Features Jun 11, 2014 at 4:00 am

Unbelievably, We Still Don't Know What Broke the Tunneling Machine—But We Do Know Who's Responsible

Downtown Seattle Association's Kate Joncas, city council member Tom Rasmussen, Mayor Ed Murray, and a guy playing golf. Tunnel photo by Greg Phipps / WSDOT


Hitting the nail on the head, despite those who might say 'oh, Holden, you're just whining about all of this'.

Quite the contrary, as it were. There is no whining here. There is a restating of the situation as is, and cleverly building a case that no one group really has any idea what's going on, or if anything CAN be done relative to this cluster$@#&.

The vocal minority, in this case, was ignored in favor of something potentially/metaphorically shiny, zippy, and it was a total snake-oil sale. Now the populace, including we, the vocal oppositional minority to this entire project from the get-go, is going be stuck with a mega bill for something that was never going to work in the first place.
I was against the tunnel from the beginning, and your summary, Dominic, just fuels my anger. I'd like to cut our losses by filling up the hole (with Bertha in it), and just putting a plain old-fashioned road along the waterfront. Maybe we can drill a few little holes and in the future charge people to view through a telescope the debacle that was Bertha.
What about the 9 lane road that will be built on top of the tunnel? Will that help?
Stop the tunnel now, sue the hell out of everyone involved, go back to the I-5+surface improvement plan, and impeach Murray.
Well what does McGinn know? He's just a bicycle riding ninny. We need a tunnel for our important cars!
Thanks for keeping-up with this story, Dominic.
Ho boy. Bitch, bitch, bitch. 5 years from now, when it's done, no one will care. It's gonna work out. You'll see.
Yes, remember last weeks massive traffic jam when 99 was closed? That's what the urbanists want, full time. Fuck 'em. then run them down in my SUV.
@8: "5 years from now, when it's done,"

$20 says it's not.
great article. as a taxpayer, it pisses me off royally, but still, great article.
@9 Or you could just stay out of our city.

Nice work, Dom.
I'm number 1! I'm number 1!
Excellent article, Dominic.
Perhaps the giant head in the sculpture park could be moved downtown to guard the entrance to Bertha's Tomb.
The author of this article conveniently leaves out the fact that there is a downtown exit by the stadiums just before the tunnel south portal. All the cars that currently exit the viaduct at the Seneca Street exit will now exit 12 blocks further south and disperse among the new Alaskan Way, 1st Ave, and 4th Ave. In my opinion this isn't going to be a big impact compared to today. The big unknown is how many cars that normally drive the viaduct thru the 2-lane Battery Street tunnel will skip the new tunnel to avoid tolls. At $1 or $1.50 I don't believe the numbers will be that large once they try driving on surface streets one or two times and discover that it is not worth all the extra time to avoid a small toll. This tunnel is the best 100+ year decision for the city. Time will tell but I will tell you now. :)
Big Bertha is reminiscent of the big dig in Boston..... billions wasted and many went to jail [don't know if they are still in jail]. Before they started this Seattle project I predicted that it would be a mess. I could say I told you so..... but probably not necessary. Here's a footnote.... the big dig in Boston started as a $2.6 Billion project and was finished at $14.6 Billion.... It was scheduled to be completed in 1998 but was not completed until Dec of 2007. Hang on Seattle, hopefully they don't screw up the 8' sewer pipe that runs under the viaduct...... otherwise the city will really start crapping when they can't flush. Mike Murphy, Happily Retired Washington State Treasurer
Monorail? oh yeah, too expensive.
Tutor Perini is the same company that messed up City Center in Las Vegas. City Center has to take down one of it's buildings, the Harmon Tower because they foundation is off from the blueprints in some spots by more than a foot each level under ground. Now they are being sued by MgM and Nevada and they are trying to say it is not their responsibility. I know the owner personally and good luck trying to get things fixed.
Who's to blame? Generations of Seattlites and their local leaders who preferred to look the other way even as it became more and more apparent the viaduct was reaching the end of its structural viability. This is a project that should have been undertaken about 25 years ago when it would have cost a hell of a lot less. It still would have been a major construction mess, but that would have been over by now. Seattle needs to blame someone? Okay, people. Let's all take a deep breath and look in the mirror.

