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Friday, March 31, 2006

Steinbrueck Says: Stop Catering to Cars

Posted by on March 31 at 12:27 PM

Council Member Peter Steinbrueck addressed the 36th District Democrats last night (Ballard), making the case that there needs to be a third, surface/transit Viaduct replacement option on the ballot rather than just Nickels’s tunnel freeway option or the freeway rebuild option.

“How can we be the ‘Kyoto Protocols city’,” Steinbrueck asked, “when the single biggest transportation investment we’re making is road centric rather than transit centric?”

Indeed, the current third option—which intends to move 30,000 of the 110,000 vehicles that currently use the Viaduct to transit options—is a solution that would change our detrimental habits rather than cater to them.

“Our current thinking is antiquated,” Steinbrueck says. “It’s backwards thinking. It’s all for roads.”

Steinbrueck says he currently has 4 votes (including his own) to put a third option on the ballot: DREAMMMY Council President Nick Licata, Tom Rasmussen, and Richard Conlin.

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"The current third option--which intends to move 30,000 of the 110,000 vehicles that currently use the Viaduct to transit options"

WHAT TRANSIT OPTIONS? There are not transit options; there's just hand-waving saying "trips will disappear like magic". Never mind what happens to those trips. Or the 80,000 other trips.

They're not going to move to transit; there is no transit. The so-called third option is nothing but a big FUCK YOU to the entire western half of the city, including downtown. "Your traffic doesn't matter; we don't care where you go as long as you go away".

If Peter Piper here has some realistic transit plans he'd like to share with us, we're all ears. We had one: the monorail. It's dead now. When is the council going to wake up to reality and stop pretending that there's transit when there's NO TRANSIT?

Get those people out of their cars and you won't need those new roads.

Hi. I live and work downtown. Please do not include me in this "western half" of the city that demands road capacity. I would be plenty happy if the viaduct was replaced with nothing at all.

But anyway, I think the transit options are supposed to be buses. Maybe they'll convert some I5 lanes to bus-only use? Well, probably not... but fewer cars would be better in any case. The pollution around here is pretty bad.

Okay, so my question... a) how exactly do no-rebuild proponents plan to get 30,000 cars off the roads? Will the drivers be physically removed from their cars and placed onto bus shuttles by law enforcement? Just assuming they'll ride the bus if you expand Metro's service is too passive and won't get the message across...

And b) how do you know for certain that those other 80,000 vehicles will flow just fine along a surface level four lane street? Remember, part of the viaduct's M.O. is that it moves those 100,000 cars through the city more efficiently than if they had to drive through Downtown.

Christopher: your argument works if you assume that downtown is a self-contained unit neither wanting or needing any connection to the outside world. Maybe that's true for you but it's not for most people.

I'm all in favor of the no-build option. But then again I ride a bike everywhere for almost everything. Trying to figure out where all those trips are going to go sounds like a problem for people commuting into our city to work and then back to the burbs for happy hour at TGI Fridays.

Fuck em.

No, Mr. Ballard: Fuck YOU. The viaduct doesn't serve "the 'burbs". It serves the City of Seattle. Maybe you've heard of it? Maybe you know people for whom a bike is not a realistic (or safe) option?

Who said I was a Mr?

The viaduct serves more than just the City of Seattle. When they tear it down to build whatever they decide to build people are going to figure out how to get around. Frankly, no option is going to be perfect for everyone.

And I know a number of people who can't or don't bike. But I know countless others who could benefit from broadening their thinking about transportation. Single occupant driving day in and day out is simply a retarded use of resources.

Right. But the other options have been DENIED TO US. You can't just blithely say "oh, SOV cars, bad bad bad" if you REFUSE to allow any other options. Steinbruck doesn't have any options; he's just pretending Seattle has proper mass transit like real cities does, because it's easier to live in a fantasy world than to face facts.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a transit booster and a transit rider, when it's practical. And I've been a year-round bicycle commuter as well, in considerably harsher climates than this one (Boston in the snow, for instance).

I'm also still waiting for someone to tell me something TRUE about what's going to replace the Viaduct in the magic no-build option. All I've heard so far is fantastic lies. Salmon spawning. Yeah, right.

The irony is that Steinbrueck was one of the City "leaders" who prevented the monorail. It's pretty weird for him to be calling for more transit.

He's not "calling for more transit". It's worse than that. He's just pretending that "more transit" already exists. Maybe he thinks that trains will just sprout up out of the ground if crowds of people gather at likely stations and wait. Sort of like the Interurban statue in Fremont (which is in a spot never served by an Interurban).

I wonder if Steinbrueck takes the bus (or bikes) to work.

Steinbrueck wasn't a huge monorail supporter, but after the council gave the monorail the right to go thru Seattle Center in a contentious 2004 5-4 vote (Steinbrueck on the losing end, I think) and then after the voters shot down the recall in 2004 and Steinbrueck trekked to Las Vegas to check out the line there, he became a bit of a convert and helped advocate for the system.

