Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Saga of Seattle's Deep Bore Tunnel

In 2001 the Nisqually Earthquake hit Seattle.  Our house in West Seattle sustained some damage.  There was enough movement to slosh the water out of the upstairs toilet and send a couple of dressers to the floor.  The brick chimney did not fall down so we were very happy about that.
The worst part of the earthquake was the traffic.  The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a double decker elevated highway built in the 1950s.  It settled ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH and was closed for observation and stabilization.  While the Viaduct was closed, we could not leave West Seattle.  Traffic was totally gridlocked.  The 100,000 cars a day that used the viaduct were shunted to I5, thus making it impossible for traffic to exit the West Seattle Bridge, thus backing traffic up into the neighborhoods.
Politicians and business leaders decided that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.  There were several options on the table; rebuild the viaduct, tear down the viaduct and build surface streets, or dig a tunnel for a new highway.  As I recall, the tunnel was voted down twice, but that was the option that was chosen.  This is a state highway, yet the citizens of Seattle were voting on it.  Eventually the state chose the tunnel.  The question of who will pay for the inevitable cost over runs is unanswered, they may be billed to the citizens of Seattle.
The project requires the use of the largest deep bore tunneling machine ever built in the history of the world to dig a two mile tunnel.  This would be a tunnel in a geologically unstable area, through fill.

What could go wrong?
  • The boring machine traveled 1,000 feet and seized.  
  • A "rescue" pit had to be dug to get to the drill.
  • Mass quantities of water have to be pumped from the pit being dug to rescue the drill. 
  • Removal of that much water is causing surrounding brick buildings to sink; foundations and walls are cracking.
  • The "de-watering" has caused the Alaskan Way Viaduct to settle TWO INCHES.  TWO!!!!  And yet, the the contractor, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Seattle City Council assure us that all is well.
As former Seattle citizens we follow the trials of Bertha (the affectionate name for the drilling machine) with keen interest.  There are several good articles in the independent press on the subject.  This article hits the high points of how we got to the crash site. It's worth reading if you're interested in civic dumbness.  This article is also interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

We're cold!  Yes, I know that where ever you are it's colder than here, but we're cold.  It did rain Saturday.  Sunday was too cold to ride, so we hiked.  It was a glorious (albeit cold) day.  We did both sides of Hidden Trail, so we were able to get a lot of up down up down.  It's really pretty out there, especially after a rain.

Today we rode out towards Anklam and then down Camino de Oeste.  We stopped at Christopher Columbus park for a nosh.  I love that ride, there is a long sweeping downhill that is just a hoot.

This is a fishing lake at Christopher Columbus park.  Notice the fisher guy on the left and the big white bird on the right.  Fisher dude had just walked briskly over to his pole right in front of the bird who just stood there looking at him.  Usually birds won't tolerate people.  He just stood there looking at the fisher guy.  We wondered if fisher guy had been feeding the big white bird bait, or tiny fish.

So it looks like we're going to be having a cold wet December.  After the perfection of last winter, I am feeling very aggrieved about this. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Good Sunset

We're getting clouds from the giant storms that hit the GPNW and California.  They make for good sunsets.  Looks like we'll also have rain tomorrow.  It's kind of a bummer because it's the 4th Avenue Street Fair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fantasy Island

We went out to Fantasy Island today.  The trails have undergone some remodeling from all the rain last September.  It's important to be paying close attention when riding because the channels of rubble have moved within the single track.
We had pretty cool skies today.

When we left the RV park this was in the middle of our intersection.  They're digging a giant hole in the road.

Shortly after arriving at the parking lot of Fantasy Island, we were hailed by a man walking his bicycle up the road.  His chain had broken and he was hoping we had a chain tool.  We did!  We've been carrying it around in the Camelbak for four years and have never used it.  It was good that we had it.  He had a long ride ahead of him. 

The bridge is still there, and still looks to be sturdy.  There is one loose board but that's all.  The exit has more rubble in it than last year.

While we were looking at the bridge, Jim spotted a fake rock in the brush, with a sword stuck in it.  The mountain bikers brought Excalibur to the desert.  Jim, being pure of heart, was able to pull out the sword with little effort.

When we got home, this is what we saw. There is a big black and red thing being put into the hole.  I have no idea what that is.  Water? Electrical?  Who knows.

There is a huge construction project on Valencia, east of I19 and almost to Rita Ranch.  If you're planning on riding your bike there, think again.  One lane has been dug up, and there are multiple lane shifts on the existing road.  There is zero shoulder anymore, so riding there is going be life threatening.
It's possible that it will rain here this weekend after a windy Friday.  Given what's happening in the GPNW (monster storms on the way) it's not that surprising that we'll be brushed by low pressure.  It's still better here, than there.