Gregoire has to be suspect #1.

She spent her entire last term ramming through the tunnel.

And Mike McGinn who was elected on the single issue of stopping the tunnel, ended up creating the plebiscite that enabled them to sidestep all opposition and proceed!

In effect, you have to question the legitimacy of the entire government in Olympia!

in case you all weren't aware earlier, massive infrastructure projects are hard work, and unforeseen things go wrong. which often causes delays and additional expense.

while Bertha's being extracted and repaired, what is there to say, especially to opponents like Holden? "so sorry, let's give up"?

I'd say a fair amount of the blame, perhaps most of it, lies with the portion of the electorate that approved this debacle to be. The voters had a perfect chance to kill it.

When a city the size of Vancouver does just fine with zero highways going through it seems very unlikely that we really need two.

4.2 billion could buy a lot of light rail.
I think the word "blame" suggests something is going wrong.
Mostly Gregoire. She seemed incapable of understanding how engineering projects actually work - but Murray is in the top 5

@10 is correct
Victory has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.
This tunnel is a microcosm of the kind of corruption we face as a nation. Already the drumbeat for war has started from the profiteers. We always know who the losers will be, but never listen.
Projects hit snags, but we still need to move forward. The tunnel is still the best plan to replace the viaduct. It's already funded and construction is underway. This is why Seattle never gets anything done, because people like you bitch and moan the whole time and actually think you have the right to influence the management of this project. You don't. Your measly tax contribution doesn't give you the right to pull the plug.
Can we start a campaign to always refer to the council member as Tom "Tunnel" Rasmussen? It will make it easier to remember his signal accomplishment come election time. That's Tom "Tunnel" Rasmussen.
Damn. So predictable that it's like a movie script.

The tunnel was such a stupendously stupid idea in the first place, but what is more predictably stupid is the Seattle panic.

The minute there are the inevitable problems on large projects, Seattle collectively shits itself and bails. Like they always do. On everything. Desperately attempting to externalize the responsibility onto, somebody - anybody - else.

Nope. Like Bertha we are stuck with this tunnel now. There is no turning back.

If we all started calling the tunnel "Murray's Gaping Hole," we'd see action soon enough.

Public opinion swings on catchphrases and is pretty much limited to one villain per issue.
@30 Here Here. Holden has been shitting himself all over Slog for months now.

in a thousand years, human survivors of modernity will find the boarded-up entrance, follow the awe-some, echoing arched tunnel to the end (it won't be a very long walk). There, they will encounter a strange cylindrical object made from long-forgotten technology and materials. It's exact purposes will be unknown, but they will naturally assume that it was a shrine for worship of a technologically-based deity.
(part 2)
then, when the Romantic movement independently re-emerges, some poet will write about it: "My name is Bertha, queen of queens..."
This tunnel and the figures that back it are such a joke. Investing in infrastructure for cars is a great way to prepare for the 20th century.
No one wanted this damn tunnel. They ram-roded it down our throats and used cronyism to cover it up as no big deal.

Seattle city government is obviously corrupt. Full stop. Didn't they just approve a massive back scratch raise to a guy who basically covers there asses at Seattle Power and Light?
Hey! Look! An article discussing the very point that Bigger Roads Make Traffic Worse!

Called "Induced Demand": build a road and drivers will show up to drive on it, such that traffic congestion is not reduced with bigger roads. However, it also works the other way too: Reduce roads and drivers go away. Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but a proven fact.

Sadly, this truism has been known for some time, but perhaps Murray and Gregoire didn't get the memo about all the large freeways being dismantled around the world with no significant change in traffic congestion.

Too late for us!!

I think we should move the City Council Chambers down into the Tunnel.
Blame yourself for not providing a better plan. Blame yourself for losing the initiative that would have blocked the project. Blame yourself for allowing the process to take years to complete, then come in at the last minute to offer alternatives. Blame yourself for not getting McGinn elected after out right lying to the public that he wouldn't block the tunnel project.

@28 Seattle never gets things done, anymore, (ForwardThrust) because it is clear that the electorate is full of suckers. This is a city with a major seaport that still believes the only organized crime involved a 90 italian strip-club owner. They bought into the obvious real estate scam that was the monorail, but fortunately got bailed out of that before billions were spent on concrete & cement.

