Slog: News & Arts

RSS icon Comments on Calmly. Say No. Twice.


I don't know, it's how I voted - No on Tunnel-lite and Yes on Viaduct rebuild.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 25, 2007 12:02 PM

I'd add that a reactionary no vote is not in itself obstructionist.
If you look at this as part of the political struggle between those who support public transit as the key to solving the region's transportation issues and those for whom freedom is another word for driving everywhere, then a no vote as a reaction is just plain rational, period.
It was car-lovers mostly who torpedoed the monorail. When faced with a non-cooperative partner in a iterated cooperative game of this sort, the rational thing to do is to reciprocate.
With both the monorail and the viaduct blown out of the water by the tit for tat moves defection and reprisal, the ground would be clear to start a new round of the game that will hopefully be a bit more cooperative.
(For the details of why reciprocation is a rational response to defection from cooperation, just google around for any of the papers on cooperation theory written in the past 20 years, or google for *iterated prisoner's dilemma*.)

Posted by kinaidos | February 25, 2007 12:04 PM

Voting No and No DOES NOT mean we want the surface-transit option. For one, the surface-transit option HAS NO TRANSIT.

Voting No and No MIGHT mean that we want the present viaduct repaired while we prepare for something better - like real GRADE SEPARATED RAPID TRANSIT - and THEN we can take down the viaduct.

Removing the viaduct prematurely is just as foolish as doing nothing - in fact it's worse than doing nothing because at least with the viaduct we still have capacity for 110,000 (70, 80, 120, pick a number of thousand cars a day) vehicles. With a surface option, The Stranger staff seems to believe that there will be no impact downtown. They further believe that as many as 40,000 vehicle trips a day will disappear. Come on folks - faith-based politics are foolish, faith-based transportation policy is more than foolish, it's a death wish.

Do you really think that putting as many as 60,000 vehicles a day on the downtown grid is going to improve the life of anyone who actually has to be downtown. Where do you think all those NOx and SOx and CO gases are going to go? They're going to go into your lungs, that's where. Where is the asthma analysis. More pollution downtown is a solution to exactly WHAT problem?

Why isn't The Stranger supporting a real rapid transit system? So the monorail is dead, that was one plan. There are many different ways to get grade-separated rapid transit into and through downtown. Link is and will be a joke. A subway tunnel shared with buses? How long will that last. What about shortening the headways on the Link trains? Oh, can't because it's not grade separated south of Mt. Baker is it. And just what transit-starved element of King County does Link serve anyway? The 8-minute headways on buses running down Rainier, Beacon and MLK? Hmmm? So we'll replace a crowded bus system with a slow surface light rail. Gee, now there's a good way to waste a couple billion dollars.

Of course, there are nearly 2 million people in King County and I'm sure there are nearly 2 million different opinions on how to improve mobility. Mine is just one.

Posted by chas Redmond | February 25, 2007 12:07 PM

The Times summary is inaccurate regarding the meaning of an elevated option getting less than 50%.

These ballot measures were designed by tunnel supporters to decouple rebuild supporters from retrofit supporters. It was designed to get retrofit supporters to vote “no” and “no” (e.g. Peter Sherwin).

Thus, the results on the rebuild measure—by design—will not be an accurate reflection of how many people in Seattle prefer an elevated structure over any other option.

If a tunnel had any chance in an up or down vote vs. an elevated, that’s what they would have placed on the ballot.

Posted by Biff | February 25, 2007 12:22 PM

My big problem w/ the surface transit option is as chas stated that its propenents are not putting forward a serious right of way mass transit option that will move a lot a people in a timely fashion. There's nothing more than a faith based belief that people will get out of their cars in response to the ensuing gridlock (And do what if that is their only means of getting to jobs in Everett or Bothell or Tukwila or Federal Way?????) and that investment in more buses (which will get stuck in the ensuing gridlock) will save the day.

Gimme a serious right of way mass transit option to get around the gridlock and I'll support surface transit.

Posted by neo-realist | February 25, 2007 12:26 PM

Surface/Transit will only work when it is linked with Repair.

Why are you in denial, Josh?

Posted by David Sucher | February 25, 2007 12:57 PM

In fact I should have said preceded by Repair.

