Temporary Alaskan Way taking shape near tunnel’s south portal
For decades, surface Alaskan Way stretched along the downtown waterfront, connecting travelers to the waterfront piers and providing north-south passage through downtown.
Alaskan Way north of Seneca Street from 2008, via Google Streetview
Since 2011, the street has been neatly squeezed in between the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s concrete footings. It was shifted to this alignment to clear space for SR 99 tunnel and other construction along the waterfront, but this location was always meant to be temporary. Eventually, the land Alaskan Way currently occupies would need to be cleared to allow for viaduct demolition.
With demolition now on the horizon, we’ve begun restoring the street to its traditional location. Crews will continue this work over the summer and shift the street back to the west of the viaduct later this year, before the new SR 99 tunnel opens. The preparation for this shift is becoming visible as crews rebuild the roadway.
The restored Alaskan Way will look much like it did the first time around. It will generally have two lanes in each direction, providing access to Colman Dock and waterfront businesses and buildings. Near the viaduct demolition work zone, the road may be narrowed to one lane in each direction, but access to Colman Dock and other properties will always be preserved.
This configuration will remain in place until the Waterfront Seattle Project builds a new, permanent Alaskan Way in the footprint of the viaduct.
South portal update
A little farther south of this stretch of new pavement, an aerial view captures work building the roadways near the tunnel’s south portal. This view from the Columbia Tower shows the alignment of ramps and roadways coming into focus.
The future ramps at the tunnel’s south portal cross what is today southbound SR 99 (click for bigger version)
You can watch this road work from the construction camera we have mounted atop the tunnel’s south operations building. This south portal work is part of the SR 99 Connections Project, which is currently performing utility and roadwork on East Frontage Road South, between South Royal Brougham Way and South Atlantic Street.
Crews hope to complete as much work as possible before the tunnel is ready to open. The final ramp connections, as you can tell from that map above, will go across the SR 99 mainline. So when the tunnel is ready, we will need to close SR 99 for approximately three weeks to realign the highway and connect it to the tunnel. We do not have a date for the closure yet, but we will be able to provide notice four to six weeks in advance.