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57% no is awesome.

Posted by seattle98104 | March 16, 2007 4:52 PM

It's up to a 14.5 percentage-point difference with 154,934 votes counted. If there are another 30K+ ballots yet to be tallied, then a 15-point difference is certainly within reach. I would call that unqualified, unmitigated landslide. Awesome!

Hey, where's that math whiz Nick Licata when you need him? On election night, our pal Nick was interpreting the pro-viaduct votes as "a pretty solid base."

Posted by cressona | March 16, 2007 4:53 PM

Oh, here's the rest of Nick Licata's election night interpretation of the allegedly narrow margin:

"It will definitely keep it alive," he said. "I think that Olympia will have to moderate its stance, in taking into account some design elements, seeing if they can make it less bulky, less noisy, and seeing how much open space they can create on the waterfront."

Yeah, Nick. "The people" really want a new viaduct, just smaller.

P.S. When I say "the people," I'm referring to the pseudo-populist Licata/Balter/Connelly definition of the people, which basically excludes any voters residing within the city limits of Seattle. Here's another stupefying election-night quote from pro-rebuild campaign leader Gene Hoglund: "Hopefully, the state will support the people."

Posted by cressona | March 16, 2007 5:01 PM

Josh, you’re right Nickels outfoxed Olympia on the vote question but I think it’s a little different than you say.

He didn’t want a public vote, but when he was cornered on the ballot question by the state, he responded with a stratagem: instead of having a tunnel vs. a rebuild election as they insisted, he had both of them up for a yes/no vote. This was brilliant.

He won here because Olympia didn’t specifically state that *this* election wasn’t what they wanted, when they could have.

He was also wise to keep a surface/transit option off the ballot on a yes/no basis, because it too would’ve lost big time, with other measures on the ballot. If it ever comes up for a vote, later, by itself, conditions will be much more favorable.

Posted by Sey | March 16, 2007 5:06 PM

The “yes” votes for the tunnel have consistently come in at 28-32% each day.

For the elevated, the trend has been downward: 41% on day 2, 42% on day 3, and 34.2% in today’s batch—the late advertising push clearly worked well on the late-voting undecideds. Overall the elevated has garnered 39.5% of the post election day count.

Posted by Sey | March 16, 2007 5:10 PM

Just a silly thought on my part, but in the event the Surface/Transit proposal is not feasible (a real possibility), what is the backup plan everyone has in mind .... or is anyone really thinking about this?


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 16, 2007 5:14 PM

Walking or rideing your bike!

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | March 16, 2007 5:48 PM

Harsh how? It's good for what we should be doing ... doubling local transit (all forms of it)?

Just ask Toronto or Vancouver BC - they just stepped up to the plate while we talk a lot and do little.

Well, except for Ron Sims. Kudos to him for forseeing the wave of the future!

Sure does look like Sierra Club won, though.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 16, 2007 5:49 PM

In what sense could surface/transit be "not feasible?"

Tearing down the viaduct before it falls down is certain to work. Building a street where the viaduct used to be has a 99.9% chance of success. We know how to tear stuff down and we know how to pave a road.

That only leaves the transit half. How successfully will it be at reducing trips? Will people be happy with the bus, rail, bike, or whatever alternatives they get?

I guess if in five or ten years everyone gets fed up and wants a waterfront freeway after all, then you could say surface/transit failed. But I doubt anyone proposing a viaduct or tunnel in 2017 will be any better at finding the money to do it that they were in 2007.

The problem is, the people who use it and say they can't live without it aren't even willing to pay a one dollar toll. The people being asked to pay for it don't want it. Not building what you can't afford is, um, feasible.

Posted by elenchos | March 16, 2007 6:38 PM

How would the surface option be unfeasible? One mile of six lane street connecting the new southern surface roadway Gregoire just authorized with the steel portion of the viaduct north of Virginia slated to be rehabbed.

The only variable is how much traffic you feel it needs to move. It could move as much traffic as the viaduct with a few pedestrian overpasses and a flyover ramp. Or, it could have two or three stoplights for left turns and pedestrians.

The funny thing is that the PWC and DOT seem to agree on the worst permutation: a light every block, with every side street connecting. That IS a prescription for gridlock. This will always be a major arterial, and needs to be approached as such.

Posted by Some Jerk | March 16, 2007 6:53 PM

interesting to note, too, that the Elevated had more people vote on it rall - about 3000 more than the Tunnel. That's not what I was expecting at all....

Tho' I suppose it means that some fraction of people knew the tunnel was dead regardless, and didn't feel the need to vote.

Man, I'd love to see the crosstabs on this one....

Posted by el ganador | March 16, 2007 7:05 PM

Some Jerk wrote "The funny thing is that the PWC and DOT seem to agree on the worst permutation: a light every block, with every side street connecting. That IS a prescription for gridlock. This will always be a major arterial, and needs to be approached as such."

Right, the surface option won't work unless it's a barrier to the waterfront. Too funny!

Posted by rodrigo | March 16, 2007 7:07 PM

The surface plan is going to be a "barrier" no matter how its implemented. The barrier is either crossing six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic, or crossing a pedestrian bridge. I support it in spite of that.

The surface option is the cheapest. Less money for concrete, more money for transit. It also leaves the option of tunneling open in the future. Lowering and lidding two blocks could be just as effective as a full tunnel at "reconnecting the waterfront".

Posted by Some Jerk | March 16, 2007 7:40 PM

Everyone of you begged the question.
What if Surface/Transit is not feasible? I am sure Cary Moon would be the first to state the idea is only an idea and not tested. So if it turns out not to be feasible, what's next?


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 16, 2007 8:16 PM


Presumably a tolled cable-stay bridge would be next -- provided additional car traffic is determined to be absolutely necessary.

I don't suggest holding your breath -- I suspect grade-separated rapid mass transit would happen first, either as a West Seattle light rail spur or some other technology.

Posted by golob | March 16, 2007 8:30 PM

You beg the question yourself. What do you mean by feasible? Economically feasible? Check. Engineering feasible? Check.

Ideologically feasible? That's the only question. The limited acess nature of that mile of 99 is apparently the only thing keeping this town going if you listen to some people.

Posted by Some Jerk | March 16, 2007 8:35 PM

I still don't see why a surface option can't be configured to work like Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. The only challege I can see would be the ferry access, and the hillclimb to the Battery Street Tunnel.

Or even a version of lower and upper Wacker Drive for that matter: Through traffic in a trench (NOT a tunnel), local on the surface.

btw, If I were a West Seattlite, what I would be clamoring for is a totally new West Seattle Freeway. That thing is nasty.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 16, 2007 8:48 PM

"You beg the question yourself. What do you mean by feasible? Economically feasible? Check. Engineering feasible? Check."

Hardly, Some Jerk. If you have read Moon's proposal (and I suspect you have not), you will see it rather complex, and not solely dependent on boulevarding Alaskan Way with a dash of unspecified transit added into the froth. The report does not and cannot demonstrate economic or engineering feasibility (sorry, I haven't a clue what you suggest by "ideological" feasibility) because its proposals, in some cases are generalities and/or untested assumptions.

So with that in mind, what happens if it doesn't work? What's next, boys and girls? Isn't it prudent and good planning to have back-ups?


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 16, 2007 9:11 PM

And Lakeshore Drive (which is not a good parallel because of the vast flat land of Chicago) is not a barrier to the pedestrian? It is.

What floors me is that anyone thinks that Aurora-Avenue-By-The-Bay would be an improvement.

Posted by David Sucher | March 16, 2007 9:15 PM

David, have you been to Chicago in the last 50 years? Or at least since they improved Lakeshore back in the 80's? Granted, it's not pristine coastline, but it's a pretty good compromise in a city that handles traffic and transit much better than we do.

And yes - Aurora-by-the-bay would be an improvement over what is there now. Try not to be such a bitter pill. It causes frown lines.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 16, 2007 9:37 PM

I have read the PWC 'vision'. It doesn't take very long, as it boils down to a laundry list of suggestions for achieving a 30k reduction in trips along 99.

When I speak of the feasibility of the surface option, I'm talking about simply building a boulevard over that one mile. Whether or not any particular improvements in arterial connections or signal timing will actually reduce trips is irrelevant if the boulevard can carry as much traffic as the Viaduct. A six lane boulevard with limited access points and overhead pedestrian crossings could.

Depress the roadway slightly, add a berm with trees to seperate the boulevard and promenade, and you have a good compromise between road capacity and walkability.

