• #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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  • Preparing for the #99closure

    Seattle-area roadways will be a major challenge starting this Friday, April 29, when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes for approximately two weeks. The closure will give our contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, the time they needs to tunnel beneath the viaduct. It will give drivers a reminder of what its like to live without one of three major north-south highways through Seattle. 
    We put together a series of short videos to help you get ready for the closure. The videos cover a variety of topics ranging from alternative commute methods to tools that will help you stay informed. Theres no easy solution for getting around during the closure, but planning ahead is your best bet for avoiding the worst congestion. 
    We hope the videos will help jumpstart your planning. We also encourage you to share tips and tricks with fellow commuters. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #99closure on social media. 

    Know before you go
    This is your "survival guide" for getting around during the #99closure. Learn about the tools that are available at our closure page. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and consider downloading the WSDOT and SDOT apps. 

    Learning from the 2011 closure
    Does the #99closure feel like Déjà vu? If so, it may be because we closed the viaduct in 2011 for one week as crews tore down the southern mile of the structure. You might also remember the heavy congestion that occurred while the viaduct was closed. Expect more of the same this time around. Why? Since 2011, weve seen tremendous population growth in the area. That means more cars on the road.

    The good news is that transportation infrastructure has improved some since then. The City of Seattle opened a new streetcar line, WSDOT opened the South Atlantic Street Overpass by the stadiums and Sound Transit last month opened University Link


    Adjusting your commute
    Its not too late to adjust the way you commute. Vanpools, biking, taking a ferry and riding the bus are just a handful of options available for those able to do so. Weve teamed up with our partner agencies to help move people during the #99closure:
    City Streets
    • Seattle Police Department will direct traffic at key intersections.
    • Temporary parking restrictions along key routes will facilitate transit and general purpose travel.
    • SDOT is expediting planned intersection markings along East Marginal Way South to assist bicycle and pedestrian routes.
    • Traffic flow and temporary parking changes will help get vehicles on and off Aurora at Denny Way, Wall Street and Battery Street.
    • SDOT is restricting lane closure requests by third parties on city streets.
    • I-5 express lanes will remain open in the northbound direction overnight.
    • Southbound I-5 HOV lane between Mercer Street and Corson Avenue will be "open to all" during the closure.


    Stay plugged in
    Cant avoid driving during the #99closure? Make sure to plan ahead before hitting the streets. Here are some tools you can use to make your commute as painless as possible.
    Avoiding traffic
    Peak commute times will likely be longer than usual during the #99closure. We expect congestion to start earlier and end later in the day. For those who can, nows a great time to consider working from home, taking a vacation or changing your work hours. Many employers allow it, and the earlier you ask the better. Itll save you time, plus fewer cars on the road is better for everyone. 
    We understand the major inconveniences caused by closing a portion of SR 99. Like you, we're looking forward to completing this part of the project so the viaduct can reopen and the tunnel team can continue on its way beneath downtown. Until then, thanks for your patience and assistance in helping your fellow travelers through the closure.


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  • April 15 project update: Hedges named new program administrator

    Following an extensive nationwide search, the Washington State Department of Transportation has selected Joseph Hedges to be the next administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program.
    Hedges has 30 years of experience in program management, large-scale construction and engineering design in both the public and private sectors. That includes extensive experience with complex and high-profile projects as well as design-build contracts like the one WSDOT is using to administer the SR 99 Tunnel Project. Hedges has led large quality assurance and quality control programs, and has developed integrated risk management programs that include quality, safety and environmental protection. He is also accustomed to working on controversial projects, including overseeing the disposal design of the nation’s oldest nuclear inventory.
    He most recently served as executive vice president and director of operations for Coastal Environmental Group, a New York firm specializing in construction, environmental remediation, energy efficiency and disaster response. Prior to that Hedges was the chief engineer for Pro2Serve, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he led a multidisciplinary team of more than 150 engineers and designers. Other career highlights include serving as assistant chief of staff overseeing $1.2 billion of complex military construction projects as a Navy officer in Iraq, and managing disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy. 
    “The SR 99 tunnel will transform Seattle’s waterfront and the corridor, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a historic project,” Hedges said. “I look forward to joining the outstanding people at the Washington State Department of Transportation in their ongoing work to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.”
    In joining the viaduct program, Hedges takes over one of the largest construction efforts in state history. The $3.1 billion program includes more than 30 projects, among them the SR 99 tunnel that is currently under construction beneath Seattle.
    Hedges will join the program in late April where he will initially work alongside current Administrator Todd Trepanier. Trepanier, who lives in Yakima and assumed leadership of the viaduct program in summer 2013, was named administrator of WSDOT’s South Central Region last summer. He is expected to transition to that role later this spring.
    Joseph Hedges
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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