Want to say goodbye to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and hello to the Highway 99 tunnel? ‘Grand opening party’ February 2-3

WSDOT has long said that there’d be a public goodbye/hello party of some sort on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and in the new Highway 99 tunnel before it opens for use. This morning, the details are out. First, the news release:

Early next year, the public will have a unique weekend to run, bike, or simply explore Seattle’s past, present, and future.

Slated for Feb 2 and 3, the Washington State Department of Transportation and city of Seattle will host a grand opening celebration to mark the completion of the new State Route 99 tunnel, the final days of the viaduct, and an improved and reconnected waterfront.

Bookended by a fun run and bike ride, the weekend festivities also include a ribbon cutting, an art festival on the viaduct to celebrate the future waterfront, a public walk through in the new SR 99 tunnel, and interactive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities at the tunnel’s portals. Live music and food trucks will round out the celebration.

“This family-friendly event is a celebration for the Puget Sound region, and a big step forward for Seattle,” said David Sowers, WSDOT deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “Event activities span from the stadiums to the Space Needle, so for the best experience, we’re encouraging people to plan their weekend and reserve tickets early.”

Saturday event schedule

WSDOT will kick off the weekend early Saturday morning, Feb. 2, with a community fun run sponsored by the HNTB Corporation. The 8K route will take runners through the new tunnel, on to the viaduct, and through the Battery Street Tunnel.

Officials will then cut a ribbon near the south portal, officially opening North America’s largest bored tunnel. At that time, the public can explore:

· The new SR 99 tunnel.

· An arts festival featuring over 100 local artists, installations and a community celebration on the viaduct.

· Community festivals near the stadiums and Seattle Center, with food trucks, live music and STEM activities.

· An interactive “Excavation Station” presented by Dragados U.S.A. that will show how crews used the tunneling machine Bertha to drill and build the 5-story tunnel under Seattle.

Sunday event schedule

On Sunday, Feb. 3, the weekend celebration closes with a bike ride sponsored by Cascade Bicycle Club. The 12-mile route will give cyclists their only opportunity to ride on both the upper and lower decks of the tunnel and viaduct.

Free and paid registration for events

WSDOT encourages participants to visit the Step Forward website to register for the following weekend events:

· Free tickets to explore the tunnel and viaduct on Saturday. Those who register gain entry priority.

· Paid entry to the Saturday morning fun run and/or Sunday morning bike ride. The public must register in advance in order to participate.

It’s complicated so we browsed the site for shortcuts. For one, if you’re interested in the run, the sooner you register, the lower the price – we checked the site and it’s $35 for the first 5,000 participants, going up from there. (The bike ride does not have the same fee structure.) For two, if you’re just interested in a (free) walk onto the Viaduct, that’s Saturday afternoon, but you still need (free) tickets.

P.S. The Alaskan Way Viaduct’s permanent closure is still on for January 11th.

30 Replies to "Want to say goodbye to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and hello to the Highway 99 tunnel? 'Grand opening party' February 2-3"

  • Gina November 1, 2018 (11:29 am)

    Under travel hints, there is the suggestion to take the water taxi to the events on a Saturday and Sunday. Will there be a special schedule for the weekend? Winter schedule has no weekend sailings.

    • WSB November 1, 2018 (11:53 am)

      Good eye! I already have one followup question out but that wasn’t it. I had asked the WT folks at the time of the “January 11th closing” announcement if they would be re-adding weekend service for the transition time and the marine division’s director replied “no” but maybe they’ve had a change of heart. Checking! – TR

    • WSB November 2, 2018 (3:13 pm)

      FYI I’m still awaiting the answer to this question – acknowledged late yesterday, but no full reply yet today. So at this point whenever that info does come in, it’ll be a separate story. Thanks again. – TR

  • disgusted November 1, 2018 (1:02 pm)

    I love how they open this stupid thing and then immediately close it for weekend activities. Yeah, that’s super helpful.And the way they keep pretending there will be a waterfront that isn’t immediately taken up by developers who’ll build enormous luxury buildings that obliterate the view of the bay.

    • Andrea November 1, 2018 (2:13 pm)

      Disgusted – I think it will actually open after this Grand Opening party…

    • WSB November 1, 2018 (2:24 pm)

      Indeed, it will not have opened before the weekend activities. I checked with WSDOT about the actual opening date after today’s announcement – remember, January 11th is the closing date that launches ~3 weeks of work to “realign 99” and make the viaduct/tunnel transition – and spokesperson Laura Newborn replied, “We expect to take every bit of the estimated three-week closure and given the potential for winter weather, we don’t have a date yet. We will have a better sense after the work to realign SR99 gets going on January 11, 2019.”

    • wscommuter November 1, 2018 (3:39 pm)

      Disgusted … would you please provide some, you know, facts to support your claim that the waterfront will involve apparently evil developers constructing “enormous luxury buildings that will obliterate the view of the bay”.  And while you’re at it, would you please explain what your solution to the seismically-weak viaduct problem would have been?  I’m curious.  

