Latest program news

  • New pedestrian bridge to Colman Dock being assembled (but you can’t walk on it just yet)

    A new pedestrian-only bridge to Colman Dock is taking shape near Seattle’s waterfront. This week and next the contractor Kiewit will place a prefabricated walkway atop columns along Columbia Street and Western Avenue. Most of the columns were poured over the past several months but the new bridge is also supported by two columns that were left in place from the Columbia Street on-ramp.

    This new bridge will connect to the current Marion Street pedestrian bridge at Western Avenue, then run via Western Avenue and Columbia Street to Colman Dock. After placing the prefabricated walkway structure, electrical work and other follow-on work will occur before the bridge is complete.

    The current Marion Street pedestrian bridge will remain open until sometime in August, when Colman Dock construction is ready to open the new bridge. After the new bridge is operational, Kiewit will demolish the narrow section of viaduct left in place over the current pedestrian bridge.

    A section of the viaduct with no structure on either side and the Marion Street pedestrian bridge running beneath it

    Above: Kiewit left this section of the viaduct standing so the pedestrian bridge beneath it can remain open during viaduct demolition.

    When removing the section of freestanding viaduct structure around Marion Street, Kiewit will also remove part of the current pedestrian bridge from Colman Dock to the edge of the building just to the east. The bridge we are building this year will stay open for about five years until the City of Seattle’s Waterfront Project builds a new pedestrian bridge at Marion Street.

    Traffic effects this week and next

    • Columbia Street is closed from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way to place the bridge spans. This block of Columbia Street is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, June 19. Sidewalks remain open.
    • Alaskan Way will close both directions between Marion Street and Yesler Way on Monday and Tuesday nights, 6/17 and 6/18. The closure will last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and include the multi-use sidewalk on the west side of Alaskan Way. People traveling north and south along this stretch of waterfront at night should expect detours and delays.
    • Western Avenue between Marion and Columbia streets has been closed for several months while crews built the new pedestrian bridge. One northbound lane is scheduled to reopen on this block in the coming month.

     

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  • Marching south: demolition approaches the southern end of the viaduct

    The southern stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was saved for last, and now its time is coming. WSDOT's contractor Kiewit is preparing to begin work on removing the section of viaduct that remains between Yesler Way and South Dearborn Street.

    Early this Friday morning Alaskan Way will be narrowed to one lane in each direction between South King Street and South Dearborn Street. Crews will use this space to establish a work zone so they can safely begin demolition later this month on the viaduct adjacent to Railroad Way South.

    Alaskan Way is a busy arterial in this area and a key connection to SR 99. Travelers approaching downtown from the south this summer should plan for longer drive times, especially during peak commute periods and on weekends. Consider taking transit and the King County Water Taxi as a driving alternative. Access routes to Colman Dock will remain unchanged for the moment.

    View of southern end of viaduct with work zone highlighted in orange

    Above: Alaskan Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction. The orange section of the viaduct is where demolition will begin later this month

    In July the contractor will add a second crew to the job of removing the viaduct's southern section. The plans for this work, including where that crew will start along the structure, are still being refined and we will share more information in the weeks to come. Drivers should expect that at some point streets connecting Alaskan Way to First Avenue South will close beneath the viaduct, and additional stretches of Alaskan Way will be narrowed. People traveling along Alaskan Way, especially to and from Colman Dock, should expect higher than normal congestion in the area through the end of August as we conclude work on one major component of the Seattle Squeeze.

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  • Site restoration: cleaning up after the viaduct comes down

    The process of removing the viaduct is more than just demolition work. Removing the viaduct is done in three stages: site preparation, demolition, and finally, site restoration. You can see where crews are on our viaduct demolition tracker, which is updated weekly.

    Once a portion of the viaduct has been demolished, crews must restore the work zone to its former condition. In this case, “restoration” means re-opening streets, sidewalks, and parking that was available before the removal process began.

    Two photos showing same section of waterfront, four months apart. In second photo, the viaduct is gone.
    Above: Looking north on Alaskan Way between Seneca and Marion streets, before removal and after restoration.

    The most easily visible part of site restoration is clearing the piles of viaduct rubble. The two main rubble materials – concrete and rebar – must be separated. Initial separation happens on site during processing, before rubble is loaded onto trucks and hauled south to Terminal 25 for additional sorting and processing. The concrete rubble is then hauled north to fill the Battery Street Tunnel.

