SEATTLE-- If Seattleites need another reminder that the Alaskan Way Viaduct is soon coming down for an underground tunnel, this is another one.
The Federal Highway Administration signed off on the plan Tuesday, two weeks after the people of Seattle voted in favor of moving forward with tearing down the viaduct, and 10 years after the initial concept was brought up.
Now, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle TunnelPartners can really begin nailing down the tunnel design and construction process, with results possibly not too far into the future. A machine big enough to drill a tunnel 57-feet across for 1.7 miles will begin to be built this fall.
Federal and state agencies anticipate the tunnel could open in late 2015, but drivers are already planning for October of this year, when the viaduct will be shut down for nine days. During that time, crews will actually tear down part of the viaduct. The exact closure dates have not been determined yet.
But when it is done, the tunnel will begin on Alaskan Way South near South King Street, then veer away from the waterfront at Yesler Way moving toward First Avenue, eventually end at Sixth Avenue North and Thomas Street.
More detailed information on the project can always be found on WSDOT's website here.