Washington State Route 99

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State Route 99 marker

State Route 99
Pacific Highway
SR 99 is highlighted in red.
Route information
Defined by RCW 47.17.160
Maintained by WSDOT
Length: 49.13 mi[2] (79.07 km)
Existed: 1964[1] – present
Southern segment
South end: I‑5 in Fife
Major
junctions:
SR 18 in Federal Way
SR 509 in Federal Way
North end: SR 518 in SeaTac
Northern segment
South end: SR 599 in Tukwila
Major
junctions:
SR 509 in Seattle
SR 525 in Lynnwood
North end: I‑5 / SR 526 / SR 527 in Everett
Location
Counties: Pierce, King, Snohomish
Highway system
US 97 SR 100

State Route 99 (SR 99) is a 49.13-mile-long (79.07 km) state highway serving the Seattle metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Washington. A 2-mile (3.2 km) gap divides the highway into two segments, between the interchanges of SR 518 and SR 599 in Tukwila. The southern segment of SR 99 travels north from Fife through the cities of Federal Way, Des Moines, Kent, and SeaTac to Tukwila. The northern segment of SR 99 continues north from Tukwila through Seattle, Shoreline, Edmonds, Lynnwood, to the Broadway Interchange in Everett.

Route description[edit]

Southern segment[edit]

SR 99 originates at Interstate 5 in Fife, near its own intersection with 54th Avenue E. From there, it heads eastward to Federal Way where it becomes Pacific Highway South and intersects SR 18 just west of its interchange with I-5. It then begins to travel north, through Des Moines, overlapping SR 509 for a few miles. The route becomes a little difficult to identify for several miles, as there are no reassurance signs until entering SeaTac. Once there, it becomes International Boulevard and forms the eastern boundary of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport until crossing SR 518, where the southern division ends.

Northern segment[edit]

Alaskan Way Viaduct, looking southeast

The northern division begins where the freeway carrying SR 599 northward passes over International Boulevard South. SR 599 terminates at that point; north of there, it becomes SR 99. SR 99 continues north to an interchange with SR 509 and West Marginal Way at the southern end of the First Avenue South Bridge. SR 99 crosses over the bridge and onto East Marginal Way, a surface street passing through the industrial and warehouse district of south Seattle known as Sodo. Near Spokane Street and the eastern end of the West Seattle Bridge, SR 99 again becomes a freeway. A portion travels on the surface before the route rises onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which traverses the downtown Seattle waterfront. The viaduct terminates at the Battery Street Tunnel, which runs for 3,140 feet (960 m) underneath Battery Street. The tunnel carries SR 99 underneath the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle and onto Aurora Avenue North.[3]

The tunnel was built in 1952 using the cut-and-cover method. It carries two traffic lanes in each direction, and connects the Alaskan Way Viaduct to Aurora Avenue N., providing continuity for State Route 99. There are no sidewalks or other provisions for pedestrians or bicyclists in the Tunnel. When an incident blocking traffic takes place within the tunnel, warning lights advise motorists to exit SR-99 at Western Avenue (northbound) and Denny Way (southbound). Emergency exits are placed behind sliding doors, with stairways leading up to Battery Street on the surface. The tunnel will be closed and filled in 2015 after the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel opens.[4]

Aurora Avenue with the George Washington Memorial Bridge and downtown Seattle in the background

Aurora Avenue at this point is lined with businesses, residences, side streets and sidewalks. There is a median barrier, so cross traffic and left turns are not available; access is right-in/right-out (RIRO) only. There are also several pedestrian overpasses and underpasses along this route. As Aurora Avenue nears and passes along the east flank of Queen Anne Hill, the median barrier ends, although access remains RIRO. Aurora Avenue then crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal on the George Washington Memorial Bridge (1932). At the interchange for Bridge Way, a very low median barrier begins, rising to a higher wall a bit north of North 38th Street. The barrier lowers again just beyond North 49th Street. Aurora Avenue then bisects Woodland Park, with the barrier replaced by paint stripes until the next side street, North 59th. The higher wall resumes as Aurora Avenue approaches the northbound entrance from Green Lake Way. Just north of North 68th Street, there is a traffic light-controlled crosswalk across Aurora Avenue through a narrow break in the median. RIRO access ends and cross traffic resumes just before Winona Avenue North, which is the first traffic light-controlled intersection on Aurora Avenue. Aurora Avenue continues northward to 145th Street, which intersection is also the west terminus of SR 523. At that point, SR 99 leaves Seattle and enters Shoreline as it continues northward on Aurora Avenue. SR 99 and Aurora Avenue crosses a former Interurban Railway right-of-way, now an urban trail, near North 155th Street.[5] It then continues north to the King County - Snohomish County line, which consists of a street marked North 205th Street in King County and 244th Street Southwest in Snohomish County.[3]

Upon entering Snohomish County and the city of Edmonds, the highway changes names to Pacific Highway North and crosses interchange with SR 104. The highway continues north into Edmonds.[3]

Southbound SR 99 at the 112th Street SE intersection

North of Edmonds, SR 99 enters Lynnwood, where it is known as Highway 99. SR 99 intersects SR 524 at 196th Street Southwest. SR 99 intersects SR 525 (known as the Mukilteo Speedway) at a partial interchange near Serene Lake. This interchange marks the northern end of the SR 525 freeway, which is an extension of Interstate 405.