It is a political non-starter and the support you see now is a makeweight to give people a rationale to vote against the Rebuild. Once we have a strong No/No vote (as I hope) the support for it among elected officials will disappear very in hours.

Posted by David Sucher | February 25, 2007 1:09 PM

David, couldn't tell you before the endorsements were out, but I made a deal with Josh that he wouldn't endorse a repair position so that it would have an even better probability of succeeding.

Neither the bridge (over land or sea) nor the S&T idea have been made specific. The test for both will come over time.

In order to get the 35,000 cars per day forecast by CM, will the AWB traffic come directly from the Battery St. tunnel via a ramp? Will that mean we get 13 blocks of surface that connects two viaducts? How will people, even current supporters, react to that? Is there a better way? A computerized traffic circle at Aurora and Denny that directs people to the best street for getting to or through the CBD? Maybe we should shut down 520 and the express lanes to reduce the number of cars in the CBD (saved money could be used to build high speed rail around the lake). If the idea is to change the way we live, why only pick on the parts of Seattle that get nothing from Sound Transit?

It will take time to sort these issues out.

Posted by Peter Sherwin | February 25, 2007 1:18 PM

Ooh, Josh, you say we're getting a hundred million for transit if we go Surface? How's that? Where's the plan for that? And what are you going to build with it -- another Waterfront Streetcar? Transit, unlike roads, is worthless if it doesn't connect up to other transit. Is that going to be a Sound Transit train along the waterfront? Where's it going to hook into the system? Where's it going to go? Who's ever going to ride it but a handful of terrified tourists?

Meanwhile, as the Times outlined today, all the real action in the state is happening elsewhere, in Clark and Whatcom counties and a few other places. Seattle's inability to come up with a workable idea for its most basic infrastructure is giving these other places the opportunity to eat our lunch. No transit there, either.

The Stranger's recommendation is going to result in MORE cars and MORE emissions and MORE greenhouse gas, right here in Seattle and all over the state.

Our local emissions won't be reduced until the Port traffic all moves to Tacoma (or Long Beach) and our tax base disappears.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2007 1:39 PM

Kinaidos @ 2:

Has it occurred to you that a great many of us who support the rebuild have also supported every single mass transit proposal that has been floated in this town, and will continue to support mass transit?

Mass transit that is not faith-based vapor, that is.

Posted by ivan | February 25, 2007 2:03 PM

Right. Public space and public transportation are old school elitist limousine liberal ethics. Ideas for the rich who don't have to interact with other people anyway. What the real people need are more cars and more super giant fucking skyways over their heads, and they need the most cars and the cheapest roads their money can buy. Ain't that about right?

Posted by ben | February 25, 2007 2:07 PM

In the discussion over the Viaduct corridor, one key issue doesn't ever seem to get discussed:

Who actually uses the viaduct? For what purposes?

If it's as I suspect, something used primarily by people whose Point A and B are both within the City of Seattle, then that should suggest there would be ways to provide transit options to serve those needs, corridors that we're going to have to develop anyway.

kinaidos @ 2 is also absolutely right that underneath this debate, and the Monorail, is a fundamental divide between those who think that the 20th century car culture can survive in the 21st, and we who say it can't and the sooner we start building for something else, the better. The "reactionary" position, as far as I can tell, is to dismiss out of hand surface/transit as unworkable. Providing an actual plan matters, but so much of the dismissal of s/t is rooted in a refusal to embrace environmentalist smart growth ideas. Which was why the Seattle Times predictably took the position it did.

For whatever reason, Washington has been very slow to take the issue of climate change seriously. Josh Feit has shown how hardly anyone in Olympia has interest in serious action, and we see the same situation here in Seattle. It's a hugely shortsighted failing.

Posted by eugene | February 25, 2007 2:43 PM

I'm stunned that the Seattle Times would abandon the "Seattle camp" and join the "Olympia camp" to cheerlead a 2x size viaduct to strangle Seattle from its waterfront for another 100 years, all in the interest of maintaining a level of "drive-thru" service and convenience for surrounding communities.

But perhaps not surprised. First McGavick-gate, now this. What is the Seattle Times editorial board smoking, anyway? At this key leadership moment, why do they refuse to stick up for the city on their masthead?

They dismiss Nickels as a poor "regionalist." He's just a committed advocate for the interests of his city. Which is more than I can say of the Seattle Times organization at this point. Rah-rah viaduct -- widely lamented as one of the worst urban planning decisions EVER for a couple decades now -- but the ST says let's do it again.

Stunning. I'd cancel my subscription if I hadn't already.

Posted by Maestro | February 25, 2007 2:56 PM

Eugene @ 12:

More of your nonsense. I don't favor the rebuild because I "refuse to embrace environmentalist smart-growth ideas."

I favor the rebuild because we haven't HEARD any "environmentalist smart-growth ideas." We haven't heard any because there jolly well haven't BEEN any.

"Tear it down and traffic will cope" does not move people OR cars.

More buses on already clogged streets, dedicated lanes or no dedicated lanes, might move people, but will move them much more slowly.

Sound Transit will not serve the same part of the city and the area that the Viaduct serves. There is no money, and no plan, to serve that area with any mass transit separated from grade.

It's all vapor, all faith-based feel-good vapor. The Viaduct is a known quantity with a known cost and a known effect.

Plan some real mass transit in that corridor and I will support it, as I have supported every other mass transit effort. Until such time, rebuild the Viaduct -- bigger, better, and safer.

Posted by ivan | February 25, 2007 4:47 PM

@19 - you are totally correct, Ivan. We No/Yes people, for the most part, are the ground troops of the More Transit forces.

But we live in the real world. We don't want to spend 40 years discussing if we really meant we meant something.

Earthquakes, tidal waves, and lahars happen. As do massive multi-truck fires and 10-vehicle collisions with explosions.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 25, 2007 4:57 PM

Eugene: you may believe that "20th century car culture" cannot survive, but if you look at what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING in the region, you will see that car culture is experiencing EXPLOSIVE GROWTH. The public argument over climate change has had ZERO impact on how we are building our state out, right this minute.

It's easy if you never leave the central core of Seattle to miss this, but Seattle is daily reduced in relative importance in the region. Not that long ago we were a fifth of the state's population; now we're less than a tenth, and the portion is dropping all the time. If you think there are a lot of condos going up in Seattle, many of which are at least in theory servable by transit, you need to look outside the city and see what's happening in Clark County, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and other areas. Urban growth boundary? Pshaw, it means nothing.

None of these new developments are servable by transit, due to the way they're being built. There's barely any bus service now, and no one rides it. Driving a car in this state is extraordinarily cheap; the gas is practically free.

And even in Seattle, people like you continue to TALK about transit options, but they are never provided. Sound Transit will serve a tiny portion of the people who live or work (rarely both) near it, and not serve the rest of us AT ALL. The bus system is a disaster; even a perfect system cannot be effective in a modern network, and Metro's job is hampered by the devastating economic and psychological problems of a large, smelly and dangerous portion of its ridership.

Everything else is smoke. There is no monorail. There is no transit coming down Alaskan Way. The alternatives that you demand DO NOT EXIST. And even if they did, they would not serve more than a tiny fraction of even city residents, let alone the places where the real economic power of the region is.

Even cities with old, established transit are entirely car-dependent. New York, which has the advantage over Seattle of having built its subway back in the days when they could use the Irish as virtual slave labor, not caring how many thousands of them died, is completely locked with cars. The Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the hundred bridges and expressways connect that city to the world.

And Seattle is not very like New York, and neither is its proposed transit network. Look at the other cities that have built light rail: they are ALL meaningless vanity projects, that do not carry any important traffic. A bad idea? No, of course not. A SOLUTION? No, of course not.

So: you suggest we change our way of living. But the three points I've outlined here -- the massive growth in anti-transit areas, the futility of transit in addressing modern transportation needs, and most fundamentally the ABSENCE OF TRANSIT EVEN IN SEATTLE -- make your idea extraordinarily unlikely. About as likely as Greg Nickels winning the women's figure skating competition at the upcoming BC Olympics, I'd say.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2007 5:10 PM

portland's light rail is not a vanity project. and i bet they even let homeless people ride on it, just like seattle's metro buses. jesus, fnarf, you can be such a blowhard sometimes!

Posted by wf | February 25, 2007 5:40 PM

What percentage of Portland city trips (of all kinds, not just commutes) take place on the rail line? It's a very small number.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2007 7:51 PM


Once again, you hit the nail on the head - and a sputtering New Urbanist calling you a blowhard doesn't change those cold, hard facts one iota.

Now if they can actually get light rail running from Tacoma through Federal Way to Seattle through Lynwood to Everett before 2030, we might begin to make a dent in the nightmare traffic scenario you accurately describe...

Posted by Mr. X | February 25, 2007 8:22 PM

I obeyed you. No and hell no.

Posted by Lola | February 25, 2007 10:09 PM

i'm not a new urbanist. i even agree with many of fnarf's points. but the blanket condemnation of light rail seemed weak. here's portland's light rail info in a nutshell:

it does work, and can elsewhere, even if it probably is doomed to being marginal in seattle.

also the claim that "Metro's job is hampered by the devastating economic and psychological problems of a large, smelly and dangerous portion of its ridership" is overstated and mean-spirited.

Posted by wf | February 25, 2007 11:37 PM

X: The only way to get light rail by 2030 from Seattle to Everett is via the Express Lanes/HOV along I-5. They oughta dedicate a couple of lanes of the underbelly of I-5 now to that, run spurs off the express lane exits at 42nd, 65th and Lake City Way. I know, I know... I'm insane.

Of course, why would anyone want to have inner city rapid transit to take the pressure off on those travelling into the city? We all have to be *fair* in Sound Transit World. And of course, we have to be fair to those in Maple Valley that need bus service every 10 minutes to 3rd and Pike. To be really fair, lets leave off the Sound Transit grid everyone that lives west of Highway 99 in long range planning. Frees up money for fancy bus shelters in North Bend. They'll come complete with digiboards telling you that the next bus will be coming shortly.

On an airport note: At least the MAX goes into PDX; for all those Columbia City and Beacon Hill air travellers, you'll have a tidy walk from International Blvd to your gate. Pack lightly. Hopefully Pat Davis will have her greeting for you on loudspeaker all the way to the terminal.

In the meantime, I voted yes and yes, largely due to The Stranger pissing me off with their snitty view that the city ends at SODO and at Phinney Ridge. Luckily for Josh and ECB, my partner and I made a pact and he voted No/No to counterbalance my unpatriotic, earth killing, People's Waterfront Coalition maiming vote in a valiant yet futile effort to show exactly what this ballot means: Zippo. And thank you City Council for dipping into the slush fund for the million bucks run the thing.

Posted by Dave Coffman | February 26, 2007 1:36 AM

Rebuild advocates who justify their position saying there's no surface and transit plan expose this city's dreary provincial reasoning. Why do we lack such a plan? Because WSDOT has spent millions studying everything except a highway-free option, and even dedicated staff time to shouting down volunteer citizens who've suggested we should have one. But rather than focus anger on the politicians and highway careerists who have screwed us with two apallingly bad options, rebuild supporters choose to bend over for the easy option while ridiculing those who choose to keep fighting for what we all know is right -- lower-cost, environmentally responsible solutions. It seems that the needs of workers who rely on transit and of children who will bear the impacts of increased air pollution just aren't quite as important as the daily conveniece of that watefront shortcut. The surface and transit plan as it now exists was put together by volunteer urban planners, architects and other activists -- sifting through city transportation data on their own time to shape a set of non-highway alternatives. Is the plan whole and complete? Of course not. We need our transportation department's expertise to make it work. But instead of demanding that WSDOT design solutions appropriate for this century rather than the last one, rebuilders throw their hands up in surrender to a highway everyone knows we'll be ashamed of before it's even completed. It's understandable if rebuild supporters don't want to fight for something better -- but own up to the truth: You gave in and gave up. Thank god not everyone has.

Posted by K-Full | February 26, 2007 2:11 PM

Fnarf said "Meanwhile, as the Times outlined today, all the real action in the state is happening elsewhere, in Clark and Whatcom counties and a few other places. Seattle's inability to come up with a workable idea for its most basic infrastructure is giving these other places the opportunity to eat our lunch. No transit there, either."

First of all, a lot of that "action" is counterproductive sprawl, and hardly represents a "workable idea for...basic infrastructure." You'll also notice that Clark County is basically suburban Portland, and Whatcom County is on the outskirts of Vancouver BC. Both of those cities have much better transit than Seattle. Good decisions in those cities are attracting development in Washington state, but our statewide planning is failing to direct that development in a useful and sustainable way. We should be hooking up Clark County light rail to Portland's system, planning for reliable intercity rail from there to Olympia and Seattle, and aligning Bellingham's infrastructure to integrate with the other side of the border to promote cross-border economic growth. But no, people want to build McMansions 50 miles from work and drive back and forth all day on highways, with congestion as bad or worse than ever.

Bemoaning the lack of transit as the reason to vote for more roads and less transit is insane. First, we have to stop doing the wrong thing--building useless roads that make our infrastructure problems worse over time. Then we have to plan for something better. There are lots of ideas about how to build real transit in the Seattle area, but they don't get the level of planning they deserve because WSDOT wants to force everyone to drive more.

Posted by Cascadian | February 26, 2007 3:20 PM

@ 23:

That's rubbish, every word of it. I know very few rebuild proponents who haven't been crying for light rail, monorail, Sound Transit, more buses and better bus routes, etc., etc., for years now.

Gave in and gave up, my ass! We're going to need all the mass transit we can get, AND we're going to need the Viaduct. That's apparently what some of you can't accept.

Posted by ivan | February 26, 2007 3:49 PM

Does it seem that the places with the best transit also have progressive tax structures. Is that why people are living across the line from those progressive tax polities.

# 23 I worked for 6 years for the monrail plan - most of the S&T supporters did little to help or fought it tooth and nail. Sims, Allied Arts, Ken Jacobsen, etc. etc.

There is no plan at this time - no transit except more busses - and WSDOT did study it PWC just didn't like the result. They had a ramp from Battery St to AWB - how would you get cars there?

Please, S&T is a hope not a plan - support repair and get a S&T plan together.

Posted by Sherwin | February 26, 2007 6:56 PM


While it is true that Clark County is becoming a bedroom community for PDX (no income tax, etc), you can't exactly say the same thing for Whatcom County and Vancouver BC.

BTW, PDX voters slapped down an extension of MAX to Clark County (not surprisingly, because Oregon taxpayers were being asked to foot the bill for Washingtonians). And there is already intercity rail from Portland to Olympia - it's called Amtrak. Do you really think a stand-alone system that duplicates that is remotely justifiable either in terms of ridership or cost?

You may not like roads (OK, you obviously don't like roads), but if they're filling up, I don't think it's accurate to call them useless - cuz the AWV sure isn't!

Posted by Mr. X | February 26, 2007 7:19 PM

Mr. X,

The problem with Amtrak is that freight gets priority. That kills reliability. There's also a need for higher speed lines, though there's a chicken and egg problem in terms of demand for the service and lack of density to support that kind of rail.

I have no problem with using the roads we have smartly, and using them in conjunction with transit as an integrated system. What I oppose is building new highways or expanding existing highways, which just creates more sprawl and traffic and makes things worse. We should retain the roads we have--I even support retaining the viaduct until we have rail in place--but new development needs to go to transit and not roads. We have several examples of cities (LA, Houston, et al.) that tried to build their way out of traffic congestion, and it has never worked, ever. Seattle is no different, except that we should know better.

Posted by Cascadian | February 26, 2007 11:20 PM

Cascadian @ 28 says:

"We should retain the roads we have--I even support retaining the viaduct until we have rail in place--but new development needs to go to transit and not roads."

See, here's someone who gets it. The "tear it down whatever the cost" position is a deas-ass loser.

Posted by ivan | February 27, 2007 11:06 AM

ungkbae hqkjnc asfnhgiq mvlkupxej dxbqtln sgpe piodtsejm

Posted by wvjsylgu pldb | February 27, 2007 8:57 PM

tqmfyc cmzflh ejztf vxbp vnqtw clmaph msjzkdc dprawq vrelyt

Posted by vkrhm eown | February 27, 2007 8:59 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).