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 2016:
Bertha/Alaskan Way Viaduct
Much of 2015 was spent watching the fix of Bertha, the world’s largest tunnel-boring machine that had sat stuck under downtown Seattle since December 2013. But the final days of the year brought with it a Bertha boring yet again. With Bertha fully repaired, 2016 can go two distinctly different directions for the project the replaces the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct with a bored tunnel. Those two choices remain: well and poor. If Bertha methodically mines under the city, that’s one story. But if Bertha again has issues, well, that’s an entirely different style of story for the mega-project.
Already in 2015 we saw the opening of the nation’s longest transit/pedestrian bridge, Tilikum Crossing. We can expect another bridge opening in 2016, as the Sellwood Bridge nears completion too. But more than a new bridge, Portland also has plans to replace the troubled deck on the Morrison Bridge, a project that requires clever engineering and planning.
State Route 520
The world’s longest floating bridge remains well on its way to opening in spring 2016, marking a major milestone in the entire State Route 520 corridor project. The floating bridge project has proven a magnificent project after a rocky start, completely changing the way Seattle does floating bridges. Not only will we watch the opening of the bridge and how it performs, but attention will also turn to other SR520 projects.
Streetcars and Light Rail
After months of delays in Seattle’s new streetcar project, 2016 should give us a new start date for the streetcar link downtown. Will the delays have been worth the wait? At the same time, agencies in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., both work on expansions and plans for future expansions for light rail service, topics that will keep popping up throughout the year.
Vancouver’s Viaducts to Come Down
The $200 million effort to demolish and remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in downtown Vancouver inches toward actual work. The viaducts will come down and get replaced by surface streets in Vancouver’s stadium district. The process could prove interesting both from a construction point of view and from a city planning perspective.
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 2016, 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 2016, 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.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.