What? You are tearing down the southern mile of the viaduct this summer?

Got your attention, didn't I! The southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is coming down, but not before celebrating with a groundbreaking and building part of the new side-by-side roadway that will replace it.

Sections of the new roadway will be open in early 2012, and soon after that we'll cue the wrecking balls to bring down the the old structure. Remember - we're starting with the southern mile only. The middle section - the part with the view - will remain open through 2016.

In case you missed it, we held the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, June 29.

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, flanked by local and state-wide politicians and council members, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people.

After the dignitaries said their remarks, they plunged shovels into a pile of fresh dirt and officially "broke ground" on the southern mile viaduct replacement project.

Yeah, yeah; but where the heck is the southern mile of the viaduct?

Good question. Basically, it is the portion of the double-decker viaduct that starts at the First Avenue S. ramps near S. King Street and Safeco Field, and ends at S. Holgate Street where SR 99 becomes a surface street. View a project map.

We painted two of the columns bright orange at the northern end of the S. Holgate Street to S. King Street Viaduct Replacement Project.

When we're all done the new, side-by-side roadway will look like the image to the left. The "U-shaped" part will be a new crossing on S. Atlantic Street, so trucks can still get to the port when trains are on the nearby tracks. Construction starts in late July and will last through 2013. We are committed to keeping people and goods moving during construction. In fact, our highway engineers designed a way to keep at least two lanes of SR 99 open in each direction while we're building the new roadway.

It's a complicated design, but the gist of it is that we plan to build one half of the new SR 99 roadway west of the existing viaduct between S. Royal Brougham Way (near Safeco Field) and S. Holgate Street (where the elevated viaduct becomes a surface street.)

Once this section of roadway is built, we'll shift both directions of traffic onto it, and begin to tear down the existing viaduct. Then crews will get to work building the second half of the new roadway from S. Royal Brougham Way to S. King Street.

Check out this neat interactive simulation to see how we're going to sequence construction and keep traffic flowing at the same time.

Have a question? Want to know more? Great! Go ahead and contact me at Benderb@wsdot.wa.gov or visit the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project website: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR99/HolgateToKing/.