At Crosscut, Doug McDonald has a fact-dense piece on the travails of the Brightwater sewage system bored tunnels. The upshot is that things appear to be getting more difficult—and even more costly—than everyone had hoped:
Metro King County’s Brightwater sewage treatment plant tunnel is a project in a very awkward fix. There is a big problem with a contractor and its crippled tunnel boring machine on one of its essential tunnel contracts. All this carries lessons and warnings for the future waterfront tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct…
It’s an understatement to say that Doug is extremely knowledgeable about tunneling projects, so his perspective is a very valuable one. (Doug is also a Sightline Fellow, though he did not write the Crosscut article under Sightline’s auspices.) Go read it.
To me, the Brightwater experience is an important cautionary tale from right next door. Bored tunnels are a tough business where you should expect the unexpected. So the difficulties are a glaring reminder that Seattle’s deep bore tunnel should have a clear agreed-upon plan for cost overruns — just in case things don’t go as intended.
4/15/10—Fun Update! There’s a new lower-than-expected bid for an above-ground interchange south of the downtown tunnel. Going unreported so far is that the lowest bid, and therefore the winner, is Skanska USA, which is actually a joint venture that includes none other the Vinci Construction, the contractor responsible for the stalled Brightwater project.
I guess that since we are bore tunneling a lot of our light rail as well makes it clear that Seattle proper is topographically-challenged, and all of our transit solutions are bounded by the terrain.Perhaps Seattle is not the best place to center a lot of density if our construction footprint is so large and the technical challenges so daunting? The problem seems to me that decisions about where to place density and how to make it work seem to be avoiding the realities of implementation…
A cut/cover seawall combo project uses half the cement. There goes your sidewalk material into a hole. Mercer Mess West II will ruin Lower Queen Anne, adding 20,000+ vehicles from Day 1. Alaskan Way will get that much new traffic, and more, and worse accidents. Are you people thinking at all ???Tunnelite builds the best seawall, best utility relocation, best emision reduction, best reduction VMT, best sidewalk and parkway, double best transit way with trolley however it’s reinstalled, if it’s reinstalled.I’m tired of anyone NOT using critical analysis and obeisantly resisting the frank truth that Tunnelite is the BETTER choice. Mental midgets. Weaklings. I swear, some of you must know this and cower before you bosses. Greg Nicky Was Right. Tunnelite!The Deep-Boor Tunnel is the most poorly conceived major transportation project I’ve ever encountered. Any supporter of the Deep-Bore tunnel is sorely misled. Wake up. Smell the coffee. Do the homework. Vote to replace City Council at every opportune election. Thanks, Mike, for pulling the plug on the old system.
Surprise Surprise. Seattle’s smug enviros so sure of themselves, don’t respond to reasonable critique. Poor Seattlers. Overrun with traffic and afraid to ask the question Why. Case of ‘Biting the hand that feeds them? Thanks again, Mike, for fighting the good fight. You’re winning the first rounds, though not escaping below the belt punches from limp-wristed stoners and misled minions of the corrupt. I’m sorry for meanly sounding their wake up call. They’ll thank you too, later.