SEATTLE — Transportation officials urged the public to stay off the now-closed Alaskan Way Viaduct after dozens of people walked and biked the structure Saturday, citing safety concerns.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said the area is an active construction zone and they were particularly concerned about safety near ledges. Crews already started to remove the structure this weekend, demolishing the southern ramp to the viaduct to make way for construction work on a new intersection at South Dearborn Street and First Avenue.
David Sowers, deputy program administrator for the viaduct replacement program, said Sunday that if people ignored the road closed signage and trespassed on the roadway, they could find themselves answering to Seattle Police.
“The plan is if people do ignore the trespassing signs and get up on the viaduct, our crews will call the police, and police will escort people off,” Sowers said.
WSDOT said it has crews at the main portals to the viaduct, including Seneca and Columbia Streets and Western and Elliott Avenues, along with fencing.
The rest of the structure will be demolished beginning about a week after the tunnel opens. Those pieces will be rubberized and used to backfill the Battery Street Tunnel.
The Seattle viaduct closed for good Friday, but it will be about three weeks until the new tunnel under downtown Seattle opens. Until then, traffic is expected to worsen as drivers shift travel patterns. Commuters are urged to work from home, flex their schedules, take public transit, or try a vanpool or carpool.
Some road closures may end early if the work if finished, but WSDOT does not anticipate that will be the case with SR 99. The earliest the tunnel would open would be after the celebration on February 4.
Join KING 5's Seattle Tunnel Traffic Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest Seattle tunnel and viaduct news and get tips to battle traffic during the three-week viaduct closure in January.
Correction: An earlier draft of this article quoted Sowers saying pieces of the Alaskan Way Viaduct would be handed out at the grand opening event next month.