Seattle waterfront tunnel

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The safety of the Alaskan Way viaduct will be back on the table Monday when the Seattle City Council will hear from the Washington State Department of Transportation about planning for a short- or long-term closure of the busy highway that runs along Seattle's waterfront. 

Seattle Tunnel Partners

Officials overseeing the replacement of Seattle’s Alaskan Way viaduct are trying to tamp down safety concerns. But under questioning Monday from Seattle City Council members, they had a hard time coming up with an answer for when people should start to worry.

Seattle Tunnel Partners

Just six weeks after the contractor managing the State Route 99 tunnel project laid out its timeline for getting back to digging, the company said it’s about a month behind on repairs to its tunneling machine.

Crews are working to burrow down from the surface to where the machine known as Bertha is sitting idle. An early step is to sink a circle of interlocking concrete pillars that will line the access shaft and protect surrounding structures, but that’s proving harder than what the company was planning for in mid-June.

WSDOT

The prospect of taking the State Route 99 tunneling machine known as Bertha offline for as much as half a year is not good news for the company operating it. But one Seattle tunneling expert says it could be worse.

“It’s really a problem with the machine itself. I think it’s something that can be repaired,” said the University of Washington’s Joseph Wartman. “And I think in a couple of years when the tunnel is open, people will have forgotten about this.”

WSDOT

The machine boring a new Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle has finally dug itself out of its own launch pit.

The Transportation Department said Wednesday the 326-foot long machine it calls Bertha has drilled 359 feet.

WSDOT

Bertha, the world's largest tunnel boring machine, has finally arrived in Seattle's Elliott Bay.

Jason Bauscher photo / KPLU News

This week, the Seattle Fire Department has been in training for what might be a nightmare scenario: the possibility of fire inside a deep-bore tunnel.  A technical rescue team has been practicing at the unfinished nuclear power plant in Satsop, west of Olympia.

About a dozen firefighters are in a huddle at the base what was designed to be a cooling tower. It’s been re-purposed into one of the nation’s premiere training grounds for urban firefighters.

PKMousie / Flickr

The big dig along the Seattle waterfront that will build a traffic tunnel could also displace scores of rats and cockroaches. KOMO News reports that pest control experts say the rats will flee the massive construction project for quieter homes and food. That means buildings around the dig could see more rats.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

A plan to use public transit to offset traffic congestion while the new Highway 99 tunnel is built in Seattle is expected to run out of money – long before the project is completed.

WSDOT

It’s the beginning of the end for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Demolition work will shut down the double-decker highway for 9 days about two months from now, from October 21 – 31. According the state Department of Transportation, it’s the longest full closure of a Seattle area highway the city’s ever dealt with.

WSDOT

The results are in for the primary election and the majority of Seattle voters have given the go-ahead to a tunnel that would replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct along the city's waterfront. Nearly 60% of the voters said yes – bringing over a decade of debate to a close.

WSDOT

If you question whether the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle should be replaced with a deep-bore tunnel, a trip to Madrid, Spain, could clear up some uncertainties. That’s all Governor Chris Gregoire said it took to confirm her decision.

Seattle voters will have a chance to chime in again on the planned deep-bore tunnel that's supposed to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

That's the word from Judge Laura Middaugh who this afternoon sided with the supporters of a referendum, saying  her goal is to make sure that the voices of the people are heard when a policy decision is made.  She said she had not been able to find any precedents in case law to support her stance.

A vote on whether to build a tunnel to replace the aging Alaskan Way viaduct can take place, a King County Judge ruled today (Friday).

King County Superior Court Judge Laura Middaugh said some parts of the agreements that cover utilities, insurance, right-of-way and other issues can be in the referendum but others can't. She'll hear arguments next Friday on which parts could be included in an August vote and whether she has the authority to partially rewrite language in the referendum.

AP

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has filed a legal challenge to a citizen referendum on Seattle's proposed deep-bore waterfront tunnel.

Holmes has asked a judge to rule on whether the construction agreements between the city and the state that targeted by the referendum are “administrative actions” which can't be overturned by the vote. 

WSDOT

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has been calling for a closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct as soon as possible.  That's because it's an earthquake hazard.  Other leaders think that's an over-reaction, since a new tunnel is already in the works. 

But the Viaduct will close this weekend for its semi-annual inspection.  Drivers will have to re-route their travel for two days.  Routine maintenance on the old structure was scheduled long before the earthquake in Japan. 

AP

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he thinks the city’s waterfront viaduct poses an earthquake risk and should be taken down next year.

That's a good four years before the viaduct's planned replacement -- a deep-bore tunnel under downtown -- would be ready.

King5 TV

If you’re waiting for the final chapter in the saga of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, don’t hold your breath. The latest action by the city council has triggered an effort to put the question to the voters again.

In an often-raucous council chamber packed with both supporters and opponents of the planned deep-bore tunnel project, the City Council decisively overturned Mayor Mike McGinn’s veto of a set of agreements between the city and the state that would facilitate the tunnel.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

With the Alaskan Way viaduct scheduled to be demolished in 2016, Seattle area residents are dreaming up possibilities for connecting the waterfront to the city. For decades, the viaduct has largely blocked Elliott Bay, unless you're driving on it or looking out of a high rise building. 

Despite threats of a veto by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, the city council approved agreements today that make some city departments partners in a plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bored tunnel. Supporters say making land-use, utility and design commitments to the state moves the controversial project forward. 

The council voted 8-1 in favor of the agreements. Mike O'Brien is the sole councilman who opposed them.

Wikimedia Commons

Making headlines this morning:

  • Seattle Tunnel Project Hits Federal Snag
  • Audit Singes State Over Highway 18 Costs
  • 787 Delivery Plans Face More Questions
  • State's Newest Congresswoman Takes on Health Care Reform
WSDOT

The deal is official, but the political fight simmers. The state has put its signature on the contract to build the world's largest deep-bore tunnel, under Seattle's waterfront. It would replace the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct, SR 99. 

WSDOT

The first major street closure in the work to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct happens Monday night.

The state Department of Transportation says it's closing First Avenue South next to Qwest Field from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday to allow crews to set up space for the huge construction job.

http://www.619western.com

The deep bore tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle's waterfront could be bad news for the century-old Western Building in Pioneer Square.  

The six story building sits on top of fill dirt and rotted pilings, and the Washington Transportation Department says it could settle a few inches during construction.  

Courtesy WSDOT

The Seattle Mayor is continuing to question plans to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.  This follows last week’s announcement from the state that the contractor could finish the project under budget and ahead of schedule. 

Courtesy WSDOT

State transportation officials have announced the likely winner in the competition to build a tunnel to replace Seattle's aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.  The proposal comes from a consortium known as Seattle Tunnel Partners.  It has a slightly higher price, but offers other benefits. 

AP

Thursday is a big day for the proposed deep-bore tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.  An underground highway is supposed to replace the elevated freeway along the waterfront. 

At 1 pm, Governor Chris Gregoire will unseal the dollar amounts attached to two bids submitted earlier this fall.  Then, Washington Department of Transportation staff will add up a total score, based on price and engineering details, and announce an apparent winner of the final construction contract. 

AP

The planned  tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way viaduct will include tolls, and that will push traffic onto nearby streets and I-5, according to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.  So, he’s hiring a consultant to look at ways to handle extra traffic.  

Trick or Treat, Seattle Style