Mayor Mike McGinn, fresh off bollixing up the 520 bridge replacement, just announced he was prepared to do the same with the deep bore tunnel which is being planned to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Both the 520 bridge and the viaduct are decrepit and ready to sink, collapse, or pancake. 225,000 vehicles use them daily. A catastrophe on either would seriously disrupt the local economy and probably result in loss of life.
Common sense tells us that a new viaduct is the smartest and cheapest way to solve the problem. Unfortunately, Seattle dreamers continue to fight for either a surface replacement, which would gridlock the entire waterfront area, or an expensive tunnel bored through unknown soil conditions. The surface “solution” would do more harm than good, choking commuter and pier traffic. The tunnel is a two billion dollar financial crapshoot.
McGinn, a former Sierra Club lawyer, wants everyone else to live in a rabbit hutch and ride public transit. He hates personal, private mobility unless it is on foot or bicycle. He and his circle of elitists know what is good for us. As far as they are concerned, we better take it and shout out “Thank you Sir – Can I have another”?
Giving McGinn the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he means well and is sincerely trying to save us from ourselves. Tunnels can be full of surprises. Just think about those two Brightwater boring machines that went kaput a couple hundred feet below Bothell & Lake Forest Park. The Boston “Big Dig” created a cut & fill tunnel that went 400% over budget, taking 15 years to complete. It killed a woman shortly after it opened and had to close for rework of shoddy construction. There is a similar tunnel in Russia that gets wet and icy occasionally and makes for some gruesome entertainment:
Don’t hold your breath for anything sensible to ever get done with transportation around Seattle. The “Seattle Way” drags out planning and agreement interminably and always results in solutions similar to a camel, said to be “a horse designed by a committee.” Billions are flushed down the rat hole of light & heavy rail while the obviously cheapest and most integrated solution – Bus Rapid Transit, sharing infrastructure with motor vehicles – is ignored. Bridge and viaduct plans have been fought over for years with no appreciable result. Top these attitudes off with a fruitcake mayor who has the power and will to toss a wrench into everything, and you have gridlock.
The Puget Sound area experiences a serious earthquake about every 300-400 years. The last real doozie was in 1700. The clock is ticking. Here is a movie clip dramatizing the collapse of a highway viaduct in San Francisco. After our viaduct ends up like this, perhaps a solution will be implemented. In the meantime we must amuse ourselves reading about idealistic dithering, posturing, and hissy fits among our elitist “leaders.”
Here is a computer generated slow motion description and animation of the viaduct and how it would behave in an earthquake. It will make you think twice about driving on or under it.
We have known for years what has to be done, and frittered those years away bickering. Those in public office who delayed the obvious solution will be held accountable by the citizens – the same citizens who voted similar loons into office again and again.