Starting April 29, Seattle is going to hold its collective breath as its most troubled public works project ever, a vehicular tunnel along the Puget Sound waterfront, starts burrowing under the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct it is designed to replace. The $1.4 billion venture has been so cursed–the Bertha tunneling machine, the world’s biggest, was stalled deep underground at one point for more than a year–that authorities are closing the Viaduct for two weeks as a precaution in case there’s another sinkhole, or something far worse.
Since the Viaduct carries one of isthmus Seattle’s two north-south limited-access routes–the other is Interstate 5–traffic around town is expected to be slower than a butterfly without wings. Authorities actually have told the public to work from home. That’s reasonable advice, maybe, for a computer programmer or a writer like me, but not much help for a teacher or maintenance worker.
The result is that many Seattleites are awaiting the continuation of our version of Boston’s equally cursed Big Dig with the kind of macabre anticipation I haven’t seen since the days when Dan Rather anchored the evening news on CBS. Would this be the night he stormed off the set, went bonkers while interviewing a Vice President or mysteriously ended the broadcast with the word, “Courage”?
If something really bad happens with the Viaduct, that could be the precipitating event that turns the Seattle bubble into a bust. So there are lots of reasons for the suspense in Seattle. Continue readingShare on Facebook