The Seattle Tunnel Megaproject

Oct 25
Overcoming nature and other project hurdles


Mr. Garfein’s first talk at UTS about this megaproject was in October 2010, just before the contract was awarded to Seattle Tunnel Partners. Now nine years later the tunnel is complete, and the Seattle waterfront is being transformed. In this talk on the completion of Seattle Tunnel Megaproject by Steve Garfein from Seattle you will learn about the challenges the project faced and lessons learned.

Following the presentation by Mr. Garfein, Professor Sankaran, School of the Built Environment, will provide a research-based perspective of Megaproject Management and Leadership;

“Megaprojects can cause major displacements in social and geophysical issues that affect the environment. Dr. Sankaran will close the program with an overview of the attributes megaproject managers exhibit leading large complex projects that have wide implications for the society, economy, and the environment.”

About the Seattle Tunnel Megaproject
State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct, in Seattle, was an elevated concrete structure built in the 1950s built next to the Cascadia Fault which produces some of the most damaging earthquakes in the world. Since its construction it was always feared the viaduct was likely to collapse in event of a significant earthquake.

It has now been replaced with a new 3.2 Km tunnel beneath downtown Seattle. The tunnel was built using one of the largest Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) called ‘Bertha’, which was five stories tall and weighed 8,000 tonnes. The project was significantly delayed when Bertha got stuck underground for two years.

Delays and costs aside the resulting build was an engineering and construction feat and is designed to withstand an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale.

This joint event with the Centre for Informatics Research and Innovation at the School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney is free to AIPM members and UTS Students and Staff.

CPD Points: 4


Steve Garfein Mr. Garfein is the founder and president of RPM Systems Corporation. Since its founding in 1979, RPM has been a thought leader in strategic portfolio management and in leading organizational change. 

Prior to RPM, Steve was one of the "Founders" of the Apache Helicopter program owned by Howard Hughes, he implemented a portfolio management system compliant with the US Department of Defense criteria, and an online Remote Program Management system to manage the Apache's far-flung major subcontractors. This development led directly to the founding or RPM Systems.

Steve has been a visiting professor teaching masters-level courses at Oxford University, University of Technology Sydney, and the Queensland University of Technology. He has published and presented more than two dozen papers at Project Management Institute Congresses, and Microsoft Conferences throughout the world.


Steve Garfein

Event Partner

University of Technology Sydney