Press

Press Room

Below are resources for members of the media seeking information or interviews about the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program.

Latest program news

  • A year of progress and preparation

    It’s been a year of progress and preparation for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. As we get ready for a jam-packed start to 2019, here’s a quick look at highlights of the past year.

    In 2018 the SR 99 tunnel contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, completed the tunnel roadway and installed and tested thousands of components that together make up 90 tunnel systems. STP reached substantial completion in October and turned over control and ownership of the tunnel to WSDOT. During this time, WSDOT continued systems testing and training of tunnel operations and emergency response staff.

    While STP worked on the tunnel, other contractors began their work. At both tunnel portals, the SR 99 Connections Project contractor Scarsella Brothers began working on the eight ramps connecting the tunnel to local streets. And, in May we awarded Kiewit Infrastructure West with the contract to remove the viaduct, close and seal the Battery Street Tunnel, and rebuild surface streets near the SR 99 Tunnel’s north portal. One of their first orders of work was to shift Alaskan Way out from beneath the viaduct and restore parking in October. This new alignment allows us to keep the road open while the viaduct is demolished in 2019.

    Looking ahead to early 2019

    This work sets the table for a very exciting start to 2019. On Jan. 4, we will close SR 99 on- and off-ramps near the stadiums, and the #Realign99 highway closure begins a week later, at 10 p.m. on Jan. 11. This approximately three-week-long closure will give crews time to complete the tunnel’s ramps and realign SR 99 off the viaduct and into the new tunnel.

    A public grand opening ceremony on Feb. 2-3 will commemorate the viaduct and celebrate the opening of the new tunnel. Shortly thereafter, the new SR 99 tunnel will open, forever changing how we get to and through downtown Seattle. Shortly after that, Kiewit begins their work removing the old SR 99 route from downtown Seattle.

    Two years ago, we estimated $149 million of additional program costs would be needed due to delay in completion of the tunnel project. The request for additional funds has been partially filled in previous legislative sessions. Today we presented to the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee and requested $43 million to complete the program, which brings the total request to $156 million. It’s important to note that none of these additional funds will be used to pay for tunneling machine repairs. WSDOT continues to follow the tunnel project’s design-build contract to recover added expenses incurred by the tunneling delay (e.g. insurance claims and litigation).

    We have a few more years of construction and are on the cusp of many exciting milestones including opening the new SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown and demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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    Order: 6.2

  • ALERT: Alaskan Way Viaduct Closure Begins 10 p.m. Fri, Jan. 11. Read for details.

    First ramps close Jan. 4. Realign99 closure sequence below:

    10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4: Stadium ramps close

    • Northbound SR 99 on-ramp at South Royal Brougham Way closes (near stadiums; connection to I-90 and I-5).
    • Southbound SR 99 off-ramp at South Atlantic Street closes (near stadiums; connection to I-90 and I-5).

    10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11: Full SR 99 closure through downtown Seattle begins

    • SR 99 closes both directions from South Spokane Street to the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel.
    • Battery Street Tunnel remains open with one lane in each direction. Ramps to and from Western Avenue remain open.
    • West Seattle Bridge and off-ramps to First Avenue and Fourth Avenue remain open and do not close as part of Realign99.

    Early February (exact date TBD): New tunnel opens

    • SR 99 reopens about three weeks after Jan. 11, with highway using new SR 99 tunnel. Alaskan Way Viaduct and Battery Street Tunnel remain closed. One SR 99 off-ramp remains closed (see below).

    Approx. 2 weeks later: Final ramp opens

    • New SR 99 northbound off-ramp to downtown and Alaskan Way (just south of tunnel) opens, about two weeks after SR 99 tunnel opens.

    Visit our Realign99 page for more information and resources on how to get around during the closure.

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    Order: 1.0

  • Alaskan Way Viaduct removal scheduled to begin in February

    Opening Seattle’s new SR 99 tunnel early next year will set the stage for the biggest transformation of Seattle’s central waterfront in a generation. The demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to begin in February 2019 and take approximately six months to complete, as work crews move along the structure, removing it section by section.

    Our new video provides an overview of the work to come:

    The contractor conducting the work, Kiewit, has been finalizing their work plans and schedule, and we'll have new information to share on the Viaduct Demolition section of our website this week. Demolition work is unavoidably disruptive, but the waterfront, Pioneer Square, and other nearby neighborhoods will remain open throughout the project.

    Removing the viaduct, however, is just one part of the work to come. After the new tunnel opens, Kiewit will also begin filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel, and rebuilding Aurora Avenue North between Harrison Street and Denny Way. Those projects are both scheduled to conclude in 2020.

    Live or work near the viaduct or Battery Street Tunnel? Join us for drop-in sessions this week and next. WSDOT and Kiewit project staff will answer questions about the work to come, aided by display boards and handouts. All three sessions will have the same information, covering every part of the project.

    Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018
    5 - 8 p.m.
    Waterfront Space
    1400 Western Ave., Seattle, WA

     Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018
    11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
    Waterfront Space
    1400 Western Ave., Seattle, WA

    Monday, Dec. 10, 2018
    5 - 8 p.m.
    Seattle Center, Armory Loft Room 2
    305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA

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    Order: 6.3

  • Realign99 closure plan gets tuned up, finalized

    Closing SR 99 through downtown Seattle for approximately three weeks will cause major disruptions to traffic throughout the region. It’s a challenge we don’t take lightly, and so we’ve spent many months studying and refining our plans to ensure we take the most efficient, least impactful approach.

    The results of that effort were recently finalized. The details of the closure plan we shared earlier this fall are largely the same. Mainline SR 99 will close through downtown Seattle for approximately three weeks beginning Friday evening, Jan. 11, 2019. There are, however, a few refinements to the original plan: 

    • Effective Dec. 14: Crews will reduce the length of the northbound SR 99 transit lane in SODO by approximately 1,400 feet. This will enable the contractor to repair a dip in the road at that location that would otherwise need to be repaired during the mainline closure. Starting the work early will support access to the SR 99 closure work areas and enable the contractor to focus on other critical work during the closure.
    • Effective Dec. 14: Crews will shorten the southbound right-turn lane to Harrison Street and narrow travel lanes on SR 99 near the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal. This will allow safer and better access to work areas and reduce the schedule risks associated with removing a temporary wall that supports the existing highway.
    • Jan. 4: The most notable change from the previous sequence is the date of the northbound on-ramp closure near the stadiums. This ramp, which connects approximately 12,500 vehicles each day from South Royal Brougham Way to northbound SR 99, is now scheduled to close on Jan. 4, 2019 – one week earlier than the previously announced date. This additional week will allow the contractor more time to perform critical work (including unburying tunnel on- and off-ramps) that has the potential for some unanticipated challenges, giving crews additional flexibility during the mainline closure. The southbound SR 99 off-ramp to South Atlantic Street near the stadiums will also close as scheduled at this time.

    These refinements will reduce the amount of work that would otherwise need to be completed during the mainline closure. As a result, the contractor will be in better position to timely complete work that must be finished prior to tunnel opening. A full look at the closure sequence is available at our #Realign99 page, where you’ll also find resources about how to prepare for the longest major highway closure the Puget Sound region has ever seen.

     

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    Order: 6.4

  • Long-closed block of Sixth Avenue North reopens

    The intersection of Sixth Avenue North and Harrison Street near Seattle Center has seen a lot of change in the past decade. Compare the intersection today to the Google Maps streetview from 2008 and the area is almost unrecognizable.

    Today we reopened the block of Sixth Avenue North between Harrison Street and Thomas Street. The area has played host to the tunneling machine Bertha’s receiving pit, and construction staging for the SR 99 tunnel’s north operations building. Our time-lapse camera captured six years of work in 40 seconds:

    More work remains to be completed in the area, including opening the sidewalk on the east side of the block. But drivers can now take Sixth Avenue North between Denny Way and Mercer Street, a helpful new connection in the area and a future pathway for getting to the new SR 99 tunnel.

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    Order: 6.5

  • Eight weeks to go until the Realign99 closure and the start of final roadwork to open the new SR 99 tunnel

    When the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes Jan. 11, 2019, three solid weeks of construction begin. Crews will work around the clock to move State Route 99 off the viaduct and into the new, two-mile SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle. During the Realign99 closure, the longest highway closure in Seattle’s history, both the viaduct and new tunnel will be closed.

    Why is so much work needed? Today the stretches of SR 99 immediately north and south of the tunnel are temporary road, detours built years ago to keep traffic moving during tunnel construction. On Jan. 11, crews will start removing the detours and completing the ramps to align SR 99 with the new tunnel. The work includes unburying tunnel on-and-off ramps completed in 2014 at the tunnel’s south end. This video explains more:

    While the viaduct closes on Jan. 11, 2019, there will be earlier impacts to traffic. On Jan. 4, the southbound off-ramp at South Atlantic Street will close. Then after the tunnel opens, it will take up to two additional weeks to complete the new northbound off-ramp to Alaskan Way and South Dearborn Street. This is the ramp structure that today stands in the middle of the SR 99 detour just south of the viaduct.

    The Realign99 closure will be a very challenging time for everyone traveling to, from or through Seattle. From past experience we know closing SR 99 makes other highways and Seattle streets more congested. We will need everyone’s help to avoid gridlock. Commuters, employers and travelers – start making your plan, consider changing your habits, follow the conversation on Twitter, and make sure you stay well informed once the closure begins.

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    Order: 6.6

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 
206-805-2871
newborl@wsdot.wa.gov