The real irony is from Nickels, who is now hyping his Green Ribbon report—a big call for less dependancy on cars—while simultaneously stumping for a freeway option downtown to accommodate 110,000 vehicles.

Geez Josh, Sounds like Councilmember Pissy Pants stoled your line. In addition to being the coke dealer to the Licata staff, it sounds like you are also now ghost writing for the Steinbrueck office. You must be raking in the bucks and can probably afford to go with Dan to have some 16 dollar scallops at the Harvest Vine. Enjoy!

Canada can't do Kyoto, but Cap Hill can. Uh huh.

I hate the idea of bike commuting. It sucks to ride your bike in Seattle. It's rainy and dark 8 months out of the year. Riding from West Seattle sucks too. I have done it more than once. I tried the Bike to Work for a month thing last summer and it was okay because it was summer but I REALLY hated having to haul my clothes and gromming products in and shower at the gym. That bites! You have to be really committed to be a bike commuter here. And riding 6 blocks up Columbia-- that really fucking sucks.

Maybe the waterfront highway, in whichever form, could go away if we had a FUCKING MONORAIL. But since that option has been well and truly screwed up, taking the highway away is not going to help anyone.

Another vote for regional transit is on the way and we need to support it full force. More light rail, more express bus service, more BRT, more Sounder, more transit. I hope you all get of you duffs and work hard for that camapign

Vote "NO!"


If the viaduct is simply eliminated, people will either switch to I5/Alaskan Way/1st Avenue/4th Avenue and complain about their long commute, or move the hell out of West Seattle. Either way, I don't really care. These people driving on the viaduct don't care about my lungs, so I guess we're even.

We should have had rocket packs and space-cars by now. I feel so wronged. As a kid watching the Jetsons I felt that was the future we were promised. It was all a big lie. I want my rocket pack, dammit.

You know, while they're at it, why don't they put a fourth option on the ballot too: a gets-the-job-done, $10 billion tunnels that takes the viaduct underground from start to finish.

And a fifth: a double-decker I5 plus an 85th Street or other east/west expressway to Ballard to make the westsiders happy.

And how about putting funding options on the ballot too? Do we want to pay tolls, or tax downtown building/condo owners for the improvement, or dedicate our monorail car tabs to this instead?

What's the BFD? Do they think we can only vote on two friggin things at a time or we get too confused?

I think the whole closed-for-three-years-anyway argument is the best I've heard so far...if we can go without it that long, why not make it permanent? But I must also say I'm tired of these screechy West-siders bitching so much about this. We're not talking about the entire 99, just the Alaskan Way Viaduct part of it. You can still easily get from Ballard to downtown, you just can't keep going to West Seattle without dealing with a surface street or two. What's the problem here exactly? Do that many people commute along 99 THROUGH (not "to") downtown? I'm sure there are some, but what makes them think it's OK to use such a huge chunk of money for their route in particular? Lemme tell ya, AWV or no AWV, the commute's way, WAY worse heading east-west than it is heading north-south. All of Seattle knows that, I hope. Lastly, why are you worried about putting it on the ballot? You should be confident enough in the massive financial interests that will be arrayed against it. Even if it gets on there, it has virtually no chance of winning (unfortunately).

oh yeah, maybe this is newsworthy - I sent Drago and Steinbrueck (chair and cochair transit) an email about the vote - Steinbreuck replied:

Date:	 Tue, 28 Mar 2006 15:47:53 -0800
From:	"Peter Steinbrueck" 
Subject: Re: proposed viaduct vote

Darn right! I'm am going press ahead with a
surface/transit alternative for the ballot.
Please consider writing a letter to the
editor at the times on this.


>>> 3/28/2006 1:35 PM >>>
I was confused by today's Seattle Times editorial,
which implied that if the no rebuild option were put
on the ballot, it would prevent one of the other two
options from gaining a majority.

As this is an advisory vote, shouldn't all options be
independent, and voters allowed to vote for any and all
options they support?

I think a lot of people - myself included - would like
to be able to vote for either the tunnel or the no
rebuild option - and only withhold our vote from the
rebuild option.

Similarly, I suppose some voters who would like to
keep taxes as low as possible would prefer to vote for
either the rebuild or the no rebuild, but not the

Wouldn't that be the fairest way to conduct the vote?

So I wrote the Times - but they haven't run the letter - even after I abandoned my cherished anonymity to send it:

Date:	 Tue, 28 Mar 2006 16:43:38 -0800 (PST)
Subject:	viaduct vote editorial

I was confused by your Viaduct vote editorial today,
in which you said if the "no build" option were
included, it would "muddle things" by making a
majority unlikely.

This being an advisory vote, shouldn't we be allowed
to vote yes or no on each option separately? That way,
we could see which is most acceptable to the largest
majority of voters - and not just the preferred option
of a minority.

Or even better, shouldn't we be allowed to rank each
option 1, 2, or 3 - or no, if we dislike it so much we
don't even want to rank it?