After a journey through Lynnwood, SR 99 enters Everett, where it becomes known as Evergreen Way, until 3 miles (4.8 km) south of its terminus. At an intersection of Evergreen Way and Everett Mall Way, SR 99 goes northeast on Everett Mall Way. SR 99 passes the Mall near its interchange/intersection with Interstate 5, SR 526, and SR 527.

Before the completion of Interstate 5, SR 99 used to follow Evergreen Way onto Everett Mall Way (then known as "The Broadway Cut-Off") to Broadway; it then continued northbound through downtown Everett on Broadway. As Evergreen Way continues north in Everett, it becomes Rucker Avenue just south of 41st Street. Rucker Avenue intersects the former alignment of SR 526 at 41st Street.

History[edit]

Alaskan Way Viaduct under construction, 1952.
Battery Street Tunnel under construction, 1953.

Originally, State Route 99 was named Pacific Highway 1, which itself had been built over an earlier wagon road named R.F. Morrow Road.[6] SR 99 is a small part of the former US 99, which extended from the Canadian Border at the Peace Arch in Blaine, Wa. to Vancouver, Wa. at the Oregon Border. SR 99 is primarily the route of US 99 where building Interstate 5 along the same route would have been prohibitively expensive, or would not have served the greater good. Also, with the exception of the freeway sections, and from the Battery Street Tunnel to the north side of the George Washington Bridge (Aurora Bridge), SR 99 is tightly lined with stores, making any expansion nearly impossible. SR 99 used to be both US 99 and Primary State Highway (PSH) 1. As I-5 was built, these designations were moved to the new alignments from state line to international border until I-5 began being designated over the route. They were then co-signed briefly, and later, around the time of the 1964 state highway renumbering, SR 99 was redesignated over much of its former route. Slowly, over time, SR 99 was cut back to the current routing from Fife to Everett. In 2004 the state legislature removed the SR 99 designation from the part of the route along Tukwila International Boulevard in Tukwila. The same act also specified that the alignment south of SR 18 will be abandoned once the new SR 509 freeway is completed from Tacoma to Federal Way.[1]

Originally, US 99 was routed through the downtown Seattle streets, along 1st Avenue and 1st Avenue South. When the viaduct was built and US 99 was transferred to it, the old route became U.S. Route 99 Alternate (later Business). On the Alaskan Way Viaduct, near its southern terminus, there were ghost ramps on the east side of the structure. These were the only interchange structures created when the viaduct was first built in anticipation of the US 10 freeway (now Interstate 90) being completed into Seattle, and being extended to SR/US 99. However, the construction of the new downtown bypass tunnel has since removed this former portion of the original viaduct. To this day, an older US 99 sign is still in place on an overhead sign at the Columbia Street onramp to the Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle.

Formerly, SR 99 extended through downtown Everett. However, shortly after the opening of the Boeing Freeway and the Everett Mall, SR 99 was rerouted via Everett Mall Way to terminate at the interchange of the Boeing Freeway (SR 526), SR 527, and I-5, but part of SR 99 still extends from the northern part of Everett as State Route 529, becoming State Street through Marysville, then Smokey Point Boulevard.

Many cities and towns along the I-5 corridor in Washington have streets named 'Highway 99', 'Old Highway 99', 'Pacific Highway', or simply 'Old 99' all used to be part of US 99. Those cities with the streets still designated 'Highway 99' can cause confusion with people unfamiliar with the area, as they expect the street to be part of SR 99. This is most apparent in Vancouver, Washington whose "Hwy 99" is often confused for a state route.

When known as 'US99', the highway received federal funding for maintenance; at the point when federal funding was no longer provided, the road designation was changed to 'SR99'.

In 1939, the Washington state legislature named the road "Jefferson Davis Highway", making it the final component of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, which the United Daughters of the Confederacy intended to travel through the South and up the west coast to Canada.[7] In 2002, the state's House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would have removed Davis' name from the road. However, a committee of the state's Senate subsequently killed the proposal.[8][9]

On November 27th, 1998, a gunman shot and killed bus driver Mark McLaughlin on Seattle's 359 bus route, which runs down Highway 99. The gunman, Silas Cool, then shot and killed himself. At the time of the incident, the bus was traveling southbound across the George Washington Memorial Bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal, on Aurora Avenue North. After McLaughlin was shot, the bus veered across two lanes of traffic and plunged 50 feet off the bridge into Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. It landed on an apartment building and then tumbled to the ground. The driver, gunman, and one other passenger died, and 32 other passengers were injured. [10] After the incident, the route was renamed 358. [11]

