Latest Program News

  • Battery Street and North Surface Street construction suspended

    In response to Gov. Inslee’s “stay home, stay healthy” order, the Washington State Department of Transportation has suspended work on nearly all of its construction projects statewide. This includes the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program construction on the Battery Street Tunnel and the North Surface Streets Project. The suspension will last for at least two weeks.

    This temporary halt in construction is needed to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the health and safety of our employees, contractor crews and the public at large. We will look to restart our projects when the Governor’s Office and health officials determine it is safe to do so.

    Crews are still planning to complete critical work on a water line at South King Street. This work is exempted from the halt in construction and is scheduled to begin as soon as April 6. That work will be completed in accordance with CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of crews and the public.

    Our contractor Kiewit has closed their jobsite so the site does not pose hazards to the public while construction is halted. We will post updates to our program website and via our construction email list when we have new information to share. If you have any questions about our work, please email us at viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov or reach out via Twitter @BerthaDigsSR99. In the meantime, we wish good health to you, your families and friends. Stay safe!

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  • New intersections open on Seventh Avenue North

    People traveling by any mode between South Lake Union, Seattle Center and Uptown now have new options for crossing Seventh Avenue North. Over the past month, crews activated new traffic signals at Thomas and John streets. The Thomas Street intersection is crossable by pedestrians and bicyclists, and the John Street intersection is open to vehicles as well. 

    Red truck driving on John Street moves through intersection with Seventh Avenue North

    Above: John Street is now open east-west across Seventh Avenue North, but left turns remain prohibited.

    Contractor crews have been working on our North Surface Streets Project for more than a year where Aurora Avenue North once descended into a trench approaching the Battery Street Tunnel. During this work, Seventh Avenue North has been open north-south between Denny Way and Harrison Street, but east-west crossings at John and Thomas streets remained closed.

    This winter crews installed poles and traffic lights at these intersections. The Thomas Street signals were turned on in late February, and the John Street intersection opened Saturday, March 14. Not all vehicular movements are allowed with these activations, however. Left turns remain restricted; see the map below (click to enlarge):
     
     
    Seventh Avenue North map showing turn options when construction moves to center of street in March
    Above: Left turns onto Thomas and John streets will remain prohibited in this phase due to median construction work (click the map to enlarge).

     

    This phased construction approach on Seventh Avenue North has helped keep vehicles and buses moving during construction. Earlier this month crews began the final phase of roadwork, shifting the work zone to the center of Seventh Avenue North in order to build its center, planted medians. The curb lane remains a bus-only lane (right turns are permitted) while the inner lane is for general purpose traffic. This final phase of work is scheduled to conclude by this summer.

    On March 21, King County Metro plans to open a northbound bus stop and southbound bus stop on Seventh Avenue North (see map above). The stops will be between Thomas and Harrison streets. Routes that take SR 99 / Aurora will uses the stops, providing a shorter walk than today for many people working in the area. Visit King County Metro’s website for updates, including possible service changes due to COVID-19. 

     

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  • 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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