If the "pedestrian barrier" issue were so paramount, we would have gotten a yes vote on the elevated, since it presents no barrier at all. By simply extending streets and the Hillclimb over the boulevard for pedestrians, we can have much the same effect without a monumental rebuild.

Posted by Some Jerk | March 16, 2007 10:05 PM

CVD Wrote:
"And yes - Aurora-by-the-bay would be an improvement over what is there now."

Really? What iconic Aurora type fixtures would you suggest as an improvement?

Six lanes of bumper to bumper taffic?
The fear of crossing the street without getting hit by some latte sipping, cell phone yacking, makeup applying Turd in a 4000lb piece of metal coasting along at 50 mph?

Beth's Cafe? Evergreen-Washelli cemetary? Highland Ice Rink? Lots
of used and new car lots? Heck, I
could use a Nissan dealership
in Seattle to take care of my wife's
car. I refuse to work on it because I don't have the computer codes. A
waterfront dealership would be fine.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 16, 2007 10:16 PM

Are you an autistic, Josh? A one percent shift is hardly an emphatic anything, let alone a Hell No.

Posted by Gomez | March 16, 2007 10:19 PM

Catalina, I was in Chicago about a year ago; I visit about once a year on average.

We must see different cities.

Posted by David Sucher | March 16, 2007 10:22 PM

Yes, I'm sure we do.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 16, 2007 10:27 PM

Btw, Catalina, my sense is that it's never-never land for Surface/Transit.

Gregoire is heading toward a piecemeal "Rebuild." It will end up looking like a "Repair." But they can't admit it as WSDOT is offering great resistance to coming right out and admitting that a Repair is practical.

I am not saying I like it but I think that is where we are going.

Posted by David Sucher | March 16, 2007 10:35 PM

it's not turning into hell no. It always was. Regardless of Licata's fanciful interpretations, an extra percent doesn't change the fact that 56% was a strong rejection.

Posted by josh | March 17, 2007 12:21 AM


57% is a huge number if you are talking about an issue divided between only two outcomes, but as the electorate was really divided along three cleavages it merely shows how close things are between the two (nobody fucking wants the tunnel)

Posted by vooodooo84 | March 17, 2007 12:24 AM

David has it - above.

Olympia will continue the repair work and then at some point, when it is viewed safer - dump it into a ten year hold, hold and focus on the 520 and 405 projects.

I think we just got the fix it -retrofit, no votes, no protests, no static.

And cheaper for the DOT.

With any brains, we all have known the rebuild/retrofit was possible.

AND a billion is underway for the unions and construction folks, now. That 917 mil will go to 1.5 bil in a year.

All else postponed past the next elections so Dems quit the squabbling.

Good work David.

Josh, The people who voted for the rebuild would most likely be happy for the fix it and retrofit. No tear down, no big delay, happy west, north and south, and Seattle can continue the endless talk they love so much.

The Stranger lost. Again.

Posted by freddy the wise farmer boy | March 17, 2007 12:35 AM

Peter will anoint Carey Moon for his seat --- the photos of them on election night looked like they were gazing into each other eyes as soul mates.

Or wishing to be fuck buddies.....anyway, predict she is it.

Stanger political notes - Gregoire is out cause of dare she, we will lead a voter revolt among her Seattle base....harump, harump.

Licata, once the cuddle lamb of Stranger staff is now unwelcome shit.
Just how many Licata puff pieces did they write? Dozens, to the puke level. And the poor leaker staffer.

Della is an ignorant and not too bright Filipino.

Godden a sickening and horrid old hag.

What a list of the shifting and caustic relationships to the Stranger.

Oh, and Peter is just the Golden Boy, son of Great and Famed Daddy.... at 50????

Posted by earl | March 17, 2007 12:49 AM

@27: Josh, it will only be "hell no" until it is revealed and made clear to average Joe Voter that there will be no continuation of 99 with a connection to Aurora. Highway 99 goes bye-bye under the PWC/surface plan. Couple that with this ethereal proposal of some kind of transit option, stop light fixes and all those pesky Bremerton/Bainbridge ferry cars trying to get on this new street and you will see a "hell no" It will be "hell no." to stripping out one of two through routes in the city. I don't think voters or the state will want to turn Broad Street into a state highway route.

