New video shows how crews ‘reverse engineer’ Seattle’s viaduct to demolish historic highway

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Machines cut through and crush portions of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct. (WSDOT Photo via Flickr)

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct has been disappearing from the city’s waterfront in plain sight for months, but as the historic demolition project moves along, a new video offers an even closer look at what it’s taking to take away the roadway.

The Washington State Department of Transportation posted the video on Tuesday. A mix of drone and ground footage provides a unique perspective of the heavy machinery that is chewing away at the viaduct.

Kelly Arnold of Ferma Corp. narrates the video. The national project division manager is the guy in charge of erasing the 66-year-old elevated section of SR 99, which was replaced by a new 2-mile tunnel beneath the city.

With multiple cranes endlessly swinging over Seattle, building out the boom driven in large part by the city’s tech sector, it’s been interesting to watch a major deconstruction project take place at the same time.

“When you start doing demolition, you’ve got to kind of reverse engineer it to take it down,” Arnold said of the highway. “It’s a little different than construction. We look for failures. We create failures in girders. We create failures in structures. We have to know exactly how to create that failure safely.”

The video goes on to show the process by which the viaduct is being leveled, section by section. Arnold said 99 percent of the material, including concrete and steel rebar, is being recycled.

The project is slated to be complete by late summer. Check out WSDOT’s latest post to learn more about progress and where demo crews will be chomping next.

Before and after views of the viaduct looking west at the Union Street/Alaskan Way intersection from First Avenue in downtown Seattle. (WSDOT Photo via Flickr)


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