Latest Program News

  • Timelapse video: taking down one viaduct span

    If you live, work, shop or travel along Seattle's waterfront, chances are you've stopped to watch large machinery doing downright rude things to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Contractor Kiewit began removing the viaduct in February, producing dramatic changes along the waterfront: 

    A stretch of the viaduct reduced to rubble with construction machinery atop the rubble in the middle

    Above: Central waterfront demolition as of April 6, 2019

    Demolition happens in a specific sequence, with the roadway deck being punched out first, then the structure's girders and columns being munched into rubble. The rubble on the ground is crunched and sorted, and then hauled away by truck. We captured a timelapse of this process from start to finish: one span being demolished over the course of about a week. 

    Want to watch the process in person? Demolition will continue along Alaskan Way all spring, with active demolition typically occuring 7 a.m. - 5  p.m. on weekdays, with occasional weekend work. You can also follow the progress online via our Twitter feed, SDOT's construction cameras along Alaskan Way, our Flickr photo set, and our own construction cameras which will soon capture the work as it moves north.

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    Order: 3.2

  • Traffic changes coming this Saturday to Seventh Avenue North at Denny Way

    The viaduct isn’t the only part of SR 99’s old downtown route that’s being methodically erased from Seattle’s landscape. Near the intersection of Denny Way and newly renamed Seventh Avenue North (formerly Aurora Avenue North) in South Lake Union, contractor Kiewit is filling in the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel.

    This Friday night, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., crews will expand their work zone near this intersection (Google Streetview for reference). Expect lane reductions and closed sidewalks overnight while crews reconfigure traffic lights and set up cones in the intersection of Denny Way and Seventh Avenue North.

    Come Saturday morning, southbound Seventh Avenue North will be narrowed down to one lane between John Street and Denny Way. Southbound drivers approaching Denny Way will no longer be able to turn left onto Denny or Seventh Avenue; your options will be straight onto Wall Street or a right turn onto westbound Denny Way.

    This will be a big change for drivers coming off SR 99 and heading to parts of South Lake Union, downtown or Capitol Hill. Drivers taking the southbound SR 99 off-ramp to downtown will still be able to take a left on Harrison Street. The southbound bus stop on Seventh Avenue North just north of Denny Way will also remain open.

    Map showing no left turn allowed from southbound Seventh Avenue North onto Denny Way

    Above: The North Surface Streets work zone will expand Saturday, April 20. Click for larger version of map.

    The expanded work zone will give crews space to demolish part of the Battery Street Tunnel’s north portal and continue filling in the trench between the northbound and southbound lanes of Seventh Avenue North.

    Rebuilding “Seventh Avenue North”

    Decommissioning, filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel allows us to rebuild three blocks of Aurora Avenue North between Denny Way and Harrison Street. When work is complete in 2020, this stretch of road will look like a typical city avenue instead of highway on- and off-ramps. To reflect this change in character, the City of Seattle recently renamed these three blocks “Seventh Avenue North.” The single block of former Aurora Avenue between Denny Way and Sixth Avenue has been renamed Borealis Avenue. (Aurora borealis? Get it? You get it.)

    Kiewit is currently working on the inside, sunken lanes of Seventh Avenue North, which used to be the SR 99 approach to the Battery Street Tunnel. Crews must complete utility work, fill the portal and raise the trench to match the grade of the surrounding land, then pave new travel lanes. Once they complete this work, the travel lanes and work zone will swap places, with traffic on the new inside lanes and crews working on the outside edges of the street.

    This North Surface Streets work is scheduled to be complete in 2020. For updates on road closures in this area, subscribe to our weekly construction email.

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    Order: 3.3

  • Viaduct demolition at the two-month mark

    Viaduct demolition began in the middle of February, and these first two months have produced dramatic visual changes along Seattle’s waterfront. Here's a rundown of recent progress:

    South to north on the central waterfront

    View of viaduct being demolished in stages

    Caption: Here you can see the stages of demolition from left to right: first the top deck, then the girders and columns of the upper deck, then the lower deck.

    The largest and most eye-catching portion of removal is occurring between Yesler Way and Madison Street. The Columbia Street on-ramp is gone (save two columns that will be reused in a new, temporary pedestrian bridge) and crews are working their way north.

    View looking east across Alaskan Way, with no viaduct in sight

    Caption: The view of Columbia Street from Alaskan Way. The two standing columns seen in the background (previously used to support the Columbia Street on-ramp) will be reused to support the temporary pedestrian bridge.

    On April 10, one lane of Columbia Street reopened between First Avenue and Alaskan Way, giving a glimpse into the future of travelling along the new Seattle waterfront. The street will eventually become a two-way street and the primary bus route between downtown and Alaskan Way.

    Wide angle view of section of demolished viaduct

    Caption: Another look at the span of the viaduct that has been completely demolished, near Columbia Street.

    Building a new bridge to Colman Dock

    Worker using a small crane to lift a tube of rebar

    Caption: These cages will help form the columns supporting the new pedestrian bridge along Western Avenue.

    Crews are constructing a temporary pedestrian bridge on Western Avenue between Columbia and Marion streets, and along Columbia Street between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. This bridge will replace the current Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge this summer as a pedestrian route between First Avenue and Colman Dock.

    The sections of the viaduct immediately adjacent to the existing pedestrian bridge have been skipped for the time being. The contractor will wait until the temporary bridge is ready to open before returning to remove this section of viaduct.

    The temporary bridge will be in place until the City of Seattle builds a new, permanent pedestrian bridge on Marion Street as part of the Waterfront Seattle Project.

    Work above the railroad tracks

    Train passing beneath viaduct, with section of viaduct removed

    Caption: The steep slope and active railroad beneath this portion of the viaduct requires a different approach to removal.

    Meanwhile, a separate crew is removing sections of the viaduct adjacent to the BNSF railroad tracks between Pine and Lenora streets. The railroad tracks and steep slope complicate this area, requiring a slower method of removal. Work entails sawcutting one piece of viaduct and lifting it off with a crane. The pieces are driven down to Terminal 25 where they are crunched up.

    Yellow crane sitting atop viaduct

    Caption: Instead of “munching” the viaduct away, crews are saw-cutting pieces and lifting them away with a crane.

    Restoring the north end

    View from viaduct deck looking north, where the viaduct has been removed

    Caption: View from Lenora Street looking north, taken Mar. 22, 2019.

    Demolition north of Pike Place Market is complete for the moment, and the work zone is being restored. The Elliott Avenue on-ramp and western half of the viaduct will be saved until the end of demolition so crews can move equipment on and off.

    Green and white construction machinery sitting among a pile of concrete rubble

    The large number of underground utilities in the area have contributed to a slower-than-expected restoration process, but the contractor plans on opening the Bell and Western intersection in a couple of weeks, and the Elliott and Blanchard intersection shortly thereafter.

    Want regular updates? Subscribe to our weekly construction email for more detailed information and the latest updates. 

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    Order: 3.4

  • Construction bringing ramp, tunnel and road closures this week and weekend

    Seattle drivers using SR 99 this week should prepare for closures and detours as crews finish work on a ramp and conduct the first regular inspection of the new SR 99 tunnel. Meanwhile, the North Surface Streets Project will be closing three blocks of Seventh Avenue North (formerly Aurora Avenue North) this weekend for paving work and temporary light installation.

    Details on each closure listed below:

    Northbound SR 99 off-ramp to Alaskan Way and downtown

    • When: Closed 9 p.m. – 5 a.m., Monday – Friday nights (4/8 – 4/12)
    • Why: Installing railing on the shoulders of the ramp
    • What this means for drivers: There will be no exits northbound on SR 99 between the West Seattle Bridge and the north end of the SR 99 tunnel. Drivers looking to reach SODO, the waterfront or the south end of downtown should use East Marginal Way, First Avenue or other surface streets.

    Southbound SR 99 tunnel

    • When: Closed 11 p.m. Friday, 4/12 – 8 a.m. Saturday, 4/13
    • Why: Regular inspection and maintenance (the northbound directional closure is scheduled for May)
    • What this means for drivers: All southbound SR 99 traffic approaching the tunnel will have to leave the highway at Harrison Street.

    Seventh Avenue North weekday

    • When: Closed 9 p.m - 5 a.m., Monday, 4/8  Thursday, 4/11
    • Where: Northbound lane closed Tuesday and Thursday nights; southbound closed Monday and Wednesday nights
    • Why: Installing temporary lighting
    • What this means for drivers: Northbound detour will be Dexter Avenue North and Harrison Street. Southbound detour will be Harrison Street and Sixth Avenue North.

    Northbound Seventh Avenue North weekend

    • When: Closed 9 p.m. Friday, 4/12 – 5 a.m. Monday, 4/15
    • Why: Paving work
    • What this means for drivers: Detour for drivers to reach the northbound SR 99 on-ramp will be Dexter Avenue North and Harrison Street. See map below:

    Map showing detour route

    Want traffic news as it happens? Follow SDOT Traffic on Twitter for Seattle traffic updates and WSDOT’s traffic Twitter account for Puget Sound highway traffic conditions.

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    Order: 3.5