Bertha Is About to Drill Under the Viaduct—Here Are Five Questions That Still Haven't Been Answered

You Won't Believe Number 5! (Or, Actually, at This Point You Probably Will)


Can you imagine the apocalyptic regional traffic clusterfuck if the Viaduct has to be closed? We would be fucked for years.

Oh yeah, I can imagine it now. Remember the traffic after the Nisqually quake? Which, incidentally, is why The Stranger's 'surface option' was never a real option.
It was a real mess right after earthquake, with traffic even spilling over to Beacon Avenue.

But really, I wouldn't be sad if this was the thing that took the viaduct out. It needs to go, without taking anyone with it.
at this point, the Stranger's the-sky-is-falling editorializing/reporting ("really, the state's whole presentation on drilling beneath the viaduct felt brief and perfunctory" - was it? or did it just FEEL that way?) has put me solidly on the side of STP and the Geotech Engineers.

IF a sinkhole opens under the viaduct columns, it's fucked. duh. it will have to come down sooner rather than later.

but didn't we want the Surface Solution all along? we'll get to see how that idea works while the rest of the tunnel is drilled.

Yeah, totally, we don't need the viaduct OR the tunnel, that will totally work with an influx of 1500 people moving here every week!
Why does everyone think that more roads are the solution? Maybe this money should've been spent aggressively on public transit infrastructure. The vast majority of the time I used the viaduct was to exit onto Seneca and that won't be possible with this thing. People are just going to use I-5 instead of being routed straight into the train wreck that is Mercer. U-Link has completely changed my commute. If they ever finish this stupid thing, they should put light rail in it.
@5: that's not what's going to happen, and "everyone" doesn't think roads are the solution. only WSDOT, the Port of Seattle, and presumably the Feds (99 is a US Highway).

the Port wanted the tunnel for "freight mobility" (although Semis hauling containers north through it aren't going anywhere once they reach Green Lake and traffic lights extending to the Canadian Border), and the Port gets what it wants.

it is what it is, and it's not being built to accommodate rail.
No question #6? if the viaduct shows signs of collapse, let's say toward the ferry terminal (as Bertha crosses under west to east, yes?), what emergency contingency plans have been prepared? Will all ferry traffic be cancelled for the foreseeable? (question #7: does The Stranger have a whiteboard pool of Bertha related crises? if so, put $5 down for me on "subsides more than five degrees - closed for good")
@7 I don't understand what you're asking me. @5 is saying the tunnel should add light rail. I said they won't. where's the "no question"?

I have no idea what the contingency plan for the Coleman dock is. the "viaduct collapses and blocks vehicle access" scenario is rather remote, I'd bet. more likely is your scenario. does that mean Alaskan way is shut too? IDK. I know they're much further under the surface now than they were at the sinkhole location. maybe >75' now?
@8: some @ and # confusion? There are five questions asked in the original posting, (well barely five), i was blathering on that more questions could to be added, and not asking any other specific commenter anything specific, in a specific sense.
@6: 99 is a state highway, not federal. And, yeah, they certainly wanted it. Problem is, we're stuck with the flipping mess it has created and will continue to create for at least 2 more yrs.
@9: oh shit I am so grumpy lately. apologies.
@10: WAS, I guess. IS SR99.

are the Feds throwing down for this project?
per this (…) yes. About $787 million, or 25, of the total 3.137 billion.
@1, @3 - the Surface and Transit Option (rip) was supposed to get a metric crap ton of money for surface street improvements, signalling changes, more bus/light rail service, a more accessible waterfront that could still carry decent traffic, etc etc.
We're approaching the nightmare scenario we foresaw THEN - where we have to close and eventually tear down the viaduct, have no tunnel, and have spent nothing getting the surface streets and transit ready for it.
I am a huge fan of tunnels. I prefer train tunnels, but until Amazon get's it's drone deliveries going, I get the need for cars and trucks. It's too bad that this tunnel project is so unpopular. Traffic is always going to suck, but once the viaduct is gone, the peace and quiet that will come to the waterfront will make it a contender as one of our most popular walkable neighborhoods.
Courtesy of WSDOT on Youtube...
Earthquake sim:…
Tunnel boring sim:…

I want into that pool, too. Put my $5 in for "excited to see this thing get stuck under a building" halfway through the project.

Five really stupid questions posing extremely unlikely scenarios. What if the Aurora Bridge collapsed tomorrow? What if the new floating bridge sunk tomorrow? What if the Sun didn't rise tomorrow? What if the sky fell? The decision to tunnel on has been made. Take a Xanax.
You meant take a Soma
A Bertha-induced viaduct collapse is probably the best of all possible scenarios. The Viaduct is already damaged to a degree that was decided to be unsafe, then retroactively proclaimed to be safe enough by a state DOT that didn't want to face closing it.

Having it collapse when it is closed and nobody gets hurt, and having an obsolete viaduct instead of a non-obsolete downtown building or two get damaged by Bertha-caused subsidence are both wins over the alternatives.

Then Seattle can get busy with the business of figuring out how to live without the viaduct.
Question 6: Where any lessons learned from Boston's Big Dig fiasco?

I just don't get how people thought this was ever going to be a good idea. How many feet has gone? It looks like 1,400ft I see that it hasn't even tunneled 20% of the way yet. How long has it been, 2-3 years?

City of Seattle governance believe in accountability.
Aaaaand, look at that! The viaduct opens a week early with not even a sign of damage. So much for the apocalyptic bullshit Stranger.