Today you can stand on the Alaskan Way sidewalk near South Jackson Street and see both ends of the viaduct from the same spot. In Pioneer Square only about one block is left standing of the highway that once snaked its way between Belltown and SODO.
The process of turning the aging highway into rubble has been a waterfront spectacle this spring and summer. If you haven’t had a chance to watch demolition in person, we’ve captured a close-up view of the demolition process in slow motion:
There’s still structure left to remove, which means there are still road and lane closures to contend with. Alaskan Way remains narrowed to one lane in each direction through Pioneer Square, so allow extra time if you’re driving to and from SR 99 via Alaskan Way or First Avenue South. South Main, South Washington and South Jackson streets are also closed at Alaskan Way.
The viaduct is shrinking along Seattle’s waterfront and the work zone is changing this week as the contractor Kiewit shifts their work zone. Meanwhile, the rebuild of Seventh Avenue North will reach Denny Way this summer and fall with a series of lane reductions and street closures. Read below for details and maps.
Alaskan Way in Pioneer Square: Yesler and King reopen, Jackson closes
Crews are removing the viaduct through Pioneer Square from both ends. See the map at right (click to enlarge). Here are traffic control changes to expect this week:
Today: South King Street reopens at Alaskan Way.
Tomorrow: Yesler Way reopens at Alaskan Way
Tomorrow: South Jackson Street closes at Alaskan Way.
Uniformed police officers will help direct traffic this week at key intersections during the evening commutes.
To reach Colman Dock: Vehicles can still enter the drive-on entrance at South Jackson Street by taking a left or right off Alaskan Way. Entering the holding area by driving straight west on South Jackson Street will be unavailable while viaduct demolition occurs overhead. Please allow extra time to reach your ferry as traffic congestion remains high on Alaskan Way.
People walking and biking: When South Jackson Street closes, your new east-west options between Alaskan Way and Pioneer Square will be South King Street and Yesler Way. South Dearborn Street and Columbia Street also remain open to bicycles and pedestrians.
Railroad Way South: This street will become northbound-only from South Dearborn Street, with northbound vehicles forced to take a right on South King Street. Vehicles can also turn onto southbound Railroad Way South from South King Street, but the southbound lane terminates mid-block at the 505 Western Avenue building parking garage.
8/22 update: The schedule below is subject to change based on the progress of work. People walking and biking through the intersection of Seventh Avenue North and Denny Way should expect several-block detours during these weekends. Sidewalks on Denny Way between Sixth Avenue and Dexter Avenue will be closed.
Crews will be repaving sections of the intersection and installing a duct bank just east of the intersection. Due to the intersection’s importance in moving buses and vehicles, this work will occur only on nights and weekends.
The first phase of filling the Battery Street Tunnel is wrapping up, scheduled to be completed this week. Since the tunnel closed on February 1, crews have been working inside on its decommissioning and filling. Such work included retiring and removing the tunnel’s utilities and mechanical systems, removing hazardous materials and filling the tunnel to about half its height with crushed concrete rubble.
Above: A look inside the Battery Street Tunnel, now half-filled with crushed concrete rubble from the viaduct.
For the first phase of filling, crews used processed concrete rubble from demolished pieces of the viaduct, pouring it in from vents in Battery Street above and compacting it down with vibratory rollers. This cycle of pouring and packing continued until the tunnel was filled to about seven feet from its ceiling.
Before filling began, crews cut openings between lanes to help move equipment and fill. Photo taken May 6, 2019.
Compacted concrete fill surrounding and partially filling one of the cut openings. Photo taken July 23, 2019.
A pile of crushed concrete fill poured into the Battery Street Tunnel from the surface, before it has been spread out and compacted.
A roller compacts a layer of crushed concrete fill. The top seven feet of tunnel will be filled in later with poured concrete.
Before moving onto the next phase of filling, crews are spending the rest of this year building utilities in the tunnel. Filling the tunnel provides a unique opportunity to build sewer and electrical infrastructure. Instead of digging into an existing street, crews can layer in vaults, duct banks and sewer lines before filling in the space around them.
