The Big Dig grinds down

What does Seattle do, when it reaches the bottom of a giant underground urban boondoggle? Keep digging.

In short: There is no plan to resolve the dispute over cost overruns, which are ubiquitous on projects like this; at $4.2 billion, it’s the most expensive transportation project in state history. The tunnel will have no exits — no ingress or egress — throughout the entire downtown core (which makes the support of downtown businesses all the more mystifying). It won’t allow transit, only cars. It will be tolled, highly enough, by the state’s own estimates, to drive nearly half its traffic onto the aforementioned side streets. It will be a precarious engineering feat, the widest deep-bore tunnel in history, digging right between a) Puget Sound and b) the oldest part of Seattle, with vulnerable buildings and God-knows-what buried infrastructure. Also: Pollution. Climate change. It’s the 21st f’ing century. On and on. People said all this and more, in real time, to no avail.
One of the people fighting hardest against the tunnel? Visionary mayor Mike McGinn, who spent his term in office warning that exactly what is happening now was going to happen. For his efforts, Seattle voted him out of office. We prefer to hang on to our illusions.

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