Roads, Bridges & Tunnels

A few good tunnels

We’ve already mentioned the 50 km tunnel for $3.5 billion that the Swiss voted to build. I wondered: the Swiss are building some fantastic tunnel in the Alps (see Matt’s 6/11 post)… but they’re Swiss. Surely they must be crazy.
As it turns out, their costs are not unusual for transportation infrastructure projects in developed countries. A random grab-bag since 1994:
English Channel Tunnel
Cost: 9 billion pounds (US $14 billion)
Length: 50 km (31 miles)
Cost per mile: $451 mil
Cooper River Bridge, SC, longest cable-stay bridge in America
Cost: $531 million
Length: 2.5 miles
Cost per mile: $212 mil
Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Washington DC
Cost: $2.4 billion
Length: 1.1 miles
Cost per mile: $2.2 bil
Daily Commuters: 200,000 (twice the capacity for the same price as ours)
Millau Viaduct, France
Cost: $394 million
The builders, Eiffage, financed the construction in return for a concession to collect the tolls for 75 years, until 2080. However, if the concession is very profitable, the French government can assume control of the bridge in 2044.
Length: 1.5 miles
Cost per mile: $262 mil
Sydney Harbor Tunnel, Australia
Cost: A$ 554 mil
Built by a private partnership, the tunnel is currently on a thirty-year lease, and will be handed back to the State Government in August 2022.
Length: 1.4 miles
Cost per mile: A$ 395 mil

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Swiss Build 21-Mile Train Tunnel Through Alps

The San Jose Mercury News carries the full Associated Press story on the recent opening of the 21-mile Loetschberg Base Tunnel. Billed as the world’s longest land tunnel, it is a trainway built through the Alps to ease road congestion and deliver skiers twice as quickly from south of Bern to the gateway town of Visp near the Zermatt and Gourmayeur ski regions of Switzerland and Italy, respectively. The tunnel’s cost in U.S. dollars: $3.5 billion. Passenger trains will reach speeds of 150 miles per hour in the tunnel; freight trains 100 mph. BBC reports the tunnel will eventually handle up to 42 passenger trains and 80 frieght trains per day. A picture of the tunnel’s construction is below, right. Read More ›

Research Compendium

Last updated August 25, 2008 The research, it just keeps coming. On this page, we’ll compile links to key studies and reports on innovation in transportation. MANAGING, PLANNING & FUNDING TRANSPORTATION Cascadia Center Reports “Lessons In Public-Private Partnerships & Climate Change: What British Columbia Taught California, And What Washington Can Still Learn,” 10/07. “A Tale Of Three Cities: How San Diego, Denver and Vancouver, B.C. Raised Major Regional Funds For Transportation,” Doug Hurley, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 9/06. “Travel Value Pricing: Better Traffic Operations Management & New Revenue For The Puget Sound Region,” John S. Niles, for Cascadia Center, 4/06. “Transportation Working Group Recommendations,” Transportation Working Group, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2/15/05. Transportation Working Group background, members, and Read More ›

State Route 520 Bridge Funding Requires Leadership

The estimated cost now is as high as $4.4 billion to replace the dangerously earthquake-prone Evergreen Point Floating Bridge on State Route 520, which crosses Lake Washington to connect the populous and job-rich Eastside with Seattle. But only $560 million is in hand; and the rest is decidedly iffy, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. (UPDATE: The state DOT’s 520 page lists $1.25 billion in identified funding, including $700 million in tolls). The P-I editorializes we need to get the full funding package pulled together ASAP. …we’re told that the Evergreen Point Bridge will be rebuilt, pronto, even though we’re $3.5 billion short on the project’s budget. We currently have just under 20 percent of the bridge’s $4.4 billion secured….This “build Read More ›

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct And Urban Crime

The replacement of Seattle’s slowly sinking, aged and earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct has lately been at the center of an unresolved political and planning controversy now entering a much needed cool-down phase. Yet the concern remains: what are the effects of large, elevated roadways over busy urban neighborhoods? The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that in the booming Belltown neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle, the nearby elevated Viaduct helps encourage street drug sales and drug use which has demanded increased police presence and continues apace. Under the shadow of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle police officers Katrina Stuckey and Andrew West seize a crack pipe and a rock of cocaine from a woman in Belltown who is about to Read More ›