SEATTLE, Feb. 2, 2019—For 65 years, an elevated, two-level highway—the Alaskan Way Viaduct—split downtown Seattle from its waterfront, not unlike Boston's Central Artery that split the city.
The viaduct was built on mudflats and landfill, and it had already begun sinking when, in 2001, when a medium-sized earthquake hit, causing major damage to brick masonry buildings, and causing the viaduct to sink even more.
This being Seattle, folks debated for years on how to replace it. Extremist environmentalists argued to tear the thing down and not replace it. Yeah, that would show those cars and trucks who's in charge.
Finally, voters approved a waterfront tunnel to carry the traffic—just as Boston's Central Artery was replaced by a tunnel.
Like Boston, the tunnel project was over budget and several years late. (No corruption, but the tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Bertha after our first female mayor, and the largest boring machine ever made at the time, got stuck and broken. The lawsuits continue.)
But hurrah! On Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, the new waterfront tunnel opens. To celebrate the viaduct's closure and imminent removal, the state opened up to pedestrians the viaduct, an old tunnel to which it connected (which will be filled in), as well as the new tunnel.
At least 200,000 people showed up today to walk the viaduct, old tunnel, and new tunnel. the new tunnel was built in a four-story tube that Bertha created. The southbound and northbound lanes are on top of each other.
Remember the old Washington Mutual bank that screwed so many of its customers and employees because its leadership combined both greed and incompetence? The tall building in back is its former headquarters, a monument to greed.
The cool-looking building in the right front is a condo whose assessed valuation just soared because now the residents have a view unimpeded by a noisy elevated highway.