Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Seattle's Highway 99 Tunnel Takes Us To Fort Worth's Bridge Boondoggle

I saw that which you see here in this morning's Seattle Times online, an article titled Traffic in new Highway 99 tunnel nearly matches last year’s viaduct use.

Several Texas things came to mind when I read this article. And when I saw the dozens upon dozens of comments the article generated, with that large number of intelligent comments being the norm I note when reading a Seattle Times article.

Meanwhile in Texas.

An article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, about any controversial or interesting local subject, is lucky if a single comment is generated. Is this sparseness of commentary indicative of that sad newspaper's low number of readers? Or what?

Today's Seattle Times article about the new Highway 99 tunnel was the first I have seen since the tunnel opened. I had wondered if I had missed noticing such articles. Possibly there was nothing much newsworthy about the new tunnel, other than the fact it was now open.

The new Highway 99 tunnel can trace its beginning back to 2001 and the Nisqually Earthquake which did a lot of damage in the Puget Sound zone, including damaging the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which the 99 Tunnel has now replaced.

Meanwhile in Texas.

Around the same time an earthquake set in motion some big projects in Seattle, in Fort Worth, on one quiet Sunday morning, the Star-Telegram breathlessly announced that something then called Trinity Uptown was going to turn Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South.

You reading this in modern America, or Canada, I am not making this up.

Trinity Uptown eventually turned into the Trinity River Vision, touted as being a flood control and economic development project.

Where there has been no flooding for well over a half century.

As the years of the 21st century rolled on the Trinity River Vision went through some additional name iterations, in total the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

Which by 2019 has become more commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Or simple The Boondoggle.

So, what does any of this have to do with that article in the Seattle Times about the new Highway 99 Tunnel?


After that 2001 earthquake years of public debate followed regarding how best to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. By 2014 a solution was agreed to, with funding in place, and an almost $4 billion project got underway.

By getting underway I am referring to the boring of the Highway 99 Tunnel beginning with the world's biggest, at the time, tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Bertha, boring under downtown Seattle.

Around that same time, in Fort Worth, Texas, a big TNT exploding ceremony was held to mark the start of construction of three simple little freeway overpass looking bridges, being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

We blogged about this ridiculous Fort Worth explosion in A Big Boom Begins Boondoggle Bridge Construction Three Months Late.

Soon after that big boom Fort Worth's bridge construction ground to a halt, for over a year. With no explanation, and no legitimate local newspaper of record demanding an explanation.

Meanwhile, during that same time frame, after boring for well less than a mile, Bertha hit a chunk of steel, grinding her to a halt. That tunnel boring halt lasted around a year. The problem was dealt with in an open and transparent way, fully covered by Seattle, and Washington media. And the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) aimed a camera at the Bertha excavation site so people could check in on the progress, 24/7.

To this day no Fort Worth media has provided any specific details regarding the supposed design problems which are now blamed as the reason for the slow motion construction, and ever shifting project timeline, of Fort Worth's pitiful little bridges, now with an astonishing project completion some time in the next decade.

Meanwhile, up in the northwest, modern, part of America, somehow another American town managed to finish a tunnel deep under its downtown. Four lanes of traffic now move through that tunnel. The photo at the top shows traffic entering the tunnel's southbound lanes.

Daily thousands of vehicles are zipping under downtown Seattle in that new completed tunnel. A difficult engineering project, engineering by competent project engineers. Completed in less than four years.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, three simple little bridges, which had, way back in 2014, an absurdly long four year project timeline, to build three simple little bridges, are now expected to possibly, maybe, hopefully be ready for traffic sometime during the next decade.

And you can not learn via any Fort Worth media publication, of any sort, what the problem actually is with building those three little bridges over dry land, connecting to an imaginary island, and maybe someday in the distant future having a ditch dug under the bridges, so water can be diverted into the ditch, thus creating that aforementioned imaginary island.

May 4's extremely low voter turnout, and that election's absurd results, have caused many to be of the opinion Fort Worth deserves what it gets; all the embarrassing boondoggles, all the failed projects, all the inept nonsense not worthy of an American town of over 800,000 population.

If only the people of Fort Worth would wise up, and rise up, and boot the Fort Worth Way to being an historical footnote, instead of the town's sad modern day reality...

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