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  • North Surface Streets Project reaches Phase 2 ahead of schedule

    Map showing lane changes on Seventh Avenue NorthThe North Surface Streets Project is rebuilding Seventh Avenue North (formerly Aurora Avenue North) between Denny Way and Harrison Street. The finished product will be a new surface street with intersections at Thomas and John streets and dedicated transit lanes in both directions. Getting there, however, requires a series of lane configurations that keep people moving around construction.

    Starting Saturday, June 8, the Seventh Avenue North travel lanes will be moved from the outside edges of the road to the inside, running on newly poured concrete between Denny Way and Harrison Street. Drivers will still be able to take right turns on and off Thomas and John streets, but (like today) will not be able to use either street for east-west travel across Seventh Avenue North.

    This switch is occurring approximately one month earlier than originally scheduled. Moving travel lanes to the middle of the road allows the contractor to begin work on the outside lanes and sidewalks. This lane configuration will remain in place through the end of 2019.

    Bus stop and Seventh Avenue entrance to close

    The southbound bus stop between John Street and Denny Way will close on Saturday, June 8. It will be replaced when construction is complete in 2020, but until then riders should use the next bus stop on Wall Street at Fifth Avenue.

    The leg of Seventh Avenue south of Denny Way (view on Google Street View) will also close permanently on Saturday. Crews will eventually build a sidewalk across this road, simplifying the Seventh Avenue North / Denny Way intersection.

    Stay updated on work progress

    Since work began in February the contractor Kiewit has focused their work on the middle of the road, filling in the trench that once carried Aurora Avenue North traffic into and out of the Battery Street Tunnel. With the middle lanes built, Kiewit will work on the outside lanes and sidewalks. Travelers in the area should expect sidewalks along Seventh Avenue North periodically closed for construction, and short-term closures of John or Thomas streets at Seventh Avenue North. You can track these closures on our Construction Notices and Detours page.

    We provide weekly construction updates via our construction email list. You can also contact the project by email, viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov, or by calling the 24/7 construction hotline at 1-888-298-5463.

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  • Work begins tomorrow on removing Seneca Street off-ramp

    Tomorrow crews will begin removing the Seneca Street off-ramp that looms above Seneca Street between the waterfront and First Avenue. Due to its height and proximity to nearby buildings, the contractor Kiewit will use cranes to bring the ramp’s girders down one by one.

    Crews will remove the ramp working west to east toward First Avenue. Hoe rams will hammer out the road deck before crews cut the ramp’s girders and beams. Cranes will lift the cut pieces one by one onto the ground. Machinery will munch the girders and the ramp’s columns into rubble. Kiewit used a similar approach when removing the Columbia Street on-ramp in February and March.

    Cranes lifting a beam away from the viaduct ramp

    Above: Crews lifting a girder from the Columbia Street ramp that had been cut away with saws

    Expect detours around Western Avenue and Seneca Street

    Kiewit will need to close the intersection of Western Avenue and Seneca Street while removing the ramp above the intersection. Kiewit, WSDOT and SDOT have coordinated closely on the work plan for the ramp’s removal to minimize road closures in the neighborhood. The current closure plan:

    • Wednesday, May 22: Crews begin site prep and slotting the deck near Alaskan Way.
    • Thursday, May 23: Crosswalk across Seneca Street at Western Avenue closes at 7 a.m.
    • Tuesday, May 28: Whole intersection of Seneca Street and Western Avenue closes at 4 a.m., for up to 20 days total.
    • Saturday, June 1: University Street reopens onto Alaskan Way.
    • Mid-June: Ramp fully removed, and site restoration begins.

    Take note: Between Tuesday and Saturday, May 28 – June 1, Western Avenue will be a dead-end street south of Virginia Street. Businesses and sidewalks will be open north and south of Seneca Street, but people walking, biking and driving will need to find alternate paths to cross Seneca Street. See the map below:

    Map showing Western Ave closed at Seneca Street, with detours being Wall Street to north and Spring or Madison to the south

    When University Street reopens on June 1, it will be a connection point between the waterfront and Western Avenue. The intersection of Post Avenue and Seneca Street will also close for up to seven days in late May or early June as crews remove the ramp overhead.

    What to expect from the work

    The contractor’s current plan calls for the ramp to be removed in about three weeks, with crews working only during daytime hours. Buildings adjacent to the work will be protected in the air by nets hung from cranes, and on the ground by barriers. Work hours could change based on crews’ progress, but the planned work hours are:

    • 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays
    • 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturdays
    • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays

    The work will unavoidably produce noise, dust and vibration, but crews will work to mitigate those effects where possible. The process for removing this ramp is benefitting from crews’ experience working on earlier sections of the viaduct, and Kiewit has refined their methods since the project began.

