Thursday, November 3, 2011

SR 99 history in the making

 by guest blogger Ryan Bianchi

This week, tens of thousands of drivers a day are using a brand new section of State Route 99 in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. After slogging through the not-quite nine day closure (it turned out to be about seven-and-a-half days) of the Alaskan Way Viaduct last week, drivers are now rolling across a new bridge over South Atlantic Street. This is the first of two side-by-side bridges that will make up the new highway near Seattle’s port and stadiums. The new bridge is temporarily connected to the viaduct along the downtown waterfront through what we’re affectionately calling the “SR 99 construction bypass road.” Okay, it’s not really affection so much as an accurate description of how we are able to keep SR 99 open through construction of the viaduct replacement.

We want to thank everyone who carpooled, bused, took the water taxi, or adjusted their work schedule for helping to keep Seattle traffic moving while SR 99 was closed.

The photo above this story shows Skanska Project Engineer Tim O’Neill and WSDOT Assistant Project Engineer Diane Berge waving to the driver and passenger in the first car to cross the new SR 99 bridge just before 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. The new bridge currently accommodates two lanes of both north- and southbound traffic, while crews finish demolishing the southern portion of the viaduct and begin building the second bridge. The construction bypass road, with its 25 mile per hour speed limit, will be in place until the SR 99 tunnel opens in late 2015.

During the last week, you probably saw a few pictures or videos of demolition in the media. We must admit that demolition is really cool to watch. We tried not to go overboard with our own photos, so we put the best of our best images on our Flickr site. Demolition isn’t over, so we’re regularly updating our demolition set with new photos.

As demolition got under way, we wanted to be sure that you and anyone else had a chance at an up close and personal goodbye to the viaduct. Despite constant rain on Saturday morning, Oct. 22, more than 3,200 people obliged by walking up to the top deck of the viaduct to take pictures, check out the view and even hula-hoop.

Demolition and the first car on the new section of SR 99 are all now part of history. If you’re interested in seeing more viaduct history, we recommend you peruse our ViaductHistory.org website.

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