TUNNEL UPDATE: One-fifth of the way there

In the middle of the second week post-Viaduct closure, an update on the Highway 99 tunneling machine: After a “break for rest and routine maintenance,” WSDOT says this afternoon, “Seattle Tunnel Partners resumed mining late Tuesday evening.” The machine has now gone more than 2,000 feet in all, which is more than 20 percent of the way along the full tunnel route, shown in the WSDOT-created graphic above. It also shows the machine in Zone 2, which will take it under the Columbia onramp; as explained during the closure, when we asked WSDOT on behalf of a reader, the machine is much further beneath that structure, so a precautionary closure was NOT considered necessary. WSDOT says that from there, the machine will travel under Western Avenue, and they promise twice-weekly updates here.

9 Replies to "TUNNEL UPDATE: One-fifth of the way there"

  • Heather May 18, 2016 (6:32 pm)

    Holy moly! It’s really going to happen!!! 😀

    • DarkHawke May 19, 2016 (5:03 am)

      Ain’t you be countin’ them chickens yet.  It took ’em over TWO YEARS to go only 20% of the way, which doesn’t even consider all the finishing work once the tunnel is entirely bored (if ever?), not to mention what effect tearing down the Viaduct will have.  This project is VASTLY behind schedule and it isn’t even half done yet.  And remember, the tunnel WILL NOT accommodate all the traffic that the Viaduct does, so some lesser version of what we all did during the full closure will be come the daily routine in 2 (or more) years.

      • KBear May 19, 2016 (8:04 am)

        Darkhawke, the tunnel is only part of the project. So while the tunnel is only 20% complete, that doesn’t mean the whole project is less than half done. And yes, the new tunnel has fewer lanes than the viaduct, but where does the viaduct lead to? A FOUR LANE TUNNEL. There isn’t enough real estate to build lanes to accommodate people driving wherever they want at any time in single-occupant vehicles. We may get some relief when self-driving cars become the norm. They’ll do much better at merging, lane-changing, and keeping a safe following distance.

  • Heather May 19, 2016 (9:55 am)

    Nope @DarkHawke tunnel progress is looking good.  Tunnel will facilitate “pass thru” downtown traffic which in turn will ease local traffic. Personally, I’m excited to see what an amazing waterfront our city will have. I’ve seen images of the city prior to the viaduct and we’re fortunate to be able to remove it.

  • K. Davis May 19, 2016 (12:11 pm)

    @Darkehawke … you DO know that the finishing work on the tunnel is happening behind Bertha as it digs, right?  You DO know, as Kbear correctly points out, that work on the South Portal segment is almost done and the North Portal segment is right on track and work on the section of south SR99 was finished substantially early and way under budget?  


    We all know the project is running behind and the reasons for it.  So what’s your point?  Just to rant against the project?  Okay; good for you … what was your solution if not building this tunnel?  

    • KBear May 19, 2016 (2:17 pm)

      Also, any other option, whether rebuilding the viaduct or improving surface streets, would have meant closing SR99 for YEARS of construction. 

  • Erithan May 19, 2016 (3:18 pm)

    I always wonder when people talk about views. Won’t anyone miss the gorgeous view from atop the viaduct as you go over? Especially during sunset or morning, during half clouded days etc.

    • Mike May 21, 2016 (3:02 am)

      views you can only enjoy if you’re not paying attention to your driving…which is like texting and driving.  No, I won’t miss the view while driving on the viaduct.  I will love the view of not having a concrete structure that looks like a it was built in East Germany around 1960.

  • Erithan May 21, 2016 (5:39 pm)

    I meant more on the side of passengers/visitors getting a tour by their friends, not actual drivers. Apologies for not clarifying.

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