Alaska Way Viaduct Project: Bored Tunnel Soon to Replace Elevated Highway

In February 2019, the replacement-bored tunnel for the Alaska Way Viaduct is slated to open, completing a years-long construction project, and signaling a major change for the Seattle Waterfront

CONCUR worked on the project in its formative stages from 2007 to 2010, with its role focused on collaborative process design, strategic planning advice and stakeholder involvement. CONCUR was part of a team that helped build broad consensus for the deep-bore tunnel alternative that helped break a years-long impasse. The new tunnel replaces the Alaskan Way Viaduct – a double-decked highway along the waterfront in downtown Seattle, which could collapse in an earthquake.

Keys to the project included: (1) reframing the problem to focus on systems solutions, rather than just a short reach of highway; (2) creating a framework agreement for agencies to pool their problem-solving focus and increase decision making certainty; (3) structuring a dynamic alternatives analysis process that let stakeholders see evolving analyses; (4) reaffirming a solid decision by political leaders to support the bored tunnel solution; (5) creating strong incentives for joint commitments to timely implementation.

The new tunnel and removal of the old viaduct is central to a larger project to renovate the Seattle waterfront, rebuild the seawall, improve surface streets, and open new vistas of Elliott Bay. The tunnel itself is about 58 feet in diameter and is one of 30 projects that make up the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. In January of 2019, Washington State of Department and Transportation closed Alaskan Way Viaduct in order to complete the bored tunnel and take down the elevated highway. The tunnel is scheduled to open in February 2019.

For other AWV replacement-related news, see the Washington State Department of Transportation website at:

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