Seeing an even larger opportunity for swindle, the same construction crooks came up with the tunnel, which wasn't exposed as a scam in the early stages like the monorail. Only after we saw how big the hole is, and what a piece of junk we paid for to create it, do we realize we got hustled again. Since less than half of the city's current voters ever heard of WPPSS, fooling them with fancy drawings & promises of greatness (world's widest tunnel!) isn't very difficult.
"The state predicted in 2011 that the tunnel would cause roughly as much traffic congestion on city streets as simply tearing down the viaduct and doing nothing."

Hey guys -

Should we spend $4.2 billion of taxpayer dollars to build this thing that nobody wants, or do nothing? It'll have the same end result!

Yeah, let's spend the fucking money, because #YOLO or whatever.

I blame Lyle Lanley.
Stuff like this happens on building/digging projects. Setbacks happen and you move past them. Finding and assigning blame is stupid and pointless. Maybe some of you care; I don't.
I just love the cartoon, there's few better ways to speak to power than the adept placement of insightful humor.
They were happy to take credit when Ref 1 passed but now they're all about being hushed up? Cool.
this totally reminds me of that simpsons "monorail" episode.
It's McGinn's fault for being right but for failing to convince everybody.
I recently learned that the Arboretum's "ramps to nowhere" (leftover structures from an abandoned 1970's transportation project) will be torn down this summer. It would be fitting if the rubble from this demolition were used to fill the unfinished waterfront tunnel. It's the Circle of Life!
On projects of this scale and responsibility, there ought to be a contingency fund (actual bonding or insurance company consortiums) to guarantee the ultimate completion of the project. You would have thought that a lesson could have been taken from the Big Dig (Boston) Things can go awry in a variety of unforeseen catastrophic ways. As no one knows who will finally pick up the tab for this debacle, it's a near no-brainer that the tunnel will go the way of the 1960s Thompson Expressway. Three silent cheers for all the hoopla given to the project before the old and left-in-place steel seismic studies pipe was encountered, rendering it like so much silly string. Never mind the pipe, though. The damaged boring machine might be best left to rest in peace. Move on, Seattle!
Here's my thing... Boston's Big Dig wound up taking 10 years longer than originally forecast. It also ran over the original budget by about 520%. It was originally met by fierce criticism from locals as being unnecessary and profligate. But the political heavy hitters rammed it through despite the setbacks and protests. Fast forward to now the city friggin loves the thing. It's transformed the landscape, unlocked billions of dollars in property values and has kept Boston's transportation infrastructure in a position to keep up with demands.

How are we any different?
Meanwhile my house, bicycle distance to downtown, just keeps going up, up, up in value!
Thanks, all the fucks named above!
Murray's Hole?
Tom's Tunnel to Nowhere?
Kate's Cave?
Bertha's Bottom?
The Tunnel Museum?
Gregoire's Gorge?
Murray's Void?

Dammit Watson, we need a meme!

Ed's Ditch?
Gregoire's Gap?

The Seattle Shaft?

McGinn's Last Laugh?

Seattle has a great history of punning on pols. The Internet Age, or the Online Comments Age, has come up with a few beauties that added anchors that sunk a few buffoons-
The Mayor McCheese and Nicklesville memes definitely hammered Mayor Snowplow's political future.

If the collective genius of Seattle humorists could just come up with a good one to forever tarnish our latest boondogglists?
Please, please smart people, something that will stick forever, that maybe doesn't have such obvious sexual connotations?
In Ed Murray's defense, he's a fucking moron.
At the West Seattle Street Fair many years ago there was an information booth about the tunnel. I asked the supposedly learned booth hatchlings why we were building a tunnel in that particular location when a better choice would to have had the tunnel start south of Sears-Starbucks, and emerge well north of the Seattle Center. Instead of running along the waterfront, run it out in Elliot Bay. The booth people informed me that having Washington State ferry traffic cross over the tunnel was just plain unsafe. Somewhat stunned I asked if they had heard of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel? No. Have they perchance heard of the water body that lays over the Great Britain-France Chunnel? No.
Well, I foolishly thought that maybe the fact that they run AIRCRAFT carriers over the CBB&T, and they do the same over the Chunnel might make a for a bit of extra thought. I was mistaken.

