Kids, it’s time to play…Name that tunneling machine!

The Washington State Department of Transportation is sponsoring a contest for kindergarten through 12

th grade students to name the State Route 99 tunnel boring machine (TBM), which is the largest-diameter boring machine built to date. In mid-2013, it will start tunneling beneath downtown Seattle, creating the replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct along the central waterfront. The contest winner will have their selected name painted on the TBM and will be invited to attend the dedication event next year in Seattle. 

This is a great opportunity for Washington state students to learn more about this massive infrastructure project and the advances in tunneling technology that make it possible. Be sure to visit our website to learn more about the project’s history and how a tunnel boring machine works.

Entries will be judged by a panel including Gov. Chris Gregoire and Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. If the winning name is submitted by more than one contest participant, the judges will determine the winner based on the essay. The winner will be announced in December, when project officials travel to Japan and Seattle Tunnel Partners takes ownership of the completed TBM.

Contest deadline:

Entries are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. A contestant’s entry must include a TBM name and a 200-word-or-less description of why they chose it. A classroom of students may submit a name collectively.

Three ways to enter:

  • Online at www.alaskanwayviaduct.org.
  • In person at Milepost 31, 211 First Ave. S, Seattle, WA, 98104.
  • By mail – Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, Attn: Natalie Graves, 999 Third Ave., Suite 2424, Seattle, WA 98104.

Check the WSDOT website for contest details, rules and restrictions.

Special event Sept. 24 at Seattle Center: Our Future Waterfront

Big changes are coming to our waterfront – the world’s largest-diameter bored tunnel; a new seawall that protects our city and improves habitat; and 26 blocks of new parks, paths and public space. Join the SR 99 Tunnel Project, the Elliott Bay Seawall Project and Waterfront Seattle at a full-day event at Seattle Center to discover how these projects are working together to transform Seattle’s downtown waterfront.

Join us on Sept. 24 at the Seattle Center Armory/Center House

  • Noon to 6 p.m. – Explore interactive models of the SR 99 tunnel boring machine, the existing seawall and conceptual waterfront designs.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Geek out on project details during a presentation and discussion with agency directors and industry experts.

This event is part of Seattle Center’s The Next 50: Celebrating the 1962 World’s Fair and its Legacy. Click here for more details

It's okay to stare – WSDOT is preparing to make tunneling history

Usually, it’s not polite to stare, but in this case it’s history in the making, so it’s encouraged. Crews are preparing right now for the world’s largest-diameter tunnel-boring machine to arrive in 2013. The Washington State Department of Transportation is inviting the public to stare in amazement at the massive work zone for the State Route 99 tunnel project.

Join project leaders this week on a mile-long, round-trip walking tour along the bicycle/pedestrian path adjacent to the construction site. Watch crews dig the launch pit for the 300-foot-long tunnel-boring machine and hear explanations of the equipment being used to do the work.

Although the five-story-tall tunneling machine won’t take the stage until next year, its supporting cast – including a fleet of massive cranes, drill rigs and excavators at work to the west of CenturyLink Field – are impressive in their own right. In addition to digging the 80-foot-deep pit where the machine will begin its northward journey, crews are building a new overpass and putting the finishing touches on a new section of SR 99 to replace the south end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The tour will begin at Milepost 31, the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program’s information center in Pioneer Square. This center houses interactive exhibits, a model of the SR 99 tunnel-boring machine and the latest project information.

Walking tour details(pdf 276 kb)

6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6

Meet at Milepost 31, 211 First Ave. S., Seattle

For those who can’t attend, a new self-guided tour is available. Displays have been installed along the bicycle/pedestrian path to describe construction activities, machinery at work and the area’s history. Access to the path’s north entrance is available at South King Street and Alaskan Way South, a few blocks south of Colman Dock, or the south entrance is at South Atlantic Street and Alaskan Way South, west of Safeco Field. Maps are available at Milepost 31. Construction cameras and Flickr photos also provide a regularly updated view of the work zone.

Learn more about the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program at www.alaskanwayviaduct.org and Milepost 31, which is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and is open late during Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walk. Admission to Milepost 31 is free.

Replica of SR 99 tunnel boring machine on display now at Milepost 31 in Seattle

The world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine will arrive in Seattle next year, but you don’t have to wait until then to check it out. A 10-foot-long, motorized replica of the machine is on display now at Milepost 31, an award-winning information center that highlights the people and projects that shaped Pioneer Square and provides an inside look at the SR 99 Tunnel Project.

About 35 times smaller than the real thing, the model offers an up-close look at the inner workings of the five-story machine that will dig the SR 99 tunnel. The push-button display allows visitors to control some of the model’s parts, demonstrating how the real machine will work as it bores up to 200 feet beneath downtown Seattle.

Check out the model and other cool exhibits at Milepost 31, located at 211 First Ave S., between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.

For more information about Milepost 31, visit www.milepost31.org.

SR 99 tunnel construction brings big changes to Seattle's downtown waterfront

It’s not yet time for the downtown waterfront’s big makeover, but it is make-room time for the State Route 99 Tunnel project. Crews clearing space for tunnel construction are preparing to reroute six blocks of waterfront traffic from Alaskan Way to a newly improved road beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The traffic switch – which will happen Wednesday evening, May 9 and last through at least early 2014 – will change ferry access as well as parking and traffic patterns along the waterfront south of Spring Street. A detailed map of the changes, along with a drive-through simulation that shows new routes to the ferry terminal, is available on the program website.

