With multiple mega-projects virtually all wrapped up in Seattle, a $724 million project to rebuild the city’s central waterfront starts to take a more prominent role in the future of Seattle construction and transportation.

The State Route 99 bored tunnel through downtown has opened, allowing the demolition of the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct. With the viaduct essentially removed, the Seattle downtown waterfront has enjoyed full days without a shadow of the Alaskan Way Viaduct for the first time in more than six decades. 

Only a small portion of the double-deck structure remains along the waterfront between Pike Street and South Dearborn Street, near the city’s stadium districts. For a video of the demolition provided by the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, visit here

While some work remains on cleanup of the final pieces of the viaduct and removal of ramps north of Pike Place Market await, the City of Seattle can start to put a renewed focus on creating a park promenade along the water, construct new surface street connections along Alaskan Way, rebuild Pier 58 and 62, build an elevated pedestrian connection from Pike Place Market to the waterfront and improve east-west vehicular connections between downtown and Elliott Bay. This effort, called Waterfront Seattle, has been running since 2010, but has a 2023 end date now in view that the viaducts is gone. 

The ongoing Pier 62 update includes welding rebar between deck panels to secure them in place with concrete poured in gaps between the panels before a final slab is poured to finish the surface of the renovated pier. Additional work in 2019 includes final removal of the viaduct, new street connections, the rebuilt Pier 62 that should open by the end of the year with a new deck and habitat improvements in various areas. 

The 2020 plans include construction of a new pedestrian bridge, stairs and an elevator on Union Street from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way.

Then, 2021 really gets things moving with more pedestrian improvements, an Overlook Walk connection between Pike Place Market and the waterfront, improved street connections for vehicle traffic, a main park promenade along the water and piers with a bike bath, a new park on Pier 58 and additional connections to Colman Dock. While many of these projects will begin in 2021 and not wrap until 2023 — a new Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion will likely extend into 2024 — the vast majority of the new waterfront, made possible by the construction of the tunnel and removal of the viaduct, will really start taking shape in 2021. 

In all, the 20 acres of open space planned for the downtown waterfront will include an ample amount of pedestrian access and new park spaces. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb