On Saturday, Feb. 2, around 100,000 people walked, ran, hung out and cherished the historic Alaskan Way Viaduct one last time, as well as checked out the sleek new SR 99 Tunnel for the first time.
It was a sad yet festive weekend event/festival for many Seattle natives (like us), who have probably driven on the old double decker highway thousands of times, oftentimes making it the first route when showing out-of-towners what a great region we live in (we’ll miss those views from the upper deck most of all!).
Starting this month – following the opening of the replacement tunnel on Monday, Feb. 4 – demolition of the decrepit ol’ viaduct will begin, to make way for new development along the waterfront in downtown Seattle.
According to Wikipedia:
The Alaskan Way Viaduct was originally built to carry a section of U.S. Route 99, the main north–south highway in Washington and along the U.S. West Coast. The highway previously used downtown streets, but rising automobile congestion in the 1920s sparked proposals for a limited-access bypass of Seattle. An elevated roadway, placed along the waterfront’s Railroad Avenue (later renamed Alaskan Way), was recommended by several city engineers in the latter part of the decade. Plans for an elevated highway gained public support in the late 1930s and was approved for construction in 1947 using funds from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944.
Construction on the viaduct began in February 1950 and was completed in stages between 1953 and 1959. The central portion, from Railroad Way to Elliott Avenue, opened on April 4, 1953. It was connected to the Battery Street Tunnel the following year and a series of offramps and onramps to downtown in the 1960s. Additional ramps to University and Spring streets were included in design plans, but never built. The southern section of the viaduct, linking to the Spokane Street Bridge, was opened in September 1959.
The viaduct officially closed on January 11, 2019, attracting spectators and drivers who caused it to miss the 10 p.m. deadline. Demolition of the northbound ramp on Railroad Way began the following day in preparation for the excavation of pre-constructed ramps into the new tunnel.
Elston Hill was there with his wife Jackline:
“Jackie and I went down today to hike the new tunnel and the viaduct. Amazing celebration with lots of people. We began the walk going through the new tunnel from the North to the South end where we exited at the stadiums. We then walked up to the Seneca ramp to the viaduct. Quite a festive atmosphere. So many people that they had to close entry to the viaduct for awhile. Ultimately, we exited going through the tunnel and coming out at Aurora. The beautiful lady in some of the pictures is my sherpa, Jackie.”
Click images to view larger versions/slideshow:
And some photos from Scott Schaefer ~4+ p.m. visit:
And videos we broadcast live on our Facebook page (“Like” us to get alerts for future live videos):