Sunday, January 4, 2015

Old and New: Elevated and Box Tunnel with Minimal Excavation

NYC Manhattan West Side Highway- Old & New
new box tunnel beneath Riverside Drive boulevard extension

Old= Elevated Viaduct

New= Submerged Tunnel Box

Least expensive when done with no or minimal excavation, as respectively with a tunnel box atop the existing SE Freeway segment between 11th Street and Barney Circle- Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and with an extension of that freeway to RFK Stadium.

Washington, D.C. Barney Circle
Existing SE Freeway and immediate unbuilt extension involving no heavy excavation

Tunnel Box atop existing SE Freeway segment between 11th Street and Barney Circle

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bertha Sabotaged?

Ignorant ideology blinded Grist article by David Roberts gloating about the problem with the 'Bertha' TBM fails to mention the actual engineering problem of the machine being blocked by a pipe left by a subcontractor that failed to enter its location into a database- facts gathered from the article's comment section.

The 'large steel pipe' that broke the tunneling Machine, Bertha, is one reason government should stop using private contractors for every damned thing. We should have used WSDOT folks to do that work. It was there specifically to test to see if the ground could handle a tunnel. It wasn't on the map so the company boring the hole didn't know it was there. If WSDOT had done that work, it would have been on the map. Blame the folks who didn't keep records and pass along the information. Don't blame the tunnel idea.

The vote for the tunnel in Seattle was close. I like the idea of a seaside park the whole length of Downtown Seattle. Many others did too. It will happen.

The viaduct is an eyesore. It also happens that is was, designed and built by the same company with the same materials as the Oakland Freeway that killed a bunch of people during a big earthquake. It needs to come down, yesterday.

I grew up in Chicago where we have a 'surface option' called Lake Shore Drive. It makes it impossible to get to the lake from neighborhoods except every half mile or so where there is an underpass. So much for neighborhood kids playing in the park or walking to the lake shore on a lunch break. A surface option here would make Interstate 5 even more of a clogged mess.

The tunnel is part of State Route 99 which is a 50 mile road from Everett, Washington to Fife. Everett is a huge port town (look up Everett in 1916). It also passes through Tacoma, another huge port town. Where do you think this traffic will end up? What is being suggested by this article is to split this important highway in half. It is bad enough shipping trucks will have to take I-5. To make commuters cram onto the already overwhelmed interstate is plain stupid.

That large steel pipe was installed by WSDOT and failed to put on their maps. The private contractors were relying on information provided by WSDOT gathered during the pre-construction phase that lasted several years for ground even broke. In essence, it was WSDOT's fault unfortunately.

SR 99's importance for freight traffic is minimal since there is no easy access to SR 99 from most of the docks and the Battery Street tunnel restrictions. Most freight traffic funnels on the West Seattle Freeway towards I-5 and beyond. SR 99 is a subpar bypass when Interstate 5 is clogged up though, but that's mainly speaking about the north end around Green Lake where you have to rely on surface streets to make it back to I-5 from SR 99. You don't have that issue with the south end with the SR 599 freeway connection.

SR 99 used to be US Hwy 99 before Interstate 5 took over most of the existing route. But Seattle needs the minimum of two thru-traffic arteries in the area. I would disgress that thru-traffic should go around on I-405, but that freeway is in much FUBAR shape as it's brethren.

Read the article again; "it? Turns out Bertha ran into a large steel pipe that was left there by a WSDOT employee in 2002. Yes, WSDOT killed its own machine. It’s almost poetic. [Correction, 12/16/14:

The steel pipe casing was left in the ground not by a WSDOT employee,
but by a WSDOT-hired contractor. Also, Seattle Tunnel Partners, which
owns Bertha, says the machine broke down due to overheating; neither STP
nor anyone is sure exactly why, or whether the pipe casing is to

It's still ultimately falls on WSDOT to keep their stuff updated. Accountability lies with both the contractor and WSDOT for being the ultimate supervisory organization. STP is still relying on information provided by WSDOT that they did before actual construction occurred.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Minimal Parking Subvert Diversity

Discourage families, the arts via denying pace for collectible automobiles and denying potential storage space, making a less diverse more transient neighborhood, is it any wonder that 'new urbanists' position for maximizing developer profits.
  1. Mary said at 3:03 pm on Friday December 5, 2014:
    I also live in SW and agree with DC225. I think this new trend towards buildings with very few spaces tends to assume that all residents will always be 24 year olds with jobs and friends all right in the city and disinclined to take on the expense of a car. SW is an interesting case because it has a really long standing set of residents and isn’t too high turnover (we’ll see if that changes when the Wharf and its micro-units arrive). In my observation, people do tend to drive more when their household expands and they’re buying groceries and things for more than one person, when they have kids, when friends move to the suburbs, when they’re no longer in the metro-accessible job they had when they bought their place and now have to drive…And accomodating a place to put a car does allow people to stay in a building and community they like even when other lifestyle factors change. And construction that helps build permanent rather than transient neighborhoods that accomodate a mix of families and ages is a really useful thing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rockefeller Foundation Forgets Trucks With Push Against 12 ft Lanes

A new push against 12 foot wide lanes, calling for vehicular traffic lanes to be narrowed to 10 feet.

Sobered by my now palpable failure, I have steeled myself for the task of explaining here, in a manner that can never be disputed or ignored, why the single best thing we can do for the health, wealth, and integrity of this great nation is to forbid the construction, ever again, of any traffic lane wider than 10 feet.

Is authored by Jeff Speck, AICP, LEED-AP, CNU-A, Honorary ASLA - a city planner and writer based in Washington, D.C., and author of, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, which was the best-selling urban planning title of 2013.

It assumes a safety advantage of narrower lanes upon an assumption that people will necessarily drive sufficiently slower resulting in lower speeds when pedestrians are hit.

It makes no mention of trucks or emergency vehicles.  Nor buses.

It is funded by the  Rockefeller Foundation, furthermore indicating that entity's disregard for common sense and beholdence to neo-feudalism.