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Saves money that could go to the SR 520 rebuild, disrupts traffic during the construction process far less than the alternatives, probably would mean less in RTID taxes would be required, and most likely would mean we have to leave less stinking piles of bonds for our children and grandchildren to pay off.

Posted by riki | December 1, 2006 12:15 PM

Josh's next episode of Sheket Bavakasha! should be directed toward anyone who proposes an option for the Viaduct or 520 without explaining how they would pay for both projects.

Posted by A | December 1, 2006 12:25 PM

why... doesn't... anyone... ask... the... federal... government... for... money

Posted by charles | December 1, 2006 1:44 PM

Oh, Charles, that's the funniest thing you've ever said. The feds aren't going to give more money to us for anything.

Posted by Fnarf | December 1, 2006 3:11 PM

how do you know? ted stevens got money for a bridge to nowhere. patty murray supposedly is going to be the one who could make it happen. when i lived in green bay wisconsin we got the federal government to pay for a new bridge across the fox river. every. single. penny.

if it's out of the question for... why? Who has bothered to ask? It's a legitimate question that nothing i've read in the media has answered.

Posted by charles | December 1, 2006 3:18 PM
Posted by charles | December 1, 2006 3:21 PM

Ted Stevens is a right-wing Republican. Patty Murray is a Democrat. I know people are still giddy about taking the House and Senate, but neither the House nor the Senate are going to be able to get a PENNY past the White House. Bush doesn't even need to veto things he doesn't like anymore.

And I absofuckinglutely guarantee that Bush doesn't like Washington State.

Posted by Fnarf | December 1, 2006 3:28 PM

Or we could take the high road and not ask for tons of earmarks and pork. I'm sure you all got upset with Ted Steven's bridge, but now it is okay to use the same dubious tactics for our own projects?

We should gut most of the federal government so crap like this doesn't happen.

Posted by Andrew Hitchcock | December 1, 2006 3:28 PM

Andrew: Western Washingtonians already pay more in Federal taxes than we receive back in Federal spending, whereas the opposite is true for the entire state of Alaska.

So, while I appreciate your point about pork, I'm not sure the Fed's ponying up for 520 (in particular) as a critical route for a major economic center in the US really would count as pork. More like spending a region's tax dollars on a crucial piece of infrastructure.

Posted by golob | December 1, 2006 3:34 PM

my point was that if a superfluous bridge to nowhere could get money, then it stands to reason that a legitimate project like 99 should be able to get *something*.

The fact that nobody is talking about the federal government as a possible ally in this viaduct thing kind of blows my mind. This is the kind of thing the federal government is perfect for: assisting state and local governments provide essential services that are beyond the capabilities of the local governments on their own.

as for the whole bush-hates-washington thing, i don't doubt it. but the democrats control the budget. if bush wants to get into a budget fight, it's not like the dems can't make life hard for him, too. pundits are already speculating that the dem's control of the purse might be used to get bush to capitulate on a lot of things. it's a powerful club to have.

as i see it, not even thinking about trying to use the federal government as a source of funding is pretty dumb. there are a million and one reasons why it might not work, but that isn't any reason to not try. or at least talk about it.

it would be nice to see some coordination between our state democrats and the ones in washington on this. do they not have phones?

i mean, we're their constituents, right? i didn't check maria cantwell on my ballot so she could *not* try to get money for our state, did i?

btw, here's a nice picture of green bay's bridge.

Posted by charles | December 1, 2006 3:40 PM

Cool. The pic looks like the 1st Ave S. bridge viewed from the south.

Sending more troops? Building more infrastructure? Hmmm.

And speaking (@1) of stinking piles (of debt)...for our children and grandchildren to pay off, that fed defecit's pretty big, hunh? I bet if Bush knows how to play Hearts, he'll especially enjoy heh-hehing that defecit hot-potato over to the new Dems like the Queen of Spades.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 1, 2006 3:53 PM

I am too lazy to look up the original citation right now, but I vividly recall a brilliant analysis pointing out the Bush-era deficits are entirely due to lost revenue thanks to the Bush tax cuts. Even the wars basically gobble up the would-be surplus.

Remember, all this debt gives the Saudis all they need to bring us to our knees. Who needs ICBMs when you have something far more powerful: US Government Treasury bonds.

Posted by golob | December 1, 2006 4:15 PM

Charles and FNARF - I know there is no fed, state, or county money - because I actually asked the people who would get it, and they say it isn't there.

So, basically, the Gov can only choose a rebuilt modern elevated viaduct rebuild or an underwater tunnel.

Politically, she can't choose the no build option, nor can she choose the good alternative of Surface Plus Transit (it has to do with taxes).

Aren't you glad we didn't build a monorail? Because of that failure, we have little support for a tunnel option, actually. It's like falling dominoes or why Iraq is such a Quagmire.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 1, 2006 4:54 PM

i guess i just don't know enough about how the federal budget works to know how they disperse that money for state projects. It seems a little funny to me that we've been literally ranting back and forth about this viaduct/520 thing and then I pick up the paper and see that, :piff:, three quarters of a billion dollars is falling out of the sky from the federal government for light rail. I didn't even know that that was on the immediate agenda.

for me it comes down to the reasons behind this apparent lack of federal fundage being totally unclear. it would be nice if there was more reporting on it.

anyway, thanks for the insight, will.

