You've been driving over them for years and probably didn't know it - the ramps which will soon lead into the new State Route 99 tunnel under Seattle. The soon to be revealed ramps were built in 2014 and buried.
On January 11, State Route 99 will shut down through Seattle as the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close, and final construction connecting the existing road system to the Seattle tunnel begins.
Those buried on-ramps are part of that construction since the detour that connects the existing viaduct traffic to the southern parts of SR 99 runs right over the top of them.
The ramps are filled with giant blocks of what’s called Geo-Foam, which is used in highway construction. The Geo-Foam is what’s been holding up the road filled with cars, buses, and heavy trucks, and we’re betting you haven’t even noticed.
But what happens after January 11?
The detour will be cut through allowing those Geo-Foam blocks to be removed. Most of the ramp is already there, but some additional walls need to be finished with new concrete, according to David Sowers, deputy program administrator for the Alaskan Way Replacement Program.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, the City of Seattle, and King County Metro are telling people to brace themselves for the most significant traffic shutdown in Seattle history. The closure will last three weeks until the targeted opening of the tunnel on February 4.
Also see | Getting around the SR 99 closure
Twenty additional buses will be on standby to add extra capacity during the closure. The Seattle Department of Transportation is encouraging employers to allow workers flexible schedules, if not allowing them to work entirely from home.
But there is some good news, WSDOT says it won’t begin charging tolls in the tunnel until the summer of 2019.
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