News Aerial Option is “Illegal”
That’s what City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck just told me about the proposed option to build a new aerial structure in place of the old Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Steinbrueck, afraid that the price tag for the tunnel option ($4 billion plus?) will scare voters and put the aerial option over the top, says he’s readying an arsenal of preemptive strikes to ice the aerial option.
Steinbrueck acknowledges voters are being given a “false choice” between the aerial and the tunnel (he believes the recent study done by Smart Mobility makes a strong case for the no rebuild/surface/transit option), but he frets that option isn’t getting the traction it deserves. He says that leaves the tunnel and aerial options. Between those two, Steinbrueck supports the tunnel.
However, he’s antsy that the aerial option may win out in a public vote. (Sources tell me that recent polling by Team Nickels on the tunnel v. aerial options is inconclusive w/ both options neck and neck. This is the same poll, by the way, that showed Nickels’s $1.1 billion transportation package getting trounced.)
To preemptively thwart a rebuild, Steinbrueck introdcued legislation in his urban development committee yesterday in the form of amendments to the comprehensive plan that say a rebuild is illegal by several comp plan standards. “If it didn’t already exist,” Steinbrueck says, “it couldn’t be built there today under current code.”
Steinbrueck cites the state shoreline act which prohibits non-water related uses within 200 feet; city downtown heights code, which would prohibit a structure as massive as the Viaduct; and view corridor code, which would also prohibit the structure.
The council will meet next Friday (the 22nd) to decide exactly what question voters will take up this November. If the public chooses the aerial, Steinbrueck says he “hates to go against the voters, but he has to stand up for what he believes” …and he is adamantly opposed to running an elevated highway along the waterfront.
Steinbrueck’s comp plan amendments are pretty clear:
“Amend the Comprehensive Plan to clarify that City policies do not permit aerial structures on the Central Waterfront…”
“Prohibit aerial transportation structures such as bridges and viaducts on the central waterfront between King Street and Pike Street in order to facilitate the revitalization of downtown’s waterfront…”
“demolish transportation facilities that are functionally or aesthetically disruptive to the shoreline, such as the aerial portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on the Central Waterfront, or rebuild these facilities so that they do not negatively affect the shoreline.”