Alaskan Way Viaduct clo­sure ends a 66-year chap­ter on water­front

The News Tribune - - Obituaries - BY MIKE LIND­BLOM Seat­tle Times

Seat­tle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, em­blem of the age of happy mo­tor­ing, closed for­ever Fri­day night.

Driv­ers took to the 66year-old high­way dur­ing its fi­nal hours to sa­vor a fi­nal road­side glimpse at El­liott Bay, and crowds filled Vic­tor Stein­brueck Park to pho­to­graph the bul­wark be­low.

As the ex­pected 10 p.m. clos­ing time passed, driv­ers and their cars filled the north- and south­bound decks in a bois­ter­ous cel­e­bra­tion peo­ple com­pared to New Year’s Eve or Mardi Gras. Hun­dreds of driv- ers stopped on the road­way to take pic­tures or burn rub­ber, while a few danced be­tween the cars.

From an over­look at Pike Place Mar­ket, cheers arose for fire­works, con­vert­ibles, a way­ward Metro bus and loud trucks. Au­thor­i­ties be­gan clear­ing the road­way around 11 p.m., and most of the viaduct was empty by about 11:35 p.m.

With the clo­sure, no longer will we drive our in-laws home from the air­port and wave like a boss to­ward the Olympic Moun­tain sun­set. Runoff from the top deck won’t splat­ter our wind­shield in the right lane, when cruis­ing south past the il­lu­mi­nated Great Wheel. Only mem­o­ries re­main of star­ing from a slow bus to find “Go Hawks” writ­ten in gray epoxy on the cen­ter lane ap­proach­ing Seneca Street.

The viaduct will be re­placed by a 57-foot-wide, four-lane tun­nel from

Sodo to South Lake Union, fol­low­ing three weeks of se­vere traf­fic jams, with­out any High­way 99 to by­pass down­town. State of­fi­cials aim to open the tun­nel early Mon­day, Feb. 4.

The so-called Seat­tle Squeeze will per­sist an­other four years as viaduct de­mo­li­tion, down­town street repaving, con­ven­tion cen­ter ex­pan­sion and pri­vate tower builders en­croach on street lanes. Maybe a down­town street­car and bike lanes will be added, maybe not.

The squeeze unof­fi­cially ends in 2023 when ligh­trail trains begin run­ning be­tween Seat­tle and Belle­vue.

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