State lawmakers have put a lot of faith in deep-bore technology and the latest advances that, we’re told, will make the Viaduct tunnel possible. But apparently, not too much faith. That’s why as a condition of providing a couple billion dollars of funding in the recently passed transportation budget, legislators threw in a provision that requires Seattle taxpayers to pull out their checkbooks for any cost overruns.
But you know… what are the chances of that? Transportation mega-projects always come in on time and on budget, and those giant tunnel boring machines? They’re as infallible as the Pope.
On Beacon Hill, Christine Miller-Panganiban said she was doing a little gardening in her front yard a couple of Sundays ago, when she noticed a mysterious hole. She stuck her shovel down. It didn’t feel the bottom.
Her husband got a piece of tubing seven feet long. Still they couldn’t feel the bottom. Only when she looked down it with a flashlight did she find that it went down 21 feet. “Oh my God,” she thought, and more when she realized that suddenly there was a deep void that now only went down and down, but extended under her house.
The hole was apparently created when Sound Transit was boring the tunnel for the new light rail line. On Monday, Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray acknowledged the agency has found seven underground voids caused by its boring machine within a couple of blocks east of the future Beacon Hill station, though the one in Miller-Panganiban’s front yard was the only one visible from the surface. Aside from causing concern in the neighborhood, he said testing for them and filling them would cost the agency up to $1 million.Oops. Apparently, the boring machine hit a layer of sand, which flowed into the tunnel leaving a gap in its place.
What kind of gap? “An empty gap,” Sound Transit’s Bruce Gray explains to us laymen.
But let’s not worry about all those boring details. The scientifically minded folks at the Discovery Institute assure us that recent technological advances make it possible to dig the world’s largest diameter deep bore tunnel, straight under downtown Seattle, cheaper, faster and more reliably than ever before possible. So unforeseen and costly technical hurdles — like, you know… sand — couldn’t possibly happen here.
Oh wait… it just did.