Latest Program News

  • Happy birthday, SR 99 tunnel

    One year ago today, WSDOT opened the State Route 99 tunnel and watched it quickly become a fast, easy way to bypass downtown Seattle traffic. Traveling SR 99 through Seattle is much safer than it was pre-tunnel, when the Alaskan Way Viaduct carried SR 99 through the city. Drivers now travel underneath Seattle inside a tunnel designed to survive strong earthquakes, with state-of-the-art ventilation, fire suppression and intelligent traffic systems.

    Traffic moving in and out of the tunnel with Seattle's nighttime skyline in the background

    The Alaskan Way Viaduct has been demolished in the year since the tunnel opened. Seattle’s central waterfront has transformed, both visually and audibly - it’s hard to describe how much quieter it is to walk along the water today without two decks of highway traffic roaring overhead.

    With the viaduct out of the way, the City of Seattle is building its waterfront of the future. One of the first elements of that project will open later this winter: a new, two-way bus route on Columbia Street to connect thousands of bus commuters between Third Avenue and points south and west of downtown.

    Tunnel usage

    The SR 99 tunnel now averages more than a million trips each month. To no one’s surprise, the busiest travel times are the peak hours – weekday mornings between 6–9 a.m. and weekday afternoon/evenings between 4–7 p.m. Tolling started in November 2019, and 83% of drivers using the tunnel today have a Good To Go! account, which means they pay the lowest toll possible ($2 less than having no pass or account). The tolls help pay back construction bonds and pay to keep the two-mile-long tunnel running safely and smoothly.

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  • Looking back on a year that transformed Seattle forever

    It’s hard to believe that a year ago today, people were driving on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 
     
    This year we reached the culmination of two transformative projects: we opened the SR 99 tunnel, and demolished the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Both efforts were years in the dreaming, planning and making, and they have forever altered Seattle’s waterfront and how people travel through downtown Seattle.
     

    Here are notable milestones from this year of dramatic progress:

    • Jan. 11: We closed SR 99 for three weeks to #realign99 into the new tunnel. Thousands of people changed their commutes and we all worked together to keep people moving through Seattle.
    • Feb. 2-3: More than 110,000 people showed up for one last walk along the viaduct and a trip through the new tunnel. The public festival included Seattle’s largest-ever fun run and the biggest bike ride in Washington.
    • Feb. 4: Seattle’s new SR 99 tunnel opened to traffic on a snowy Monday morning.
    • Feb. 15: The first chunks of viaduct came out along the old Columbia Street on-ramp as demolition began.
    • May: Crews started recycling crushed viaduct concrete to fill the  the old Battery Street Tunnel.
    • September 21: The last piece of double-deck roadway along Seattle’s waterfront came down.
    • Nov. 21: Demolition done! The final piece of viaduct on the steep hill north of Pike Place Market was cut from its foundation and laid to rest.
     
    We made a video looking back on this remarkable year in Seattle’s history:
     
    Thank you to everyone who tuned in to our live construction cameras, followed us on Twitter, watched our YouTube videos, or simply paused on the sidewalk as giant machines demolished an iconic Seattle highway. However you engaged with our project this year, from WSDOT and our contractors to you, here’s to an unforgettable 2019. 
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  • Bus lanes added to Seventh Avenue North as new construction phase begins

    Construction on Seventh Avenue North is shifting into a new phase that brings transit lanes to this important north-south street through the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle.

    During evening and weekend hours the street now features a second lane in each direction between Harrison Street and Denny Way. The newly added lane is a transit-only lane, which will help transit reliability for the many routes traveling between downtown and SR 99.

    A street with lanes marked with white paint and yellow construction cones showing two lanes northbound

    Above: Seventh Avenue North remains a construction area as crews build curbs and sidewalks.

    These new lanes will be closed 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on many weekdays while construction continues on both sides of the road. During these times the remaining open lane in each direction will operate as a general purpose lane.

    This month crews are focusing on rebuilding the corners of the complicated intersection of Seventh Avenue, Denny Way and Wall Street. People walking and biking through that intersection should expect short detours. The northbound bus stop that had previously been located north of Denny Way has been temporarily moved one block south to Borealis Avenue while the NE corner of the intersection is closed for construction.

    Map showing lane configuration on Seventh Avenue and no crossings at Thomas or John street

    Above: The lane and movement configuration of Seventh Avenue North until early 2020.

    Thomas and John streets remain right-in, right-out streets with crossings of Seventh Avenue North not permitted by car, foot or bike. To cross please head north or south to Harrison Street or Denny Way. The Thomas and John street intersections are scheduled to open sometime in January. For the latest construction updates on this part of our project, sign up for our construction email list.

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  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct is now history

    Updated 11/22/19: Late on Thursday we published a video that uses drone footage to capture the dramatic sight of Seattle's waterfront without the viaduct:

     

    For nearly seven decades, the Alaskan Way Viaduct dominated the downtown Seattle waterfront. Today, tucked out of view of the waterfront it so long divided, the final pieces of the viaduct were quietly plucked from a steep hillside near Pike Place Market.

    Construction crew posing in front of a concrete column lying on the ground decorated with a small Christmas tree

    Above: Kiewit crews pose in front of the final viaduct column, adorned with a topping-off tree.

    Viaduct demolition was an exceptionally challenging project, as the roadway stood perilously close to nearby buildings, live traffic on Alaskan Way, major underground utilities and a critical rail corridor. We kept people and goods moving while the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, and their demolition subcontractor, Ferma Corp., completed the job with no injuries and no significant damage.

    This historic milestone caps a year of accomplishment that began with opening the new State Route 99 tunnel in February. Although demolition is now complete, Kiewit will continue working into 2020 on filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel and rebuilding Seventh Avenue North.

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