Alaskan Way Viaduct
1:34 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Seattle street closes tonight as Viaduct replacement work begins

The first major street closure in the work to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct happens Monday night.

The state Department of Transportation says it's closing First Avenue South next to Qwest Field from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday to allow crews to set up space for the huge construction job.

When it reopens Tuesday, First Avenue will be reduced to two lanes until April 1st to demolish an onramp to the elevated highway and build a temporary replacement.  First Avenue is a major route from downtown to Interstate 5.

Crews are hurrying to get the job done before baseball season starts at Safeco Field, just south of Qwest Field.

Last week, The Seattle Times reported congestion in the SoDo area, which includes the stadiums, is expected to increase:

Matt Preedy, the state's Sodo construction director, said the First Avenue bottleneck will cause congestion, but the Department of Transportation (DOT) intends to finish the new ramps about a week before the Mariners' 2011 baseball home opener April 8. The current $115 million work in Sodo, by Skanska USA, is part of a broader $3.1 billion Highway 99 program that includes the $2 billion tunnel.

In a press statement, state transportation officials asked for patience from commuters:

“We understand this is very inconvenient for everyone who uses this ramp or First Avenue South,” said Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Administrator Ron Paananen. “We will need drivers’ help to keep traffic moving as we race to complete this portion of work before the start of baseball season.”

WSDOT leaders anticipate completion of the S. Holgate to S. King St. portion of the project to be completed in 2013.