Is a new 520 Bridge Fully Funded?

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

It depends on what the definition of the word “is” is.

Mike at CIS relates the story of an impassioned Councilman Reagan Dunn arguing that the bridge is, in fact, fully funded:

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn–who was deeply involved with the RTID portion of Prop 1–took particular umbrage to the accusation that 520 is not fully funded. He insists all the funding sources have been secured, except for the Prop 1 portion and tolls, and it was the only time he got emotional in that hour-long forum.

Comes now the Seattle Times which says yes, as long as you assume that (a) Prop. 1 passes, (b) tolling starts on both I-90 and SR-520, and (c) some federal grants come though.

So yes, there’s a plan to fully fund the bridge. Dunn was right. But it’s still just that, a plan. Without a design and with some of the funding sources still uncertain, the question of whether it is or is not “fully funded” is a matter of interpretation.

0 comments

New Look and Stuff

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

We’re trying out a new look here… I stumbled across a fantastic new Drupal theme, marinelli, and I love it.

It also brings out the page buttons across the top. Remember that registered users can contribute to the “Hot Docs” section, and anyone can add pics to the photo pool (though I still haven’t quite figured out how to get them on the map).

Let us know what you think in the comments…

1 comments

New Poll

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Erica Barnett links to a new poll out from UW, including, among other things, more Prop 1 polling!

It looks like it’s going to come down to the wire, but it also looks more favorable than the King 5 poll from last week. Prop. 1 leads 49% – 38% among likely voters, with 13% undecided.

I’m a little unclear (as is Barnett) about the poll’s methodology, which claims to include “600 statewide voters.” Presumably they didn’t ask people in Spokane about Prop. 1, so I’m not sure what subset of the 600 were asked, whether that neatly lines up wiht the RTID/ST2 borders, and finally how that affects the margin of error.

In other words, caveat emptor.

Update: Also worthy of note is that Democrats are 2-to-1 in favor, Republicans 2-to-1 against.

0 comments

Congestion Pricing

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Writing in Crosscut, Daniel Jack Chasan makes a good argument:

Why not do congestion pricing here? There’s no good reason, but if you want to make congestion pricing work, you have to do more than bar-code everybody’s car and send out bills. First, you have to give people alternative means of transportation. London didn’t just make people pay to drive downtown. The city bought 300 new buses and froze transit fares in advance. (In contrast, Sims’ proposed 2008 budget would raise bus fares by 25 cents a ticket. A quarter isn’t much, but it represents a stiff 16-2/3 percent increase for people who ride the bus during rush hour, and a doubling of the fare for elderly riders.)

Besides, working class people already rode public transportation in London. And downtown London retailers didn’t really have to worry about shoppers just driving to the malls instead. None of the above holds true for Seattle. Make it harder to drive downtown and a lot of shoppers will just head for the malls. You can’t just throw a cordon of congestion pricing around downtown Seattle. You’d have to cordon off the major alternatives, too.

I think some sort of tolling for road use is inevitable, whether it’s Sightline’s innovative pay-as-you-drive idea or RFID transponders or congestion pricing or good old fashioned tollbooths. Plus, the gas tax is becoming a less reilable revenue stream.

But first it’s important that we get going ASAP on transit alternatives, so that people have a reason to switch from SOV use.

0 comments

Seattle Hits Kyoto Goals


Seattle (the city, not the region) has hit its Kyoto Protocol goal of reducing global warming emissions to 8% less than 1990. All of the gains came from land use, heating and electricity, while transportation emissions have actually increased by 3% over the period. The times article I have linked explicitly calls out that “the city’s achievement could be short lived, unless it can do more to reduce driving”.

On that front, Seattle is thinking of changing its multi-family zoning plans to increase density while lowering requirements for parking. This document (PDF) from one of their open houses a few weeks ago shows some of the plans in detail. I appreciate the city’s attempt to lower the cost of housing by increasing development, and making development cheaper. Having a mix of different incomes makes the city a better place to live, and I for one appreciate what the mayor and the council are doing on this front.

Carless in Seattle has pointed to another article, this one from the New York Times, about “Seattle and Other Cities’ Mantra: Improve Transit, Reduce Traffic”. It’s a great summary and a nice chance to read the perspective of someone from outside Seattle. Nothing new in there really, but this part I like very much:

This November, residents of Seattle and other Puget Sound communities will vote on whether to raise the sales and vehicle excise taxes to generate $7.8 billion for road construction and $10 billion to build 50 more miles of light-rail lines and other transit projects. A broad alliance of business, civic and labor groups and regional governments support the measure.

