Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How We Got Here: Seattle's New Tunnel

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Carolyn Adolph: "In the 1950s we built an express route through downtown. It's a double-decker

highway and it lets people off in the middle of the city. It's also ugly,

it cuts people off from the waterfront, and we don't really understand about

earthquakes yet. In 1989 a viaduct collapses in the Loma Prieta earthquake

in California. And 41 people are crushed to death. That viaduct looks a lot like our

viaduct. Now we're worried. And then in 2001 in the Nisqually quake, the viaduct

is actually damaged. Consensus is really hard to achieve in Seattle. This video

helped: It's the official one that shows the collapse of the waterfront.

Agreement accomplished! And now we move into a construction phase. The plan is to build

a bored tunnel under downtown Seattle that will survive an earthquake. We'll be

using the world's largest tunnel boring machine. It'll be working at the limit of

human engineeringwhat could go wrong? Well, Bertha starts up in July of 2013

and runs into trouble within months. There's the affair of the broken pipe

and the map that could have pointed to it, and there's the multi-year rescue of

Bertha using a specially designed crane. In all a project that's supposed to take

14 months ends up taking 45 months! But we get there. Last year in April

Bertha broke through. And now they're preparing the tunnel for a fall opening.

The tunnel is not going to allow cars off in the middle of downtown Seattle

the way the viaduct does now, so that means some people who use the viaduct

might not find that the tunnel is helpful. It would be good to figure that

out before they start the tolling."

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