A new year gives us a fresh reason to look at old projects. As some of the Pacific Northwest’s largest construction efforts last for years, they can ebb and flow in and out of the news, based on both good and bad turns of events. Let’s take a look at what we can expect to see hit this blog and potentially the pages of ENR throughout 2015:
Bertha/Alaskan Way Viaduct
Don’t expect this story to go away any time soon. With Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine attempting to create a 1.7-mile-long tunnel beneath downtown Seattle to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, stuck since December 2013, the story will continue to heat up in 2015. Soon crews will have completed the access pit in front of the machine and start the repair process. From there, though, comes another attempt at tunneling. How will the repair go? How will the tunneling restart go? Will this project get back on track? This next year holds major importance for one of the nation’s largest projects.
State Route 520
Seattle’s other major construction project successfully flew under the radar in 2014. The State Route 520 corridor project, which includes a complete replacement of the world’s longest floating bridge, will hit a majority of major milestones in 2015 on its way to a spring 2016 opening of the floating bridge. While this project doesn’t have the same major question marks surrounding it as the tunnel project, expect to see crews reach closer to a finish on the floating bridge.
Light Rail (Seattle version)
Sound Transit stays busy. Light rail in Seattle has plenty of catching up to do, but Sound Transit has taken on the job of doing just that. The University Link project is nearing the final stretch of work with station work and expect more and more news to come out regarding the extensions to the north, east and south.
Light Rail (Vancouver, B.C., version)
Light rail has life north of Seattle, with a fairly robust system in Vancouver, B.C., seeing current expansion and future plans. The growing Evergreen Line has an extension set to open in 2016, so work is moving quickly on that project. At the same time, planning continues on other extensions, including for the Expo Line and the much-discussed University of British Columbia extension.
Yes, the city of Victoria, B.C., is still spewing raw sewage into the Salish Sea, the body of water that sits between Vancouver Island and Washington State. Yes, in 2015, we still have a major municipality unable to properly treat sewage. And plans to remedy the situation have so far resulted in money spent and nothing to show. Hopefully in 2015, we can see Victoria settle on a treatment plant location and plan and get this project moving quickly. It needs to happen and shamefully hasn’t.
The Carless Portland Bridge
Portland’s Tilikum Crossing will serve as the city’s newest bridge over the Willamette River. But this one won’t allow vehicles, only a light rail extension, transit and pedestrians and cyclists. While the major work on the bridge is complete, expect the bridge to open in fall 2015, marking a major milestone as the nation’s longest car-free bridge.
More near the Water
Portland continues to focus on the waterfront for large projects. Expect to see more planning and construction near downtown Portland’s waterfront as 2015 progresses.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.