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October 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM

Viaduct's demise begins with a mighty din

Demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct begins Friday night after a nine-day closure began. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

History waited several minutes while workers slipped plastic sheets into the storm grates in Sodo — to protect salmon from runoff, of course. And the state Department of Transportation made one last check to ensure nobody was still driving on the old Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Then the first blows were struck at 8:36 p.m. Friday.

Demolition of a 1959-vintage Viaduct section began with a sort of dry run. A single, aerial mega-jackhammer pounded the upper deck, where a small piece of bridgework sticks out from the right northbound roadway. This was supposed to be an off-ramp linking to what is now today’s I-90 western terminus, but this was one of many highway schemes aborted in 20th century Seattle.

Work was to halt Friday at 10 p.m. to comply with city noise codes, then resume at 7 a.m. Saturday. The public can watch live demolition during a Saturday morning walkabout on the old highway.

The state Department of Transportation’s game plan is to destroy the double-deck structure from about South Massachusetts Street to just north of South Royal Brougham Way during the nine-day closure Oct. 21-31. South of there, crews from Rhine Demolition will cut off the top deck first, and the lower part only if time allows said Matt Preedy, Sodo construction director for DOT. That way, there is less risk of pieces falling onto traffic using a new Viaduct section nearby, as demolition is completed over the coming weeks.

Friday’s noisy battering went far more slowly than a ramp demolition in February, as several strands of thick, lengthwise steel rebar resisted impacts across the bottom of the girders. But Preedy said there are about 30 machines, including four of the huge aerial hammers, ready to hit the road Saturday morning.

A few people brought camera phones to record the event. “This means we’re growing up as a big city,” said Kathryn Seymour, a loan officer with Evergreen Home Loans in Sodo, who nonetheless said she has enjoyed taking guests onto the bayfront Viaduct in her convertible.

The central section will remain up until 2016, after a $2 billion deep-bored tunnel and a stadium interchange are finished.

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Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: viadoom

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