In order to protect the life and property of those who travel on the fragile and decrepit Alaskan Way Viaduct, the structure will close early in the morning of April 29th to allow Bertha to attempt to tunnel 378′ underneath it. The machine will dive under a steel and carbon reinforced structure ($) in the vicinity of Yesler Way, and if all goes well the Viaduct will reopen as the machine approaches Western/Columbia.
For all of Bertha’s many woes, it remains underappreciated that each of its breakdowns have occurred in the best possible places: west of the Viaduct and adjacent to industrial land. With its Viaduct dive and its subsequent attempt to tunnel underneath Downtown, the stakes grow much higher and the cost and complexity of repair much greater.
But the immediate concern for the 90,000 cars and 30,000 transit riders is successfully getting about the business of their daily lives, and to that end there are a number of reroutes and additional services in place:
- Metro routes 21E, 37, 55, 56, 57, 120, 125, and RapidRide C will use 4th Ave S and 3rd Avenue northbound and will use 3rd/Yesler/Terrace/Airport Way/Lander/1st when traveling southbound
- Metro routes 113, 121, 122, and 123 will use Spokane Street and the Sodo Busway northbound and will use 3rd/Yesler/Terrace/Airport Way/Spokane Street southbound
- The Vashon Water Taxi will add 5 round trips (though at press time their website had not published the schedule)
- The West Seattle Water Taxi will add 360 extra park and ride spots along Harbor Ave SW, though no extra service will be offered. A free and continuous shuttle will take passengers to Seacrest Park for Water Taxi service.
- Bus-only lanes will be added on Blanchard and Lenora in Belltown, and SPD will be enforcing bus lanes throughout the Center City
- Parking will be restricted on 4th Avenue downtown.
- Unlike previous closures, vehicle access to/from the Battery Street Tunnel will be maintained from the Western Avenue ramps.
Though this is already being dubbed “Viadoom 2” – after the original 9-day Viadoom in 2011 – my suspicion is that these closures will be a bit anticlimactic, painful but not apocalyptic. Friday the 29th will be light as people overreact and avoid Downtown, then volumes will steadily build as the closure progresses. This urbanist’s fondest hope is that we hardly miss the Viaduct and would entertain never reopening it, but that’s likely too much to dream. Good luck out there everyone.