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.