Della’s Tortured Logic
In Tuesday’s Seattle Times, City Council member David Della made the case for rebuilding the Alaskan Way Viaduct rather than holding out for the city and state’s “preferred” tunnel option. “[B]uilding a new, stronger viaduct is estimated to cost between $2.7 billion and $3.1 billion and is projected to take between six and eight years to build,” Della writes. “Do we really want to risk people’s lives betting on an aesthetic point of view?”
Della’s op-ed is both metaphorically tortured (“Our safety is at risk each day that we hold out false hope that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”; “I can’t stand by in good conscience and let safety, jobs and transportation take a back seat to a gold-plated alternative”) and logically unsound. If the viaduct can be shut down for six to eight years during reconstruction (not much less than the estimated seven-to-nine-year shutdown tunnel construction would require), why can’t it be shut down permanently?
The state Department of Transportation estimates that a $4.1 billion, six-lane viaduct tunnel would reach its full capacity in nine years - after that, it would be just as congested as the current highway. That’s a big investment for less than a decade of traffic relief. Tearing down the viaduct and rebuilding the traffic connections through downtown instead would cost far less - and accomplish far more in the long term - than spending billions on a tunnel that will do almost nothing for the city’s long-term transportation needs.