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#ReturnBertha: Why we don’t need to finish the downtown tunnel highway

A replacement highway is already planned on the waterfront.
A replacement highway is already planned on the waterfront. Do we even need the tunnel?

While we here at Seattle Bike Blog have been very much against the Highway 99 deep bore highway tunnel all along, it was mostly because it is too expensive for what we were going to get. Basically, by investing in transit, I-5 capacity and active transportation, we could tear down the viaduct and have no need for the highway tunnel, initially anticipated to cost $2 billion.

But while the boring machine to be named Bertha was to be the widest such machine ever constructed, I did not actually doubt the tunnel could be built. People have built some crazy things, after all.

But now the state has admitted that after traveling only 1,000 feet, Bertha is broken. The machine will not be able to move until at least summer, and I am not the only person who has lost faith in the machine’s ability to complete its journey. Right now, there is surface space to dig a hole down to the machine for repairs if needed, but what if it breaks down underneath the downtown core or the viaduct?

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But even assuming Bertha is fixable and capable of continuing on its now-massively-over-budget journey, there is another recent revelation that should ease people’s fears about removing the viaduct without first digging the tunnel: The state already plans to build a surface highway on the waterfront, even if the tunnel is built. Once people get a look at how wide this surface highway is, any fears that there will not be enough space for cars should be eased:

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.18.48 AMWe argued strongly against this waterfront highway (what planners call a “boulevard”), essentially saying that if the tunnel highway were built, then there should not also be a highway on the waterfront. But if the tunnel project is scrapped, perhaps the planned design for the waterfront highway could be an acceptable compromise.

Simply put, the tunnel will not generate enough economic activity to justify its initial cost estimate. Now that massive overruns are essentially certain (I’m not looking forward to the argument over who will pay them), there is no question that the tunnel will be a giant money pit for our city and state.

At a time when the Seattle area is doing so many things right, let’s not make a mistake so big that it drags us down.

How much money are we talking about? Well, I made a graph to put some of the Seattle area’s transportation project costs in perspective. The scale of the graph is huge, but it’s not arbitrary: This is how tall the graph needed to be in order for the cost of one mile of protected bike lanes to have visible pixels:

chart_1-6The graph shows how unimaginably massive just the tunnel portion of the viaduct replacement project is. Now imagine that line growing as cost overruns pile on.

Right now, Bertha is in a place where we could dig down and remove the machine. This is a blessing for a project surrounded by omens. Let’s pull it out of the ground, return it to Hitachi (its maker) and try to recover as much of the remaining tunnel budget as possible. Even if we only recover a quarter of the budget, that’s roughly equivalent to an entire year of King County Metro service (which, I remind you, is facing cuts).

Mayor Ed Murray has already announced that the city will move ahead on its needed seawall replacement project. Likewise, the state can move forward with the viaduct removal and waterfront reconstruction without the tunnel.

In fact, maybe that should be the game plan moving forward: Tear down the viaduct, rebuild the waterfront and reconnect the street grid with the planned surface highway. Leave the tunnel how it is and see how things go without it. If traffic is simply too bad, then we can restart digging where we left off and build the tunnel. If it’s not too bad, then we just saved an astounding amount of money, which will be available to the state for other needs.

And hey, the 1,000-foot tunnel we’ve dug so far need not be a waste of money entirely. There are cooler things we can do with that space:

Source photos from WSDOT and Chris Dube
Source photos from WSDOT and Chris Dube

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59 responses to “#ReturnBertha: Why we don’t need to finish the downtown tunnel highway”

  1. I am just as skeptical of the need for the tunnel as you, but it is a moot point. It’s been decided and it is going to happen despite some delays. I’m not sure of the point of wasting “ink” railing against the tunnel. Doing so was part of McGinn’s undoing.

    1. It was McGinn’s undoing, but damn if he wasn’t right!

  2. GlenBu

    If they keep going with the tunnel, we should at the very least cancel the plan for the waterfront highway. Nobody can justify building both.

    1. Eric

      Yes- exactly- the focus needs to go on claiming the waterfront for pedestrians and cyclists and making sure the tunnel is good for buses and carpools. That’s what needs to be covered on behalf of the bike community.

