• April 29 #99closure update

    Tunneling progress

    Welcome to day one of the #99closure. Seattle Tunnel Partners began tunneling around 9 a.m. Bertha must first dig through approximately 10 feet of concrete to exit the maintenance stop before she starts to dig through the soil near the intersection of Yesler and Alaskan Way.

    Crews are working around the clock to tunnel, build rings and perform ongoing machine maintenance. The machine will proceed at a slow and deliberate pace throughout the first few days. This evening, our tracking page will have an update showing Bertha’s progress.

    Morning commute overview

    The morning I-5 commute heading into Seattle was heavier than normal for a Friday – it looked more like a Monday morning commute. The northbound I-5 drive into Seattle peaked with a 6-mile backup between 7 a.m. – 10 a.m.

    West Seattle and Seattle surface streets
    First Avenue South and Fourth Avenue South experienced heavier than normal traffic. Drivers and bus riders on Fourth Avenue South between South Spokane and South Washington streets also experienced delays. The West Seattle Water Taxi reported substantially higher ridership than a typical Friday morning.

    Plan ahead for evening commute

    Friday afternoon traffic is normally heavy and with the #99closure, you should expect an even longer drive home. Drivers will see extra traffic on I-5, I-405 and local city streets.

    Mariners fans: The Mariners play the Royals tonight at 7:10. Allow extra time to get there. Carpooling, transit, biking, and walking are all ways to avoid the expected congestion.

    Stay connected

    We encourageyou 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.

    Last updated: 12:27 p.m.

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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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  • 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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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