    Follow up work at First Avenue in June

    After the ramp is removed, crews will need to conduct follow-up utility work where the ramp once met First Avenue. Crews will also restore the sidewalk on the west side of First Avenue and build a wall and rail in the hole where the ramp once stood. This work has not yet been scheduled, and may involve night work. We will post more details about this work on our website once the plan is confirmed.

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  • Video: How viaduct rubble is processed for filling the Battery Street Tunnel

    Every day trucks carry viaduct rubble south to Terminal 25 along the Duwamish River for processing. There, rebar is removed, and the concrete crushed into small pieces. The processed rubble is then trucked up to Battery Street to fill the tunnel.
     
    Filling the Battery Street Tunnel from the surface has begun
    Work to decommission the aged and seismically vulnerable Battery Street Tunnel continues as crews fill the tunnel from the surface level. Trucks pour processed viaduct concrete rubble into a hopper (a sort of funnel) placed atop the Battery Street Tunnel’s old ventilation grates. The hopper contains water sprayers and rotates as it pours its contents into the tunnel to prevent dust. Inside the tunnel, the rubble falls into piles which crews spread and then compact with a vibratory roller.  The fill material will be placed and compacted up to about seven feet from the ceiling. 
     
     
    What’s ahead
    Placing the crushed concrete will last about three months. The final seven feet of the tunnel’s interior will be filled with a low-density cellular concrete; this work is scheduled to occur in late 2019 and early 2020. See our earlier post for details about work hours.
     
    Once the tunnel is filled, the vents will be removed and sealed up as part of other surface street restoration work on Battery Street scheduled for summer 2020.
     
    To receive weekly email updates about work on Battery Street, join our mailing list.
     
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    Order: 2.9

  • Lane changes coming on Seventh Avenue North as work zone expands

    Work is progressing on the three blocks of Seventh Avenue North in the South Lake Union neighborhood between Denny Way and Harrison Street. (This stretch of road used to be called Aurora Avenue North.) The North Surface Streets Project will turn what had been highway ramps and the sunken approach to the Battery Street Tunnel into a surface street with north/south bus lanes and signalized intersections at John and Thomas streets.

    Map of Seventh Avenue North showing work areas

    The project is phased to keep vehicles moving on Seventh Avenue North during construction. Next week the work zones will shift to accommodate new areas of construction. These lane configurations will be in place 24/7 for about four weeks. Here are the changes coming May 13 – 14:

    • Overnight closure: Northbound Seventh Avenue North fully closed, 9 p.m. Monday – 5 a.m. Tuesday, so crews can establish new work areas.
    • Lane Shift: Beginning Tuesday, the northbound lane of Seventh Avenue North between John and Harrison streets will be shifted onto new concrete. No turn movements will be affected.
    • Lane reduction: Beginning Tuesday, Seventh Avenue North will be reduced to one northbound lane north of Denny Way.
    • Borealis Avenue narrowed: Borealis Avenue will be tapered down to one lane to accommodate Battery Street Tunnel filling operations and to align traffic with the single lane of Seventh Avenue North that begins north of Denny. The taper will change sides of the street depending on what work activity is being performed. The bus stop will remain open.

    Removing the left lane north of Denny Way will give crews space to dismantle and fill the Battery Street Tunnel’s portal and raise the trench to ground level. Shifting the travel lane at John Street will provide space to work on Seventh Avenue North’s future outside lane between John and Harrison streets. See the map at right (click for larger version).

    Future work

    Later this month, Denny Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction for overnight utility work beneath the street. Later this summer, the contractor will move into the next major phase of the North Surface Streets Project, when Seventh Avenue North's travel lanes in both directions will be shifted into the center of the road so crews can work on the outside lanes.

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  • Filling the Battery Street Tunnel from the surface begins next week

    The decommissioning of the Battery Street Tunnel enters a new phase next week, when the contractor, Kiewit, begins to fill the tunnel from the surface of Battery Street.

    Crews have already cleaned the tunnel of decades’ worth of automobile exhaust and removed the tunnel’s mechanical and electrical systems. They will continue to install sewer lines and conduct other utility work. But starting as soon as next week, the contractor will begin trucking in concrete rubble from the viaduct demolition and sending it into the tunnel using funnels on Battery Street. Crews removed steel rebar from the rubble and crushed the concrete into baseball-sized pieces. 

