The Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project has been a hot topic for this campaign cycle, and for the people most affected by the construction — Belltown residents. The new SR-99 tunnel that will begin around the stadiums and come up between Harrison and Republican will travel underneath Belltown, changing the landscape and the flow of traffic around the area. Belltownpeople contacted KaDeena Lenz, a representative for the project from the Washington Department of Transportation, and consulted the WSDOT website to get more information about the specific impact it will have on Belltown.
- The current structure that runs over Bell St. will be removed. Once the deep bore tunnel is operational, the Battery street tunnel is likely to be decommissioned, but there was no information on what that may entail.
- Lenz explained that traffic would not be overwhelming at the exit point just north of Belltown because of the addition of a 4-lane Alaskan way service street that will run into downtown.
- The eventual traffic noise will not be heard through the 200 ft of earth that separates city life and the tunnel, but Lenz did not rule out the possibility of noise being heard from construction during the quiet night times.
- Pollution is expected to passively exit the tunnel during normal traffic, but in times of heavy traffic, a ventilation system (seen as vent building on the draft drawing) will activate to remove emissions from the tunnel.
- According to WSDOT, a tunnel is actually safer and more structurally prepared in the event of an earthquake; good news since that is what prompted this entire project. From the WSDOT website: “Seismic waves are amplified as they reach the surface of the earth, which causes a whiplash effect and subjects above-ground structures to stronger motions than a tunnel.”
You can find more information about the Alaskan Way Viaduct or the deep bore tunnel at WSDOT’s website.