Public opinion polls indicate that voters are also in favor.

Let’s hope so.

With the Streetcar getting going and Central Link opening in 2009, we’re moving in the right direction on global warming here in Seattle.

3 comments

Has it ever taken that long?

Stefan Sharkansky thinks the fact that the 194 is just as fast a Portland’s Max is some proof that buses are better than Light Rail. I just took the 194: I waited 15 minutes for the bus, which took 30 minutes to get Downtown, then waited 10 minutes for the 14, which took 15 minutes to get here. When University Link is finished, it’ll be a straight shot from the airport to the Broadway station where I’ll walk to my house.

The 14 does get me closer, about one block instead of five, but if the bus takes an hour and five minutes on a Sunday night, I’d happily walk.

4 comments

Supporting Prop. 1

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Most of the time I’ve been arguing for the passage of Prop. 1 I’ve admitted it’s about 75% to 80% of the project I want. I would have done some things differently if I got to play regional transit planner for a day. I’d build a 300mph rail link between Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. I’d build an elevated people-mover between Queen Anne, Pioneer Square, Ballard, Fremont and Capitol Hill. I’d do all sorts of wild stuff.

But, of course, no one’s going to ask me to be transit planner for a day, and that’s probably for the best. Instead, I get to vote “yea” or “nay” on this thing. And I’m voting “yea,” as you know if you read this blog with any regularity.

Anyway, today I got an email from a reader who’s 100% behind the measure. I thought I’d share it because it’s a concise, cogent argument.

A lot of press has come out on this, about the price tag and the effects of adding more roads and the value of adding mass transit. Some people see this as a compromise measure, and even some of the supporters say that they’re holding their noses while they vote in favor. I couldn’t disagree more; I think this is a GREAT measure that does all sorts of great, important things that benefit all of us in a number of ways. It builds trains all the way North and South and East. It widens major roads, fixes problematic bridges and creates more efficient routes for people and freight. A few points:

1) It’s not “too expensive”. That’s what things cost these days. Imagine how expensive it will be if we wait. Not only the increasing cost of materials and labor, but the cost to our economy and quality of life as traffic gets worse and 1,000,000 more people move to the region. And yes, we’ll be paying for it for a long time, but we’ll be using it even longer!

2) We have to build roads. How dare we force the average working person to move out of Seattle because of lack of affordable housing and then criticize them for driving when they don’t have a viable alternative. Not everyone can afford a condo in Belltown and walk to work. We can encourage people to carpool and and drive more fuel efficient, lower emission vehicles, but there are going to be more and more people and freight using roads to get places for a long time to come. And buses use roads too, people!

3) Alternative approaches like bus rapid transit, congestion pricing, and tolling simply will not be implemented soon enough and extensively enough to handle all of our tranportation needs. This measure is an investment in our existing needs and helps us build toward a practical, effective regional transportation system.

4) The sales tax is what we’ve got to work with. Property tax increases are capped thanks to good ol’ Eyman. Write your representative about implementing an income tax and then hold your breath until it passes. The only thing more regressive than the sales tax is putting the burden of our transportation systems deficiencies on lower income people who have to live further and drive further to work on inadequate highway systems.

I believe in this measure. I believe it’s the right thing for our region. And I think it will do great things for all of us. Please vote for it. Tell your friends to vote for it. Thanks.

It occurs to me that one thing that gets lost in all this debate is that Prop. 1 really isn’t all that radical. It continues the Puget Sound’s gradual progress towards regional planning, smart growth, light rail, and highways (mostly with HOV lanes) and development inside the urban growth boundary. Sure, it’s got a big price tag and a long time horizon, but it really is just the next step in a long process that began with the passage of the Growth Management Act in 1990.

Vote yes and let’s keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

0 comments

Streetcar Arrives

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Testing began today:

IMG_0016.jpg

It was going slowly, and trailed by a dozen workers. We’re not ready for prime-time yet folks, but we’re close!

I overheard someone in the office say “Gee, it’s not painted like the Tacoma Streetcar.” I was tempted to launch into a long monologue about overlapping transit jurisdictions and how this streetcar was not, in fact, a Sound Transit project, and how maybe, just maybe, it would make sense to put all of our regional transit services under one umbrella … but I had to get back to work.

