Politics Another Viaduct View
If, as I proposed the other day, the Stranger News Team, like the Arts folks, handed out Genius Awards, another candidate in the “Political Group” category (last time I nominated Congress for the New Urbanism) would be Sightline.
Check out the latest post on the Viaduct options by Sightline stud Clark Williams-Derry
Here’s a snippet from Williams-Derry’s Viaduct brain:
And there are at least 2 other major options out there that voters could consider: shoring up the existing structure, rather than replacing it; and using a combination of street and transit improvements to replace the viaduct’s capacity, without rebuilding a highway.
I don’t think much of the former option — as I understand it, most seismic engineers who’ve looked at it have said that the whole structure is seismically vulnerable. Perhaps voters would be willing to forego safety concerns to save a billion or so; but it’s not something I’m too comfortable with. (See the comment thread here for more.)
But the second option seems very much alive in my mind. Especially because of this (pdf link): the state’s plan to “Keep People and Freight Moving During Construction.” Basically, the viaduct will be closed for anywhere from 18 months to 4 years during construction. And the state has laid out a series of steps to deal with traffic during the interim, including:
improving transit access, and expand water taxi service, from West Seattle to downtown
boosting transit by adding more bus routes, bus stops, and bus priority streets
shift event times at the stadiums and Seattle Center to avoid clogging traffic
improve traffic throughput north of downtown, especially at Mercer and Denny
boost park and rides north of downtown, to reduce car travel into the center of the city
So if that sort of thing — improving streets and transit — will keep us moving for up to 4 years, couldn’t it last for longer? Seems to me that switching some money from the viaduct reconstruction budget to an even more robust streets and transit plan could do even more to maintain mobility — but still save a billion or more, compared with even the lowest-cost of the highway options.