Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seattle's Big Dig

Just as Boston was cut off from the harbor by a freeway, Seattle has long been cut off from the Puget sound by the Alaskan Way Viaduct. After the big 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, this elevated highway was assessed and declared unfit to survive a large local quake. Since then, even after being retrofitted for additional strength, there have been many plans to replace it which are finally coming to fruition. And what a project it is!

They are tunneling 200 feet below the surface to replace the through traffic with a highway, redoing the 80 year old sea wall, creating a fish-friendly beach and replacing the old highway with a tree-lined surface street for local traffic. In a lot of ways it should resemble the new Boston whose project, while way over budget and time, revitalized the downtown area and reconnected it with the waterfront.

There are lots more photos of the project on this website:

Here's a link to the construction cam if you want to see what's happening in real time.

And here's a picture to make Tim Taylor grunt in appreciation. The cutter bit for the tunnel boring machine is 55 feet in diameter and the Seattle citizens are going to name it:

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