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.