Will we actually miss the viaduct when it’s gone?

Dec 18, 2018, 6:56 AM | Updated: 12:33 pm
Alaskan Way Viaduct 1952...
The Alaskan Way Viaduct back in 1952 (Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr Creative Commons)
(Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr Creative Commons)

If there’s one thing most Seattleites agree on, it’s their frustration with the traffic and safety issues created by the Alaskan Way Viaduct. But the viaduct is also an integral part of Seattle’s history that we’ll never get back once it comes down in early 2019.

Check out MyNorthwest’s complete 2019 viaduct closure hub here

“We’re losing a piece of old Seattle,” New York Times Seattle Bureau Chief Kirk Johnson told Gee Scott and Mike Lewis on The Ron and Don Show on KIRO Radio. “It certainly was an emblem of the mid- and early 20th century — you saw it as you passed by the city and the water, and it was in its own weird way a spectacular thing of a drive that never had existed prior to that.”

Built in phases between 1949 and 1953, the viaduct was emblematic of Seattle’s rise to prominence as a post-World War II metropolis. But after its south-end was damaged — and later removed — following the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, it became clear that it posed a safety risk.

Still, though, there’s a sense of historical significance attached to both the viaduct and the roads underneath.

“The elevation lifted up the cars overhead, but it created this whole kind of underworld beneath it too, that had its connections back to old Pioneer Square and old Klondike era stuff that was sheltered in a strange way from the modern wave of development,” Johnson said.

“It was its own world underneath … a piece of Seattle that’s going to be lost,” he added.

The viaduct will officially close for good Jan. 11, 2019. It’s estimated to take approximately three weeks before the new SR 99 tunnel opens, shutting down Highway 99 in both directions between South Lake Union and the stadiums. Anyone who normally uses the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be forced onto other roads, like I-5 and downtown Seattle surface streets.

In the meantime, WSDOT is advising drivers to reconsider the ways they get around downtown come January, including working from home, investing in a bicycle, walking, and staying out of the area entirely.

Ron and Don

KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio

Last night was Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio.
3 years ago
Kelly Herzberg in her natural habitat. (Photo by Rachel Belle)...
Rachel Belle

In Seattle, a personal shopper and stylist who only shops at thrift stores

If you think you can't afford a personal stylist, head to the thrift store with Sweet Kelly Anne Styling's Kelly Herzberg who will pull hundreds of pieces for you to try on.
3 years ago
Viaduct waterfront...
Ron Upshaw

What do we do with the waterfront after the viaduct is gone?

After the viaduct is taken down, we'll be left with a choice: What do we do with one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country?
3 years ago
Ron Upshaw

Shower Thoughts: Ichiro can give Mariners fans something to root for

Rumor has it that Ichiro might make a comeback next year, and I for one welcome it.
3 years ago
Border wall...
Ron Upshaw

Trying to figure out why people want Trump’s border wall

A little over 40 percent of Americans now support the idea of a border wall, but what is it about it that seems so attractive?
3 years ago
Dan McCartney, Pierce County Sheriff...
Don O'Neill

Why you could hear kids’ voices on Pierce County Sheriff radios Monday night

Sometimes, "gone but not forgotten" isn't always how slain officers are remembered. But in Pierce County, a special effort is being made to commemorate a fallen deputy.
3 years ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Will we actually miss the viaduct when it’s gone?