      Continuing to piss into the wind on the tunnel rebuild makes it look like bikers are part of the 40% that opposed the tunnel with McGinn and can be marginalized along with him. The position actively hurts the ability of the bike community to engage productively on the waterfront rebuild. It makes bikers look like Republicans talking about improvements to Obamacare- you suspect all their contributions are really about screwing things up more so they can be proven right and have Obamacare repealed.

      There’s also a few deeply dishonest things in this article:
      – Sound Transit light rail is a 50 billion dollar project so far, so if that had been included in his graph then the 4 billion dollar tunnel would look like virtually no money.
      – The machine is still under warranty and tunneling is hardly state of the art. This will get fixed and the project will be finished. You are only speaking for wishful ideologues who hate the tunnel in saying “I am not the only person who has lost faith in the machine’s ability to complete its journey”.
      – Cancelling this project at this point would cost the city more than going forward. Not only has most of the money been spent, but any replacement effort would have to be funded by Seattle as the state would obviously just pull the funds at this point.

      This blog is great! Please stop poisoning it and making bikers look like a bunch of idiots by advocating for this position.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks for the compliment on the blog. I write pretty unfiltered, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write.

        There is so much risk and budget at stake with the tunnel, it’s important to stay engaged. When new issues arise, it is simply wise to step back and reassess.

        I did let the tunnel go — begrudgingly, sure — and moved on to a focus on the waterfront “boulevard” highway. I agree, it needs to be calm and safe for people, which the current design is not.

        I also recently spoke highly of plans to reconnect the street grid across Aurora, a product of the tunnel project: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/02/10/temporary-mercer-walkbike-path-under-aurora-finally-connects-dexter-to-lower-queen-anne/

        Like I said in the story, I am honestly surprised that the tunnel machine is breaking down. I thought it would make it. Being the widest deep bore tunnel ever certainly increases the risk that it would go over-budget, but I had faith it would make it. Now, I’m not so sure.

        Now that it is broken, I think that changes things and it is wise to reassess the situation. The odds of an even worse problem (the machine breaking underneath downtown) seem pretty big right now, much bigger than it seemed when we started.

        It’s simply responsible to update our numbers, look at the new cost estimates, new risk assessment and scope of the project benefits to make sure we really want to keep going. Because we can pull out now and maybe recover some cash. Soon, that option will go away.

        I saw this post more as a “make lemonade” sort of argument.

      2. It’s not a waterfront highway. The section with all the lanes is only a couple of blocks long, where is it necessary to queue vehicles for the ferry terminal, and to have bus lanes, through traffic lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks. Car pools through the tunnel won’t do much good for West Seattle, for example, because the tunnel has no exit that will get car pools into downtown. But West Seattle does need to have bus routes into downtown on dedicated lanes on Alaska Way as far as Columbia St. Hysteria over a “waterfront highway” and the expectation that Alaskan Way could be just for bikes, pedestrians and maybe one vehicle lane each way will also make bike advocates look unrealistic and unreasonable.

  3. Tom isn’t the only one with the idea of converting tunnels into something better. Check out the proposal by a Paris mayoral candidate: “Abandoned train tunnels in Paris could get new life as nightclubs or swimming pools”.

    Also could happen to the Battery Street Tunnel.

  4. Jeff Dubrule

    Heck yeah! Let’s end To Bertha To Fail!

    1. Joel S.

      This project just went full Bertha.

  5. This is the BEST chance to stop a WORTHLESS road project since the late lamented Tim Hill tried to stop the West Seattle Freeway. Let’s DO it!

  6. bill

    I agree the tunnel is crazy. But pulling the plug at this point is even crazier. Half or more of the budget has been spent already http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2014/01/half-the-highway-99-tunnel-money-already-spent/. Federal grant money has been spent. State tax money has been spent. Bonds have been sold, with repayment predicated on tolls, collecting which requires an operating tunnel. If we throw away all that federal and state taxpayer money and private bond money, good luck with getting future Federal transportation grants, even tiny ones like for the Westlake cyclepath project much less for a Columbia River bridge. WA governments — cities, counties, and state — will find it more expensive to sell bonds. How is that going to sit in the Seattle-hating red counties of our state? Killing the tunnel now has wide and long-lasting repercussions. After the monorail debacle, if we fail again at another major transportation project, Seattle will acquire the reputation as the City that Blinks.

