The Alaskan Way Viaduct is Seattle’s north-south double-decker freeway that runs along the Puget Sound water’s edge by downtown. It opened in 1953, and is now ugly and earthquake-damaged. (The Nisqually Earthquake on Feb 28, 2001 was one of the largest recorded earthquakes in Washington state history. The quake measured 6.8 on the MMS and lasted approximately 45 seconds).
In early 2009, the State of Washington, King County, the City of Seattle, and the Port of Seattle revealed that they had agreed to replace the viaduct with a four-lane, 2-mile (3.2 km) long underground tunnel. The project is estimated to cost some US$4 billion. So after a lot of soul-searching and political wrangling, construction of the tunnel has now officially started with the demolition of the south end of the Viaduct. (Boring the tunnel will only start in early 2013. Hitachi Zosen Corp. of Osaka, Japan will provide the 60 feet in diameter and more than 300 feet long boring machine. The company has already supplied the tunnel-boring machine currently used in the Capitol Hill train station construction).
New on-ramps will continue to allow traffic to use the viaduct for some time. The demolition work has drawn a lot of people, but by the time my friends and I stopped by Friday night after dinner the week’s work that started Fri Oct 21 was ahead of schedule and traffic will be allowed to start using the new on-ramp on Saturday instead of on Monday.
Map from WSDOT website
^Picture by Associated Press
^Photo by Joshua Trujillo, Seattlepi.com