      • Kram November 2, 2018 (12:29 pm)

        Maybe if people would read something before they post they wouldn’t be so upset. They could go here for example to see a nice plan: City Plans for Alaskan Way Post Viaduct . It’s not private property. The city can’t sell it. The tunnel is not deep enough to build over on Alaskan Way. Evil people who build places for non-evil people to live in will not be able to. Crisis averted.

  • carol November 1, 2018 (1:42 pm)

    your free ticket link for Saturday walk goes to Metro Market catering

    • WSB November 1, 2018 (1:46 pm)

      Hi, no, it’s the correct link.

      Looking at the site, there is a Metropolitan Market catering link for an ad currently displaying to the left of the story in desktop view, so your cursor might have ranged too far that way! Thanks! – TR

  • Rick November 1, 2018 (2:23 pm)

    More like “Say goodbye to the viaduct and Seattle”.

  • Jennie November 1, 2018 (2:31 pm)

    Thanks for letting us know about this WSB. We are lucky to have you!

  • Bob F Forrest November 1, 2018 (3:42 pm)

    SR99 will never be “permanently open”.  The public will be able to pay to use it only between safety inspections, repairs, adjustments, celebrations, parades, marches, demonstrations, etc.

    • KM November 3, 2018 (8:38 am)

      Half of those things you listed are open to the public and the other half are to ensure your safety. 

  • Noelle November 1, 2018 (5:52 pm)

    I wonder if there will be a time during the demolition of the Viaduct that Seattleites can take home a piece of the rubble? Like the King Done demo. 

  • Ting November 1, 2018 (7:52 pm)

    Wonderful and wistful visual tribute to the Viaduct here:  https://vimeo.com/58390250

  • 98126res November 2, 2018 (7:58 am)

    Will the fun runners and fun bikers be charged a TOLL for use of the Tunnel… like so many us will going in/out of West Seattle?Just sad.  I see a traffic debacle starting in January, and going forward complete with tolls to go north and south when it was free on 99 for decades, and zero outlets to downtown. 

    • WSB November 2, 2018 (10:38 am)

      If you follow the links, yes, there are fees for the run and bike ride, as there are for just about every such run and ride that I’ve ever seen. We walked several times on The Viaduct as part of the Race for the Cure for several years until it moved to a different route, and that cost $. Somebody else asked what the fees are going toward; you’d have to ask the sponsoring organizations. Putting on an event itself is not cheap; Cascade Bicycle Club is a nonprofit so I’d imagine it would be the beneficiary of whatever’s left over, though it also supports a variety of causes (the Major Taylor Project for students comes to mind) … TR

    • Tsurly November 2, 2018 (11:33 am)

      I just registered the whole family for the bike ride. I look forward to the opportunity to ride through the tunnel before it opens to cars and ride on the Viaduct one time. I also look forward to pedaling by selfish, single occupancy car drivers sitting in traffic (both during this event and once the tunnel opens to car traffic) with my middle finger in the air.

      • WSRes November 2, 2018 (12:35 pm)

        You seem nice.

        • Tsurly November 2, 2018 (2:20 pm)

          I am a very nice person. However, it gets really old listening to people constantly complain about traffic and driving, without trying any of the viable alternatives that are available offer up other solutions. 

          • Rick November 2, 2018 (6:52 pm)

            Thank you. I love your answer to the Very Virtuous and scary 2 wheeler.   I am sure he thinks he is better than the average person.

          • Tsurly November 3, 2018 (10:01 am)

            Again, people on this blog constantly complain about the cost and time required to drive. I made a time management and financial choice nearly two decades ago because I found sitting it traffic for over an hour each way and spending lots of money on gas and car maintenance was an inefficient use of my time and money. I wouldn’t consider making a choice based on the same issue that people here constantly complain about as being virtuous.

      • SelfishinSeattle November 2, 2018 (4:26 pm)

        I really regret my time as a selfish single-occupancy vehicle driver during the period that I had to commute daily from West Seattle to Everett.  Looking back, I should have embraced the 7 hour round trip bus commute topped off by a four mile daily walk to get door-to-door between home and work.  But if the thought of me sitting alone in my evil carbon box inspires even one Virtuous Bicycle Commuter to feel even 10% more self-righteous, it was worth all the frustration and wasted time.  

        • doing your part November 2, 2018 (5:42 pm)

          I always marvel at the number of people who choose to live 30 miles from where they need to be each day.  Some kind of special, if you ask me.

          • WSB November 2, 2018 (7:13 pm)

            Hey now, jobs can fire you in a heartbeat. And they can move. We are lucky to work literally feet from where we live. In our 25 years at the same residential address, that’s the closest … the furthest was 16 miles. If we had packed up and moved to be close to that workplace, it would have ultimately been counterproductive, as, less than a year after my start, the company moved its offices from Eastgate to Smith Tower, halving the commute. Then a year after that, hundreds of us were laid off and for a while I commuted to the living room again. Next gig after that – last one before this – was 11 miles. I’m all for bike lanes, though. Used them avidly in my town of then-residence decades ago. Unfortunately not to commute to my full-time job … which was 25 freeway-only miles away … but I did ride to my part-time job near home. And the next town after that? Walked to work. I hope it’s all balanced out over time. – TR

  • KayK November 2, 2018 (8:59 am)

    What are they using the entry money for?

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