    And on a practical note, which government has the authority to cancel the tunnel? The construction contracts must have cancellation clauses. What are the penalties?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I would like to see those numbers all pulled out so we can look at our options and compare them to expected cost overruns. You may be right, or maybe we can pay back grants and bonds and cancellation fees and still save money. We’re talking about billions here, after all.

      1. bill

        Long term, canceling could be folly a-la the monorail or visionary similar to cities that have demolished freeways. The negative consequences of canceling are more clear.

    2. Becka

      That’s the “sunk cost” logical fallacy. We’ve spent half the budget – and accomplished almost nothing. Just because we wasted a lot of money already doesn’t mean we need to spend even more.

      1. Wells

        Bill says, “The negative consequences of cancelling are more clear.” While true, the positive consequences of cancelling are exponentially more valuable long-term, when considering basic physics, ie, the bore tunnel fails intended objectives.
        The Drill-Fill Seafence (seawall replacement technique)
        only achieves substandard benchmarks.
        The Bore Tunnel displaced traffic management worsens.
        Consequences of earthquake vulnerability worsened.
        Water table flow management made worse.
        Spawning and salmonid habitat worse.

        Seattle does NOT have competent personelle devising
        project restoration assessments. Good Grief, you turds.

  7. JB

    I have mixed feelings about the tunnel – while I’m generally not in favor of big new car infrastructure, it seems pretty clear that once a city reaches a certain level of intensity, it needs to move people underground to function smoothly (see San Francisco, New York, Boston, D.C, Paris, London etc etc). Whether the tunnel is initially for cars or transit seems almost beside the point, the bottom line is that it is a massive investment in Seattle’s mobility and urban intensity – and I think that will prove to be a good thing in the end. Furthermore, if we really must have cars in the city, why not put them underground and let the walkers, bikers and transit users have the fresh air and interesting views at street level.

    1. Kimberly Kinchen

      If this project were moving mass transit underground, yes, and that’s what most of the underground infrastructure in those cities you mention consists of. It’s not for cars, which, if you’re really interested in quality of life in a dense city, we need to be de-prioritize.

      1. JB

        I couldn’t agree more about de-prioritizing cars – but by expanding the overall pot of transportation capacity, we should theoretically find it easier to make room at the surface for more bikes, buses and streetcars. It will still be a block-by-block battle for a while, but maybe an easier one than if we didn’t have the tunnel.

      2. Josh

        While it would certainly cost more than building the tunnel for transit in the first place, in the long run, the tunnel can be retrofitted for transit if the era of the personal car tapers away.

        You’d never get the political will to build it for transit from the outset, not with the huge subsidy the tunnel requires from car-oriented parts of the state. But once it’s built…

  8. Beautiful, sad graphic for project costs! We need to get that out there to everybody complaining about how we are spending all this money on paint stripes. But the waterfront roadway section is misleading. That is for just a couple of blocks where there is ferry queuing and bus access. Most of the roadway is really not like that. The ferry queuing is better put on Alaksan Way than somehow backing it up onto other streets or putting it over water.

  9. JB

    Another note – I saw where the group in charge of setting tolls for the tunnel is looking at a larger regional congestion charging scheme to mitigate the problem of traffic diversion to avoid the tunnel toll. I don’t know if the driving public is quite ready to hear about congestion charging, but it is going to be a big issue eventually – really the only way to rationalize peak demand with the limited street capacity in a big city. When we implement congestion charging it will be a huge step forward for these types of discussions about what kind of road capacity we really need to keep traffic moving in the city.

  10. AB

    The idea that by abandoning the tunnel, State funds (from gas tax) earmarked to complete the tunnel can be spent on other projects (or on transit) is not realistic (or legal).

    Plus, while the tunnel is delayed, its not clear if some (or any) of the costs associated with the delay will be borne by State taxpayers. That project is design-build, and in this case the design-builder (DB) purchased Bertha on their own (from Hitachi Zosen). If they have an issue with Bertha (bad seals), then that issue is between them and the manufacturer. Tunnels are tricky/risky business, but plenty have been built in Seattle.

