Governor brags about gains on viaduct

Gov. Chris Gregoire says demolition of the southern portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the most at risk in an earthquake, can occur six months early.

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Gov. Chris Gregoire says the most dangerous part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct can be torn down early.

Gov. Chris Gregoire says demolition of the southern portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the most at risk in an earthquake, can occur six months early.

As trucks rumbled up and down Alaskan Way from the Port’s Terminal 46 on a sunny Friday afternoon (June 4), Gov. Chris Gregoire announced that the southern portion of the viaduct would be demolished about six months ahead of schedule, saving taxpayers $900,000, and protecting travellers from the most at-risk portion of the structure.

Demolition of the southern portion of the viaduct is now scheduled to begin in October of 2011.

On hand to celebrate this milestone were Seattle City Councilmembers Jean Godden, Sally Clark, Sally Bagshaw, and Tim Burgess. Also on hand were Dow Constantine, port commissioner Gael Tarleton, and Washington state Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. Absent was the mayor or his staff, although they were invited.

As Gregoire celebrated the ability of WSDOT staff and Skanska — the contractor — to work together to accelerate the schedule, beat the engineer’s estimate, and keep traffic moving, she was also clear that the goal was to “finish the whole project.” She stated that of the 21 state projects that make up the whole of the viaduct replacement project, 11 have been completed on time and on or under budget.

Of particular interest to the port, and as Commissioner Tarleton stated, the 56,000 jobs supported by the seaport, is the project known as Holgate to King (H2K). WSDOT is building an overpass over the railroad tracks from Holgate to King Street to facilitate mobility between port facilities, Alaskan and East Marginal Way, and I-90. This part of the project is slated to be completed by the middle of 2013.

After the announcements, there were few questions about the tunnel controversy or the referendum set for the August ballot. There was a question about whether the mayor was invited (as mentioned: yes). What about mobility for West Seattleites during construction? Working on it continuously but Skanska seems to be doing a good job, officials said.

And what about those tolls on 520? Why the delay and why are so many people up in arms about the new contractor issuing tickets on toll violations to people driving across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge? Hammond handled the questions about the new contractor on the Good-to-Go program. She didn’t sugar coat it. Apparently, they were overwhelmed and it will take a little time to get it right.

But on a sunny day in the shadow of cranes, trucks, and an old concrete viaduct, there was cause to believe that government actually can do some things right. It remains to be seen if the sun and the good feelings last through summer. This is Seattle after all.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Jordan Royer

Jordan Royer

Jordan Royer is the vice president for external affairs in the Seattle office of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.