Viaduct demolition noise starts rumbling Seattle's waterfront

A new stage of viaduct demolition, tackling the double-decker portion of the old highway, sends noise rumbling through downtown Seattle's waterfront.

One month into the demolition project, people living and working near the new portion of the construction are feeling the impact.

Day by day, the chomping jaws of heavy equipment crunching up the old Highway 99 inch closer to where Jonathan Berner lives.

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“When they're using the heavy equipment, and actually hammering through the main structural supports of the viaduct, there's times when you can feel the sound moving through. So yeah, it's been an adventure,” Berner said. He lives and works on his business, MJ Yarns about 10 feet away from the viaduct.

He said most the time he can't hear the work yet, but with the heavy machinery just a block and a half away, he’s bracing.

“I imagine once it's 10 feet outside my front door that's going to be a whole another story,” Berner said.

Kenneth Huntington owns the Phantom Realms art gallery at the OK Hotel.

There's a wall in shop dedicated to Viaduct-art from a variety of artists that captures the gritty, gray, and now obsolete old highway.

“It’s all local art as well,” Huntington said.

But despite the homage, the viaduct is hardly returning any favors

“I've been getting less foot traffic around,” Huntington said.

Many of the old buildings along the double-decker are vacant.

The shiny new ones are mostly empty, too, waiting for the new waterfront view to come.

Huntington said he’s hoping Phantom Realms will get a taste of the new view, too, especially during the busy summer season. But his section of the viaduct isn’t scheduled to come down until June or July.

“I was hoping I'd be here during the summertime but, unfortunately, I might have to close up shop,” he said.

Renters and businesses are also worried about rising costs.

“That’s definitely a concern,” Berner said.

“Do you think you might get priced out?” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked Huntington, who owns the gallery.

“I know I will eventually,” he said.

But they say they also know progress only comes with change.

“It was a giant challenge, disaster, but it was the right thing for the city opening up this waterfront. For the next 100 years the city is going to see returns on that,” Berner said.

Dust was also one of the demolition concerns among businesses and residents near the viaduct.

But Berner said he’s been impressed with how construction crews have been able to contain the dust with water and prevent flying debris with metal curtains.

Construction crews will start working on the next block of bringing down the viaduct -- the north end of Marion Street -- on Monday.

Keep track of the demolition schedule by clicking on each block in this map from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Viaduct demolition is scheduled to be done by the end of July.