    Cleanup also entails removing the “crush pad” placed on the ground before demolition began. This bedding of rock protects not only the surface of the street, but also the utilities buried below it. Site restoration includes clearing away this bedding and cleaning the ground beneath.

    Machinery sitting in the middle of a dirty intersection with no viaduct overhead

    Above: Site restoration in March 2019 at the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street 

    One of the last steps in site restoration is removing and filling the viaduct’s foundations. The viaduct’s support columns are connected to foundations buried beneath street level. Once the columns are munched away during demolition, crews hammer out the foundations, in most places to five feet below the surface. They then backfill the hole to prepare for final restoration activities. This time-lapse video captures demolition and site restoration at University Street along the waterfront (you can see a foundation dug out and filled in the foreground at the 0:39 mark).

    The last step is restoring the area to its “original” condition, including paving and striping the pavement, and opening it back up to parking and pedestrians.

    Restored only for a short while

    The land where the viaduct once stood will not remain static for long. Once the viaduct has been completely removed, the City of Seattle will step in to begin construction of the Waterfront Seattle project. The SR 99 tunnel was designed in tandem with a rebuilt Alaskan Way surface street, and Waterfront Seattle will build that street, along with new public spaces and an extended pedestrian promenade. Visit www.waterfrontseattle.org for more information on the project to come.

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  • First stage of Battery Street Tunnel filling wraps up this summer

    If you’ve traveled along Battery Street recently, you may have noticed large metal containers sitting on the side of the road. These specialized hoppers are placed above the Battery Street Tunnel’s ventilation grates, and trucks pour crushed concrete rubble through them into the closed tunnel beneath. (Have you seen our video of this work in action?)

    Battery Street with cones down the middle and a steel hopper sitting on the far sidewalk

    The contractor Kiewit is filling the Battery Street Tunnel with crushed concrete salvaged from the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Working from Denny Way southwest toward First Avenue, crews spend several weeks per block filling the tunnel beneath up to about seven feet from the ceiling.

    Kiewit’s current Battery Street Tunnel working hours are 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, with the filling from the surface stopping by 3 p.m.

    Compacting the rubble with vibration

    Inside the tunnel, Kiewit spreads the fill out along the tunnel’s old roadways and compacts it with vibratory rollers. The rollers produce vibration that may be felt in adjacent buildings. The amount of vibration felt in a nearby building will vary depending on the building’s distance from the active work area and what type of work the crews are performing. Crews may spread and compact the crushed concrete up to several blocks away from where the fill is poured into the tunnel.

    Below is the current schedule for the filling and vibratory work. The dates may change somewhat based on progress:

    Map of Battery Street with dates of work beginning on each block from Denny Way to First Avenue

     

    Lane closures

    Drivers on Battery Street should expect one lane to be closed 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. while crews are filling the tunnel beneath that block. There will be trucks, hoppers and crews working in that closed lane. Kiewit is also working with local utility companies to install utilities within the tunnel, which sometimes requires short-term lane or sidewalk closures on Battery Street or adjacent side streets. After the filling is complete, crews will return to repair the street grates and any damaged sidewalks or roadway.

    What comes next

    The crushed concrete work will wrap up this summer, filling up the tunnel to about seven feet from its ceiling. The top seven feet will be filled with a low-density cellular concrete pumped into the tunnel from the surface. This final tunnel fill work is scheduled for early 2020.

    Later phases of work will remove the grates from Battery Street’s roadway and sidewalks, and repair the holes. Crews will also install new street lighting, curb ramps and other pedestrian improvements. The project is expected to be complete by mid-2020. We provide weekly construction updates about the Battery Street Tunnel project via our construction email list. You can also contact the project by email, viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.

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  • North Surface Streets Project reaches Phase 2 ahead of schedule

    Map showing lane changes on Seventh Avenue NorthThe North Surface Streets Project is rebuilding Seventh Avenue North (formerly Aurora Avenue North) between Denny Way and Harrison Street. The finished product will be a new surface street with intersections at Thomas and John streets and dedicated transit lanes in both directions. Getting there, however, requires a series of lane configurations that keep people moving around construction.

    Starting Saturday, June 8, the Seventh Avenue North travel lanes will be moved from the outside edges of the road to the inside, running on newly poured concrete between Denny Way and Harrison Street. Drivers will still be able to take right turns on and off Thomas and John streets, but (like today) will not be able to use either street for east-west travel across Seventh Avenue North.

