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January 20, 2005

Money for Nothing

Two headlines today, on replacing the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, the aerial highway through downtown Seattle that cuts off the city from its waterfront:

Seattle P-I: Viaduct Funding 'Impossible':  Sen. Murray says U.S. won't put up $1 billion
Seattle Times: Murray Says Viaduct Request is DOA

Now, I'm not one to say "I told you so."  No, wait.  Actually, I am.

But, more seriously, this is going to put a crimp in the city's plans for replacing the viaduct with a tunnel.  Which means that the city will have that much more time to consider whether -- with all the other transportation projects planned or underway in the region -- the $4.1 billion tunnel project is really worth the cost.

Posted by ClarkWD | Permalink


*wild cheering encore*

I love the "I told you so" bit. Priceless. That story made my day when I saw it in the paper this morning.

Lately I've been comparing our Viaduct to the Millau Viaduct in France. Theirs is being called the world's most beautiful bridge, along with being the tallest. It's 2.5km long, and is supposed to carry 25,000 cars daily.

That's only 25% of our Viaduct's traffic, but I wonder why scaling down isn't an option? Well, the budget will have to be scaled down at least.

The startling thing is that the Millau bridge was built for about $524 million. I'm not necessarily arguing for a replacement Viaduct, but I would like to see the same ingenuity apply.

Posted by: Michael Baker | Jan 20, 2005 6:03:51 PM

Even more fundamental than whether $4.1 billion for a tunnel is worth the cost is whether or not $3 billion for replacing the original mistake is worth it. I agree with the People's Waterfront Coalition on this one. Fundamentally, expressways and urban centers are a bad mix. They cost a lot, and tend to destroy the things that make urban centers worthwhile while exacerbating the reasons some people don't like urban areas to start with.

As far as the differences between the Alaska Way Viaduct and the Millau Viaduct, I suspect that most of the difference has to do with the fact that the one in France was built in a rural area (where road-building is MUCH cheaper), as well as the facts that they didn't have to get rid of the old and didn't need to build on top of an unstable foundation (fill and deteriorated seawall).

Posted by: Roy Smith | Jan 27, 2005 7:26:51 AM