Why is the viaduct a safety issue?

Tags: viaduct

The 1950s-era viaduct was already showing signs of age and deterioration before the 2001 Nisqually earthquake further weakened the structure, but the earthquake heightened the need for its replacement. The major risk facing the viaduct is its seismic vulnerability. The viaduct stands on fill soil bounded by the seawall. Marine organisms have slowly eaten away parts of the seawall and weakened it. In an earthquake, the fill soil is subject to liquefaction, where a shaking motion causes the soils to turn into a quicksand-like condition. Another major earthquake could collapse the seawall and liquefy the soil, damaging the viaduct beyond repair.

View a simulation (YouTube) of what could happen to the viaduct if a strong earthquake were to shake the Puget Sound region (or watch a non-YouTube version - requires Windows Media Player). Visit the Elliott Bay Seawall Project website for information on the plans to replace the seawall.