@17: Couldn't agree with you less about Chicago and more about the West Seattle bridge. Remember Chicago has a 7 line subway, and extended metropolitan rail. We don't. As for the W Seattle Bridge, good luck to the transit gods making that a BRT route, especially westbound.

ST2 will die with the voters west of Highway 99 if they're not included in the development plans before the vote. Right now there are suggested hints by the All Mighty Sims and others but nothing on paper for the upcoming decades. If people are stranded, they won't vote for it. BRT isn't considered "rapid" unless there is true "rapidity" past all the cars that will be stuck leaving W Seattle. Stripes on pavement eastbound, and no real westbound access means these same buses will be stuck in the same traffic as everyone else. I'll be happier in my car on my own schedule enjoying my seatwarmer, privacy and stereo.

Posted by Dave Coffman | March 17, 2007 12:55 AM

Jensen, you left "prostitutes" off your list. Surely the new waterfront will be sex-positive.

I guess we have to assume that the attraction of pedestrian bridges is the fact that people in wheelchairs can't use them.

Posted by rodrigo | March 17, 2007 1:51 AM

Considering how badly they were outspent, I'd call 43% for a rebuild a moral victory (and if the PWC's scheme was the subject of its own up-or-down vote, it probably would have done even worse than the tunnel). No one seems to be willing to account for the fact that a whole lot of the "no" votes on the rebuild were retrofit supporters.

Nice to see that our City government squandered $20+ million studying (or to be more accurate, keeping on life support) an option that was rejected by 70% of the electorate, though.

Posted by Mr. X | March 17, 2007 5:16 AM

ST2 is still-born. But it could launch (or kill) some political careers e.g. Moon and Steinbrueck.

The Governor has cleverly started the Repair process. They will do the whole structure Piecemeal. (Maybe even WSDOT hasn't figured that out.) All conjecture of course but I think that she cut a deal with Nickels to help keep Steinbrueck from becoming a serious competitor. How? By deflating the Viaduct issue by simply Repairing it. Nickels had no choice but to go along as he likes his job.

Posted by David Sucher | March 17, 2007 6:33 AM

a) I think the retrofit's dead; I'm pretty sure they decided it would be cheaper to build a new one due to complications.
b) the notion that surface-transit is impossible is refuckingtarded. If a viaduct is possible, it must be possible to have a mini one that just takes traffic down off the tunnel. Other than that, draw new lanes on the parking lot. A GOOD surface-transit, or a complicated one like Moon's? Maybe not. But surface-transit without bells or whistles? It's already there. it's called Alaskan Way.
c) A strong majority of voters did NOT want a new viaduct. Urban freeways on waterfronts, especially a (theoretically) beautiful one like Seattle's, are a stupid idea. Find another idea. That's what the tunnel vote says too; one can't lump the tunnel vote with the viaduct vote. I myself thought about voting tunnel, just cus I'd prefer it to the viaduct if there HAD to be a freeway. I'll bet a sizeable proportion of that 30% agree with me.

Posted by john | March 17, 2007 8:11 AM

(That should read S/T not ST2.)

Posted by David Sucher | March 17, 2007 8:13 AM

John @ 35:

More Tinker Bell crap without a clue as to where that traffic goes, or how long it takes, if you tear it down, based on nothing more than that you don't like looking at the Viaduct.

"You think" the retrofit's dead. Big whoop! I'll wave to you as I drive by on the retrofitted Viaduct 10 years from now, while you and Erica and her alias Catalina are still sputtering: "But, but -- VIBRANT!"

Posted by ivan | March 17, 2007 9:04 AM

People claim that the surface option won't work because they lack imagination and obviously like to drive their cars everywhere. Public transit is underfunded and poorly planned in this city because so many people insist on driving. If people were personally invested in transit, Seattle could have a world class public transpotation system in place.

Those who condemn the very possibility of replacing the viaduct with a surface street and improved transit are clearly not interested in creating a real public transporation system in Seattle. Instead of investing the money on increasing infrastructure and making what I consider a piece of shit transit system work, rebuild supporters would rather insist on a car-centric approach.

People who have to or choose to take the bus have to deal with an inefficent and underfunded system. Even without the viaduct debate, there needs to be serious investment in a better public transit system, one that will encourage commuters to take the bus and help fund it by paying fares. The transit system sucks because not enough people take it or care about it.

