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SR 99 tunnel, Seattle tunnel
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Seattle tunnel may open in October, if pieces fall into place

Looking north at the future southbound (upper) deck of the SR 99 tunnel. (WSDOT)

Drivers could be cruising under Seattle by October if everything goes according to plan.

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The Seattle tunnel is taking shape. The roadways are complete. If it wasn’t for the workers and heavy machinery, you could drive through it today.

Safety equipment is being installed and tested. It’s what project deputy administrator Dave Sowers calls the most critical thing left to do.

“All the testing that we’re doing, all of these systems — the thousands of devices — all have to operate, all have to talk to one another, all have to talk to traffic management center, and emergency response folks. Until that’s done, we’re not going to rest. That work has to be done before we can really start having a big party and celebrate opening it.”

Seattle Tunnel Partners expects to finish the work in late August. The tunnel is about three years behind schedule.

However, the state needs at least three weeks to connect both ends of Highway 99 to the tunnel.

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When the Seattle tunnel opens, crews will tear down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and fill in the Battery Street Tunnel.

“I get goosebumps when I go in the tunnel because it’s such an accomplishment. There’s been a lot of work that’s gone into build this thing. A lot of labor. A lot of energy. A lot of years. A lot of politics. But at the end, it’s a monumental accomplishment. It’s a huge engineering feat. I know all the guys that have worked on it are really proud of what they’re seeing.”

The tunnel features two lanes in the north and southbound directions. There is an 8-foot emergency lane on the west side of the tunnel and 2-foot-wide shoulder on the east side.

The tunnel will be tolled. The exact amount hasn’t been set, but it’s expected to be approximately $2 each way.

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