If you live in the Puget Sound region and haven't heard about the Wilburton Tunnel removal and I-405 closures, now's the time to find out more. We will close the southbound lanes on I-405 in Bellevue this weekend to safely remove the tunnel above the freeway. With lane closures like this, traffic could get bad. We're talking 13-mile backup bad. So planning alternate routes or having a staycation is advised.
So how, exactly, do we remove a tunnel? Think of the crunchiest cereal you've ever eaten-Captain Crunch, Grape Nuts, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Now imagine what your teeth are crunching is concrete. The specialized machinery being brought for this job has jaws that are capable of crushing four-feet thick concrete. That's crunchy.
Fun facts about this weekends work
Located just north of the I-405/I-90 interchange the Wilburton Tunnel runs about 360 feet long and 70 feet wide.
While this looks like a small tunnel, demolition numbers are surprisingly large:
- The total weight of debris being moved from the Wilburton Tunnel is equivalent to the weight of 14 Statue of Liberties.
- 20 million pounds (10,000 tons) of concrete will be crunched into smaller chunks and hauled away—about the weight of three Space Needles.
- 1.5 million pounds of rebar will be extracted. This is equivalent to the weight of four Boeing 747 airplanes.
- 1 million pounds (500 tons) of sand will be placed on the roadway each Friday night, acting as a buffer to protect the roadway from falling debris.
- Two 15,000 ft-lb breakers, each capable of crushing four-feet thick concrete will break, or crunch, down the tunnel into small concrete chunks.
- Six hydraulic excavators with specialty attachments (concrete crunchers, breakers, and “bucket and thumb”) will crunch the tunnel and help remove debris
- Bobcats and a front-end loader will help remove debris
- A hydraulic hammer will crush the tunnel
After Friday at 11 p.m. you won't be able to go under the tunnel, but there are detours in place. Check the Web site for the latest updates on the tunnel removal progress.