    As for the talk of “Waterfront Highway”.. .that is just hyperbole. This “highway” you are referring to is a 30 mph city street with signals and crosswalks at every intersection. The street is big at the southern end because half of its lanes are for Colman Dock, and RapidRide. At its widest, the new Alaskan Way has 8 lanes, 2 of those are for the ferry dock, and 2 more are for dedicated transit lanes.

    So, unless you were planning on relocating Colman Dock and finding another route for the RapidRide C line, the new Alaskan Way will need to be big in the southern end. Thankfully, once north of Colman Dock, the new street narrows down to 4 lanes from the waterfront, and on up into Belltown. So once you take away the ferries and transit, there isn’t a whole lot of “space for cars” on the waterfront.

    1. JB

      30 mph is too fast in a city. 20 would be a more appropriate design speed for this street.

      1. JAT

        I disagree. 20 makes sense for a residential street. This will be a major thoroughfare and while traffic conditions will frequently make 30 impracticable (see what I did there?) when conditions allow, 30 is entirely appropriate.

        If you designate a speed limit so low that no users follow it and no agencies enforce it what have you actually accomplished?

      2. JB

        That’s why the street should be _designed_ for 20 – then people will drive that speed regardless of what the signs say or whether the cops enforce it. Every document I’ve seen refers to this as being an urban street, not a “major thoroughfare.” Well, urban streets prioritize people over cars, and people get killed when traffic moves at 30 mph. 20 is a much safer speed where vehicles are mixing with large numbers of people on foot.

    2. The speed limit says one thing. The lane widths, number of lanes, and relationship to buildings and sidewalks say another; these are the elements that really define the “design speed” of the road, and it’s designed like a road where people go much faster. It’s designed similarly to (and has similar functions to) Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (the surface portion), where the speed limit is mostly over 40 and typical speeds are even faster. Furthermore, WSDOT will probably impose signal timings intended to keep throughput high, and given that parts of the road will carry the main mass transit routes to/from West Seattle they’ll have a lot of pressure to do so from all involved. These long signal cycles also encourage faster driving.

  11. ac6752

    This is how tall the graph needed to be in order for the cost of one mile of protected bike lanes to have visible pixels:

    I can see a smidgen of red at 500% zoom!

  12. Allan

    I cannot imagine a more wastful project. While we were arguing over the tunnel I noticed that France had just spanned an entire valley with a road viaduct 1100 feet high and I’ll bet it didn’t cost 2 billion dollars either. The tunnel has shown to be so stupid and expensive that any other idea would have been better. Maybe somebody is making a lot of money off of it. We should have just repaired the viaduct and spent the extra somewhere else.
    Well, if we are going to do crazy things here is an idea to connect the entire city and do it cheaper than any other way, and run it cheaper on energy and labor than any other way and keep the contracts in state, maybe to Boeing. We could have created a real ton of jobs. Are you ready? Hold on. Here we go. Roller coasters linking all points of the entire city. Well, they wouldn’t be like amusement park coasters, but they would use the same principles of construction so they could be placed right over city streets. They would however use the principle of a motor at the start point which would engage a comfortable enclosed mini train and boost it up to a high enough elevation so that gravity would take it to the next stop. The motor at each station could be powered by oil, gas, electricity, steam, maybe even solar. Roller coasters don’t have motors or drivers, so they are cheap to run and they have already proven to be reliable while turning upside down and side ways. Our transportation system would not have any sharp turns or wild bumps so it would be really safe. There could not be a cheaper way to move a lot of people around. They could carry a huge load of passengers, at Disney land they run them about 30 to 60 seconds apart sometimes. Would this be a better investment than the tunnel? Do I deserve royalties for thinking of it?

    1. Herp

      You just described a version of light rail designed by someone with a background in cartoons as opposed to engineering. We’re already building light rail.

      1. Allan

        Obviously this would be a lot lighter than light rail. No drivers, no cross streets where people and cars can get slammed. No need to run electricity all down the whole route. Energy and car companies would block it of course. So far the tunnel seems to have been designed by someone with a background in cartoons and they read Edgar Rice Burroughs books.

    2. Jonathan Mark

      That would definitely work. However even more efficient might be something like the system used in Chasm City (in science fiction novels by Alistair Reynolds) which has an extensive network of guide wires strung above and throughout the city. Vehicles slide along these wires and automatically make transitions from one wire to another (maybe with some free fall in between).

