– Ben Martens


Seattle’s Big Dig

sr99viaductprojectSeattle is in the middle of an enormous construction project. I haven’t┬ákept up with the details, but my general impression was that it was a financial disaster. I spent a little time doing some research into the current state of the project and how far it has come:

  • The double decker highway, SR 99, going right along the waterfront is in severe need of replacement. The 2001 earthquake damaged it and it is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s also a terrible spot for an elevated highway. It runs like a big scar right along the beautiful waterfront creating a dark, gloomy, wet area that you have to walk through to get to the waterfront. The plan was to bore underneath it. You know, right next to the ocean. What could go wrong?
  • It is the widest bored tunnel ever attempted.
  • The initial budet was $3.1 billion and started in 2011. It was scheduled to be done in 2015. The tunnel boring part was expected to take 14 months.
  • At the point when the tunnel was 10% complete, the state had spent 70% of it’s money.
  • The drilling machine, Big Bertha, has moved 1437 feet. That’s about 15% of the total distance.
  • Problems so far have included the machine getting stuck, the machine breaking and needing major repairs, and the ground caving in.
  • When the machine broke, it was down for two years. There’s no way to back it out so they had to dig a huge hole to get down and repair it in place.
  • Even parts of the project that don’t involve tunneling are over-budget. Replacing the seawall along Alaskan Way was a $331 million dollar project which is already about $100 million over budget.
  • The most recent estimate I could find for completion was March 2018. Complete rebuilding of the waterfront will stretch into 2019.
  • I couldn’t find anything that gives a recent estimate of the actual cost of the project. It seems like most people just shrug, laugh and cry.

I get why people thought this was a good idea. It would be beautiful to hide all that traffic and really beautify the area, but the discussions now are not around what would be beautiful, but rather, when should they cut bait and run. And of course, if they do decide to stop, they still have the original problem of the decrepit double decker SR 99 to deal with. It’s anybody’s guess how (and when) this one will turn out.

Uncle Dean and Aunt Sandy

A couple weeks ago, we had a great visit from Uncle Dean and Aunt Sandy. They came out a few years back with Mom and Dad for a week, but that was before we had our house and they had to rent a place to stay. This time we were able to be much better hosts and give them an actual guest room.

Thankfully the weather cooperated pretty well and we were able to go to Gas Works Park and the Ballard Locks on Sunday afternoon. It was great to see them again and introduce them to Elijah!


Seattle Waterfront

I’m an eastsider. Just about the only time I venture into Seattle is when we have guests in town. And since my parents were in town, we decided to head downtown to check out the “new” Ferris wheel. We started at Pike Place Market, walked down to the carousel, rode the Ferris wheel and then finished up with lunch at Anthony’s fish bar. Elijah woke up really early that morning but he did a great job even though he got a late nap. He was a little nervous in the Ferris wheel but ended up doing fine. We had never eaten at Anthony’s fish bar and only chose that because Ivar’s was closed during the construction on the waterfront, but I think we’ll go back. The food was good and they validated our parking for the parking garage at the art institute. Good deal!

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