(From the slide deck shown at Tuesday’s stakeholders meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
While the Highway 99 contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners hopes to make its goal of opening the tunnel by the end of 2016, the state’s point person for the project says that might be “tough.”
To say the least.
WSDOT’s Matt Preedy briefed the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project Stakeholders’ Advisory Group on Tuesday afternoon, during their every-quarter-or-so meeting at Safeco Field. He talked about what STP is doing while it’s not tunneling, and where the work toward fixing the tunneling machine is now.
The ring of pilings around the “access pit” is done, he said, and the dewatering system is on – the blue lines are wells:
The recently restarted excavation is now halfway down, about 70 feet. Once it’s done, a “concrete cradle” will be put in, and the tunneling machine will rest atop it after advancing about 20 feet under its own power. Then the big job to lift a 2,000-ton piece of the machine will begin.
The red mobile “lift tower” to bring it up is under construction now, Preedy said, pointing out that when it’s done, it will protrude a few feet above the top of the Viaduct, just a few feet from the elevated highway – “it will be an interesting visual impact for drivers on the Viaduct.”
Components have been brought in “from throughout the globe” to put together the lifting mechanism. But even once the piece is out, that’s just the start…
New parts ready to be installed are on site now: “If you looked over the edge of the Viaduct to the west, they’re under tarps” – a new outer-seal ring and a new bearing block to work with the sealing system, which will, when repaired/installed, be different from the original one: “more robust, more tolerant.”
So then the big question – given that money is riding on it – what’s the newest schedule?
It hasn’t been updated yet, Preedy said. But he gave plenty of hints that it wouldn’t be a surprise if it moves back: “The access-pit construction has been taking longer than expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing – it’s a complex piece of work … important for the contractor to take time to make sure it’s built right.” While said contractor “hopes to stick with end of March/beginning of April (for resuming tunneling), it might be hard to meet that date … maybe they can (but we) should not be surprised if it takes longer.”
Same goes, he said, for the target date for opening the tunnel; that remains the end of 2016, but achieving that “might be tough.” And, he reminded the stakeholders, delays in opening the tunnel mean delays in demolishing the remaining Viaduct. But, the contractor has “nothing on the table right now with the state that shows how [meeting that target] can be done.”
What they are doing, as Preedy showed in his presentation, is “resequencing a lot of their work,” including some that wasn’t going to be done until the tunneling was complete. He showed slides of roadway work “coming up out of the launch pit” and work on the “southbound mainline deck.” Foundations are being built for “continuation of the cut-and-cover work that will eventually connect the mainline road with (what was) built during the southern-mile reconstruction a few years back.” A building to house the tunnel’s south-end operations is under construction, and work’s being done on its north-end counterpart. And inside the tunnel, some interior structures that weren’t going to be built until 2,000 feet had been dug, are being started now to best utilize the downtime. The top deck and side walls will be built, but the “precast lower deck” will still have to wait until the entire tunnel is dug.
One stakeholder asked how the tunneling machine will be extracted once it gets to the north end. Preedy said that plan is still under development but that it’s clear the machine will have to be broken into “fairly small parts” that can be hauled on trucks through city streets – no lifting mechanism here.
Wondering where the tolling issue stands – timeline, pricing plan, etc.? One stakeholders-group member asked about it. Preedy said he didn’t have current information available but will bring it next time.
Also discussed at the meeting:
WATERFRONT TRAFFIC: If you drive on the waterfront, get ready for another traffic-pattern switch in mid-to-late January, as the work zones for the tunnel and seawall projects change. This will affect Washington State Ferries-related traffic, with “the current U-turn (going) away and a more conventional access pattern returning.”
SEAWALL UPDATE: SDOT’s Jessica Murphy showed the first part of the new seawall going into the first zone, between Yesler and Washington, including “marine mattresses,” described as baskets with large rocks, to help sealife. A new sidewalk “cantilevered over the water” in this area will include embedded glass panels when it’s installed in mid-December: “Not transparent, but light gets through.”
The second-phase work zone between Pike and Madison is in full gear, with sidewalk removal, demolition of the old seawall, and excavation down to the top of its old support structure, as well as “improving existing liquefiable soils” via jet-grouting. Murphy said spectators are encouraged because “no one will see this kind of construction on our waterfront again in our lifetime if we’re doing it right.” Next month, there’ll be an extended work zone in front of Colman Dock.
FULL PRESENTATION FROM THE MEETING .. is here.
We did not take notes on the Mercer update.
WHO’S ON THE STAKEHOLDER GROUP? Explained here; membership roster is here. We’ve covered many of these meetings in recent years, especially the South Portal Advisory Group, before it was merged with its north-end counterpart. This meeting was sparsely attended; one of West Seattle’s two representatives, Vlad Oustimovitch, was among the few who were present. The group doesn’t vote or have other legislative authority, so no quorum is required. No date yet for the next meeting, but once we are notified, it’ll be in the WSB calendar.