Inspection report finds central Alaskan Way Viaduct still settling

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.

12 Replies to "Inspection report finds central Alaskan Way Viaduct still settling"

  • AmandaKH April 7, 2015 (11:54 am)

    Thank you for this TR. Do we know if the ERP’s assessment of not needing additional funds includes the mitigation money for additional buses – mostly for West Seattle runs?
    Additionally, I am having a hard time trusting WSDOT at this point in regards to viaduct safety. It is Still sinking, and now we have additional cracks? Where is Seattle’s Plan B?

  • DF April 7, 2015 (12:11 pm)

    Re: trusting WSDOT, I’ve lost track of whether they’ve ever said specifically if they have some standard – i.e. how much settling would be too much, how big does a crack have to be, under what circumstances IF ANY would they consider the viaduct to be unsafe. It’s hard to trust a conclusion that it’s still safe if they don’t share their decision/determination criteria ahead of time. Does anyone know if they’ve ever been clear about this?

  • Paul April 7, 2015 (3:37 pm)

    When will I wake up from this tunnel/viaduct nightmare?

  • Lacey April 7, 2015 (7:48 pm)

    i hate biking under that thing, but I’ve still been doing it. Hearing about new and widening cracks is pretty disturbing, but it’s the best route through without going out of my way (I ride the water taxi into downtown).

  • FreGirl April 7, 2015 (7:50 pm)

    At this point, they are just hoping it doesn’t collapse or kill someone before the tunnel is done. And then they will all hope that doesn’t collapse or kill anyone until they are out of office or retired and it isn’t their problem anymore. The nightmare won’t end until an earthquake turns either the viaduct or the tunnel into a death trap.

  • Mike April 7, 2015 (8:56 pm)

    “The nightmare won’t end until an earthquake turns either the viaduct or the tunnel into a death trap”
    $1 says the people running the show want it to fail so they can get federal relief funds for the replacement. When politicians are involved, follow the money.

  • FreGirl April 8, 2015 (12:51 am)

    Mike, I hate to think such things. But honestly, who could have ever thought leaving the viaduct this long or building a tunnel with no escape access in landfill silt, in a major earthquake zone, could end up being anything but disastrous in the end?

  • Mike April 8, 2015 (5:39 am)

    “building a tunnel with no escape access”
    That’s not true, it will and it’ll actually be safer than the current viaduct or a replacement option of a viaduct.
    Never underestimate the power of $. That’s why this project was delayed nearly two decades over and over.

  • John April 8, 2015 (9:35 am)

    “I am having a hard time trusting WSDOT at this point in regards to viaduct safety.” AmandaKH

    We all know that the viaduct is at great risk if Seattle gets its expected Big One.
    I drive it enjoying the views with a fatalistic acceptance.

    Your remarks slur the team of the structural and civil engineers who are signing off on the viaducts non-seismic integrity.

    Do you have any proof to support you distrust of viaduct safety?

  • wetone April 8, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    “Survey crews measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch of additional settlement near Seneca Street.”

    I guess WSDOT can’t tell the difference ? it’s either one or the other, maybe they should have just said 3/16″ if that’s the case. It’s not a big number, but when WSDOT originally had a hard number for the allowable settlement of the viaducts structural integrity it means a lot. Funny how WSDOT’s original allowable tolerance numbers for settlement keep growing. I wonder if WSDOT takes all the measurements at the same tide level (water height) ?

    • WSB April 8, 2015 (7:22 pm)

      Wet, that would mean measured in different spots. Not one spot with an ambiguous measurement.

  • dbf April 8, 2015 (10:41 pm)

    @Mike, please explain evacuation routes in tunnel to SURFACE… Every rendering I see has stairs and giant painted people going from upper to lower level. Nothing, stairs, ladders, elevators, going up couple hundred feet to SURFACE… Please correct me with facts, and or diagrams.

Sorry, comment time is over.