Posted by charles | December 1, 2006 5:06 PM

Federal transportation funds are given out in 6 year cycles. Next cycle is 5 or 6 years away. No road projects get federal money until then.

Posted by N | December 1, 2006 5:21 PM

Charles, that money took a long time to queue up for the ST LINK part, and the reality is the Feds are still run by the GOP (just ask President Cheney).

Now, unless you've found a magic way to change our state constitution (and come up with the transit portion of the Surface Plus Transit), and can actually find some spare $2,200,000,000 lying around, the reality is the Gov is going to choose between an elevated viaduct rebuild and an underwater tunnel (and we come up with the $2.2B in local taxes for the latter).

The political cards are already on the table - doesn't take a genius to figure out what they are.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 1, 2006 5:24 PM

Greg Nickels is going to cost a few thousand people their lives, because he is going to use permit due process to blockade the state from proceeding when he finds out they won't build his Tunnel... until the viaduct finally comes crumbling down in the next earthquake, likely during business hours.

Posted by Gomez | December 1, 2006 6:58 PM

I suppose a dual purpose tunnel combining transportation with nuclear waste storage is out of the picture, though funding from the feds would be generous.

Posted by rodrigo | December 1, 2006 11:15 PM

Gomez, actually, the state can issue its own permits to itself, and the city can't do a darned thing about it.

When playing chicken, don't race with the guy who sold you the fuel for your in the first place.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 2, 2006 12:44 AM

The Governor's Legislative Liason has explictly put the Retrofit on the table as an option.

The WSDOT consultant has now said that the Retrofit is feasible.

Can you draw a straight line?

Posted by David Sucher | December 2, 2006 7:54 AM

I've been an adamant supporter here of the tunnel (if there's the money) and the PWC option (if there's not). But I'll tell you what, the retrofit is starting to sound pretty sensible.

For one thing, the retrofit would mark a victory by the people of Washington against WSDOT and its insatiable road-building appetite. It seems like WSDOT is to the state government what the Pentagon is to the federal government: the one agency that leaves all other agencies in the dust when it comes to burning through taxpayer dollars, and yet the one agency that alleged fiscal conservatives usually manage to turn a blind eye toward. Perhaps it was literally the state legislature and not WSDOT that mandated we had to preserve 100% of vehicle capacity, but don't think WSDOT didn't have a hand in that mandate. And it was WSDOT that left us with this Hobson's choice between two multi-billion-dollar highway projects. The traction being gained by the retrofit and the no-build mark the people and elected officials standing up to WSDOT and demanding other, real choices.

First WSDOT dismissed the retrofit. Now Ron Paananen with WSDOT says the retrofit would cost 80% as much as the rebuild. I'm a bit skeptical of this number. This is coming from the same agency that has repeatedly said the viaduct carries 110,000 vehicles a day when, as Erica Barnett reported, it actually carries 70-some thousand a day. But y'know what, even if the retrofit cost 100% as much as the rebuild, I would consider it a bargain:

  • It means arguably 50% less blight, since the rebuild would have to be 50% wider.
  • It means we can move forward on projects that most of us can agree truly are constructive: namely 520 replacement and light rail to Northgate and the Eastside.
  • It means Seattle's downtown waterfront doesn't have to be marred by an anachronistic elevated freeway for the next 100+ years. It means Seattle doesn't have to spend the entire 21st century saddled with a massive monument to mid-20th century thinking.

Yes, the claim that the retrofit would only last 25 years (take this claim with a grain of salt since it comes from WSDOT) is actually an advantage. That 25 years buys the city and the region more than enough time to transition toward the day when the viaduct can be taken down entirely, and we can truly realize the PWC's vision.

And hey, if the retrofit does save money, the state can transition that statewide gas-tax money to a highway that's of vastly greater statewide significance: 520.

Posted by cressona | December 2, 2006 2:55 PM

By the way, there's another nice thing about the retrofit that I hinted at when I wrote: "That 25 years buys the city and the region more than enough time to transition toward the day when the viaduct can be taken down entirely, and we can truly realize the PWC's vision." If we don't take the opportunity to build a bigger, badder viaduct now, then we're sure as heck not going to a generation from now when the retrofit needs to be replaced.

All the trends that are taking shape today are just going to be that much more entrenched 25 or so years from now. There's going to be much greater density in Seattle. Oil is going to be even more scarce. This nation is going to, more or less fitfully and painfully, loosen its dependence on foreign oil. The limitations of biofuels and plug-in technology compared to hundreds of millions of years worth of oil deposits are going to be exposed. And environmentalism is going to be that much more mainstream and tangible and that much less boutique and toothless. The travesty of building a massive elevated highway along a scenic downtown waterfront is going to go from being an accepted truth among elites to being common knowledge among the common populace.

Posted by cressona | December 2, 2006 3:16 PM

Will, that completely contradicts multiple reports I've heard. And you're the only one I've heard that believes this.

I guess we'll find out who's right when the State tells Nickels no-go on the tunnel.

Posted by Gomez | December 2, 2006 4:10 PM

@16 - i actually want there to be a rebuild or a tunnel. i think the surface street idea carries the most amount or risk and counts on a lot of things to work out in order for it to be a success. i was merely wondering how much of the total bill, no matter what the solution is, could come from the federal govt.

thanks for the clarification from everyone--that's what i was really after in the first place :)

Posted by Charles | December 2, 2006 7:50 PM

@23 - I stand by my statements.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 4, 2006 11:58 AM

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