The pro rebuild arguments seem to be advanced mainly by people who neither believe in public transport nor have a desire to fix it. Most just assume it can't work and insist on the idea that drivers will not be compelled to quite driving everywhere. I think there's a real lack of vision among those who insist that a car-centric solution is the only feasible one.

Posted by James | March 17, 2007 9:13 AM

A lot of drivers insist that axing the viaduct is impractical, the product of a kind of wishy washy idealism. But the idea of practicality that's being pushed by the pro viaduct crowd is based on the assumption that the city has no choice to be anything other than a car city. The very idea of challenging car culture is a threat- the environmental problems caused by cars is something to be ignored, because it's "impractical" to consider the future or the quality of life, because hey, cars aren't going away! People insisting on the "practicality" of cars and freeways have no vested interest in creating practical public transit.

Posted by JMS | March 17, 2007 9:24 AM

"Erica and her alias Catalina"

Uh, excuse me. I'm a real live person, entirely separate from Miss Barnett, whom I have never met. In fact, the only people I have ever met from The Stranger is Dan Savage (who was dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus at the time) and David Schmader, back in his bookstore days.

And it's pretty clear you haven't really been reading my comments - or your reading comprehension skills are lacking. I don't think Erica would ever suggest what I did: That we essentially replace the viaduct with a surface level highway similar to Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.

Obviously, you have some anger issues, and that's too bad. But don't go off the deep end. People will start avoiding you socially, and you'll end up like the naked guy at Westlake.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 17, 2007 9:43 AM

OK Josh its Hell ^&$*&(*)_* no and hell no. FYI
The poll was conducted from before election day to days after and unlike an exit poll where it is clear that the person voted, this poll asked the target if they had and went on from there. If you could get both hands on the keyboard and your head back into reality you would see that the Gov. is doing the work necessary for a Rebuild - or do you support keeping the tunnel open and connecting from there to AWB for S&T?

Golob - the 4 lanes of Battery St. are joined by the Western off-ramp and the Elliott on-ramp to make 6 lanes- now when we get to the details, will this be a ramp connecting to the surface in which case we have an elevated roadway right by Pike Place Market or a tunnel to Mercer St. or the "Denny interchange" that PWC talks about or an elevated structure over the RR tracks at Broad? Will the cars now exiting on Western be moved over earlier and then drive up Western by the Market? If you would like to take this off-line

Posted by Sherwin | March 17, 2007 10:08 AM


People who accuse other people of having "anger issues" are usually projecting their own issues onto others, just as some of the worst homophobes are probably repressing . . . well, you know. And my social life is pretty damn active, thank you very much.

38 and 39:

Oh, sure, we have to get out of our cars FIRST, because, well . . . because YOU say so.

Hey, I don't drive to work, OK? And I WANT transit. I WANT enough transit in this town so that we can someday tear it down.

But it's not here. And wishing won't make it so. And yes, a lot of people HAVE to drive on it. And no, the transit that we have here and now is NOT enough to obviate the need for the Viaduct.

And no, NOT everybody who uses the Viaduct is wedded to the "car culture" and against transit.

How about building the transit FIRST?

Posted by ivan | March 17, 2007 10:19 AM

Well instead of wasting untold (b/m)illions on a viaduct rebuild or a tunnel, we could spend those millions on public transit that works. We don't have decent public transit because no one wants to invest in it. The "this is the way things are" argument is like saying we shouldn't pay for law enforcement because crime is going to happen regardless.

Posted by JMS | March 17, 2007 10:24 AM

To clarify, I'm saying that the city should already be investing more in public transit, instead of wasting moneny promoting and building billions of dollars on what amounts to a glorfied road.

Posted by JMS | March 17, 2007 10:26 AM

That was a mess, let me try again:

To clarify, I'm saying that the city should already be investing more in public transit, instead of wasting money promoting and rebuilding what amounts to a glorfied road. With the kind of capital we're talking about the transit nightmare could be fixed.

Posted by JMS | March 17, 2007 10:29 AM

JMS "We don't have decent public transit because no one wants to invest in it."

Sure, it's only free stuff, like light rail, that gets any support around here. That's why we just voted to reduce our property taxes in order to cut Metro bus service.

Posted by rodrigo | March 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Catalina—you may not be Erica Barnett, but apparently Senator Haugen is you:

"One intriguing idea comes from state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, who says, "Tear it down.""