    This switch is occurring approximately one month earlier than originally scheduled. Moving travel lanes to the middle of the road allows the contractor to begin work on the outside lanes and sidewalks. This lane configuration will remain in place through the end of 2019.

    Bus stop and Seventh Avenue entrance to close

    The southbound bus stop between John Street and Denny Way will close on Saturday, June 8. It will be replaced when construction is complete in 2020, but until then riders should use the next bus stop on Wall Street at Fifth Avenue.

    The leg of Seventh Avenue south of Denny Way (view on Google Street View) will also close permanently on Saturday. Crews will eventually build a sidewalk across this road, simplifying the Seventh Avenue North / Denny Way intersection.

    Stay updated on work progress

    Since work began in February the contractor Kiewit has focused their work on the middle of the road, filling in the trench that once carried Aurora Avenue North traffic into and out of the Battery Street Tunnel. With the middle lanes built, Kiewit will work on the outside lanes and sidewalks. Travelers in the area should expect sidewalks along Seventh Avenue North periodically closed for construction, and short-term closures of John or Thomas streets at Seventh Avenue North. You can track these closures on our Construction Notices and Detours page.

    We provide weekly construction updates via our construction email list. You can also contact the project by email, viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.

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  • Work begins tomorrow on removing Seneca Street off-ramp

    Tomorrow crews will begin removing the Seneca Street off-ramp that looms above Seneca Street between the waterfront and First Avenue. Due to its height and proximity to nearby buildings, the contractor Kiewit will use cranes to bring the ramp’s girders down one by one.

    Crews will remove the ramp working west to east toward First Avenue. Hoe rams will hammer out the road deck before crews cut the ramp’s girders and beams. Cranes will lift the cut pieces one by one onto the ground. Machinery will munch the girders and the ramp’s columns into rubble. Kiewit used a similar approach when removing the Columbia Street on-ramp in February and March.

    Cranes lifting a beam away from the viaduct ramp

    Above: Crews lifting a girder from the Columbia Street ramp that had been cut away with saws

    Expect detours around Western Avenue and Seneca Street

    Kiewit will need to close the intersection of Western Avenue and Seneca Street while removing the ramp above the intersection. Kiewit, WSDOT and SDOT have coordinated closely on the work plan for the ramp’s removal to minimize road closures in the neighborhood. The current closure plan:

    • Wednesday, May 22: Crews begin site prep and slotting the deck near Alaskan Way.
    • Thursday, May 23: Crosswalk across Seneca Street at Western Avenue closes at 7 a.m.
    • Tuesday, May 28: Whole intersection of Seneca Street and Western Avenue closes at 4 a.m., for up to 20 days total.
    • Saturday, June 1: University Street reopens onto Alaskan Way.
    • Mid-June: Ramp fully removed, and site restoration begins.

    Take note: Between Tuesday and Saturday, May 28 – June 1, Western Avenue will be a dead-end street south of Virginia Street. Businesses and sidewalks will be open north and south of Seneca Street, but people walking, biking and driving will need to find alternate paths to cross Seneca Street. See the map below:

    Map showing Western Ave closed at Seneca Street, with detours being Wall Street to north and Spring or Madison to the south

    When University Street reopens on June 1, it will be a connection point between the waterfront and Western Avenue. The intersection of Post Avenue and Seneca Street will also close for up to seven days in late May or early June as crews remove the ramp overhead.

    What to expect from the work

    The contractor’s current plan calls for the ramp to be removed in about three weeks, with crews working only during daytime hours. Buildings adjacent to the work will be protected in the air by nets hung from cranes, and on the ground by barriers. Work hours could change based on crews’ progress, but the planned work hours are:

    • 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays
    • 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturdays
    • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays

    The work will unavoidably produce noise, dust and vibration, but crews will work to mitigate those effects where possible. The process for removing this ramp is benefitting from crews’ experience working on earlier sections of the viaduct, and Kiewit has refined their methods since the project began.

    Follow up work at First Avenue in June

    After the ramp is removed, crews will need to conduct follow-up utility work where the ramp once met First Avenue. Crews will also restore the sidewalk on the west side of First Avenue and build a wall and rail in the hole where the ramp once stood. This work has not yet been scheduled, and may involve night work. We will post more details about this work on our website once the plan is confirmed.

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Media requests

If you'd like to schedule an interview with a member of our team, please contact:

Laura Newborn
Media relations, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program 
206-305-0595
newborl@wsdot.wa.gov