2 comments

ST2 Travel Times

Some commenters have asked for an estimate of light rail travel times with Sound Transit 2, compared to other possibilities. It’s all in Appendix C of the plan, along with tons of other information about ridership, capacity, and such.

For easy reference, here’s the key table:
Sorry for the fine print, but Blogger is giving me problems. Click the link and go to Page C-7.

7 comments

Streetcar Testing to Begin!

There was a press release sent to us in our mailboxes, I haven’t been able to relocate it anywhere else, but basically it said that over the next 8 weeks the South Lake Union Streetcar will be going through testing. First they will do a walk through test to ensure that the streetcars are able to clear branches, traffic signals, and other erroneous things that may disrupt the streetcar along the whole route. Once that is done they will do speed tests on Valley between Mercer and Westlake to see that the streetcar can achieve and maintain speed. Oh and stopping will also be checked as well. I guess that is important too! After that initial testing, then operators will undergo testing as well. So, literally it will not be long before we see them on the street. I am very excited for this to happen. Again to not have to walk to downtown during the rainy season is going to be wonderful. One thing I have noticed however, the ST Tacoma Link, and Portland Streetcar have electronic signs that alert people at the intersection that the streetcar or LRV is coming. I didn’t see these added to any of the intersections here in SLU. I wonder if they are going to omit these? Seems to be a bad idea if so. I did notice they have “Streetcar Zone” signs telling people not to park to close to the tracks. Should be a very interesting next couple of weeks.

2 comments

More BRT

We’ve already been over the unnecessary duplication of effort between Sound Transit 2 and the “RapidRide” Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) portion of last year’s “Transit Now” package. To be clear, I blame Metro for this more than Sound Transit; Ron Sims knew ST was going to propose something along the SR 99 corridor in South King County, and proposed this anyway.

I would much prefer that this corridor go somewhere else, perhaps along the West Valley Highway to take pressure of SR 167. It would have made a ton of sense for Metro to release the information about one of the other RapidRide lines now, and wait for the outcome of Prop. 1 before committing to a redundant system.

My disappointment with Metro is because of the clear inferiority of this brand of transit with Light Rail. Let’s break down the features of RapidRide, because this is the alternative that Ron Sims and Kemper Freeman have in store for you if you reject expansion of light rail next month.

From the Metro website:

After RapidRide service begins, Metro’s plan is for buses to arrive every 10 minutes during the busiest morning and evening travel hours. At other times between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., buses will come every 15 minutes. Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., service will be similar to what it is today.

Great, this is long overdue, and a real improvement over existing service. However, light rail promises 6 minute intervals during rush hour, and each 4-car train carries up to 800 passengers! That’s 8,000 people per hour, the equivalent of almost four freeway lanes. It’s clear that the capacity of this line is much smaller, which makes it much harder to spur dense development.

Also, cutting off service at 10pm makes RapidRide useless for people who might want to use it to attend a Mariners game, or go out on a Friday night. One advantage of the huge capital investment of light rail is that it encourages authorities to run it a lot, thus amortizing that cost.

RapidRide buses will have low floors and three doors, so people can get on and off quickly. A new, trial fare payment system will allow riders with passes to pay as they enter any door. The inside of the buses will be designed to make it easier for passengers to move to seats and exits.

Emphasis mine. Riders with passes aren’t the problem. The problem is idiots fumbling for change and arguing with the driver over the fare. This is dramatically inferior to the LINK or Sounder approach of buying a ticket from the machine while you’re waiting at the station.

Buses will use the new HOV lanes on Pacific Highway S/International Boulevard. As buses approach intersections, they will send signals to traffic lights, requesting that green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.

The magic words I was hoping to see here are “bus lane”. Anyone who’s ever taken the 545 from Overlake or the 532 towards Lynnwood knows that HOV lanes are a poor substitute for a dedicated right-of-way.

Still, I’m ecstatic to see they won’t be running in SOV traffic, and will get signal priority. Hopefully, these innovations are to be repeated along Aurora, 15th, NE 8th, and to West Seattle.

The shelters and signs will look different from those you see at regular Metro stops—they will have a special RapidRide style and color scheme. Waiting areas will be well-lit, increasing security. Electronic real-time signs will tell people the actual number of minutes before the next bus will arrive.