      1. Allan

        It would suck to miss your transition

    3. Wells

      Allan, your roller coaster idea? Do a few simple route arrangements. Take advantage of hills, hill-climbing. You’ll end up with monorail, single-track, Exposition Hall rooftop station up 4th to Seattle Center.
      Return along SR99 Waterfront then Railway Ave for a complete loop.
      Arena District to Seattle Center.

      Station stops:
      Pike Place Market, Coleman Dock, Expo Hall Rooftop/Arena District
      King Street Station, 4th Ave Uptown, Central Library, Westlake Mall
      KOMO Station. Loop around Seattle Center.

  13. Jonathan Mark

    A concert venue would be interesting, but I wonder what it would sound like in there.

    Maybe a partial tunnel could be used for power generation? Let seawater pass through turbines and flood the tunnel, then pump it back up during off-peak hours at low tide.

  14. Allan

    Is the tunnel earthquake proof or does everybody die?

    1. Jay

      1: Bertha broke…Why did it break? Does’t the contract state some kind of guarantee this tool can do this job it was purchased to do? Who would spend that kind of money buying a tool without ensuring it can do the job?

      2: The Seattle area is past due for a category 10 earthquake. Neither the via-duct or the tunnel (or pretty much any other human construction) would likely withstand that kind of quake. Allan…everybody dies in that kind of quake…sorry.

      3: Initially I thought the tunnel was a “very very” bad idea. Beefing up the ugly existing via-duct seems like the best answer to me. It’s not pretty but it is essential to have this kind of option for north/south commuting thru Seattle due to the I-5 bottle neck downtown. In light of the pressure to remove the via-duct and the general concession to do so the tunnel is only a “very” bad idea because in order to replace the via-duct with another pretty via-duct or other waterfront surface road, it would likely necessitate completely tearing down the old via-duct first which would leave the I-5 bottleneck as the only N/S way thru Seattle for some long undetermined length of time. This would cause massive congestion for too long to be reasonable, unless prior to doing this the I-5 bottleneck was fixed.

      1. Josh

        The tunnel would undoubtedly need to be closed to traffic after an earthquake, pending inspection of the tunnel roadway and the approaches, but a well-made tunnel generally shouldn’t collapse on its occupants during a quake — the tunnel moves *with* the ground, it doesn’t whip around like a tall building or lift off the ground like a house that isn’t bolted to its foundation.

        If I remember correctly, the tunnel is designed to withstand in excess of a 9.0 quake, a 1-in-2500-year event in the Seattle area.

        It would be terrifying, of course, but should be a survivable event as long as a chain-reaction crash doesn’t turn the tunnel into an oven.

      2. Orv

        I’d also note that the Bay Area has frequent earthquakes and also has many underground train tunnels, some of which are underwater. So far no one’s died in one that I’m aware of.

      3. Jay

        What was the magnitude of the quakes in the Bay area? I don’t remember hearing any of the magnitude mentioned in the Wikipedia excerpt below. Also the local geology makes a lot of difference of the impact of a quake. Most of the Seattle waterfront is fill dirt, if I remember my Seattle underground tour guide correctly, and would likely liquify with a large earthquake.
        From Wikipedia “Cascadia Subduction zone”:

        Forecasts of the next major earthquake[edit]
        Recent findings concluded the Cascadia subduction zone was more hazardous than previously suggested. The feared next major earthquake has some geologists predicting a 10% to 14% probability that the Cascadia Subduction Zone will produce an event of magnitude 9 or higher in the next 50 years;[14] however, the most recent studies suggest that this risk could be as high as 37% for earthquakes of magnitude 8 or higher.[15][16]
        Geologists and civil engineers have broadly determined that the Pacific Northwest region is not well prepared for such a colossal earthquake. The tsunami produced may reach heights of approximately 30 meters (100 ft).[17] The earthquake is expected to be similar to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, as the rupture is expected to be as long as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

      4. Orv

        Jay – It’s true that the waterfront is largely fill, but the tunneling machine is below that, at a depth that’s mostly glacial till.

        The Bay Area quakes were considerably weaker — around 6.7 — but it’s worth noting that the tunnels performed much better than many of the local bridges. Elevated structures are affected by an “inverted pendulum” effect that enhances the shaking.


