Roads, Bridges & Tunnels

A Deep-Bored Tunnel To Replace The Alaskan Way Viaduct

All over the world deep-bored vehicle tunnels are being built in major metropolitan regions. Paris. Hamburg. Zurich. Dublin. Madrid. Wuhan. Nanjing. Shanghai. Scroll down here to Cascadia Center’s chart titled “Supplemental Tunnel Project Data Examples” and you’ll see costs per mile range from $106 million to $580 million for deep-bored vehicle tunnels in these cities, typically of four to six lanes. The chart is part of a lengthier submission we made to the Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC). That cost range is worth noting, as SAC and state consultants work through options to replace the aging and unsafe viaduct on Seattle’s downtown waterfront. There are eight alternatives now getting a closer look, and one is a slightly curving Read More ›

Senate Committee Highlights Dodd-Hagel “Infrastructure Bank” Bid

Clinton, Obama Co-sponsors The problem of infrastructure deficit received prominent attention from the governors and state officials meeting in Washington during the month of February. But aside from agreeing that the needs for infrastructure funding are great, that present resources are inadequate, and that earmarks are a poor way to deal with the problem, few solutions were offered as to how to meet the revenue shortfalls. That’s why a March 11 hearing by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs took on special significance. The hearing focused on a bill sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to create a National Infrastructure Bank (S. 1926). Described by Sen Dodd as a Read More ›

Auckland Eyes Deep-Tunneled Roadway, Public-Private Deal

From Wuhan to Barcelona to Pittsburgh, More Deep-Bored Tunnels Are On The Way New Zealand’s finance minister Michael Cullen says a government-appointed steering group will investigate the feasibility of a public-private partnership to build a deep-bored tunnel for completion of an urgently-needed western ring road segment in metro Auckland. It would be part of a larger, 48-kilometer ring road network connecting major population and employment centers in the region, and could influence whether PPPs are used on other major road projects in New Zealand also facing funding gaps. The five kilometer long tunnel would cost an estimated NZ $2 billion ($1.6 billion U.S.), with private developers compensated for their up-front investment either through tolls or a government lease-back provision, over Read More ›

Crunch Time Aproaches On SR 520 Bridge Replacement

The Washington State Department Of Transportation authorized a preliminary consultant inquiry – recently completed – into the feasibility of a tunnel to replace the congested, dangerously earthquake-prone and windstorm-prone State Route 520 Floating Bridge across Lake Washington from Seattle to the Eastside. It’s one of just two bridges across the 22-mile long lake, and the jammed, 60s-vintage four-laner carries 155,000 to 160,000 people per day. The odds-on favorite to replace it is……a new, wider and safer floating bridge. However, well-heeled communities at both ends have strong concerns about bridge-related noise and air pollution, and on the Seattle side, about current roadway impacts on the Washington Park Arboretum. These concerns could translate into expensive mitigation measures attached to a new bridge, Read More ›

Congestion Pricing, Tolls Loom For Puget Sound

With the defeat by Puget Sound taxpayers of a multi-billion-dollar roads and transit ballot measure Nov. 6, momentum is growing for tolling and congestion pricing to help ease traffic congestion in the Seattle region, as this news and opinion round-up shows. In a Puget Sound Transportation Action Plan just unveiled, Cascadia Center also accents tolling and congestion pricing, along with centralized regional decision-making on transportation; more private investment in roads and transit; more bus rapid transit and commuter rail; an enhanced network of suburban park-and-ride lots; plus more government fleet purchases of – and fuel infrastructure development for – flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Puget Sound hesitantly stands on the cusp of allocating more rationally its scarce road capacity. Tolling Read More ›

Puget Sound Mobility Requires Public-Private Partnerships

The Tacoma News Tribune reports this morning that the crumbling, 94-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge has been ordered closed by State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, raising strong city council concerns about access to Tacoma’s tidelands areas for medical or industrial emergency response. A 2004 estimate pegs rehab costs at $77 million, but only $25 million has been secured to date, the TNT reports. Current road and transit needs for the Puget Sound Region total $66 billion over the next two decades, according to a transportation governance commission created by the Washington State Legislature and Governor Christine Gregoire. Those needs are likely to grow. The population of four-county metro Seattle will rise from the 2000 U.S. Census level of 3.276 million by Read More ›

The Straightforward Benefits Of Roundabouts

Puget Sound’s arterial roads need more roundabouts. They’re much bigger than the “traffic circles” in residential Seattle, and do occasionally materialize in the suburbs here. More to the point, they’re cheaper than stoplights (both to build and maintain), reduce congestion and save fuel. Most importantly, roundabouts have 80% fewer crashes with injuries than regular intersections. The Economist makes the case for roundabouts, and notes there’ve been about 100 constructed in Washington state, which is approximately one-tenth of the U.S. total. Some other nations have exponentially more than the U.S., the magazine reports. So why don’t we use roundabouts more, and why aren’t they part of the solution? It might be a small win, but at this point, shouldn’t we also Read More ›

State Auditor’s Report Details Congestion-Busting Agenda

A report issued yesterday by Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office urges the state to more aggressively attack highway congestion, beginning with a formal declaration that congestion is a top transportation policy priority. The Seattle Times reported on the findings today. The transportation performance audit, prepared for Sonntag’s office by Talbot, Korvola & Warwick of Portland, goes on to make more than 20 specific policy recommendations. These include urging that the state legislature should: “empower a single body – either the Department of Transportation or a regional transportation entity for the Puget Sound Region – to allow for a more integrated approach to planning for congestion reduction:” “choose/identify transportation projects based on congestion reduction rather than other agendas;” “implement new Read More ›

New Grant For Bridge Rebuild Prods Regional Tolling Debate

News that federal DOT officials have accepted the offer by Puget Sound transportation leaders to toll a new State Route 520 bridge by September of 2009 in exchange for $139 million in new bridge-rebuild cash from the feds will accelerate a much needed debate about the eventual need for system-wide tolling here. This dialog is coming despite two state gas tax hikes in recent years, and a hard-to-get-your-mind-around $17.8 billion regional Roads and Transit vote on November 6. The new federal money for rebuilding the unsafe and congested SR 520 bridge – money explicitly conditioned upon supplemental tolling of the bridge – comes in response to a successful Urban Partnership grant application to USDOT from a team including WSDOT, the Read More ›

Cascadia Unveils Tolling Proposal for I-5, & SR 99 Tunnel

In a Puget Sound Business Journal op-ed published this morning, our Cascadia Center’s Director Bruce Agnew posits that tolling and private investment could pay for replacement of the shaky Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in Seattle – and for reconfiguration of badly-congested Interstate 5 in the city, as well. Neither are included in a multi-billion-dollar roads and transit ballot measure facing Central Puget Sound voters in November. …two crucial transportation projects relevant to the Minnesota tragedy are partially on hold — replacement of the central waterfront section of Alaska Way Viaduct on State Route 99, and full funding for reconstruction of the 40-year-old stretch of Interstate 5 from Northgate to Tukwila. ….any notion that the viaduct’s 110,000 daily Read More ›