I’m not sure if the branding will overcome the “rail bias”, or if it’ll just confuse people already struggling to grasp three or four overlapping transit systems. Either way, the electronic signs are a big deal.

BRT is cheaper than rail, undoubtedly, and it’s a heck of a lot better than vanilla bus service. But it’s also probably not the ultra-reliable, high-capacity, dedicated-right-of-way transit that will drive lure tons of new riders and drive development.

I eagerly await Daimajin’s report from Los Angeles on the BRT there, and how it’s doing in terms of ridership and spurring transit-oriented development.

5 comments

Two Pro-Prop 1 Articles, One Anti-Prop 1 post

There are two new interesting Pro-Prop 1 pieces out. The first one is a rather more enthusiastic piece from Hubert G. Locke, an elderly man who is actually for prop. 1, he calls voters to bring pragmatism and live ideology at home. The second is a less enthusiastic, but self-possessed pragmatic endorsement from Crosscut’s publisher, David Brewster.

First Locke:

A decade ago, Sound Transit was considered a disaster. Currently, it is hailed as a public enterprise that gets things done. Much of the credit, even Sound Transit critics acknowledge, goes to Joni Earl, Sound Transit’s CEO, who took over an agency with “a lousy reputation” and is credited with its near complete turnaround. Earl happens to be a public servant who turned down a raise five years ago based on her exceptional performance because Sound Transit had not achieved two major milestones it had set for itself. That kind of integrity, combined with the fact that she lives with public transportation issues every working day, makes Earl a voice I take seriously. So I asked her what advice she has for voters on Nov. 6.

True to her reputation for integrity, she was careful not to indicate how she thinks voters should cast their ballots. She points out, however, the two unarguable facts in all of this: Droves of people continue to move into our midst every year and we’ve delayed coming to grips with our transportation needs for far too long. No plan is perfect but now is the time, she says, to get on with it; “It’s only going to get more expensive if we delay.”

That’s sage counsel about a problem that won’t go away.

He knows what he is talking about. The transportation problem here just keeps coming up again and again, and as people keep moving here it gets worse and worse. This ballot measure seems to cover many of the points we care about: solutions to choke points that are broken only for lack of better infrastructure and a transit system to finally give people an alternative to driving.

On to Brewster. I was surprised he endorsed Prop 1, since he has written a number of pieces about how expensive light rail is on his site. His position is basically:

  • This ballot isn’t perfect, but it is good enough to deserve support.
  • The local elected officials who put the measure together will likely be the same ones who will draft the next ballot if we do make one. So defeat is not very likely to bring us something better. It’s a compromise now or a compromise later.
  • Passing the ballot will lift a huge burden off the voters and the politicians, where they will be allowed to work toward the more simple and small-scale solutions that will serve their consistencies. Basically, we only need one large scale ballot measure like this over the long time.

I agree with Mr Brewser, on the last two points, but I actually think Prop. 1 is pretty good. I love any and all transit and think that many of the roads portions of RTID are actually very good, that only the 405 and “Cross-Base” parts of the roads parts are bad roads.

Mr Brewster makes some other interesting points:

It’s hard to imagine that our politics, after such a monumental defeat, would move to the sunny uplands. One reason is that the same folks who brought us Proposition 1, with all its lumps and compromises, will be the folks who would fashion Proposition 2. The political realities won’t change (except for the worse). The highways folks, steaming in traffic jams, still have a veto over the transit folks, dueling over their technologies — and vice versa. The Legislature still has the last say over authorizing taxes, and they still are as gunshy as ever about tax-revolt figures such as Tim Eyman (doubtless more so after the taxpayers say no). So these are the folks who will suddenly have the courage and statesmanship to start imposing tolls, slicing off service to Pierce and Snohomish counties, and gambling on a surface solution for the Viaduct?

Well said. This idea is also very valuable:

Fixing the choke points on our highways and bridges may seem immoral because it lets drivers keep driving their evil cars. But it also helps fight sprawl, by keeping major employers closer inside the urban boundaries rather than throwing up their hands and moving to Moses Lake or Spanaway. A basic cause of sprawl is companies moving far out, to avoid congestion and to get cheaper land and the ability to move their trucks.

If you keep making congestion worse, you get a few people who move close to a job or switch to transit but a lot more people who vote with their feet. The way to get people to use transit is not to torture them, but to build good transit that is safe, frequent, fairly fast, and cheap. And you can’t build transit by not building transit.