        Still possible
        More stable
        No threat to buildings
        Manages traffic better
        Manages water table flow better
        Better utility relocation/access
        Better emergency escape/faster
        Better Seawall actually necessary
        Better spawning & salmonids.

        Bertha MUST BE REMOVED
        Wait for it….
        To Morr ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….!!!

      6. Wells

        “A rebuilt Boulevard or Cut/Cover Tunnel/Seawall option necessitates ‘completely’ tearing down the AWV first, leaving the I-5 bottleneck the only N/S corridor thru Seattle for a long length of time, cause massive congestion to be reasonable” so says Jay.

        However, consider: The “stacked” Cut/Cover Tunnel/Seawall, accepted for the 2009 FEIS, was the only cut-cover possible without (completely) tearing down the AWV first. The ‘stacked’ cut-cover version was concealled from voters during the 2007 Referendum; Only the more ‘disruptive’ cut-cover tunnel options reviewed/critiqued rigged that voter referendum. Who rigged it? Ranier Club Boys, of course, plus cronies selling cars over at Warshdot and Sdot and Metro and SoundTransit, also well-dressed know-it-alls spouting reflexive altruisms confidently, unquestionably, how dare you question ‘our’ authoritee?

      7. Margaret Bartley

        1) The tunnel boring machine is still under warranty from the manufacturer, Hitachi-Zosen, until it reaches 1,300 feet. It got stuck at 1,025 feet, so legally, the city could return the machine to the manufacturer. But the machine is only $80 million out of the $2 billion.
        When you ask, “why did it break?”, there are a wide variety of ways to look at it.
        *It was broken in Japan, in the testing. Maybe it was not properly repaired there.
        *It was designed to bore through rock, not fill.
        *When it came upon something it could not bore, the operators kept it going, burning out the bearings.

    2. Wells

      Allan, concerns about structural & hydrological integrity are warranted.
      After the giant bore tunnel is (if) completed, predicted earthquake damage
      increases, settling unstoppable, inevitable condemnations and demolition, sudden collapse in even moderate shakes too likely. The long-term prospects worsen. Growing water sump surrounding bore at depth spreads at now lower levels, creating cavernous collapsable voids a mere 100′ beneath 100′ and 300′ tall buildings. The tube will first slightly sway, then swing, then wiggle like a worm in mud, vibrations that will shake any loose building among many, forced demolition the entire length of the Deep Bore Tunnel FRAUD.

  15. Orv

    To play devil’s advocate: The first 1500 feet were generally acknowledged to be the most challenging for tunnel boring, and were also designated as an area to find and fix problems with the machine, because of its accessibility. There’s no reason to assume the entire project will be as problem-prone as the first 1500 feet.

    I’m no tunnel fan — I was in favor of an elevated replacement — but I think stopping the project now would be premature.


    Still possible
    More stable
    No threat to buildings
    Manages traffic better
    Manages water table flow better
    Better utility relocation/access
    Better emergency escape/faster
    Better Seawall actually necessary
    Better spawning & salmonids.

    Now you know why I say
    Seattlers and ‘Seattlites’ lah-lah… setting things afire… lah-lah…
    wait for it….

    Howdya like that thar arguemint, pals, gals, guys,
    men, women, parents, grandparents, relatives.

    1. Orv

      Cut and cover tunnels are very disruptive to build and extremely prone to cost overruns…the infamous Boston “Big Dig” was a cut-and-cover tunnel.

  17. Cut and cover: Think Boston Big Dig, or Washington DC subways, where tons of businesses folded when streets were dug up for ages, and it was nearly impossible to get around.
    No threat to buildings? Deep, deep shoring next to buildings is no threat?
    The tunnel route goes right under buildings, including the one I work in. How do you route a cut and cover through downtown at an angle without doing this?
    Better utility relocation? The utilities have already been relocated. We have lived through a couple years of it on Western and Alaskan Way. They would have to dig them up and relocate them again for cut and cover. There’s no magic easy way, but there are already two big tunnels under downtown – railroad and bus/lightrail – so it is possible.

    1. Alright don & orv & any of the rest of you, oh so smart ones, you gotta hear this counter-point disagreement with YOUR conclusions about Cut-Cover tunnels.