The difference is that the Seattle waterfront tunnel will not put Seattle's "transportation infrastructure in a position to keep up with demands"

It will at best replace capacity demand as measured 5 years ago, in the fastest-growing city in America.

Yes, it will "transform the landscape." Which will be appreciated primarily by people idling in rush-hour traffic on city streets.

Yes, it will "unlock billions of dollars in property values," for the the handful of landlords who own property just behind today's viaduct.

And it will lock or lower tens of billions in property values for those who own property in West Seattle, Burien, Sea-Tac, Gerogetown, White Center, and other areas where people with jobs or bus connections downtown are living today.

The project is a wealth transfer away from home owners in Seattle's southern neighborhoods and near-suburbs, and into the coffers of downtown Seattle's old-money property owners.
An entire article about the tunnel and no mention of Tunnel-Bitch #1 - Gregory J. Nickels? He pimped this harder than the Stranger on a free-handout. Bad reporting - what a surprise.
You left out Richard Conlin! Or maybe you just didn't want to kick the guy when he's already down for the count... but the asshole deserves it. Remember when he essentially staged a mayoral coup, signing tunnel agreements with WSDOT before McGinn even had a chance to look at them? Also, don't forget Pete Holmes, with his botched attempt to prevent the citizens he's supposed to represent from having any say in the matter.

We should remember not just that these politicians supported the tunnel, but also their relentless demonizing of McGinn and anyone else who dared to question their "wisdom." Remember Gregoire denouncing McGinn as a "disgrace?" Remember all the times Murray and Rasmussen and Conlin ridiculed and vilified McGinn and other tunnel opponents for not marching in step? And now Murray's our mayor, and we are truly fucked.
@37 That's beautiful.
@28 has it right. Tunnel opponents had their chance, the combonations of AWV tunnel, Mercer E & W and the waterfront project are all going to help Seattle continue to grow and thrive, not to mention turn the downtown to waterfront area into the GEM seattle deserves. Sure this delay sucks, and someone is to blame, but blaming the people that are solving the viaduct problem is unproductive. You are blaming the coaching staff for the star player getting injured. The investigation needs to shift to what was wrong with the design of Bertha that caused the seal failure. It was tested and the seals did not perform adequately, then it was shipped and put into service. Something is definitely wrong with that, and whoever is responsible for letting it happen owes the money. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2… It will no doubt be figured out either behind closed doors or in court. Your journalism is appreciated, but it would help to start looking into who is really to blame, and it is either Hitachi or STP.
Someone mentioned that we should call the tunnel, "Murray's Gaping Hole". I thought Mayor Murray was a "top". But then I was listening to this song:

@60 monorail & @63 sgt doom: Speaking as a Seattle-born Washington native, both of you and everyone else in Seattle have my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy.
Great journalism. keep hammering, unlike the "yellow journalism" elsewhere. This is so upsetting, I am interested in running for state legislator as a "write in" for 32 district rep. Anything to stop throwing good money after bad. Can you help me? Frank Coble
>It will at best replace capacity demand as measured 5 years ago, in the fastest-growing city in America.

So at least we'll keep treading water. OK, I'll chalk that as a win. And it's not just workaday commuters that matter here. This is getting freight into and out of the Port. I'd like to protect those well paying union jobs if at all possible.

> Yes, it will "transform the landscape." Which will be appreciated primarily by people idling in rush-hour traffic on city streets.

... and those poor drones on the lower floors of downtown office buildings. And those stupid tourists on the (now much brighter) waterfront. Or really anybody who doesn't want to see a gash of a road on the face of our city.

> Yes, it will "unlock billions of dollars in property values," for the the handful of landlords who own property just behind today's viaduct.

Because there are no small business owners or property owners in all of downtown Seattle. Nobody who will benefit from having this eyesore removed but big landlords. I get ya... totally makes sense to keep this city fugly to spite big business. Let's take this to it's logical conclusion and stop all city services to those building owned by large corporations. Those rotting piles of garbage will sure show them!

@55: The Times inadvertently named it back on February 7th, when their headline read, "Bad news: Bertha is damaged." Of course, their punctuation was wrong. Remove the colon.

Unfortunately, Bad News Bertha continues to gives us a colonoscopy we never ordered or quite agreed to.