Once utility work is complete, scheduled for early 2020, crews will finish filling the tunnel. Phase two entails pouring low-density cellular concrete into the tunnel from the surface. This flowable concrete will fill in the gaps in the interior top of the tunnel.
The Battery Street Tunnel portion of the project also involves work above ground, including worksite restoration and surface street improvements along Battery Street. Neighbors and travelers in the area can expect some travel or parking lanes to be temporarily closed along Battery Street between Second and Sixth avenues during the upcoming months, with crews typically working one block at a time.
To stay up-to-date on Battery Street Tunnel construction updates (as well as construction and traffic updates for viaduct demolition and Seventh Avenue North construction), join our weekly email list. You may also contact the project via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.
With Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition wrapping up along Seattle’s central waterfront, demolition contractor Kiewit is turning its attention south to Pioneer Square. Yesterday, crews established a work zone around Yesler Way, across from the Colman Dock ferry terminal (see a map of street closures). They will soon begin demolishing the viaduct and working their way south. Meanwhile, another crew has already begun working on the viaduct around South Dearborn Street.
Crews will start this week on the viaduct south of Columbia Street and work south. The work zone will narrow Alaskan Way to two lanes. Aerial photo credit: Tim Rice Photography.
The crew already working by Railroad Way South will demolish the double-deck structure as they move north. Aerial photo credit: Tim Rice Photography.
The two crews will work toward each other and meet in the middle. In some places the viaduct sits extremely close to nearby buildings. In those tight locations, demolition teams will saw-cut the structure and lift large pieces with cranes. In most locations, giant munching machines will demolish the structure as they have done farther north along the central waterfront.
It’s a large and challenging undertaking, one of the toughest jobs these seasoned crews have ever experienced. This new video takes you inside the work zone for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to tear down the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
If you are traveling through the area this summer, expect lane reductions and closed roads around the work zone. To give crews space to work and keep the traveling public safely away from the demolition work, Alaskan Way will be narrowed to two lanes and cross-streets closed beneath the viaduct. Drivers should expect increased congestion during heavy driving times around the SR 99 on-ramp and off-ramp at South Dearborn Street. Vehicles will continue to be able to take left and right turns from Alaskan Way into the Colman Dock vehicle holding area at South Jackson Street.
Crews are demolishing the southern-most remaining section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The ramps that once carried traffic onto and off the structure are gone, and crews are working along Railroad Way South, moving their way north.
The lane reduction on First Avenue South near South Dearborn Street has been lifted, but Alaskan Way has again been reduced to one lane in each direction between South King Street and South Dearborn Street. Drivers should expect possible increased congestion during heavy driving times around the SR 99 on-ramp and off-ramp at South Dearborn Street.
The viaduct demolition contractor Kiewit is working on the viaduct’s remaining southern section around South Dearborn Street. Crews will be using several methods to remove the structure in this area, including both munching machines and cranes.
After removing the remaining viaduct structure south of South Dearborn Street, Kiewit will begin demolishing the viaduct by working from south to north. However, they will leave the span over South Dearborn Street standing until August.
On or around July 12, a second crew is scheduled to begin preparing the worksite for removing the viaduct at Yesler Way. Demolition will begin about a week later, and this crew will work their way south. Working simultaneously, these two crews will work their way toward each other, removing this section of viaduct from both ends.
Lane reductions on First Avenue South and Alaskan Way
Crews will need safe work space to remove the viaduct, which means lane reductions and sidewalk closures for people walking, biking and driving in the area. The map at right and the list below contain the planned roadway changes over the next several weeks.
These dates are based on the contractor's schedule and could change:
Tomorrow: First Avenue reduces to one lane in each direction near CenturyLink Field, south of South Dearborn Street. This narrowing will not extend past South Royal Brougham Way.
July: Streets between Yesler Way and South Dearborn Street will close at Alaskan Way while crews remove the viaduct running overhead.
