SEATTLE — For a few hours, the nine-day closure of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct proved to be a bit of gawking and sentimental fun.
About 3,200 people strolled on the elevated highway Saturday, the first full day of the nine-day closure, said KaDeena Yerkan of the state Department of Transpo
The people walked the highway as crews continue demolishing the southern end of the aging and earthquake-vulnerable elevated road that runs along the waterfront. Yerkan said crews have demolished about a couple of hundred yards of concrete and metal as of Saturday afternoon.
But local residents took advantage of the public opening, some making the occasion a sentimental one. One person hung a sign thanking the old highway for its service. Another woman collected one of the lane dividers. A couple of men tossed a Frisbee while many others took pictures of the old highway, The Seattle Times reported.
A roller derby team and a motorcycle stunt team also had free range of the highway for 30 minutes after winning a contest.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and other lawmakers are also present to commemorate the start of the demolition.
Transit officials have mailed people free bus tickets and added ferry trips across Elliott Bay. Still, there’s no shortage of fretting about where the 110,000 vehicles that take State Route 99 over the viaduct on a typical weekday will go.
Traffic was heavy around the viaduct Saturday as people took the walk and others headed to CenturyLink Field for a college football game.
The real test will be Monday when work commutes begin.
The viaduct is being replaced by a waterfront tunnel.