New restaurants and shops have been popping up all over Pioneer Square as part of an exciting neighborhood revival. One storefront that has attracted a lot of attention is Milepost 31, the SR 99 Tunnel Project information center on First Avenue South. Opened in December 2011 by the Washington State Department of Transportation, Milepost 31 is an award-winning facility that highlights the people and projects that shaped Pioneer Square, and provides an inside look at the SR 99 Tunnel Project.
Milepost 31 got its start in early 2011, when WSDOT, Pioneer Square representatives and historic preservationists were looking for ways to keep the neighborhood vital during tunnel construction. They agreed that an information center – starring the world’s largest tunneling machine and Seattle’s oldest neighborhood – would draw people to the district.
Two years and more than 20,000 visitors later, Milepost 31 remains a Pioneer Square hotspot. It offers hundreds of public tours, hosts regular events, and keeps neighbors and visitors informed about WSDOT’s efforts to build the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
1. Take a free guided tour to see SR 99 tunnel construction from a portion of the viaduct that’s been closed to traffic. Tours are offered Tuesdays – Saturdays and advanced registration is required. Find out more and sign up here.
2. Attend one of the monthly Speakers Series talks. Topics range from Pioneer Square archaeology to how a tunneling machine works. Talks are free and start at 6 p.m. each First Thursday. Park for free in Pioneer Square at participating garages on First Thursdays from 5 -10 p.m.
3. Give yourself a tour of the SR 99 Tunnel Project’s massive work zone. Walk or bike along the paved path west of the construction area, near the stadiums. Displays along the path describe construction activities, machinery at work and the area’s history.
4. Visit Milepost 31! The center is located at 211 First Ave. S., and is open from 11a.m. to 5p.m. Tuesday – Saturday, and until 8 p.m. on First Thursdays.
Celebrate the two-year anniversary of Milepost 31!
Before you head out in the cold for the Pioneer Square First Thursday tree lighting ceremony, come warm up with a cup of hot cider and some history, and learn about Bertha the tunneling machine’s journey underneath downtown Seattle.
December 5, during Pioneer Square’s First Thursday
4 – 8 p.m.
Brief speeches at 6:30 p.m.
211 First Avenue S.
Seattle, WA 98104
For more information about the center and the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, visit www.milepost31.org.