SEATTLE -- Drivers along Seattle’s Alaskan Way will see new traffic patterns at the start of the Thursday morning commute. It marks the beginning of the work on the SR 99 tunnel which will replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, and the city’s crumbling seawall.
"This is our first actual traffic revision associated with the tunnel project itself,” said Matt Preedy, Deputy Program Administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). “It is a milestone.”
Preedy added the $2 billion dollar contract is slightly ahead of schedule.
Drivers will travel on a new temporary roadway located underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct, while crews use the old roadway to relocate utilities and prepare for tunnel work according to WSDOT.
Drivers using Alaskan Way South between South Main and South Atlantic streets, part of which was closed last year due to construction, will continue to be detoured through at least 2013.
To keep traffic moving, WSDOT is building a two-way detour underneath the viaduct. The first section of the detour, between South Main and South King streets, opens Thursday.
Preedy says these revisions will work their way northward through the year in preparation for the giant boring machine’s arrival next year, when the digging begins in earnest.
KING 5's Photojournalist Jeff Christian contributed to this report