    Inside the Battery Street Tunnel, with a flat-topped pile of gravel on the left and a yellow tube descending from the ceiling at right

    Caption: The ledge at left is fill material already brought in by truck and compacted to support a new sewer line that will be placed on top. The yellow chute at right is part of the tunnel ventilation system to keep fresh air circulating for workers.

    Inside the tunnel, crews will compact the fill using a vibratory roller. The work will last at least three months as crews fill up to about seven feet from the top of the tunnel.

    Effects of construction

    One lane or sidewalk at a time will be closed on Battery Street between First Avenue and Sixth Avenue, depending on where crews are filling on a given day. The compaction happening inside the tunnel causes vibrations that may be felt on the surface and in adjacent buildings.

    Details of the work and what to expect in May and June:

    • Battery Street reduced to one lane at various locations, 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday.
    • Trucks dumping fill material through a specialized funnel on Battery Street, 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday.
    • Vibration from compaction work inside the tunnel 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.
    • Funnels and other construction equipment stored on Battery Street when not in use.

    People living, working or traveling near the work may see and feel increased noise, dust and vibration during the work hours (weekdays 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.). The filling operation ends at 3 p.m. to keep Battery Street fully open during the evening commute.

    A truck carrying a load of crushed concrete drives through the tunnel

    Caption: Side-dumping trucks like the one above will deposit fill into funnels on Battery Street.

    The Battery Street Tunnel, like the Alaskan Way Viaduct, is seismically vulnerable. Decommissioning it improves surface mobility by allowing three blocks of Seventh Avenue North (formerly Aurora Avenue North) to be rebuilt into a two-way surface street with four-way intersections and bus lanes. For a weekly email update on Battery Street Tunnel construction progress, join our email list.

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    Order: 3.1

  • 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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  • 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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  • Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge will close March 30–31 for overhead viaduct demolition

    Update 3/27/19 9:10 a.m.: The closure of the Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge has been cancelled. Kiewit has changed their work plan and will no longer need to temporarily close the pedestrian bridge. They will skip over the section of the viaduct on either side of the pedestrian bridge, coming back to remove that section after the new pedestrian bridge on Columbia Street is ready to open this summer.

    Ferry passengers and other users of the Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge should prepare for detours this weekend as the viaduct demolition contractor Kiewit will close the bridge Saturday and Sunday, March 30-31. This is a safety precaution while Kiewit removes parts of the viaduct decks above and around the bridge. Marion Street beneath the viaduct will also be closed for about a week.

    Closure sequence:

    • Tuesday morning, 3/26: Marion Street closes between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue
    • Saturday morning, 3/30: Pedestrian bridge closes beneath the viaduct
    • Sunday night, 3/31: Pedestrian bridge reopens

    Kiewit will remove parts of the viaduct deck above and around the pedestrian bridge (“slotting” the deck), while leaving the girders and columns in place. WSDOT and Kiewit know that closing the bridge is disruptive to Colman Dock travelers and so have been refining their plans to make this as short of a closure as possible. Removing this portion of the viaduct now will speed up Kiewit’s overall work schedule and reduce construction disruption this summer. After this short closure, the bridge will stay open until the new, temporary bridge being built on Columbia Street is ready to open this summer.

    Free, ADA-accessible shuttle while bridge is closed

    Kiewit will run a shuttle van while the bridge is closed. The shuttle is free and for all users, although priority will be given to people with limited mobility or who require extra accommodation. The shuttle will stop near each end of the Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge.

    Shuttle details:

    • Operating hours: 6 a.m. – 2 a.m. (during Colman Dock operating hours)
    • Frequency: Every 20–30 minutes
    • Colman Dock stop location: West side of Alaskan Way north of Marion Street
    • First Avenue stop location: East side of First Avenue between Marion and Columbia streets

    The shuttle van will drive a loop between Colman Dock and the intersection of First Ave and Marion Street. The route is below:

    Map showing shuttle route through downtown Seattle

    Other pedestrian detour options while the pedestrian bridge is closed:

    • Madison Street and Columbia Streets will both be open to pedestrians between Alaskan Way and First Avenue.
    • The pedestrian bridge stairs at Western Avenue and the elevator at Post Avenue will both be open.

    Sign up for our weekly construction email for the latest on viaduct road closures and work progress. You can learn more about construction at Colman Dock on that project’s website.

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