New Seattle Tunnel to be One of the Safest
The Washington State Department of Transport said that the new Highway 99 tunnel which is scheduled to open in early February would have the capacity to withstand an earthquake of a high magnitude of 9.0 in the Richter scale.
And this is the reason for improving the Alaskan Way Viaduct for the safety of the commuters even in the case of a powerful once-in-2,500-years earthquake.
In 2001, the Nisqually earthquake created havoc in the Seattle area, and it affected the viaduct heavily. Though the viaduct was repaired and made capable of withstanding traffic, over the years the aging of the structure has made it vulnerable to collapse in case of another such earthquake.
The new tunnel of two miles long will have the capacity to withstand earthquakes, and the transportation officials said that the new Tunnel has such sophisticated systems which would help the vehicles moving even at the time of a powerful earthquake.
David Sowers, the deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement program, said that the Alaskan Viaduct was built in 1950 as per the earthquake mitigation standard of that time, but we had improved our technologies a lot, and the new tunnel would be the safest for the commuters as it met the golden standard of safety over the globe.
Robert “Red” Robinson, director of underground services at geotechnical engineering firm Shannon & Wilson said that it has such a seismic design that is rare to find anywhere in the world and the best part is its cutting-edge safety features. He also added that the Tunnel would be the safest place to be at the time of an earthquake of such magnitude.
The viaduct will be closing on Friday at 10 p.m., and the new S.R. 99 tunnel will open in early February. However, as per the transportation officials, another two weeks will be needed to complete a new northbound off-ramp into downtown Seattle. Drivers have been warned and cautioned in multiple ways of the possible traffics disruption for these six weeks.