Battery Street Tunnel

Filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel

Why close the Battery Street Tunnel

With the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed, SR 99 no longer runs through the Battery Street Tunnel. Like the viaduct, the tunnel was built in the 1950s and is seismically vulnerable. Any new or continued use of the tunnel would require prohibitively expensive renovations. Closing the Battery Street Tunnel allows WSDOT to rebuild the three-block stretch of Seventh Avenue North at the tunnel’s north end, improving east-west mobility in that neighborhood.

Scope of work

Work began on Feb. 12, 2019 and is scheduled to be complete in late 2020. The major elements of this work are:

  • Decommissioning and removing the tunnel’s utility and mechanical systems.
  • Removing hazardous materials from the tunnel.
  • Filling the tunnel and sealing its entrances.
  • Street restoration along Battery Street, including sidewalk improvements, new curb ramps, street lighting and other pedestrian improvements.

The blue-highlighted zone in the map below shows the work area for the project:

Map of Battery Street with blue highlighted area stretching from First Avenue to Borealis Avenue

Filling the tunnel (updated June 2019)

In May 2019, the contractor Kiewit began filling the lower half of the Battery Street Tunnel. The fill material is crushed concrete salvaged from the demolition of the viaduct. Trucks pour the crushed concrete through hoppers placed atop grates in Battery Street. Inside the tunnel, vibratory rollers spread and compact the material in layers. 

Read more about this process:
 
The work inside the tunnel causes vibration that may be felt in nearby buildings. The amount of vibration felt will vary depending on the building’s distance from the active work area and what type of work the crews are performing. Crews may spread and compact the crushed concrete up to several blocks away from where the fill is poured into the tunnel.
 
Kiewit began filling the tunnel at Denny Way, and will work their way south toward First Avenue. The direction of work will not change, but the dates may change based on rates of progress: 
Map of Battery Street showing dates for work beginning on each block
 

The crushed concrete work will wrap up this summer, filling up the tunnel to about seven feet from its ceiling. The top seven feet will be filled with a low-density cellular concrete pumped into the tunnel from the surface. See the diagram below:

Diagram showing how the lower half of the tunnel will be filled differently than the top

Effects of construction

Construction will occur both inside the Battery Street Tunnel and on the surface street above. The first phase of work will occur mostly inside the tunnel.

During construction, neighbors and travelers should expect:

  • Traffic lane restrictions and closures along Battery Street. Two lanes of traffic will be open during typical PM peak commutes, with up to 42 days of single-lane configuration and a limited number of night and weekend full closures.
  • Construction equipment staged at the south end of the tunnel.
  • Temporary building and parking access restrictions according to previously negotiated Temporary Construction Easements.
  • Increased truck activity on Battery Street and near the north and south portals.
  • Vibration from tunnel filling activities, plus other typical construction effects such as increased dust and noise.
  • Local sidewalk access maintained with possible short pedestrian detours.
  • Most construction during the daytime, with occasional night work.
  • Water misting to reduce dust.
  • Occasional temporary closures of cross-street traffic.
  • Temporary parking restrictions on Battery Street and side streets for equipment staging.

How to stay informed

Join the mailing list! Sign up to receive viaduct removal, Battery Street Tunnel decommissioning and north surface street updates by email by entering your email address on our subscription page.

Questions? Call the 24/7 program hotline at 1-888-AWV-LINE (298-5463) or send an email to viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov.