City Tear It Down
posted by February 27 at 11:57 AMon
Gov. Christine “Strategic Framework for Future Action” Gregoire joined four other Western governors today in announcing a five-state pact to reduce global warming. The initiative would create a regional target for cutting greenhouse gases; establish a plan for meeting that target; and create a registry for tracking and managing greenhouse gas emissions.
Well, ring-a-ding-ding. Coming from a governor hellbent on shoehorning capacity for 130,000 cars a day onto Seattle’s waterfront, Gregoire’s announcement doesn’t exactly bowl me over. If Washington State is going to reduce our contribution to global warming, Seattle residents need to drive less. But to do that, we need to build transit. And to do that, we need to stop spending all our transportation dollars on freeways—a vicious cycle Gregoire seems incapable or unwilling to comprehend.
Even the state’s own Expert Review Panel (the group that dissolved itself because Gregoire gave it “insufficient time” to evaluate the various viaduct-replacement options) said in a letter last Friday that the state should regard the viaduct corridor as “an urban arterial,” and consider the possibility of reducing car capacity in the corridor. “We do not agree that a freeway and expressway standard is the only design choice available,” the ERP wrote, citing “many examples nationwide” where design standards were changed to acknowledge “constrained” conditions. Gregoire and the state Department of Transportation have consistently ignored these recommendations.
Meanwhile, the New York-based Project for Public Spaces has ranked Seattle’s waterfront among the seven worst waterfronts in the world,, thanks to the elevated highway that divides the city from its waterfront. “Seattle could … make huge gains by taking down the Viaduct along the waterfront, and investing in transit service instead,” the PPS “Hall of Shame” report concludes. “The waterfront now feels disconnected from downtown, but the removal of the viaduct would open up new links between people and Puget Sound. Public destinations that are floundering today would flourish.”