Week of July 8: Railroad Way South closes both directions for four days.
Week of July 8: Lane reductions on Alaskan Way return north of South Dearborn Street.
Week of July 12: Yesler Way closes beneath the viaduct.
August: South Dearborn Street closes while crews remove the viaduct overhead.
June 17, 2019 update: The overnight closure of Alaskan Way scheduled for tonight and tomorrow has been moved to Wednesday and Thursday this week.
A new pedestrian-only bridge to Colman Dock is taking shape near Seattle’s waterfront. This week and next the contractor Kiewit will place a prefabricated walkway atop columns along Columbia Street and Western Avenue. Most of the columns were poured over the past several months but the new bridge is also supported by two columns that were left in place from the Columbia Street on-ramp.
Crews placing bridge spans on Western Avenue on June 10.
Prefabricated bridge sections will be placed atop these columns on Columbia Street. The column at the left was formerly part of the viaduct.
This new bridge will connect to the current Marion Street pedestrian bridge at Western Avenue, then run via Western Avenue and Columbia Street to Colman Dock. After placing the prefabricated walkway structure, electrical work and other follow-on work will occur before the bridge is complete.
The current Marion Street pedestrian bridge will remain open until sometime in August, when Colman Dock construction is ready to open the new bridge. After the new bridge is operational, Kiewit will demolish the narrow section of viaduct left in place over the current pedestrian bridge.
Above: Kiewit left this section of the viaduct standing so the pedestrian bridge beneath it can remain open during viaduct demolition.
When removing the section of freestanding viaduct structure around Marion Street, Kiewit will also remove part of the current pedestrian bridge from Colman Dock to the edge of the building just to the east. The bridge we are building this year will stay open for about five years until the City of Seattle’s Waterfront Project builds a new pedestrian bridge at Marion Street.
Traffic effects this week and next
Columbia Street is closed from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way to place the bridge spans. This block of Columbia Street is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, June 19. Sidewalks remain open.
Alaskan Way will close both directions between Marion Street and Yesler Way on Monday and Tuesday nights, 6/17 and 6/18Wednesday and Thursday nights, 6/19 and 6/20. The closure will last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and include the multi-use sidewalk on the west side of Alaskan Way. People traveling north and south along this stretch of waterfront at night should expect detours and delays.
Western Avenue between Marion and Columbia streets has been closed for several months while crews built the new pedestrian bridge. One northbound lane is scheduled to reopen on this block in the coming month.
The southern stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was saved for last, and now its time is coming. WSDOT's contractor Kiewit is preparing to begin work on removing the section of viaduct that remains between Yesler Way and South Dearborn Street.
Early this Friday morning Alaskan Way will be narrowed to one lane in each direction between South King Street and South Dearborn Street. Crews will use this space to establish a work zone so they can safely begin demolition later this month on the viaduct adjacent to Railroad Way South.
Alaskan Way is a busy arterial in this area and a key connection to SR 99. Travelers approaching downtown from the south this summer should plan for longer drive times, especially during peak commute periods and on weekends. Consider taking transit and the King County Water Taxi as a driving alternative. Access routes to Colman Dock will remain unchanged for the moment.
Above: Alaskan Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction. The orange section of the viaduct is where demolition will begin later this month
In July the contractor will add a second crew to the job of removing the viaduct's southern section. The plans for this work, including where that crew will start along the structure, are still being refined and we will share more information in the weeks to come. Drivers should expect that at some point streets connecting Alaskan Way to First Avenue South will close beneath the viaduct, and additional stretches of Alaskan Way will be narrowed. People traveling along Alaskan Way, especially to and from Colman Dock, should expect higher than normal congestion in the area through the end of August as we conclude work on one major component of the Seattle Squeeze.
The process of removing the viaduct is more than just demolition work. Removing the viaduct is done in three stages: site preparation, demolition, and finally, site restoration. You can see where crews are on our viaduct demolition tracker, which is updated weekly.
