Seattle's Tunnel Debacle Continues

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Check out Dominic Holden's assessment of the Seattle City Council actions to allow the State to replace Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel in the Stranger's What Could Possibly Go Wrong, July 7, 2010.

Some highlights:

  • Seattle City Council is likely to approve a contract that gives the State of Washington permission to dig a 54-foot-wide tunnel under downtown Seattle.
  • Cost estimates are at $4.2 billion to replace the viaduct with the tunnel.
  • 2009 State law says that Seattle property owners must bear cost overruns and the state won't pay more than $2.8 billion.
  • Independent analysis of 258 massive transportation projects by Bent Flyvbjerg indicates that 9 out of 10 transportation megaprojects run over their estimates and, for tunnel and bridge projects, actual costs are on average 34% higher than estimated.

Most importantly, why build the tunnel in the first place! "The current Alaskan Way Viaduct carries about 110,000 cars a day. Once the tunnel opens in 2015, the number of cars using Highway 99 through downtown Seattle will drop to 46,000 cars a day, according to a tolling study by the state....Cars that want to go downtown can't use the tunnel because it will have no downtown exits," explains Dominic Holden. The city street grid will pick up the difference.

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