On February 15, 2014, Aurora Avenue became a part of Seattle's RapidRide E line, replacing route 358. [12]

Major intersections[edit]


County Location Mile[2] km Destinations Notes
Pierce Fife 0.00 0.00 I‑5 – Seattle, Tacoma Southern terminus
54th Street East Continuation beyond I-5
Milton 1.62 2.61 Porter Way Former SR 514
King Federal Way 4.49 7.23 SR 18 east (South 348th Street) to I‑5 – Auburn, North Bend
7.72 12.42 SR 509 south (South Dash Point Road) – Dash Point State Park South end of SR 509 overlap
Des Moines 11.84 19.05 SR 516 / SR 509 north to I‑5 – Des Moines, Kent North end of SR 509 overlap
SeaTac 15.11 24.32 South 182nd Street – Sea–Tac Airport
SeaTacTukwila
city line
16.78 27.00 SR 518 to I‑5 / I‑405 Interchange; south end of gap
Tukwila International Boulevard Continuation beyond SR 518
Gap in route
Tukwila 16.79 27.02 SR 599 south to I‑5 Interchange; north end of gap
Tukwila International Boulevard Continuation beyond SR 599
South end of freeway
17.61 28.34 West Marginal Place South Northbound exit and entrance
Seattle 18.63 29.98 Des Moines Drive, 14th Avenue South
19.22 30.93 South Cloverdale Street Northbound entrance only
19.56 31.48 South Kenyon Street – South Park Southbound exit and entrance
North end of freeway
20.27 32.62 SR 509 south / West Marginal Way South – Burien
Duwamish River 20.27–
20.82
32.62–
33.51
First Avenue South Bridge
Seattle 20.60 33.15 To I‑5 / Michigan Street
South end of freeway
22.65 36.45 Spokane Street – West Seattle Northbound exit and southbound entrance
22.74 36.60 West Seattle BridgeHarbor Island Southbound exit and northbound entrance
24.24 39.01 South Atlantic Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance
25.03 40.28 Columbia Street Southbound entrance only
25.04 40.30 Seneca Street Northbound exit only
25.69 41.34 Western Avenue
25.78–
26.18
41.49–
42.13
Battery Street Tunnel
26.30 42.33 Denny Way – Downtown Seattle Southbound exit and northbound entrance
North end of freeway
26.52 42.68 To I‑5 / Mercer Street Interchange; northbound exit only
26.56 42.74 Broad Street Interchange; southbound exit only
Lake Union 27.91–
28.47
44.92–
45.82
George Washington Memorial Bridge
Seattle 28.57 45.98 North 38th Street Interchange
29.21 47.01 North 46th Street Interchange
30.04 48.34 North 63rd Street, Green Lake Way Interchange
SeattleShoreline
city line
34.21 55.06 SR 523 east (North 145th Street) to I‑5
KingSnohomish
county line
ShorelineEdmonds
city line
37.23 59.92
SR 104 Spur east to SR 104 east / I‑5 – Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park
37.34 60.09 SR 104 to I‑5 – Edmonds, Kingston Ferry, Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park Interchange
Snohomish Lynnwood 40.58 65.31 SR 524 (196th Street Southwest)
  44.36 71.39 SR 525 to I‑5 south / I‑405 south / Alderwood Mall Parkway – Mukilteo, Whidbey Island Ferry Interchange
Everett 48.96–
49.13
78.79–
79.07
I‑5 – Seattle, Vancouver BC
49.13 79.07 SR 526 west / SR 527 south Northern terminus
Broadway Continuation beyond SR 526/SR 527
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing

  1. ^ a b "47.17.160: State route No. 99". Revised Code of Washington. Washington State Legislature. 1970; revised 1971, 1979, 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Finch, Mark, ed. (March 4, 2014) (PDF). State Highway Log: Planning Report 2013, SR 2 to SR 971 (Report). Washington State Department of Transportation. pp. 861–891. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/roadway/pdf/HwyLog2013Statewide.pdf. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Seattle, Washington, city series (maps), American Automobile Association, 2008 
  4. ^ "Alaskan Way Viaduct - FAQs". Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  5. ^ City of Shoreline, Interurban Trail. Retrieved on 2010-04-18.
  6. ^ "SR 99 North: North End of Battery Street Tunnel to N. 145th Street Route Development Plan" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  7. ^ Ray, Susanna (January 24, 2002). "Jefferson Davis Highway here? Legislator outraged". HeraldNet. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  8. ^ Verhovek, Sam Howe (February 14, 2002). "Road Named for Jefferson Davis Stirs Spirited Debate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  9. ^ "Senate Committee Kills Plan To Rename Jefferson Davis Highway". KOMO News (Seattle, Washington: Sinclair Interactive Media). 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  10. ^ http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?displaypage=output.cfm&file_id=734
  11. ^ http://blog.seattlepi.com/ingreenwoodphinney/2010/05/12/in-defense-of-the-358/
  12. ^ http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/scvchange.html

External links[edit]