Wondering how Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition will happen, once tunnel opens? WSDOT is ready to answer questions

Though the Highway 99 tunnel is still about a year and a half from opening, WSDOT is ready to talk about what happens once it’s open – the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Published on the AWV website today:

With tunnel boring complete, we’re deep in the planning stages for demolition of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct. On Thursday, we’ll launch an online open house to show what’s ahead and give the public a chance to comment on the work to come.

Removing the seismically vulnerable viaduct will be the most visible change to Seattle’s waterfront in decades. The demolition work begins after the new State Route 99 tunnel opens, which is estimated for early 2019.

WSDOT has successfully completed this type of work before. In 2011, we demolished the viaduct’s southern mile and built a new road in its place. However, the remaining section of the viaduct is more challenging, as it is much closer to buildings, businesses, homes and the busy Colman Dock ferry terminal.

Demolition is expected to take up to nine months, with the viaduct being demolished in sections to minimize localized disruptions. This contract will also involve other project elements, like filling in the Battery Street Tunnel and reconnecting several surface streets across Aurora Avenue North, which will take additional time.

Several weeks before the new tunnel opens, WSDOT will shift Alaskan Way to the west of the viaduct, which will allow traffic to move along the waterfront before and during viaduct demolition. This new video below explains some of the planning for the demolition.

Online open house
The online open house will be live from August 3 – 14.

In-person open house
WSDOT is also hosting an in-person open house on August 10 for anyone interested in the work or who wants to speak with project staff. Representatives from Waterfront Seattle, Center City Connector Streetcar, Colman Dock, King County Metro and One Center City will also be available to answer questions.

Date: Thursday, August 10
Time: 5 to 8 p.m. (walk-in style, no formal presentation)
Where: Waterfront Seattle, 1400 Western Avenue

We’ll publish a reminder Thursday when the “online open house” is ready to go.

(Note: WSDOT is advertising the open houses on WSB right now to help get the word out.)

14 Replies to "Wondering how Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition will happen, once tunnel opens? WSDOT is ready to answer questions"

  • AIDM July 31, 2017 (9:22 pm)

    I’ve never really heard a good explanation for why they would fill in the Battery Street Tunnel. It seems like this is useful, even in a post viaduct era. Anyone know if this is also considered beyond repair or just deprecated in the current street plan?

    • KM August 1, 2017 (1:04 pm)

      Just an assumption, but maybe it’s a seismic issue as well? Perhaps they would have to spend too much to retrofit it? Just guessing.

      • WSB August 1, 2017 (1:24 pm)

        From the Viaduct/Tunnel FAQ page:

        “The Battery Street Tunnel was constructed in the 1950s and has not been upgraded since. Its electrical and mechanical systems are difficult to maintain and do not meet modern safety requirements. WSDOT conducts regular safety inspections of the tunnel. It will be closed and filled in after the SR 99 tunnel opens to traffic.”

  • TJ July 31, 2017 (9:30 pm)

    While the viaduct is not pleasant on the eyes now, it would have made more sense to retrofit it (and update it cosmetically). But common sense is lacking in this city. The tunnel will handle less capacity than the original viaduct did, in a city growing like this? The price for a retrofit would have been a fraction of the tunnel. Even a bridge out over the waterfront would have been cheaper. But, just like with single family neighborhood erosion with HALA, our politicians are in bed with developers on the waterfront and this was a land grab for developers and wealthy property owners along the viaduct path. 

    • Swede. July 31, 2017 (11:14 pm)

      But the tunnel made so much more money for the contractor that built it, especially with the super long delay after they ran onto that (known) pipe…

      Traffic will be epic in Seattle in just a few years. 

    • JC August 1, 2017 (11:03 am)

      I so agree with you TJ.  I think building a new one would have saved us millions.  Seattle voters voted that tunnel down and yet, pathetic Governor Gregoire was the one who dictated to us and shoved this tunnel down our throats.   

  • Swede. July 31, 2017 (11:17 pm)

    Funny I just drove on it on Sunday and thought exactly this. Will be pretty interesting watching them take it down actually. Wonder how bad traffic will be after too? Probably be the same effect as tolling the 520 bridge, hardly anyone used it for months after that! And my understanding is the tunnel have a lot less capacity too… 

  • K. Davis July 31, 2017 (11:52 pm)

    Wow … still the impressive disinformation about the viaduct and new tunnel.  

    @TJ – the existing viaduct cannot – again, cannot – be retrofitted to a level of reliable safety for seismic events.  Competent engineers ruled that out long ago.  Just a fact.  The existing Battery St. tunnel is two lanes, just like the new tunnel – same throughput as now.  No loss of capacity.  Just another fact.

    @Swede – really?  You must know something the rest of us don’t.  The contractor bid the job and at this point, isn’t getting any extra money.  Yes … there is a lawsuit; we’ll see how that plays out, but at this point, no one knows what the outcome will be.   

    Against the tunnel … good for you.  But please know what you’re talking about.  Spare us the Trump-like alternative facts .

    • Canton August 1, 2017 (6:40 am)

      Viaduct and tunnel are separate. Viaduct, 4 lanes, one ends at Seneca st exit, one lane ends at western ave. The two REMAINING lanes go through battery st tunnel. So no, not the same. Please inform yourself, so you know what you are talking about.

      • Tunnel August 1, 2017 (9:16 am)

        There are two lanes most of the way.  It splits to three very briefly after all of the on ramps, and that fourth lane is just an exit lane for Seneca.  With regard to discussion of capacity, two lanes is the functional capacity of the road, even if it does technically split out to an extra lane for  a few hundred feet.  

        The new tunnel will have two lanes the full length for those going through and there will be additional lanes that split off separately for those who get on and off the freeway downtown.  I’m no fan of the tunnel, but I don’t see this great loss of capacity everyone’s so angsty about.

        • Canton August 1, 2017 (6:29 pm)

          You ever notice the slog from WS bridge to the choke point just past the stadiums. Then, wah la, easy sailing from there. The two exits at downtown, relieve the pressure. Now it will be the tolls that will relieve it. 

  • JCW August 1, 2017 (7:59 am)

    Thanks for posting this WSB! As a bike commuter, I had no idea what was going to happen to the main access point coming into Pioneer Square at King St. I’ll be keeping tabs on the process as they plan, and hopefully they create a nice re-route!

  • BlairJ August 1, 2017 (11:12 am)


    I thought filling in the Battery Street Tunnel was a done deal until recently.  Apparently the State and City are still discussing it.  So now is the time to get the city to keep the BST.  It seems they could try keeping the BST for a while after closing the viaduct.  Fill it in at a later date if it isn’t worth it.  I think they will find it is worth keeping.  Emergency responders should be asked about keeping it.

  • Kathy August 3, 2017 (11:01 am)

    Please, please, please, could we have a chance to have a bike ride/street party on the doomed viaduct before it is torn down? i have been wanting to ride my bike to really enjoy the views on the Viaduct for ages. It has been a big part of Seattle history and deserves a decent send off. I will be sure to express my wishes in the online open house comments.

Sorry, comment time is over.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann