Latest Program News

  • One more (inspection) for the road: SR 99 closed this weekend for viaduct inspection

    This weekend, Oct. 19-22, brings the final scheduled inspection closure of the State Route 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct before the new SR 99 tunnel opens early next year. Both northbound and southbound SR 99 will be closed, including the Battery Street Tunnel.

    Closure Details

    • SR99 in closes at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 and reopens by 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22. The closure is from north end of the Battery Street Tunnel to South Spokane Street.
    • In addition to a final scheduled inspection, crews will be pouring concrete for the future highway at the SR 99 tunnel’s south portal.

    Since 2001 WSDOT bridge inspectors have been closing the viaduct twice a year to inspect the structure. The 2001 Nisqually earthquake damaged the viaduct, prompting repairs and strengthening, and instigating a rigorous inspection program to make sure the structure remains safe for driving. This weekend will be the 33rd inspection since 2001.

    The viaduct is scheduled to permanently close on Jan. 11th 2019, marking the start of three weeks of intensive roadwork to #realign99 into the new tunnel. WSDOT urges all drivers to make a plan for their commute during the closure, as it will be the longest major highway closure ever in the Seattle area.

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  • Go west, young road: Alaskan Way shifts west this weekend

    This weekend Alaskan Way will move west, out from beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The new alignment will feature two lanes in each direction from King Street to Union Street. Moving the travel lanes west will allow us to keep the street open when viaduct removal work begins in early 2019.

    Alaskan Way will be closed this weekend from 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. During the closure, Western Avenue will be the primary detour route. Access to Colman Dock will be maintained via South Jackson Street (entrance) and Yesler Way and Marion Street (exits).

    This map below shows the new street alignment. Construction and utility work for the rebuilding of Pier 62 will constrain Alaskan Way to one lane in each direction near the Aquarium (from Union Street to Pine Street) until the end of November.

    Map of Alaskan Way along waterfront showing two lanes in each direction

    Click on image to see larger version of map

    The space under the viaduct previously occupied by Alaskan Way’s travel lanes will be restored to hold a northbound business access lane and temporary new parking spaces. These spaces, which will add at least 70 additional parking stalls above the number removed for the switch, are scheduled to be completed by the end of October. Those spaces will be in place until the area is needed for viaduct removal construction work in early 2019.

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  • SR 99 tunnel to open in early 2019 after three-week #Realign99 highway closure

    Get ready – the new SR 99 tunnel beneath Seattle will open in early 2019, offering a direct route from the stadiums to the Space Needle. But before we can open the tunnel, we must #realign99. This closure – the longest major highway closure to ever hit the Puget Sound Region – will begin on Jan. 11, 2019.

    This traffic disruption is unavoidable. Closing SR 99 through Seattle for approximately three weeks allows crews to complete building the highway and the eight new ramps that will allow travelers to enter and exit the tunnel.

    During the closure, both the viaduct and the tunnel will be closed. Drivers should expect up to six weeks of region-wide congestion. In addition to the three-week closure:

    • The southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street will close a week earlier, on Jan. 4, 2019.
    • A new off-ramp from northbound SR 99 to South Dearborn Street will require one to two additional weeks of work after the tunnel opens.


    Closure timing

    When Seattle Tunnel Partners finished disassembling the tunneling machine Bertha in 2017, we estimated the tunnel would be open in early 2019. While there was optimism this date could be moved up, a number of factors influenced the decision to stay with the early 2019 date:

    • Construction progress: WSDOT has several contractors that must complete work before the #realign99 closure can begin.  Some of this work, like road striping, is weather dependent.
    • Public notice: Starting in January ensures that contractors’ work will be complete and we can provide you with a specific date much farther in advance. Your help will be critical to keeping the region moving during the closure, and more notice means more time to plan.
    • Avoiding the holidays: WSDOT and its partner agencies are committed to keeping people and goods moving during the busy holiday season. Avoiding a major highway closure between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day helps achieve this goal. There are also fewer major Seattle events in early 2019 than there are during the last quarter of 2018.

     

    Get ready, make a plan

    The #realign99 closure will test travelers all around the region. During the closure the 90,000 drivers who normally use the Alaskan Way Viaduct will have to find another way to get to or through downtown Seattle. Congestion and delays will affect both major highways and local streets as drivers who normally use the viaduct look for alternative routes.

    We and our partner agencies have been planning for this closure and will implement a number of strategies to keep people and goods moving. These measures include increased West Seattle Water Taxi trips, more incident response teams on the roads, and signal timing changes on local streets. But we will also need help from commuters and employers to keep the region moving. Visit our #realign99 page for more information and resources for travelers and employers.


    A major safety investment for our highways

    We are replacing the seismically vulnerable viaduct with a modern tunnel equipped with state-of-the-art operational and safety systems. We will have more to share in the coming weeks about pathways to and from the tunnel. Per the Legislature’s decision, the SR 99 tunnel will be tolled as part of the project’s financing plan. The tunnel will be free to use when it first opens.

    Additional details about the tunnel and the future tolling of the tunnel can be found at www.99tunnel.com.

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