Highway 99 Tunnel - Alaskan Way Viaduct

After years of digging a tunnel under Seattle the opening day festivities arrived. Kim and I attended the walk through the new tunnel and a last visit to the viaduct before it is torn down. We met at my house then headed over to Queen Anne Hill. Though there was not much elevation gain on this trip we started and ended atop the hill. That lest a short steep climb back uphill at the end of the day. We dropped down to the Seattle Center at first. Our tickets were for 1:00 pm so we had a little time to kill. I had not been to the Center in a number of years. Kim provided a tour of the little noticed things that I would not have noticed. Just like on the trail. We headed over to the tunnel a half hour early to find a long line of people . There were no signs or directions so we just followed everyone else. By 12:45 we were entering the new tunnel. The route is two miles to the south portal near the stadiums. Earlier in the day a big running race took place. Tomorrow bicycles will fill the tunnel and the viaduct. Now it was time for just us walkers.

The first thing I noticed is that this is the brightest tunnel I have ever been in. Most are dark inside. This one was as light as day even in the middle. It was also a lot warmer than I expected. Along the route were information signs. They also said what street was above us. The proved interesting and educational. The stream of people seemed be unending. Just more people as far ahead or behind as we could see. At 45 mph the 2 miles will only take about three minutes in a car. We took closer to an hour on foot. Lots of happy folks and everyone had a camera or phone/camera. We reached the south end of the tunnel at about 1:40 pm. We ran into Gwen who was working at the event. Kim also ran into two other friends along the route. Small odds with so many folks.

There were a lot of shuttle buses waiting to take us back to the north end. We walked on the upper level of the tunnel and the buses drove back and forth on the lower level. A whole lot of folks were moved very quickly. By 2:13 pm we were walking along closed off Aurora Avenue towards the entrance to the Battery Street Tunnel. This tunnel will be filled with parts of the demolished viaduct and closed off completely. One last chance this day to go through it. The Battery Street Tunnel is much darker than the new tunnel. It has lots of graffiti. near the end of the tunnel a group of drummers were pounding away. The reverberations were as bad as being on an airport runway. My body vibrated. Once outside of the tunnel the vibrations went away.

We climbed up onto the viaduct. There were a number of displays along the way. The crowd was really impressive. Almost side to side humanity. Many thousands of folks were up there. It was a bit windy and much colder than the morning had been. The viaduct provided such great views of downtown Seattle on one side and Elliott Bay on the other. Views I have enjoyed for many decades. Views that I will miss. On the other hand, the opportunity to build a much more citizen friendly waterfront is exciting. The lack of noise is one big factor. All those cars made quite a racket. A ukulele group included Sara, one of Kim's friends. Yes, its just a small town. I took lots of photos. There would not be another chance.

The viaduct was closed off to walkers just south of the Seneca Street off ramp. This day it was another route up onto the viaduct. A few photos of the empty southern part of the viaduct and we headed back. Back into a cold north wind. I definitely needed another layer. I did not have my daypack. One big difference from a hiking trip. As we were coming out a steady steam of people were still coming in. We would not be close to the last folks up on the viaduct. I can hike all day long on a dirt trail. I am not so good at walking slowly in crowds on cement. My legs were hurting long before we were done. At a slow walking speed it was very clear that the road deck was full of small pot holes. We even saw some rebar sticking through. Over almost 65 years the road took a beating.

I was glad to finally drop back to the tunnel. We were out of the wind. We came out of the tunnel and walked down the middle of Aurora Avenue. That was a unique perspective. We headed through the Seattle Center and took a more direct route back to the car. It included a number of steep stairways connecting streets on Queen Anne Hill. At each road we crossed we stopped to admire the view of Seattle. The higher we went the better the view became. It was cloudy most all day but not wet. The clouds made for some interesting photos. By now I was down to just my cell phone so not zoomed shots. We made it back to the car at about 5:15 pm. A week ago it would have been dark but not now.

This was a day of history for us. The fantastic views of the city, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains well be gone but a much safer tunnel will now be the future. I am glad to have seen the tunnel before it opens and to walk on the viaduct before it is torn down. My and many thousands of others. This report with photos will still be up long after most folks forget where their photos of this day have gone. A little bit of history that will be around as long as I am.

International Fountain
Line To Tunnel
Viaduct Sign
Getting Close
Kim At North Portal
Emergency Exit Signs
Into The Tunnel
Looking Back
Fist Information Sign
Last Chance?
Kim In Tunnel
Under 3rd & Bell St.
Under Denny Regrade
Thinner Crowd Here
Deepest Point
Traffic Signs
Stadium Signs
Under Pike Pl. Market
Exit Door
We are at Madison St.
Like A Benchmark
Ferry Info
Early Waterfront Info
Launch Pit Info
Exiting The Tunnel
Looking At South Portal
Look Back To Seattle
Near Battery St Tunnel
Darker Tunnel
64 Year Old Tunnel
Near End Of Tunnel
Drummers Drumming
Looking Back To Tunnel
Container Port
Flapping Wings
Ukulele Group
Big Crowd
3D Fish
Great Downtown Views
Another New Building
Neat Views
Many Steps
Seneca Off Ramp
Another Sign
New Ferry Terminal
Kim At End Of Line
Downtown Again
Big Wheel
Heading Back
Overhead Signs
Back To Tunnel
Walking Aurora Avenue
On To Seattle Center
Space Needle
View Of Seattle

Walking Through The New Tunnel Under Seattle

Nearing The End Of The New Tunnel

Waling Out Of The Battery Street Tunnel Onto The Viaduct
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019