06 January, 2011

But wait! There's more... Seattle building largest tunnel ever!

If there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that any major project that the City of Seattle attempts to launch will experience all of the following: (1) It will encounter major efforts, via ballot initiatives, to block it from happening, (2) It will cost far more than estimated, and (3) It will likely create a massive disaster, and not turn out as planned.

The latest? The Alaskan Way Viaduct which, in truth, could crumble at the slightest shaking of the soft earth on which it resides, is going to be replaced. Rather than replace it with something that sounds conservative, such as, perhaps, another elevated roadway adjacent to the current one, they're going to dig under the ground. They're going to make the largest tunnel ever built. Fifty-seven feet in diameter. Everyone has always talked about how Seattle has the problem of most of downtown being built on landfill. But I guess they've got that all figured out. Actually, it doesn't really matter if they've got it figured out or not. Because, if shit goes wrong, they'll just keep paying the contractor, and the bill will go to the taxpayer.

I'm not opposed to infrastructure improvements. In fact, I am all for them. But I'm opposed to the obvious idiotic approach that this state seems to take, regarding all attempted improvements. They don't want to do small things to make our system better. They want to do big things. And they don't care if they do them well. They just need to be big. I suppose I should be grateful that, after living here 10 years, during which time there was nary an improvement to infrastructure, except for the start of the light rail system (which is a good thing, but it's too little, too late), they're finally taking on big projects. But what's it going to look like for the next five years while all this is happening? We're already looking at one diversion disaster with 520 traffic jumping over to 90. And one can imagine that there will be an overlapping period where 99 traffic will be jumping over to 5 (especially since, if you read the fine print, they're going to put a toll on the new 99 tunnel). The other thing that doesn't make much sense to me about this project is that they want to increase volume on this stretch of road, compared to the viaduct. But I don't see what good that will do, when you've got cramped two-lane roadways north and south of the viaduct, with odd exit-ramp setups. It's like replacing one section in a chain of Crazy Straws with a toilet paper roll, and thinking you can drink faster.


I know this is a rambling blog entry. And I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. And you can't have it both ways. And I suppose it's better late than never. I'd just like to think that if someone moves to Seattle in 2017, and looks at the transit system: a new 520 bridge, a new 99, a light rail system that runs from North Seattle all the way to the Airport, perhaps they'll think "This is a city that got its act together."

We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analyses of current issues.

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