A garbage truck hit the Alaskan Way Viaduct around noon Friday, causing police to block off a few blocks to both cars and pedestrians in Belltown.
A garbage truck hit the Alaskan Way Viaduct just before 11:30 a.m. Friday, causing a natural-gas leak and temporary road closure but no injuries.
The rig got wedged between the elevated roadway and the surface, at Blanchard Street beneath the Western Avenue exit ramp.
The impact punctured the truck’s roof-mounted natural gas fuel tank, causing a hissing sound as the gas leaked out, said Corey Orvold, fire department spokeswoman.
Firefighters taped off a perimeter and evacuated one building next to the site as a safety precaution because of the natural gas leak. Meanwhile, traffic police investigators examined the truck and road. The area reopened by 1 p.m., except for a roughly two-block stretch of Blanchard Street directly around the crash site.
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The temporary road blockage added to a general traffic mess in the area — today was the start of a two-week shutdown of the viaduct, closed while tunnel boring machine Bertha is digging under the old highway.
The crash occurred about a mile north of Bertha, so there should be no effect on tunnel operations, which resumed at about 9 a.m. today, said Laura Newborn, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
At first, Bertha will churn 10 feet through a concrete block, where the machine recently stopped for maintenance. Then it must advance 375 feet before the viaduct reopens, based on plans by WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners.
It’s not unusual for trucks to hit the underside of the viaduct in this area, just south of the Battery Street Tunnel. New clearance warning signs were installed within the past several months.
The structure in that entire area is in poor condition due to impacts and ground settlement since the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, which has required the south Battery Street Tunnel portal to be extensively patched and braced.