Take it down quickly: What we heard about viaduct demolition

Attendees viewing display boards at an open houseIn August, we held an open house and online open house to discuss viaduct demolition. We are planning the work, scheduled to begin in full once the SR 99 tunnel opens in early 2019, and we wanted to tell you what lies ahead and ask for your comments and concerns.

Thank you to the 12,000 people who visited our online open house and the 150 people who attended the Aug. 10 open house on Seattle’s waterfront. In total, we received 410 responses to our eight-question survey. We will use this feedback to help plan the work and develop instructions for the contractors who are interested in doing this work.

Who did we hear from?
We asked people to share how they use or relate to the viaduct. The top four responses:

  1. I am a patron of businesses near the viaduct or on the waterfront
  2. I work downtown
  3. I commute on the viaduct
  4. I am a nearby resident/neighbor


Do it fast or slow?
The demolition work is expected to take nine months, with the viaduct being demolished in sections. We wanted to know which approach you preferred:

A) Allow some noisy work later at night if it means demolition will be completed sooner

B) Limit most noisy work to daytime hours, even if demolition takes long

A large majority (84 percent) of total respondents preferred option A (completing work sooner). When broken down by people’s relationship to the viaduct, every respondent group (including people who live or work near the viaduct) preferred completing the work faster.

Top concerns about demolition
Safety is WSDOT’s top priority for viaduct demolition. Beyond safety, we listed eight possible effects of the work and asked people to rank them according to their level of concern. The top four concerns were:

  1. Traffic
  2. Bicycle and pedestrian access
  3. Dust
  4. Demolition noise


Additional Feedback
We asked respondents to elaborate on their top two concerns. Themes we heard:

Traffic: Traffic is already bad, so please don’t make it worse. Critical routes that use the waterfront, like to West Seattle, need good alternative options. Prioritize transit, walking and biking over vehicles during construction. Concern about demolition’s effects on the larger downtown grid. What will happen to the bus routes?

Bicycle and pedestrian access: Detours need to be clearly marked and safe for people of all abilities.

Dust: Respondents were concerned about the health effects to people living or traveling through the demolition area.

Noise: Respondents worried noise would prevent them from working or sleeping in the area.

What comes next
We will use this feedback to help draft the request for proposals we will be issuing to the most qualified contractors from the national demolition community. We will evaluate their responses and select a contractor in early 2018. We will return to you next year with more information about demolition once we have a contractor on board. In the meantime, you can learn more about viaduct demolition on the demolition section of our website.