Emphasis added. A lot of greens think that we can simply do nothing and people will pick up transit because they love it or will have little choice. As long as there are places like Spanaway, Duvall and Moses Lake, people will move there to avoid congestion. That’s sprawl, and that’s all that we’ll get if we don’t fix the obvious choke points, such as the 405/520 interchange and the so-called “Mercer Mess” and build transit.

Both writers make the point that this is a lot of non-Seattle politicians making decisions for their own voters, as they should. Locke writes:

Prop. 1 is a regional transportation issue on which the good people of Pierce and Snohomish counties, as well as King, get a chance to be heard. Their votes will serve, it is hoped, as a counterbalance to those local voices that pontificate about transportation as if only Seattle has a stake in its outcome. They might serve also as a corrective to the cycling enthusiasts in our midst who often sound as though our transportation problems could be solved if we just all took to two-wheelers. Prop. 1 is challenging us to think like the region that we are, rather than trying to behave as if Mill Creek and Federal Way didn’t exist.

Sounds almost like he’s writing against the Sierra Club and the Stranger. Erica Barnett and Josh Feit at the Stranger both complained about the idea of running transit through now low-dense South King County, as did the Sierra Club’s Mike O’Brien. They even said that it could cause sprawl, how transit causes sprawl in places people already live, I don’t know. But the only way to turn Federal Way into something like Fremont, California or Mill Creek into something like San Bruno, is to build light rail there. ECB or Feit could never understand that, probably because neither has ever been to any of the four places I mentioned. And Brewster writes:

It’s been interesting to watch a new generation of political leadership emerge, figures like Julia Patterson of the King County Council, a resident of SeaTac who was raised on a small farm in South King County; Pierce County Council member Shawn Bunney, chair of the Regional Transportation Investment District; and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, chair of the Sound Transit board.

None is from Seattle, you notice. In fact, the one clear Seattle leader, King County Executive Ron Sims, having led the effort on Sound Transit and perhaps sensing how un-Seattlecentric it was becoming, jumped ship. At any rate, we’re way past due for some effective regional politics to come to maturity and not just defer to Seattle’s wishes, and this is Act I. Nor can Seattle expect, in the wake of a defeat of Proposition 1, to have any more clout, as its percentage of the regional population shrinks each year and its clout in Olympia keeps diminishing.

I don’t actually think that Sims jumped ship because it’s non-Seattle centric, and I don’t think that think that this ballot measure is overly anti-Seattle. But the fact is that it is a region plan, and it has a region purpose, and it serves the whole region reasonably well. Seattle gets a pretty good deal out of it too.

So we should vote for it.

Oh and the anti-Prop. 1 post? Ms Barnett of the Stranger in her usual form. Not much analysis there other than assuming it will fail without much evidence, and calling anyone who endorses Prop. 1 a “defeatist”. Nice. I wonder which of the three here actually thought this issue through more seriously?

2 comments

The Day After

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Erica Barnett asks:

I wonder what all the centrist, but-transit-without-roads-just-isn’t-realistic Seattle editorial writers, bloggers and erstwhile environmentalists who say the roads and transit proposal is the “best we’re ever going to get” are going to say when Prop. 1 fails, as a recent King 5 poll indicates it will? Will they band together and fight for a new light rail package that doesn’t include sprawl-inducing highway expansion–or, as their defeatist endorsements of Prop. 1 indicate, will they just give up?

Oh, we’ll fight alright. The point is not that we’ll “give up.” Rather, it’s that the fight will suck, it will waste an incredible amount of time, attention, and public resources, and at the end we won’t have anything substantially better than Prop. 1 to show for it.

The real question, I think, is what folks like Barnett will do. Will they succeed in stopping the widening of 405 or light rail to Tacoma (both of which The Stranger opposed in its op-ed)? I tend to doubt it.

(P.S., it takes some pretty creative reading of the King 5 poll — with nearly 4 in 10 voters “undecided” — to declare, unequivocally, that it “indicates” the measure will fail.)

0 comments

BRT

Chi Dooh Li said:

The vocal anti-rail crowd owes us all a public apology, because the biggest boondoggle over the past four decades is the many tens of billions we have poured into transportation solutions that have failed to handle the traffic growth in this region.