      At least 10 basic Cut-Cover options, all more disruptive than the “accepted” Stacked C-C/Seawall, submitted unfairly to public and “concealled” from voter review during the 2007 Referendum. The only version possible while AWV remains and operating, “censored” from public discourse.

      Anyway, the portals near Pike & Jackson are also ‘least disruptive’ with NO tunnelling under buildings. Battery Tunnel is indeed in usable condition.
      Street rebuild plans add more street than parkspace. SR99 traffic would be covered with much wider walkway, plaza & groundspace potential.

      How can you not see these advantages? Over in Denny Triangle, the ongoing construction CAN lead to the same reconnecting of John, Thomas, Harrison streets (an extended Battery Street Tunnel with actually better southbound access). Lower Belltown has 2 options, both worthy and better than Bertha.

      MercerWest is going to ruin MercerEast.
      MercerEast potential could be overrun with MercerWest traffic
      on only a little less already over-trafficked Mercer.

      Oh it’s a mess alright
      AND YOU ARE WRONG, whoever you are,
      if you think Sdot accepts competent highway recommendations.

      So anyway, you’re wrong on most points.
      Just repeating what the man lets you know,
      you know?
      Bertha is ka-put!
      This whole repair the bearing scenario is probably fake.
      Bertha is done.
      So, Hooray for the bikers! Oh wait. They’re into the bore tunnel NEW
      Parklandia Place. Watch fish die, wonderland extravaganzia spiffy dump!

      1. Jayne

        You do realize you come across as a crackpot, right? There is a reason nobody will listen to you and it’s not a big coverup conspiracy.

  18. Donald Read

    Lets look at the bright side.
    Get Bertha out of town….
    Then we have a new tourist attraction the Bertha bore of 2013-14. Sort of like the road to nowhere.

    1. Wells

      My viewpoint on the Cut-Cover construction “attraction” suggested tourism was possible. Watching a Seawall being built, block after block, is manageable and spurs design options.

      Hopefully better design options than the Waterfront Design Committee now think are all just utterly like cool, man because, like, you know, for sure, whatever happens, like, would be cool, except for Bertha destroying Old Town, that was like, bad, and like Bertha is still down there, vibrating, like oh well, whatever, man. Jerk.


  19. […] Well, it looks like engineers have figured out what it will take to get Bertha going again.  She should be up and running just in time for the tourism season.  I wonder if there’s a way we can capitalize on that with tours.  Vendor them out at ten percent after expenses and use the rest of the money to compensate merchants along the route for the inconvenience.  We have also learned that this tunnel may not even be necessary.  Yep, for more, please go here. […]

  20. […] On the waterfront plan – contradictions abound | Crosscut.com – “In some ways, it’s a highway disguised as a park.” Yup. […]

  21. […] We do not need the tunnel highway. It was an appealing idea to many that the tunnel be in operation before the viaduct is demolished, but it no longer seems wise to tie viaduct teardown work to the endlessly delayed tunnel schedule. We’ve run out of time. The viaduct must be torn down or it is going to come down on its own. […]

  22. Matthew Temblor

    Pathetic idea.. perverted by self interest. We have the metro tunnel (DT/SODO to UW and then Northgate)
    We have a train Tunnel dug almost 100 years ago. We tunnels under 1st Hill (I-90)
    We can handle finishing this tunnel and we will have a quiet park, recreation and open space on the water front. Not a ridiculous highway.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      That’s the problem: This waterfront freeway is part of the project even if the tunnel is completed.

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Bike Events Calendar

all-day Gorge Ride 2024
Gorge Ride 2024
Jun 15 all-day
Registration will open at www.gorgeride.eventbrite.com about February 1.  Advance registration closes at midnight, June 10. The ride extends 19.25 miles along the historic highway and state trail west to the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West[…]
6:00 pm South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
Jun 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Joint meeting between Rainier Valley Greenways & Beacon Hill Safe Streets.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Jun 20 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
1:00 pm Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Jun 23 @ 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot | Redmond | Washington | United States
Join this 13 mile bike ride around Redmond at a Leisurely pace. We’ll visit various sites both old and new as I tell stories about the city that was once known as Salmonberg.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
5:30 pm Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Jun 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Last Monday of the month.  Join us! https://seattlegreenways.org/downtowngreenwaysShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
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