A groundbreaking ceremony held on June 11, 2012 marks the beginning of construction for the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct (locating it underground). More that 100,000 vehicles travel on SR99 each day, making it a main north/south thoroughfare in downtown Seattle. By moving the traffic underground, congestion in downtown should be reduced. The Viaduct was built in 1953 and severely damaged during the Nisqually earthquake in February 2001. The tunnel is designed to withstand a major earthquake, which will improve the safety of the corridor.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who stated:
Building this tunnel ensures commuters continue to travel to and through Seattle safely, while putting our friends and neighbors to work. President Obama called on us to strengthen our infrastructure and create a foundation for economic growth, and that is what is happening today in Seattle.
The cost of the project is estimated at more than $2 billion, utilizing approximately $265 million in federal funds.