120, 121, 122 and 125 have returned to their regular routing using the new viaduct bypass in SODO. The temporary stops at 4 Av S & S Lander Street and 4 Av And Jackson St Island will no longer be served. Expect some delays in service on the bypass due to narrow lanes and lower speed limits and please be aware that bus times may be longer (than) before the viaduct was demolished.
(“Energizer station” last Wednesday; photo courtesy WSDOT)
BICYCLES: Cascade Bicycle Club was planning one more “energizer station” tomorrow morning starting at 6:45 at the west end of the “low bridge” to cheer on riders, particularly those who tried two-wheel commuting for the first time (or returned to it) last week.
(TOPLINE: BOTH DIRECTIONS OF VIADUCT NOW OPEN AS OF 12:46 PM)
ORIGINAL 11:31 AM REPORT: Refresh this page for the latest “live” look at the southbound lanes of Highway 99 – just reopened after almost 8 days. WSDOT announced the early-reopening plan yesterday (WSB coverage here) and says the northbound lanes should be open again by noon.
12:13 PM UPDATE: Northbound still hasn’t reopened as of a few minutes ago but we just drove the southbound lanes. Gary Potter of Potter Construction (WSB sponsor) in West Seattle says he was the second driver across!
I just drove the viaduct southbound at 11:11am. I was the second car behind the truck with yellow lights. Cars were getting on at Columbia as we passed. The first ave exit is a tight two lanes, gonna be slow with buses. The s curve at the bottom is very short then you are going up the new ramp. The northbound side was full of orange jackets, I waved and they all waved back.
Here’s our video (from camera affixed to dashboard):
Remember, the new elevated section in the second half of our 3-minute clip will eventually be southbound only – but till its northbound counterpart is built, it will carry traffic in both directions, two lanes each way. One more note: Metro has said it won’t go back to its “Viaduct routing” till SUNDAY morning. And school bus schedules return to normal (some had been altered) Monday morning.
12:46 PM UPDATE: Northbound just reopened! (added) Here’s our trip in that direction (pull the play button ahead to the 2-minute mark to just cut to the new part):
(Top L, north of 1st Av. S. Bridge; top R, 1st @ Holgate; below L, I-5 on south end of downtown; below R, 12th headed for bridge to Beacon Hill, where there’s alternate WS Bridge access)
Back on commute patrol, one last time. It’s been raining seriously for a few hours now and very sloppy out there – so that will compound matters. The high bridge is backed up EASTBOUND right now, so if you have to leave West Seattle, consider an alternate (we’re checking how the alternates are doing). Updates to come!
4:10 PM UPDATE: The problem on the eastbound high bridge is described as a car fire. (a few minutes later) The fire trucks have now cleared, still a police car in the outside lane. … As for the “low bridge,” ADD says the traffic headed that way is “inching along” slowly.
4:27 PM UPDATE: Our roving crew confirms the low bridge is busy but moving. They have now moved onto 4th Ave. So., which is moving reasonably well right now.
4:54 PM UPDATE: Rain lifting, breeze kicking up. The eastbound bridge is still backed up. If you commute out of West Seattle, either wait or try a southern route like 1st Avenue South Bridge. Busy coming off the low bridge too – here’s a camera from its west end:
5:13 PM UPDATE: One WSB’er on a bus is about 12 minutes behind so far. Remember that Metro does have extra buses it can plug in here and there if a route gets backed up too far. If traffic kept you from making it to the West Seattle High School-Seattle Prep football postseason game at Memorial Stadium, we’re tweeting it live – @wsblive. If you are going to have to go over the “low bridge,” note that it’s opened just after 6 pm every day this week – the commitment was for openings to be avoided 3-6 pm.
5:26 PM: Multiple reports the Water Taxi is stalled. It was en route to Seacrest. Also word from Tracy Taylor at KING 5 that there’s a stall on Northbound I-5 near the West Seattle Bridge exit – not sure how close but it can’t make the slow eastbound WS Bridge any better… (added) Rachel Marie is said to be moving now (WS Water Taxi) but slowly. Checking with King County on what’ll be done about it for commuters.
5:36 PM: We don’t have this officially from the county but at least two people have said Water Taxi service from downtown to West Seattle is canceled till 7:30 pm. Let us know if you are at the dock and hearing anything. … update: Passengers tell us they are hearing this directly from crew. Rachel Marie IS proceeding slowly to the West Seattle side. But if you were going to take WT from downtown, we’d advise a bus home instead – though one West Seattleite says he’s going to try the WT to Vashon, and then WSF from Vashon back across to Fauntleroy…
5:43 PM: King County DOT confirms that there’ll be no West Seattle Water Taxi service till at least 7:15. Melissa Ann, the Vashon boat, will be moved over after that. You’ll recall that Melissa Ann handled the Monday morning commute as “Viadoom” week started, because Rachel Marie broke down sometime Sunday (apparently not with passengers aboard, the news came around midevening). Then Melissa Ann will be on the WS runs for the last weekend of the season (Vashon’s WT doesn’t run on weekends, anyway).
5:55 PM: The RM did make it back to the dock, so its passengers are now on the last leg of their trip home. Conflicting reports now on when service will resume. As for everything else – southbound I-5 is reported to be sludgy; the commute overall is just not going too well, so if you haven’t left yet, have patience, or maybe better yet, have dinner and leave MUCH later. (Added – photo by Katie Meyer for WSB, Rachel Marie after arrival at Seacrest)
6:03 PM: New estimate, 7:45 pm departure from Pier 50 downtown for the next WT. Meantime, some commenters say they ran from Pier 50 to go catch 37 bus home, and it’s half an hour late.
6:19 PM: Everything else is slow out there. Aside from the Water Taxi, no particular problems. … (minutes later) Except for a power outage on Alki. Will start a separate stry on that.
6:45 PM: One place REALLY not to be – southbound I-5. WSDOT says it’s backed up from the West Seattle Bridge to Shoreline.
7:11 PM: That stretch is getting a little faster, WSDOT says, but they just reported via Twitter that there’s a lane-blocking crash on NB I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge ramp.
ADDED FRIDAY EVENING: Our video of WSDOT‘s Matt Preedy briefing the media two hours after the big news that The Viaduct will open early. Among his remarks and replies – news that they’ve noticed some problems with the travel times on the lit-up signboards and will work on those; also, they did the semi-annual Viaduct inspection during this closure, so the next one won’t be till spring. The actual reopening time won’t be known till tomorrow – depends on how much work gets done tonight.
ORIGINAL 12:08 PM REPORT: Just in from WSDOT:
Alaskan Way Viaduct to reopen midday Saturday
Demolition mostly complete; new SODO off-ramp to open Monday morning
SEATTLE – Great progress by demolition and construction crews means the Alaskan Way Viaduct is expected to reopen midday Saturday between the West Seattle Bridge and the Battery Street Tunnel, a move expected to help relieve recent regional traffic congestion on Interstates 5 and 405 and local streets.
Starting this weekend, drivers will travel on a new, temporary construction bypass that will allow an estimated 110,000 vehicles a day to keep moving while construction on a replacement State Route 99 tunnel continues through the end of 2015.
Quick work by demolition crews allowed them to beat the scheduled Monday reopening of the viaduct by nearly two days.
“This project is six months ahead of schedule and today we’re again ahead of schedule,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “Thank you to the hard workers on this project, and the people of the region who were patient, found alternate routes and adjusted their schedules. Everyone showed a great spirit of cooperation.”
“Commuters made the difference by doing their part to find other ways and times to travel, which allowed our crews to close this key route for an intense period of work,” state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said. “Our crews worked aggressively to accomplish a massive amount of demolition during the longest closure we’ve ever attempted on a major state highway.”
The clock began ticking Oct. 21 when crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation closed the highway and launched their effort to aggressively demolish the southern mile of the seismically vulnerable viaduct. In about eight days, a 2,825-foot-long stretch of double-decked highway was reduced to thousands of tons of concrete rubble and steel rebar.
“Through the week, construction crews made rapid progress on demolition and debris removal, and had good weather for things like roadway striping,” said Matt Preedy, WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement program deputy administrator. “Thanks to our contractor’s thoughtful planning and approach, we are able to reopen the roadway early and give it back to drivers.”
SR 99 reopening details
· Northbound and southbound SR 99 are expected to open midday Saturday from the Battery Street Tunnel to the West Seattle Bridge.
· The on-ramp to northbound SR 99 from South Royal Brougham Way is expected to close at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 and reopen once crews finalize roadway connections.
· The southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street will remain closed until 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31.
· Drivers can expect a slower, 40 mph speed limit on much of the viaduct between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge.
· Drivers can expect a recommended 25 mph construction zone speed limit through the curving bypass in the SODO area.
· Metro Transit’s 11 bus routes that travel on SR 99 will begin using the new bypass at the start of service on Sunday morning, Oct. 30.
Friday evening commute
Until the viaduct reopens, drivers will face heavy regional congestion that this week was focused on I-5 and I-405 and parts of the downtown Seattle street grid. Commuters are encouraged to plan ahead and consider alternate routes.
ADDED 12:54 PM: Metro says its Viaduct routing will resume Sunday morning. Read on for full details of their plans: Click to read the rest of Video: Viaduct to reopen early – at ‘midday’ tomorrow…
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