$3 billion Seattle tunnel project to launch in 2012

I stumbled across an animated transportation video this week, four minutes in length, in which the viewer travels under downtown Seattle.

I was surprised to learn that the project is actually taking place in the real world: a tunnel and associated improvements, officially estimated to cost $3.1 billion.  (There appears to be some doubt about what happens if the cost goes higher.)  Digging of a “launch pit” for tunnel boring is to begin in early 2012.  The targeted completion date is 2016.

The state government hopes to raise $400 million in tunnel tolls to pay for the project, altough it’s expected many drivers will avoid the tunnel and the toll.

During discussions in the 1990s around the expansion of Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge, the renowned architect Arthur Erickson pushed the for construction of a tunnel under the Burrard Inlet, roughly from Lonsdale in North Vancouver to Main Street in Vancouver.  The provincial planners thought the idea was goofy, and it was never seriously considered.  The bridge expansion never took place either, although the deck was rebuilt.

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3 thoughts on “$3 billion Seattle tunnel project to launch in 2012

  1. Erickson’s idea should have been implemented at the time for a fraction of today’s cost – let alone when they finally get around to it in 2040.

  2. I would not agree completely that an expansion of the Lions Gate Bridge never happened, as you state. The vehilce lanes and the sidewalks were both widened, making the bridge safer and more pleasant to cross.

    • Thanks, Adam. The B.C. government’s 1996 bridge replacement proposal – see my post, “Tearing Down the Lions Gate Bridge” – failed due to general opposition. That’s the expansion I was referring to. The subsequent improvement of the sidewalks did make the bridge more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians, although I think some people would still experience a sensation of risk. The increase in the vehicle lane widths was very modest.

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