Advisories/Updates

  • May 1 #99closure update

    Tunneling progress
     
    Welcome to day three of the #99closure. After a slow and deliberate departure from the planned maintenance stop near Yesler Way, Seattle Tunnel Partners’ tunneling crews picked up speed in accordance with their plan for tunneling under the viaduct. As of 2 p.m. Sunday, Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine, had mined 39 feet of the approximately 385 feet of tunnel that must be completed before the viaduct reopens to traffic. STP determines the appropriate rate to mine safely and mining rates will vary as the machine passes underneath the viaduct. 
     
    Visit our tracking page to see a map showing Bertha’s progress.
     
    Traffic overview
     
    Expect a more challenging commute Monday since Mondays are a traditionally heavier traffic day than Fridays. Go to our maps and resources page or see our travel alternatives handout to explore options other than driving. WSDOT continues to run a 24-hour-per-day command center with constant, real-time communication taking place with other agencies. And WSDOT’s Transportation Management Center also has extended hours with up to 12 additional Incident Response Teams ready to clear state roads of incidents as quickly as possible.
     
    The Seattle Traffic Operations Center examined Friday’s commute and is adjusting by extending parking restrictions on Fourth Avenue South from peak periods only to all-day restrictions to help transit and traffic flow. In addition, the Seattle Department of Transportation added protected left turn signals at First Avenue South and South Hanford Street as well as First Avenue South and South Horton Street to improve traffic flow. 
     
    SDOT will continue to work with the Seattle Police Department to monitor and adjust signals as necessary to maximize flow.
     
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  • April 30 #99closure update

    Update 4/30/16 4:00 p.m. STP crews are tunneling slowly and deliberately.

    Tunneling progress

    After completing the first ring, STP crews have been preparing the machine to move out of the concrete of the maintenance stop. The transition from concrete into soil is an important part of tunneling under the viaduct and STP crews have been working to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. Once the machine is fully prepared to mine through this transition, crews will advance slowly and deliberately.

    Big events this weekend

    Commuters will have the weekend to recharge after Friday’s tough commute. Still, travelers should expect significant congestion in the Seattle area on Saturday with both the Sounders and Mariners playing home games. First pitch for the Mariners game is at 7:10 p.m., one hour later than originally scheduled.

    Sounder train service will be running tomorrow to help fans reach the Sunday Mariners game. Visit Sound Transit’s website for schedules and details.

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  • April 29 #99closure update 2

    Tunneling progress
     
    As of 6 p.m. Friday, Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine, had dug 6.5 feet of the approximately 385 feet of tunnel that must be completed before the Alaskan Way Viaduct reopens to traffic. This pace is what we expected. The machine will proceed slowly and deliberately throughout the first few days. Visit our tracking page to see a map showing Bertha’s progress.
     
    Bertha must dig through a few more feet of concrete to exit the maintenance stop before she starts to dig through the soil near the intersection of Yesler and Alaskan Way. Look for another progress update Saturday afternoon. 
     
    Afternoon commute overview
     
    The afternoon commute started earlier, was heavier and is on track to end later than a normal Friday. The longest viaduct-related backup we saw was nine miles on southbound I-5 from Shoreline to downtown Seattle. At peak congestion around 4 p.m., it took about 70 minutes to get from Lynnwood to Seattle. Congestion on alternate routes however, including 15th Avenue Northwest, SR 99 and Lake City Way have remained fairly light throughout the commute. Northbound I-5 was clear throughout the commute into downtown Seattle and unusually light from Seattle to Lynnwood for Friday. 
     
    West Seattle and Seattle surface streets
     
    Congestion on alternate routes, however, including 15th Avenue Northwest, SR 99 and Lake City Way remained fairly light throughout the commute. Traffic was extremely congested in SODO because of the Mariners game and due to a malfunctioning railroad arm on South Lander Street.
     
    Plan ahead for a busy Saturday at Seattle’s stadiums
     
    A Sounders match at 1 p.m. and a Mariners game at 7:10 p.m. may test fans heading to the stadiums in SODO. Fans should allow extra time for their trips and consider carpooling, transit, biking and walking to avoid the congestion 
     
    Stay connected
     
    We encourage you to visit our website often and follow @WSDOT_Traffic and @BerthaDigsSR99 as the closure continues. We’ll be posting regular updates about traffic conditions and tunneling progress. Thanks again for your patience as STP works to complete this important phase of the tunnel project.
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  • #99closure begins: Alaskan Way Viaduct closed for approximately two weeks

    After much planning and anticipation, the approximately two-week closure of the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct is now underway.
     
    Crews closed SR 99 between South Spokane Street and the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel just after midnight Friday, setting the stage for the SR 99 tunneling machine's passage beneath the viaduct. 
     
    Our closure page is your go-to place for all things #99closure. There you’ll find maps, commuting tips and other resources designed to help you get through the closure. 
     
    More than 90,000 vehicles use the viaduct each day. Those folks will now be forced to find other routes to their destination, resulting in congestion that will affect nearby surface streets and other commuting routes throughout the Seattle area and beyond. 
     
    Expect traffic conditions to be tough. Make a plan and check conditions before you head out on the road. We know this closure will be a challenge for everyone, and we appreciate your patience and help in keeping traffic moving. 
     
    Seattle Tunnel Partners tunneling operations
    Seattle Tunnel Partners is making final preparations for their tunnel drive beneath the viaduct. They have told us that the overnight crew will spend the early hours of Friday restarting and testing Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Tunneling is expected to begin sometime during the day shift on Friday.
     
    STP expects to start slowly as Bertha digs out of her planned maintenance stop, which is essentially a block of concrete buried in the ground near Yesler Way. The machine must dig through approximately 10 feet of concrete to exit the maintenance stop and enter the soil near the intersection of Yesler and Alaskan Way. Initially, trucks will carry away the excavated material. Crews intend to proceed deliberately throughout the weekend, carefully monitoring  the machine’s performance and the surrounding ground as Bertha inches forward.
     
    STP expects to pick up speed early next week. The tunneling operation -- tunneling forward, building rings and doing maintenance on the machine -- will continue around the clock throughout the closure. 
     
    You can track Bertha’s tunneling progress here. We’ll be updating the progress graphic twice each day.
     
    Barging operations to resume
    The suspension for cause that has restricted barging operations since January was lifted this week. That means that STP will be allowed to remove excavated soil from the work site via barge using new procedures they developed over the past two months. Having the barging operation back online allows STP to remove excavated material more quickly than trucking the material offsite.  
     
    Check out our construction cameras page to get a closer look at the barging operation when tunneling begins on Friday.
     
    Stay connected
    We encourage you to visit our website often and follow @WSDOT_Traffic and @BerthaDigsSR99 as the closure continues. We’ll be posting frequent updates about traffic conditions and tunneling progress. Thanks again for your patience as STP works to complete this important phase of the tunnel project.
     
     
    This post was originally published at 1:11 p.m. on April 28. It was updated at 12:15 a.m. on April 29 to reflect the start of the closure.  
     
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Program Spotlight

  • #99closure prep: Analyzing traffic patterns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct

    Measuring traffic on the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct isn’t as simple as you might think. Traffic volumes vary along the structure. For example, more vehicles drive the section south of downtown than the section near the Battery Street Tunnel.

    But no matter how you add things up, the end result is the same: thousands of vehicles will be forced to find other routes when the viaduct temporarily closes on April 29. And that will equal congestion and frustration, especially for … more