According to Crosscut, it was a year ago today that we first learned that the giant tunneling machine “Bertha” had become stuck in the muck beneath Seattle. One year later, Bertha remains stuck, and construction of a deep bore tunnel replacement to the teetering Alaskan Way Viaduct remains no closer to completion.
On this anniversary of ineptitude it is useful to remember whose brainchild this boondoggle was in the first place: none other than Seattle’s infamously faith-based “think” tank, the Discovery Institute! Yes, that Discovery Institute—the equally proud progenitors of the science-denying theory of so-called Intelligent Design! As I scoffed nearly 7 years ago today:
I once proposed building a gigantic rollercoaster along the West Seattle to downtown portion of the Monorail’s abandoned Green Line, and you didn’t see my joke of a transportation proposal picked up by the MSM, let alone labeled “visionary”. And yet the Seattle Rollercoaster Project is no less technically challenging nor politically, well, utterly fucking ridiculous than Discovery’s deep bore, crosstown tunnel. Engineering and economic feasibility aside, God himself could descend from the heavens with a blueprint in one hand and an infinite supply of cash in the other, only to be greeted by polar bear clad environmentalists and angry Eastside developers complaining that He isn’t doing enough to ease congestion on I-405. In a city where completion of a 1.3 mile vanity trolley line is feted like some transportation miracle, the very notion that local voters might commit more than a half billion dollars a mile to an untested technology is a dramatic tribute to Discovery’s primary mission of promoting the exercise of faith over reason.
Of course, with hindsight, I was wrong about the political feasibility. A cabal of elected officials ultimately shoved Bertha down our throats. Where it remains lodged to this day.