Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seattle's Big Bertha Boondoggle vs. Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle

What you are looking at on the left is part of a tunnel which a machine nicknamed Bertha is boring under downtown Seattle.

Bertha came to a grinding halt a couple months ago. And then when she finally began grinding again, four feet later she overheated and stopped again.

And now Bertha has been grounded for what may be months due to problems with clogged clutter heads and a damaged main bearing seal.

Are we now at the point where this $3.1 billion project might be referred to as Seattle's Big Bertha Boondoggle?

Some are already comparing the Seattle project to Boston's notorious Big Dig Boondoggle whose original $2.8 billion dollar cost ended up being $22 billion.

The current state of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel replacement project and its current potential boondoggle status got me comparing Seattle's Big Bertha Boondoggle to Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

I would guess that the Seattle project will fairly quickly get back on track and out of its current boondogglishness. As you can see, the Seattle tunnel project has already resulted in some impressive engineering, already having tunneled one-tenth of the tunnel's 1.7 mile distance, before Bertha stopped.

The Seattle tunnel boring only began in the last year, and already one sees more accomplished than well over a decade of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

The Seattle tunnel project addresses an actual serious problem. That being the fact that the Alaskan Way Viaduct could collapse in an earthquake, causing great loss of life. The Alaskan Way Viaduct was badly damaged by the Nisqually Earthquake, earlier this century.

The Trinity River Vision Boondoggle was originally propagandized as being a much needed flood control project, to protect downtown Fort Worth from a flooding Trinity River, by building an un-needed flood diversion channel, so that levees built over half a century ago, could be taken down.

So, unlike the Seattle tunnel project addressing fixing a real problem, the Fort Worth TRV Boondoggle addresses a non-existent problem, because downtown Fort Worth has not flooded in over a half a century, due to the protection afforded by those aforementioned levees.

The Trinity River Vision Boondoggle is also an economic development project, developing a blighted area north of downtown Fort Worth with a little lake, maybe some canals, housing, restaurants, other commercial developments, plus one of the world's premiere waterfront music venues, along with this century's first drive-in movie theater and summer time's Rockin' the River Inner Tube Happy Hour Floats on the pristine Trinity River.

Seattle's Alaskan Viaduct Replacement Project also has some economic development aspects. Such as upgrading the Seattle waterfront's seawall along with taking down the Alaskan Way Viaduct, opening up an area for a new waterfront promenade.

I wonder which town's massive public works projects will be completed first? I wonder which town's massive public works project will be successful? I wonder which town's massive public works project will get national and international attention of the positive sort? I wonder which town's public works project might gain lasting fame as a classic boondoggle?

I bet you can guess what my answers to the above questions would be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You clearly do not know the background of the Viaduct vs Tunnel contest. Nor do you understand the consequences of the stoppage.
What the two projects you are trying to compare share, is the ongoing half-truths and lies that have put taxpayers on the hook for mega bucks.
The public is always getting screwed by these gigantic projects created by pea-brain politicians that get led around by there noses (I could mention other body parts) by the special interest contractor/construction industry who are the only ones that get paid whether the project is finished or not.

Arthur M. Skolnik FAIA