UPDATE: Highway 99 tunnel dedicated, report #1

FIRST REPORT, 11:12 AM: We are at the south end of the Highway 99 tunnel to cover the 11:30 am dedication/ribboncutting ceremony. Driving on otherwise-closed 99 to access the media-parking zone, we got a look at some of the new signage:

Runners/walkers finishing the 8K are passing by, steps away. Among the West Seattleites waving at us, Deb Greer and Karen Berge of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network:

Gathering for the ceremony, many who were involved in making the tunnel happen, from politicians to advisory-group members. West Seattleites we’ve already seen include, in the former category, ex-Mayor Greg Nickels (below with wife Sharon Nickels), and in the latter, longtime advisory/stakeholder group members Vlad Oustimovitch and Pete Spalding.

Also seen already, former Gov. Chris Gregoire, who signed the tunnel bill almost 10 years ago. A West Seattleite who stood by at that Seattle Aquarium ceremony, King County Executive Dow Constantine, is one of today’s scheduled speakers. More former mayors sighted as we got ready to publish this – Mike McGinn, longtime tunnel critic, and Ed Murray, who also was there at the 2009 signing.

Again, though the tunnel is being dedicated today as a prelude to an afternoon/evening of events inside it and up on the soon-to-be-demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct, WSDOT doesn’t plan to open it until early Monday morning.

12:36 PM: Minutes ago, the ribbon was cut:

And a photo:

Full coverage later. First – on to the afternoon of viaduct/tunnel celebrations.

33 Replies to "UPDATE: Highway 99 tunnel dedicated, report #1"

  • ktrapp February 2, 2019 (11:30 am)

    I was at the run/walk this morning.  Quite fun and nostalgic.  The new tunnel certainly is brighter than the Battery Street Tunnel.  It’s somewhat entertaining to see McGinn at the festivities, considering his continued views on the whole project

  • Deb February 2, 2019 (1:07 pm)

    FYI. The 21 into the city is backed up and should not be counted on to get downtown. 

  • clark5080 February 2, 2019 (1:28 pm)

    I wonder how long it will take before it gets tagged.

  • Deb February 2, 2019 (1:33 pm)

    Just learned that the Only way to walk the new tunnel is to start from the North end and walk south. Shuttle buses will go in the tunnel  south to north only. 

  • Ericb February 2, 2019 (1:55 pm)

    Despite tickets, there are long waits to go on the viaduct.

  • Paul February 2, 2019 (1:56 pm)

    Mass confusion, huge lines and very rude staff”if you ask me a question I will call the police!”

  • Dcn February 2, 2019 (2:01 pm)

    We had a ticket for 1:30 and arrived at the Seneca entrance to a 2 block long line. We were told that they don’t care if you have a ticket or not, everyone stands in the same line. We are still over a block away after 30 min in the line. Why have tickets if they are not going to be honored? We heard that you can enter the tunnel without a wait. So, if you haven’t set out yet, avoid the Seneca entrance if you can. 

    • Karen February 2, 2019 (3:26 pm)

      We have 6:00-7:00 tickets.  Seeing this I’m wondering if we should skip it.

  • Bob F Forrest February 2, 2019 (3:17 pm)

    “Tunnel Tow Zone Ahead”??? WTF is this new hell?

    • wscommuter February 2, 2019 (5:50 pm)

      Chill.  It just means that if you stop in the tunnel, you get towed.  

  • Tracey February 2, 2019 (3:31 pm)

    Tickets for 2pm with a line snaking for blocks.  No separate line for ticket holders.  Heard event coordinator telling people you needed to keep moving on the Viaduct – no stopping or gazing.  Grabbed a beer at Fado’s and came back home instead of bothering.  How is it that Seattle manages to mess up the celebration party for the opening of one of the most delayed, over budget traffic projects the State has ever seen.  Bummer of a day. 

  • Swede. February 2, 2019 (3:52 pm)

    Was super easy go get in and thru. Nobody checked tickets either. We where literally the first ones in @ 12:30!

    • WSB February 2, 2019 (4:10 pm)

      Seneca entrance or elsewhere?

      • Tracey February 2, 2019 (4:15 pm)

        For me… Seneca

      • Swede. February 3, 2019 (1:18 pm)

        We where att he northern entrance. Thought it was a but weird, and annoying, that they didn’t check the tickets… Sure use it for knowing headcount but could informed that no need for having them ready. 

  • gazll February 2, 2019 (4:02 pm)

    The run was also problematic earlier. For some reason, it got delayed for an hour due to the viaduct needing to be closed to foot traffic and inspected for some safety related issue shortly after the run began. No further explanation was given. The last groups didn’t start until two hours after they were supposed to which meant standing in the cold or leaving.

    • JCW February 2, 2019 (11:06 pm)

      The early corrals got off to a quick start – I was supposed to run with #2, which started about 10 min later than initially planned, but I ended up dropping back to #4 to run with a friend. There were quite a few corrals still queued to enter when we got back from our route around 8:45. 

  • MrB February 2, 2019 (4:16 pm)

    Did Century Link and T-Mobile pay to put their advertising on a State owned sign?  

    • bolo February 2, 2019 (7:53 pm)

      Somewhat. Remember they are huge “Job Creators.”

    • LyndaB February 2, 2019 (8:19 pm)

      Huh.   Interesting question.  I thought it was common to have directional signage for popular destinations.  It’s no longer Safeco Field so you got T-Mobile Park.  Hadn’t thought it was a pay kind of thing.  Although the ones along the freeway where it has loads of icons for lodging and restaurants are probably a payment thing.  

    • KM February 3, 2019 (12:44 pm)

      Maybe they made a third-party agreement when they sign their naming rights deals? I just assumed it was easier (and more accurate) for the state to write the formal stadium names rather than “pro baseball field” or “pro soccer and football stadium” but it’s a good question!

  • Ericb February 2, 2019 (4:27 pm)

    Seneca entrance was where the problems we’re.  The north entrance to the tunnel and viaduct were fine as it turned out.  No one is checking tickets anywhere.

  • Tracey February 2, 2019 (4:38 pm)

    Hmmm.  Should we be proud that they weren’t checking tickets?   So those of us who were excited for the event, planned for it, and headed down at a specified time were completely disregarded by those in charge. 

  • Yma February 2, 2019 (4:44 pm)

    We had a really good time. Took Water Taxi over, caught the free waterfront tunnel up to Seattle Ctr, walked a few blocks to North end of tunnel right about when it opened. Line was not too bad. Shuttle took us back through tunnel. There was some confusion getting onto the Viaduct from Battery St tunnel – but again, not too bad. Left the Viaduct at Seneca and a short walk to catch the Water Taxi home.The Seneca entrance into the Viaduct should be avoided-looked like a really long & messy line.

  • Flimflam February 2, 2019 (5:11 pm)

    Sounds like there was no point of actually having a ticket ahead of time….

  • ITotallyAgreeWithYou February 2, 2019 (5:26 pm)

    My companion and I kept saying how glad we were to have chosen the 12:30p tickets because of the endless lines that developed. Being the first wave of people made a big difference. In the end, tickets were not checked which helped move the crowd along but it was certainly confusing and sounds like it impacted the ticket holders more as the day went on. That could have been better managed just by having a ticket holder line and walk-up line.  Crowd management could have been much more organized. We got there really too early and stood around for awhile with crowd management nearby and around 12:15 they told everyone to move to the south side of the ramp. That could have been communicated much earlier.  Thankfully nobody got their feathers too ruffled with each other about that. While the man who told the crowd to move south was unnecessarily rude, he was only one of a couple I noticed.  People stopped along the way, which is to be expected and was accepted by participants and crowd management alike. Others just moved around them, no big deal. I’m sorry to hear some were told they couldn’t stop. That is part of the experience! I did overhear one CM man tell a family to keep moving as they were exiting Seneca which was unnecessary as they were not impeding others. I think some people in those positions just get a little too power hungry.  Also, they could have taped off the areas they didn’t want the crowd to go rather than just put cones up, which were so far apart it wasn’t necessarily clear you weren’t to go beyond them. That also would have spared CM constantly yelling at people to get on the other side of the cones. Otherwise, I felt the public was civilized and understanding with one another, overall I enjoyed the experience,  and I’m glad the city gave the public this opportunity. 

  • dcn February 2, 2019 (6:10 pm)

    Tickets were useless, and I think they gave up on rationing access after a while, since there was no line at Seneca an hour or so after we got in. We were in line for about 45 minutes. Once we were on the viaduct, you could wander at will–there was no attempt to keep anyone moving and it only felt crowded near the north end. I’m happy we went to get those views from the upper deck one last time. 

  • Deftones February 2, 2019 (6:25 pm)

    Had 1:30 ticket, showed up closer to 3 and waited maybe 25 minutes at the Seneca exit. Walked on viaduct and battery street tunnel one last time, did the new tunnel. Really glad I did it. 

  • Peter February 2, 2019 (6:36 pm)

    We went down without tickets at about 1:30 (after waiting for flipping ever for a 21, then just driving). Once we figured out the situation with two separate blocks long lines, we skipped it. Walked through the market, got some good views of it from Victor Steinbrueck park, then beers in Pioneer Square. All in all a good afternoon. 

  • Maria February 2, 2019 (7:40 pm)

    We had a great time because we chose to go with the flow and not quibble about things that didn’t quite go as planned for such a huge one-time-only event.  Yes we walked to the Seneca entrance and waited over half an hour with others in the same situation.  Yes I got my tickets in advance, but recognized that everyone around me had the same.    Friends didn’t have any problems starting from the north hub, but that’s not going to mess my memories that I had today.  Glad everyone who made it through were quite cheerful.

  • SoSeattle February 2, 2019 (8:20 pm)

    This sounds like the most Seattle of Seattle events:  1.  No one really in charge.  2.  Same outcome whether you prepared or didn’t prepare.  3.  Politicians showed up for photo ops.

    • WSB February 2, 2019 (10:10 pm)

      Just for the record:
      The ribboncutting – the event covered in this story – did not require tickets at any time, had no lines, and was accessed from a different area than the other events. Ran well except for two audio hiccups. We were there for the entirety of the event (actually earlier, as media crews were told to arrive by 10:15 for the 11:30 ceremony to snag space on the camera riser) and can attest to that. So far as I can tell from feedback here and elsewhere, the public event on the viaduct itself, particularly the first few hours, is where things backed up. By the time we finally got back downtown to check out the viaduct, late in the day, it was smooth sailing (at least in our experience at Seneca and a family member at the Battery St. Tunnel end). – TR

  • j February 2, 2019 (9:20 pm)

    I will miss the views!! How much would a waterfront gondola cost?? 

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