Ship Canal Water Quality project update 3/11/21

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Ship Canal logoTunnel Boring Machine

Dear neighbors,

Help us name our Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)!

In case you missed it, we are currently seeking name submissions for the tunnel boring machine (TBM) pictured above. We look forward to hearing your creative ideas, and if you need inspiration, check out our new TBM fact sheet that has some fun facts about the machine. For example, did you know that the TBM will remove roughly 400,000 tons of dirt in the process of building the new storage tunnel?!

Submit TBM naming ideas by midnight on March 12, 2021 via Twitter (#NameThatTBM) or online.

Contest rules:

  • Submission must be original work by the entrant.
  • Group/organization submissions welcome!
  • Any entries using profanity or offensive language will be disqualified.
  • All entries may be listed on Seattle Public Utilities websites, print materials, and social media channels.

Project team members will select their favorite submissions and then put them to a public vote. Voting will take place between March 18 -24.

Submit your suggestions here!

See photos from recent construction activities on Flickr.


Over the next few weeks, we'll continue assembling the tunnel boring machine (TBM) and preparing the shaft and site (including paving and secant pile work) for tunneling operations that begins this summer. During this time, you can expect:

  • More heavy equipment to arrive on site, such as cranes, potentially at night.
  • Truck deliveries of material to fill the shaft from the base to the tunnel invert level to support the TBM and associated tunnel activities.

Working hours are expected to be 7 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. We also anticipate working weekends over the next few months to prepare for tunneling.

East Ballard

Crews will continue ground improvement works in NW 45th St. During these activities, you should anticipate:

  • NW 45th St closed to traffic; vehicles must detour onto NW 46th St.
  • Burke-Gilman Trail users remain detoured to the north side of NW 45th St; flaggers to help direct traffic during daytime working hours. Please follow all detour guidance on site. Bicyclists must cross train tracks at 90-degree angles. Please use extra caution in wet weather as ramps may be slippery.
  • Both lanes of 11th Ave NW south of NW 45th St are now open and will remain open for about six weeks.
  • Noise and vibrations typical of a construction site.

Regular work hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 am to 5 pm. Night and weekend work may occur to maintain progress.

See anticipated traffic impacts through 2021 on our website.


Over the next few weeks, crews will pour concrete for the shaft floor, begin tree removal on 3rd Ave NW, and continue utility work in NW 36th St. You should anticipate:

  • Dump trucks and excavators working on site and an uptick in traffic in Leary Way NW as trucks haul away excavated material and bring concrete to the site.
  • NW 36th St between Leary Way NW and 3rd Ave NW closed (through remainder of the project).
  • Pedestrians detoured to the north side of Leary Way NW.
  • A pump and bypass system running 24/7 to re-route an existing drainage line around the secant pile construction. This system is powered by a generator and will be in place for several more weeks.
  • Generators running constantly to power the dewatering pumps until permanent power is available on site.
  • Tree removal on 3rd Ave NW.

As early as April, crews will install a new water main in Leary Way NW. This work will close up to two travel lanes at a time, but two-way traffic will be maintained and assisted by flaggers. If you live near the site, there may be a short, temporary water shut off. If your service will be impacted, you'll receive a door hanger with more information. 

Regular work hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm. Night and weekend work may occur to maintain progress.


Secant pile wall construction is anticipated to last through mid-April. So far crews have completed about 52 of 101 piles. For the next several weeks, you should anticipate:

  • Heavy equipment on site such as the drill rig, an oscillator, and a crane. Trucks coming in and out of the site to haul away excavated material and deliver concrete and steel beams.
  • Noise from the drill rig. It is loud and work will start as early as 7 am as allowed by City of Seattle code. We start early in the morning to allow the contractor to complete more of the work safely during daylight hours, to maximize the use of expensive, heavy machinery each day and, to complete work as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
  • Vibration from the drill rig. You may be able to feel the vibration in your home or business. This is expected. We are monitoring vibration levels on site to ensure they are within allowable levels.

Normal work hours are Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm although work may extend into the early evening, on occasion to complete the concreting of a pile. It’s possible the contractor may also work on Saturdays as needed.

Queen Anne

This site will be relatively quiet over the next few weeks. Crews will return in April to work on the shaft lining wall. During construction of the lining walls, you should anticipate:

  • Trucks coming in and out of the site to deliver rebar and formwork.
  • Noise and vibrations typical of a construction site.
  • The West Ewing Mini Park parking lot closed. This closure is anticipated to last through mid-2023.
  • A localized Ship Canal Trail detour through summer 2022 (see map).

Regular work hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 am to 5 pm. Night and weekend work may occur to maintain progress.

Contact us

Please email with questions or comments or call (206) 701-0233. You can also find information online at

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