Yet opponents of light rail want us to continue believing that “bus rapid transit” is the answer to congestion. I bet they have some snake oil to sell us too.

So what’s the vision of BRT locally? As Martin points out, Ron Sims’ fancy new Rapid Ride plan is available now. Here’s Martin:

It seems awful repetitive to run BRT down the exact route that light rail is planning to use. It leaves us with several awful or doubtful alternatives:
– light rail is permanently trashed in favor of inferior BRT technology that also forces a transfer at SeaTac to connect with the rest of the system.
– the BRT is constructed to be rail convertible. I’m doubtful this is happening, and at any rate would create a big fight if it involved suspending existing BRT to lay track.
– The Rapid Ride investments will be abandoned when light rail arrives, or they will run simultaneously. That would get us one transit corridor for the price of two! Nice job Metro!

Yup.

Martin again:

Is it an accident that the portion of Transit Now that most duplicates ST2 is the first to be released, just before the ballot!

No I don’t think it is an accident. Ron Sims wants transit dollars spent on his bus system, and he knows he’s more likely to get that FTA position in a democratic cabinet if he pushes his BRT down our throats.

Damn that’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Mr BRT in charge of the FTA?

Yikes.

I’m heading down to LA this weekend. I’ll be checking out their Orange Line BRT, and their rail systems. Should be fun!

2 comments

Republicans for Rail!

Chi-Dooh Li had an op-ed piece in today’s PI. It’s really well written and pretty funny, and he has a really great point on the extra time saved by rail that most people never even thought of:

According to the Sound Transit Web site, taking light rail in the future from the U District to Sea-Tac would cut my travel time in half. I think I will save even more time.

But one great benefit light rail will bring to all of us, for which detractors have no answer, is the certainty of travel time. Trains will — count on it — get you to your destination in a reliably predictable amount of time.

The same can never be said for any form of transportation that uses rubber tires on asphalt roads. Cars, buses, shuttle buses, vans, taxis — you name it — there is no way time of arrival can be accurately predicted.

Buses, the adored form of public transit among the anti-rail crowd, cannot even give you a fixed departure time. How often do we rush to the bus stop before the scheduled time, only to wait and wait for a bus that has been delayed by congestion?

That’s huge if you think about it, wasted “uncertain time”. The time waiting for a late bus. The earlier you need to leave because you’re not exactly sure what time you have to get in your car to make that 8:30 am meeting at work. If you show up at 8:20, that’s an extra ten minutes eaten.

Traffic congestion not only requires more actual driving or riding time but forces us to leave much earlier than we might need to in order to have some assurance of getting to our destination on time.

When we must be punctual for work, a doctor’s appointment, a job interview, a business meeting or a kid’s soccer game, how much extra time do we build in so we are not late? Even then, no “cushion” will guard against the gridlock created by the occasional perfect storm of traffic congestion: the rush hour multiple car accident under the Convention Center or at Southcenter, or a visiting dignitary motorcade.

Take light rail, and buffer time will be a thing of the past.

It’s a great piece go read the whole thing.

4 comments

Sound Transit 2’s vast capacity increase

You have to build rail to get this kind of new capacity. That 14,000 people per hour is eight northbound lanes (four general, four express) of traffic. Link will move more than half again that many. What would it cost to put four or five more lanes each way on I-5 in Seattle? Where would those cars go once they got into the city?

And remember, all these new light rail trips have no congestion. Those I-5 trips are often at a dead stop – but those light rail trips are cruising along between stations at 55mph.

8 comments

520…tunnel?

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Thus sayeth the P-I:

A team of engineers has been asked to determine in the next month whether that kind of tunnel technology could be used to replace the Seattle segment of the state Route 520 corridor — to the delight of many.

I mean, I appreciate the thoroughness of the investigation, but, but… a tunnel? Lake Washington is 200 ft in the middle, are you really gonna bore under it? Don’t get me wrong, I watch Modern Marvels, I love that crazy engineering stuff, but, but… a tunnel?!

Apparently it could also be an immersed tube design, where you build pre-fab tubes and sink them (as opposed to tunneling under rock). I imagine that gets tricky with an uneven lake bed. Anyway… it’s an interesting development.

Update: Via madisonian in the comments and KUOW this morning, I realized that they’re just talking about sinking the West end of the span, around Husky Stadium, NOT the entire bridge.

2 comments