Moving traffic off Alaskan Way allows crews to expand the tunnel work zone north to Yesler Way. The space will be used to prepare the ground beneath Alaskan Way, where the project’s tunnel boring machine will begin its journey in 2013. 

The Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation are rerouting existing roads along the waterfront and in Pioneer Square, and implementing strategies to keep traffic moving while maintaining access to businesses in those neighborhoods, including:

  • Allowing drivers to use Yesler Way to exit the ferry terminal
  • Increasing the width of Alaskan Way between Yesler Way and Spring Street to accommodate ferry holding lanes
  • Adding more than 60 temporary on-street parking spaces on Alaskan Way between Spring and Pike streets
  • For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement program, visit www.alaskanwayviaduct.org.

    Mother’s Day Deal: State, City partner with businesses to offer free parking on Seattle’s Waterfront

    The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the city of Seattle are teaming up with several waterfront businesses, restaurants and parking operators to offer up to four hours of free parking between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Mother’s Day, May 13.

    For more information about the Mother’s Day parking promotion, visit www.downtownseattle.com/ThingsToDo/parkingpromo.  

    Milepost 31 spring speaker series – Tunneling in Seattle

    The Washington State Department of Transportation is hosting a monthly speaker series at Milepost 31 in Pioneer Square to give visitors more insight into the massive SR 99 Tunnel Project.

    Please join us May 3 for our next installment – Tunneling in Seattle. Take a virtual tour exploring tunnels built during the past century and learn how tunneling technology has advanced.

    6 to 6:30 p.m.
    Thursday, May 3
    211 First Ave. S., Seattle

    Admission is free.

    After the talk, be sure to leave yourself enough time to explore the rest of the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square. Milepost 31 is open until 8 p.m. on First Thursdays.

    Save the date for our next speaker series event on June 7, when we’ll show you how WSDOT’s custom-designed boring machine will build the SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown.

    Milepost 31 kicks off its spring speaker series

    Since opening in December, more than 1,500 people have learned about the future State Route 99 tunnel at Milepost 31, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s new project information center in Pioneer Square. In April the agency will introduce a new Milepost 31 monthly speaker series to give visitors more insight into this massive project.

    The first talk, to be held during Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walk, brings leaders of the SR 99 Tunnel Project to the center to discuss its extreme engineering and the changes coming to SODO, the downtown waterfront and neighborhoods near Seattle Center. Guest speakers include Linea Laird, WSDOT administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, and Chris Dixon, project manager for WSDOT’s tunnel contractor – Seattle Tunnel Partners.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to learn exciting details about the SR 99 tunnel. And, after our event, be sure to leave yourself enough time to explore the rest of the First Thursday Art Walk.

    Milepost 31 spring speaker series kick-off

    6 to 6:30 p.m.
    Thursday, April 5
    211 First Ave. S., Seattle

    Admission is free.

    Milepost 31 remains open until 8 p.m. on First Thursdays.

    Save the date for the next installments in our speaker series:

    May 3: Tunneling in Seattle – A History of Innovation

    Did you know there are more than 100 tunnels beneath Seattle? Join us for a virtual tour exploring tunnels built during the past century and learn how tunneling technology has advanced.

    June 7: Meet the Tunnel Boring Machine

    What’s as long as a ferry, five stories tall and weighs 5,500 tons? The SR 99 tunnel boring machine! We’ll show you how this custom-designed machine will grind through the ground as it builds the SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown.

    Unique contest and walk mark the beginning of the end for the Alaskan Way Viaduct

    A nine-day closure of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct will mark the beginning of the end for Seattle’s double-deck highway. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will close the majority of the viaduct until 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31. To learn more about the SR 99 nine-day closure, visit our website.

     “One Mile Down Demolition Event”

    Interested in spending a little time on the viaduct before it’s demolished? There will be a commemorative walk on Saturday, Oct. 22 near the stadiums. This is a perfect opportunity to get a firsthand perspective as this historic event unfolds.

    • When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (celebration continues until 2 p.m.) Saturday, Oct. 22
    • Elected officials make formal remarks and celebrate this major milestone at 1 p.m.
    • Where: Construction area north of 1051 First Ave. S.
    • No RSVPs are required, but some restrictions apply. Please wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for late October weather. No pets or bicycles are allowed on the structure. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The event will be ADA accessible.
    • Parking is available in the fenced construction site just south of Railroad Way South and on adjacent city streets and in nearby pay lots.

    For more information on the demolition event, visit our public events website.

    Win contest and get exclusive access to the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Oct. 22

    WSDOT is sponsoring a contest where one lucky person and 24 of their friends will win exclusive access to the viaduct’s downtown section for 30 minutes on Oct. 22. To enter, answer the question “What would I do with 30 minutes on the Alaskan Way Viaduct?” in 100 words or less and send it to viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov by Sunday, Oct. 16. The winner will be escorted to a private section of the viaduct at a predetermined time to follow through with their plan. Check the WSDOT website for contest details, rules and restrictions.

    Join us for two open houses about the upcoming Alaskan Way Viaduct nine-day closure

    At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, WSDOT will close the majority of the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct until 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31, as crews begin demolition of the structure’s south end. Join us at two open houses – 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10 in West Seattle and 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 12 in Ballard – to learn more about the upcoming closure, your commute options and how SR 99 will change for drivers when it re-opens. Remarks by Seattle and King County councilmembers and program staff will be made at 6:30 p.m.

    For more information about the closure visit www.alaskanwayviaduct.org or call the program hotline at 1-888-AWV-LINE (298-5463).