Watching ‘Big Chompy’: Office workers and tourists keep tabs on viaduct demolition

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Tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct can be noisy and dusty.

It’s also Seattle’s newest tourist attraction.

“They should set up a bandstand where people can sit and watch,” said Janice Moore, who is visiting from Colorado

On Friday, she and Andrew Moore stopped for a while to watch the old roadway be torn apart.

“It just opens up the city. I’m thinking about this building that, all of a sudden, has some light on it and opportunities for the future,” said Andrew Moore.

The building he mentioned is where Jen Joyce works at the ad agency Wongdoody.

“We have had full days of a shaky building. We have also lovingly named some of the equipment,” Joyce said.

“Big Chompy is moving a giant wood piece,” Joyce said, looking out the window. “Little Chompy is taking a nap on the viaduct right now.”

As crews spent a couple of weeks directly in front of her building, Joyce took video of every step.

“I think everyone in the office has at least one time-lapse (video) on their phone,” she said.

After decades of looking down at a roadway, people in buildings near the old viaduct are suddenly seeing different views.

“We can see the people walking down by the water. We can finally see that,” Joyce said.

Contractors got a slower start on viaduct demolition than they wanted but have since picked up the pace.

The Washington State Department of Transportation now calculates that work along the central waterfront, north of Columbia Street, is 40 % done.

The state says the bulk of the waterfront will be clear in June, when crews move south to start taking down the sections of the viaduct in Pioneer Square.

“People on that end: Just know it will get dusty and your building will shake,” Joyce said.

Next week, crews begin filling the Battery Street Tunnel with viaduct debris.

Demolition is expected to be done by the end of the summer

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