Once a portion of the viaduct has been demolished, crews must restore the work zone to its former condition. In this case, “restoration” means re-opening streets, sidewalks, and parking that was available before the removal process began.
Above: Looking north on Alaskan Way between Seneca and Marion streets, before removal and after restoration.
The most easily visible part of site restoration is clearing the piles of viaduct rubble. The two main rubble materials – concrete and rebar – must be separated. Initial separation happens on site during processing, before rubble is loaded onto trucks and hauled south to Terminal 25 for additional sorting and processing. The concrete rubble is then hauled north to fill the Battery Street Tunnel.
Cleanup also entails removing the “crush pad” placed on the ground before demolition began. This bedding of rock protects not only the surface of the street, but also the utilities buried below it. Site restoration includes clearing away this bedding and cleaning the ground beneath.
Above: Site restoration in March 2019 at the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street
One of the last steps in site restoration is removing and filling the viaduct’s foundations. The viaduct’s support columns are connected to foundations buried beneath street level. Once the columns are munched away during demolition, crews hammer out the foundations, in most places to five feet below the surface. They then backfill the hole to prepare for final restoration activities. This time-lapse video captures demolition and site restoration at University Street along the waterfront (you can see a foundation dug out and filled in the foreground at the 0:39 mark).
The last step is restoring the area to its “original” condition, including paving and striping the pavement, and opening it back up to parking and pedestrians.
Restored only for a short while
The land where the viaduct once stood will not remain static for long. Once the viaduct has been completely removed, the City of Seattle will step in to begin construction of the Waterfront Seattle project. The SR 99 tunnel was designed in tandem with a rebuilt Alaskan Way surface street, and Waterfront Seattle will build that street, along with new public spaces and an extended pedestrian promenade. Visit www.waterfrontseattle.org for more information on the project to come.
If you’ve traveled along Battery Street recently, you may have noticed large metal containers sitting on the side of the road. These specialized hoppers are placed above the Battery Street Tunnel’s ventilation grates, and trucks pour crushed concrete rubble through them into the closed tunnel beneath. (Have you seen our video of this work in action?)
The contractor Kiewit is filling the Battery Street Tunnel with crushed concrete salvaged from the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Working from Denny Way southwest toward First Avenue, crews spend several weeks per block filling the tunnel beneath up to about seven feet from the ceiling.
Kiewit’s current Battery Street Tunnel working hours are 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, with the filling from the surface stopping by 3 p.m.
Compacting the rubble with vibration
Inside the tunnel, Kiewit spreads the fill out along the tunnel’s old roadways and compacts it with vibratory rollers. The rollers produce vibration that may be felt in adjacent buildings. The amount of vibration felt in a nearby building will vary depending on the building’s distance from the active work area and what type of work the crews are performing. Crews may spread and compact the crushed concrete up to several blocks away from where the fill is poured into the tunnel.
Below is the current schedule for the filling and vibratory work. The dates may change somewhat based on progress:
Drivers on Battery Street should expect one lane to be closed 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. while crews are filling the tunnel beneath that block. There will be trucks, hoppers and crews working in that closed lane. Kiewit is also working with local utility companies to install utilities within the tunnel, which sometimes requires short-term lane or sidewalk closures on Battery Street or adjacent side streets. After the filling is complete, crews will return to repair the street grates and any damaged sidewalks or roadway.
What comes next
The crushed concrete work will wrap up this summer, filling up the tunnel to about seven feet from its ceiling. The top seven feet will be filled with a low-density cellular concrete pumped into the tunnel from the surface. This final tunnel fill work is scheduled for early 2020.
Later phases of work will remove the grates from Battery Street’s roadway and sidewalks, and repair the holes. Crews will also install new street lighting, curb ramps and other pedestrian improvements. The project is expected to be complete by mid-2020. We provide weekly construction updates about the Battery Street Tunnel project via our construction email list. You can also contact the project by email, email@example.com, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.