That would give our elected officials the best advice:
not only which option is the most favored (most rank 1
votes) - but which is the least acceptable (most no
votes), and which is the most acceptable to the
largest number of people (most 1, 2, or 3 ranks).

Matthew, I'd buy your take if it was just a surface street or two. But it's actually more like every surface street between Battery and Holgate... and you assume it'll be a breeze, when it reality the highway, like most of Downtown and huge parts of I-5 and the West Seattle Bridge, would likely be bottlenecked and backlogged for miles before and after Downtown.

Also, no-rebuild supporters, do you know how the DOT plans to re-route and redistribute traffic during the viaduct shutdown? Given you're so confident in it, I gather you have a thorough knowledge of how it'll work. Enlighten me, because I haven't seen many details on how it'll work.


I don't think that WSDOT has indicated any interim plan so far. But you ask a very good question. What's the interim plan?

But when they do they offer such a plan will be in the difficult position of convincing us that

1. the Peoples Waterfront Coalition's plan to do without the Viaduct won't work

but that

2. WSDOT's plan to do without the Viaduct will work.

Personally, so far I am agnostic on the issue. It strikes me as dubious that we can do without the Viaduct under either plan and that at the end of the day we will end up retrofitting the existing Viaduct. But who knows and I think we should at least give the PWC plan a good hard look.

Exactly what I was getting at, David. As a skeptic of the PWC plan, I can't help but also be a skeptic of the DOT's plan, as either way we have to live without the viaduct for at least 5-7 years, likely longer. We don't have anything other than the remaining roads, some of which also need to be replaced. Does the DOT have, pun not necessarily intended, concrete answers for West Seattle, North Seattle and honestly anyone else who commutes into Seattle on the weekdays, whether driving or on the bus?

The sooner we know, the sooner they can strengthen city support for their plan, or in effect validate the PWC's platform. I consider it premature to say that their failure to do so indicates they fear it'll pose their options as inferior to the PWC platform, but any skeptical mind has to wonder why they haven't come out with it.

Addendum: no, I still don't believe in the PWC idea and my statement shouldn't be taken as an endorsement thereof. There are still too many holes that are firmly addressed, and that whole 'lack of a solid, well analyzed and researched plan' thing. But just because I prefer the DOT options doesn't mean I'm not skeptical of their plans.

We are of like mind, Gomez.

And our analysis points me to suggesting that what will come out of this whole debate is going to be a retrofit of the existing Viaduct.

The "tear-down" and "the tunnel" are going to wrestle each other into a stalemate and "the retrofit" will be the political compromise. Lucky for us it's also the wisest solution.

Let's not forget that RTID will likely tank next year - and then all of a sudden WSDOT will discover that a retrofit is feasible after all.

Absent that, these idiots (yo Nickels - I'm talkin to YOU) will do just about anything to start digging their hole so they can commit the public to the full cost - whatever that may be.

A retrofit would probably end up like New York's West Side Highway: one of the construction trucks will collapse the thing, and they'll end up tearing it down and making do with a surface street instead.

Or at least, let's hope so.

Too bad the 2001 earthquake didn't damage the thing enough to require an immediate tear down.

If that had happened, by now we'd know for sure we could do without it - like we did for a month or two back then, as I recall.

NYC also had commuter trains and a giant subway.

San Francisco had the BART and 10 other commuter trains.

Milwaukee didn't have the population density or topography of cities like Seattle, San Francisco or NYC.

How would you propose moving 50,000 to 110,000 commuting motorists that who use the viaduct per day in lieu of a viaduct? Your solution would need to be iron clad and without question, immediately implementable, as in the next 2-3 years, because we don't have the 8-10 years to wait for a city to build whatever giant monorail or pet project everyone thinks will Shangri-La the problem away.

Yes! So how does WSDOT propose to deal with the interim period? (In which there is no Viaduct under either its plan or the PWC plan?)

That little detail seems to be the core question in any discussions of the Viaduct.

If the Viaduct is essential, then it is essential. Period.

As someone who saves at least 3 real hours a week because the Viaduct works, I'm very glad all of the AWV-haters were sorely disappointed that it survived the Nisqually Quake. Boo fucking hoo!

Given the choice between fucking 80,000 West Seattltites and 10,000 downtown condo dwellers and cruise ship tourists, I know who I would choose (and that's without a $4+ billion price tag for a tunnel that will drain resources from other projects citywide)

"That little detail seems to be the core question in any discussions of the Viaduct."

Isn't the devil always in the details, David? You make an extremely good point and it is one that is typically forgotten or deliberately and conveniently ignored by the proponents of the tunnel and rebuild. The fact that we'll be doing without either based on guesstimates of three to nine years certainly begs the question why we should even rebuild or tunnel. One would guess that after three to nine years of construction, most of us will have figured out how to get around without having to rely on a viaduct or tunnel.

By any definition, this is really starting to become very bad comedy.


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