To everyone who rammed this terminally broken pipe cleaner up our collective ass: I TOLD YOU SO!
Hey, It could be worse. You could be living in Dallas, like me.
Hey, I'm all for the tunnel. It would have been fantastic for Seattle. However, the reality is that these delays may go on for a very long time. Then who knows what the final result will be. Is anybody looking at alternatives? i.e., rebuild the ugly viaduct because the tunnel project failed?
This is the tip of the iceberg. Look a little harder at the "Pardners" and you will find miles and miles of corruption and unscrupulousness. Ask the Cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Las Vegas.
Fuck the Tunnel
Fucking fucked up Tunnel
Fucking fucking Tunnel
Fuck the fucked up Tunnel
- Hodor
@53: the difference is the big dig, for all that went wrong with the process, is actually a useful piece of infrastructure. The tunnel, on the other hand, replaces a piece of infrastructure primarily used to get in and out of downtown with a tunnel with no downtown access.

Dominic: thanks for all your great coverage on this over the years. I wish it had greater impact.
Tell you what, I will go buy a couple shovels at Home Depot. Someone pick up a wheelbarrow. I figure I can move a couple feet worth of dirt a day. It might take me longer than a Bertha but if several of us do it, I believe we can beat that 2015 date.
Hey let's not forget this guy: Ron Paananen
"Ron Paananen, the Washington State Department of Transportation project manager for the Highway 99 tunnel project (afterwards-accepted a job in Washington, D.C., with private engineering firm CH2M HILL - tunnel builders) "Paananen has been one of the tunnel's biggest defenders for six years while ushering the project through a contentious public debate.
An expert on the project, he was frequently called on at Seattle City Council meetings and public hearings to answer detailed questions about the project and defend it. Increasingly, he found himself pinned between pro-tunnel city and state officials and tunnel opponents, who sought to discredit him.
Last month, he and other tunnel supporters won a major victory when 58 percent of Seattle's primary-election voters indicated support of the project by approving a referendum.
"Technically, the vote didn't really legally affect the project in a big way, but I think everybody recognizes the significance of the public voting the way they did," Paananen said. "In my mind, they were saying, 'Let's get on with it.' "
"CH2M HILL is one of the largest engineering and design firms in the world and frequently does work for the state, although it is not directly involved in the tunnel project." (nudge nudge ;;)
The company gave $500 to the pro-tunnel referendum campaign, Let's Move Forward, in July. (It also contributed $250 last year to the office fund of anti-tunnel Mayor Mike McGinn.)
Paananen leaves the project at a natural point, with environmental reviews complete, the public process virtually finished, and tunneling set to begin next year.
"In my view, he was the glue that kept the project together and moving through the pretty contentious political events of the project-development phase," said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.

"He's one of the best examples of a public servant that I've run into," said City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a tunnel supporter. "There were times when it was really tough for him. He was on a hot seat, and he handled it incredibly well."
…"However, City Councilmember Mike O'Brien, the council's lone tunnel opponent, praised Paananen for giving him straight answers, even when the two men disagreed. One of the things I really admired about Ron is as someone with an engineering background, he was more interested in talking about facts instead of any kind of political spin," he said."
Many in Southern California are watching the saga of Bertha and the SR 99 tunnel unfold with great interest. Metro and Caltrans want to connect the 710 nd 210 freeways with two, parallel 4.6 mile tunnels, also 58 feet in diameter. In fact, the agencies have used your tunnel's cost per mile to estimate the cost for these tunnels. Interestingly, although the total length of 9.2 miles is more than 5 times the length of your tunnel, the cost estimate they expect us to believe is a mere $5.4 Billion -- less than twice that for the SR 99 tunnel. I am not sure where these engineers went to school, but in my world, this does not compute!

The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and the freight that comes through these ports is undeniably (according to all but Metro)a driving force for bringing an additional 140,000 vehicles a day, many of them diesel-powered big rigs through the communities lining the 210 freeway. We want to see them utilize modern technologies that are safer, cleaner and more economical to move freight; and we want them to implement transportation solutions that offer commuters more choices.

Although we wish the citizens of Seattle and the State of Washington no harm, every snafu with your project validates the concerns predictions of those of us who see the LA project for what it is -- a folly of gigantic proportions and consequences.

