Talking Headways Podcast: Here I Am, Stuck in Seattle With You

podcast icon logoStuck in Seattle or Stuck in Sherman Oaks. There are so many places to get stuck these days and so many clowns and jokers making it worse.

First, poor Bertha, stuck 100 feet under Seattle. All the tunnel boring machine wanted to do was drill a 1.7-mile tunnel for a highway that won’t even access downtown and is projected to cause more congestion at a higher price than a parallel surface/transit option — and it got stuck just 1,000 feet in. Last December. Now the rescue plan is making downtown sink. It’s not going well. And to be honest, it was always destined to not go well. It was a crappy plan to begin with. Luckily, there is a rescue plan for the rescue plan, if anyone cares to carry it out. It starts with some accountability and ends — spoiler alert! — with pulling the damn plug.

But if the new tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct is likely to cause traffic tie-ups, it’s nothing compared to the perennial jam on LA’s I-405. The popular navigation app Waze has started directing drivers off the freeway and into the residential neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, infuriating the people who live there. Their solution: Try to convince Waze there are traffic jams in Sherman Oaks too. Our solution: Build a better transportation system.

And that’s it! This is our last podcast until the New Year. You can catch up on anything you missed on iTunes or Stitcher, and if you follow our RSS feed (or our Twitter feeds) you’ll be the first to know when a new episode is out.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Trails!

  • C Monroe

    They should extend the greenline northwards instead of southwards(make that the crenshaw line) have it join the crenshaw line pass LAX then have it follow 405 through the westside, across the pass, to the northern end of the valley(connect it to metrolink, also in Norwalk at the other end).

  • In both Seattle and Sherman Oaks, I got the feeling that something ain’t right.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    The Seattle tunnel is a pile of cow dung.

  • Jonathan Nguyen

    The discussion of whether large transit projects are as vulnerable to boondogglery as auto infrastructure projects brought to mind the NYC 2nd Ave Subway and related developments.

    I think the paucity of funding for huge transit projects can sometimes actually incentivize boondoggle-ish behavior like intentionally under-projecting costs or targeting politicians’ susceptibility to the sunk-cost fallacy.

  • Joe Linton

    Not a big deal – love the pod! But Jeff said “Universal City” when I am pretty sure he meant “Century City.”

  • douglasawillinger

    Why gloat? That its a tunnel for vehicles rather than trains has absolutely nothing to do with the construction problem. And was not the construction problem caused by a pipe that the transportation authority had itself placed there- sabotage?

  • douglasawillinger
  • Peter L

    The comparison to the Big Dig really isn’t good – the Alaskan Viaduct replacement is just a tunnel. In Boston, they started in the 1980s by completely rejiggering (engineering term) the ramps leading from the Tobin Bridge (which carried US 1) to the existing Central Artery (I-93, SH 3) where it crossed the Charles R. Then they completely buried what was the Central Artery in a new tunnel, one that had to connect to the two existing tunnels under the harbor and rebuilt the existing tunnel under what had been Dewey Square for the SB lanes. *Then* they built another tunnel (tolled) to extend I-90 under the harbor to access Logan and other points on the North Shore. Before the construction, I-93 was at an AADT of something like 150 or 160k while the Alaskan Way was like 1/3 that. So the comparison isn’t a good one.

    Besides, one was cost overruns probably due to corruption and the other was a money-consuming machine that got stuck (probably because of incompetence, but maybe corruption).

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