Bertha the tunnel-boring machine, whose mission is to dig the Alaskan Way Viaduct-replacement tunnel, has been stalled for more than a year, but large cracks have started appearing along nearby Pioneer Square streets that have sunk a couple of inches. Thirty businesses in the neighborhood have also sunk due to soil settlement. There’s a strong possibility that the tunnel project may not proceed any farther because of all the complications — the state transportation secretary even contemplated this prospect last April to KIRO-FM.
The seismically unsafe viaduct faces emergency closure every day because of an imminent major earthquake or its own sinking. The viaduct was to be demolished anyway, upon completion of the tunnel.
And, now, Sound Transit is considering canceling the north-line Sounder train service during inclement weather because of possible mudslides along the Everett-to-Seattle route.
Workers throughout the Puget Sound region who rely on our roadways to travel to and through the city will have nowhere to go if there is no other major thoroughfare other than Interstate 5, especially since the light-rail extensions to Lynnwood, the Eastside and Kent/Des Moines won’t be operational until 2023.
Thousands of drivers learned in early August that a fatal traffic accident investigation during the afternoon commute can leave them stranded on southbound state Route 99 for hours, further impacted by Mariners baseball traffic.
As admirable as city officials are to cater to non-motorized modes of transportation, Metro Transit buses still travel the same roads and get stuck in the same traffic as those who drive through our city. And not everyone can afford to live in Seattle — much less South Lake Union or Belltown, where we are basing our economy these days — and must depend on their personal vehicles to get them where they need to go in a timely manner.
Quick, local fixes that serve only a small population won’t help the situation; the city needs to work with its county and state counterparts to start investigating other transportation solutions for the long-term, including building a boulevard along the waterfront, as suggested by the Seattle Bike Blog, instead of a waterfront park. Or, at the very least, making much-needed improvements to the I-5 corridor.