If you would like to help prevent a recurrence of Seattle's misfortunes from happening elsewhere, and contribute to our effort to make electeds and other officials sit up and listen to reason, please go to www.no710.com and consider signing our online petition.
Don't forget to blame Greg Nickels and Ron Sims. I think they were right in there with Gregoire in making the deep bore tunnel decision. Dominic is good at following some of the money, but connecting the money of the downtown interests and the contractors to the politicians is needed too. These financial debacles are what give government a bad name with too many voters. Even I a liberal, am disgusted with this and other projects that benefit contractors and big business more than the public.
Dominic Holden -- pseudonym for Chicken Little?
Button it. The STP is responsible to design and build the tunnel. Yep, nobody has built a tunnel there in the history of the universe. STP took the contract and raised the price to cover the risk. If their tool fails (yep, it has) then they will be all over the tool builder (who has never built one that large) because the tool builder raised their price to STP to cover the risk of issues (like the bearings crumbling).
The schedule also had extra time to account for delays like we see now. It's how construction work, Chicken Little. Get over it. And button it.
We could always try tolls on the I-5 and all the north south arterials between Yesler and Jackson. Side streets could blocked with those cute little park things that allow cyclists through. That would both provide sufficient funds and solve the toll avoidance conundrum. The city voted for it and ousted McGinn for his opposition. We should stop acting so fickle and see through what we start.
'San Francisco planners confounded by lack of congestion' was the headline about ten or twenty years ago, when, after the stoppage of work on I-280, with bridges left literally hanging in the air, all interstate traffic west of the bay was diverted onto surface streets, where one is left to find ones ways between the golden gate and points south.Turns out that San Fran's remarkably wide ROW's could easily accommodate the traffic, and those intent on making time from LA to ?, were on I-5 anyway, and oh, a lot of the folks winding their way around the Embarcadero or maybe over to sunset beach, would actually stop, spend a few bucks or maybe even spend the nite...not really a bad deal,for all concerned and I can actually recall seeing that same unfinished bridge dangling there when I was a Kid in kupertino, in 1966...monumental public works indeed...
Many cautioned cautioned against this, but seasoned politiians prevailed in convincing voters to spend and not think. Thank you for calling attention to how much more we're paying for City executives, transportation and practically everything else. Hopefully people will wake up before the next election.
Blame the voters who keep falling for sensitive types like Murray and other shysters who have something to gain. We live on the San Andreas fault. For C's sake, I trusted McGinn whose edgy but honest way was at least truthful. But the good people of our blue region keep falling like suckers for every pie-in-the-sky scheme sold by smooth talkers who come from the left. I am a liberal but I'm smart enough to figure out who is feeding their pockets, who is selling a dream, and who is looking at the facts and telling people to steer clear. I miss McGinn. To hell with the rest of you.
I emailed the City Council about this the other day. They denied all responsibility, saying that it was a "state-funded project". Oddly enough, only Mr. Rasmussen's office replied to my email. Odder still is the fact that he chaired a meeting entitled "Central Waterfront, Seawall, and Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program - Select Committee" in May of this year.

I will continue my inquiry, and will continue to ask difficult questions of the governing principles of our city in order to try to get them to open their eyes to the problems we're facing.
@79 You DO realize that this tunnel may never be finished, right? That it was a bad idea in the first place, and that it WON'T EVEN MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF TRAFFIC, correct?

So, what, exactly, is your point? That we shouldn't be concerned about a $4.2 billion project that has failed so far, that may never be completed, and that won't even improve traffic in Seattle? Why should we not be concerned by this? Why is this not a big issue? Chicken Little, my ass. More like Cassandra.

Keep your head in the sand. You seem to enjoy it there.
"Those changes will cost at least tens of millions of dollars and require years of work. "

Don't worry, we have many years to figure out what to do when the tunnel opens. Decades even.
Saying this is a "transportation" screw up is like saying Jeff Goldblum and the fly teleporting together was a fuck up at the dry cleaners.
I am sorry that this comment is so much like the vast majority of aweful internet comments. However, my gut reaction to reading this well written article

. ( "The state predicted in 2011 that the tunnel would cause roughly as much traffic congestion on city streets as simply tearing down the viaduct and doing nothing")

string them up and let them rot.
The unwritten punchline to the article really should point the finger at the electorate, us.

I've lived here since 1971. Soon thereafter talk about mass transportation began. But only talk. And that talk continued for four decades.

I'd say "we the people" should by now clearly see the modus operandi of local government. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me ten times, shame on me. No sound-minded person in this city could possibly have swallowed the malarkey that a gargantuan tunnel was in any way going to be a more salient solution than the other possible options.

Most of what you say is accurate, but your reference to WPPSS is completely off base. The people of Seattle put LOTS of pressure on Seattle City Light in the 1970's and early 1980's and succeeded in keeping City Light out of the WPPSS plan.

"We live on the San Andreas Fault".

Um, "No, we do not live on the San Andreas Fault." It ends about forty miles out to sea northwest of Fort Bragg California, almost five hundred miles south of Seattle.

In point of fact, the San Andreas Fault ENDS at the boundary of the subsea plate which under runs North America in the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Yes, the stresses which have produced the San Andreas are the same stresses that have produced the off shore fault giving rise to the historic subduction earthquakes the Northwest has experienced. But it's not "The San Andreas Fault". That's just Faux News geology.
The engineers who incorrectly designed the machine. My father was a hydraulic engineer on many tbm's. I used to go down to the Robbins co. With him on weekends. Ever since I have followed tbm industry and other engineering projects. They f'd this one up. The tbm was not designed correctly to withstand the enormous earth pressures and is now deformed. A steel pipe wouldn't cause this type of damage. The cutter heads or teeth are high strength steel and would shed a well casing in seconds. The damaged bearing is due to deformation of the tbm itself. Its oval now. Not unlike humpty dumpty. Just saying
Wrong question. Try who can be held accountable?
Even if this useless boondoggle does get built, it won't be long before predicted sea level rise renders it useless. Would have been smarter to build a waterfront floating bridge...

Thanks Dominic for a great summary of our serious problem which is clearly under water. @76 correctly points the finger at the individual who orchestrated the WSDOT project and smeared those of us who favored an iconic cable stayed bridge. Imagine a one mile long spectacular bridge from the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel landing at Pier 56. Such a bridge is still possible and costing much less than a tunnel --- and that bridge could accommodate 6 lanes, plus bus lanes, with buses connecting above the ferry terminal with elevators down to the ferry terminal and downtown businesses. Could have been a very big win-win!

However, Ron P killed the idea of an iconic bridge by having consultants create a bridge "Alternative" in deep water, out in the SeaTac flight path and in shipping lanes. None of his consultants objections would have had merit if the bridge location would have gone over shallow water, over the aquarium and the ferry terminal -- straight south to Pier 46! All we need is a bridge high enough to allow the ferries below.

Please keep up your quest Dominic!
So much for Socialism. The problem is that socialism only works right up to the point that you run out of other peoples money to spend. So collectively, the blame belongs to each citizen of Seattle who was stupid enough to vote for and support it. Didn't we learn ANYTHING from Boston. What was that saying? Those that fail to learn from history, are destined to repeat it? Oh yes, now I remember it.
I have an idea why it broke. The tunnel boring machine (tbm) was started in mostly fill material angling slightly downward to bore under the city through glacial till (a hard, dense and fairly stable soil. To end up in the till the tbm had to drill with an oblique angle to the till and thus putting a lot of side pressure on the cutter bearing. Also Hitachi/Zozen (manufacturer)was contracted to train a crew to run (a previously untested)the tbm with the caveat that they wouldn't get some of the money until it had bored 1000 feet. Pushing the tbm to dig faster to reach this goal may have contributed to the bearing failure.
The Viaduct was structurally unsafe and needed to be replaced somehow. But building a multi-layer tunnel on shifting sand right on the waterfront? Sure, that's perfectly safe. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, quite a bit, as we've seen by now. Should we expect that constructions will take longer than expected and have some cost overruns? Yes (though it means that the project managers aren't doing their jobs). But here's the thing -- who among us think that when the tunnel finally gets done, that it's going to be SAFE? Who wants to be in the tunnel built on unstable ground, next to the ocean, the next time we have a major earthquake? Not me.

Please wait...

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