--March 15, Seattle Times

Posted by BB | March 17, 2007 11:14 AM

The benchmark is set: show us the option with more than 43% support!!!

Good luck with that.

Posted by Sey | March 17, 2007 11:22 AM

BB, technically speaking, it's "tear that schitt down", which I totally ripped off from a person who posts on a website I visit about architecture in Detroit. (I hardly ever have original material.)

Ivan, I appolgize: I was being a bit facetious when I accused you of having anger issues. I thought that the reference to the naked guy at Westlake would have tipped you off.

(Work on your sense of humor, dear, or you'll find yourself in the same situation as the Frye apartment guy.)

That north end of the viaduct really is a mess, with the tunnel, the railroad tracks, and all of that other stuff going on. I always forget that the tunnel is higher than the viaduct, and that there's a bit of a climb there. A surface option would really compound that, wouldn't it?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 17, 2007 12:18 PM


On your last sentence, it sure would. This was one of the biggest technical problems with all of the iterations of the tunnel - folks in Belltown would have shit a green brick sideways if they had to listen to truck engines roaring to get up that grade or compression-braking getting down it.

(BTW - I generally agree with you on most issues, but disagree 100% on the real-world fx on 100,000+ people of just "tearing that schitt down").

And Sey hits the nail on the head - there is no option with majority support, and a 43% plurality is probably the best any one of them would do in a stand-alone up or down vote (though retrofit may poll a couple of points better if WSDOT and NickelsCO would let them vote on it).

Posted by Mr. X | March 17, 2007 1:18 PM

Mr X.
With 43 for a Rebuild I would have no dount whatsoever that a Repair/Retrofit would poll well over 50%.

That's why the worst nightmare of everyone from WSDOT to the Mayor to the PWC and the Stranger is to have the Retrofit on the table for discussion much less for a vote.

They all know that their pet project -- Tunnel or Surface would lose big time.

Posted by David Sucher | March 17, 2007 1:41 PM

The real disaster would be if we "repair" the Viaduct but do nothing to "prepare" for true, grade-separated, rapid transit. Although ST may go by the wayside, they still need to re-invoke the West Side requirements and produce a workable plan. That might save ST2, which is heading for the same deep end as the tunnel.

Posted by chas Redmond | March 17, 2007 2:00 PM

X, In all honesty, I'm ambivalent as to tearing that "schitt" down as well. But I do think that, unless we do something, nature will eventually do it for us, and we will all be sitting here complaining about the design of the memorial for the people killed on it.

I do think that there is a middle ground somewhere that will address the needs of commerce and the citizens, but I don't know just what that is. Having worked right next to the viaduct for five years, I can tell you it's an eyesore, and a hazzard, and an embarassment. I'm very very glad my office is not adjacent to it anymore. The 2001 earthquake was bad enough.

I-5 is little better in its ridiculous stretch from the brewery to the ship canal bridge. Lidding it through Freeway Park and the Convention Center may have made it totally impossible for us to expand it.

So we are limited by geography, but that's nothing new in Seattle. What we need is a new option, because the status quo isn't cutting it. And just replacing it won't cut it.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 17, 2007 2:30 PM

Repair/Retrofit are not the same thing, Sucher. I would support repairing it as needed until we have enough improvements in other areas to tear it down. Retrofit is a 2 billion dollar permament "solution" that just seems incredibly stupid to me and I would not support that. And if you insist it will only cost $800K because...because...just because you say so...well forgive me for laughing in your face.

I've always suspected a lot of you "repair and prepare" folks are just looking for a way to get your retrofit but make it sound more palatable to the general public. That's the only reason I'm leary of that option.

Posted by gb | March 17, 2007 3:26 PM

I am well aware of your concerns, GB, bravely anonymous as you are, and I wrote about them here:

Who's afraid of "Repair & Prepare?"

I have been alternately astonished, amused and annoyed at the silent treatment accorded "Repair & Prepare" by virtually all local pundits.

The standard-issue workaday professional journalist types like Postman or Ross Reynolds and Steve Scher at KUOW seem to have bought into the convenient fiction that "the Viaduct must be replaced" and that a Repair will only last a few years yet cost billions. So even now they refuse to discuss it. As with Iraq, one of the reasons we are in such a terrible mess is because of the very poor reporting by the media, and that includes our precious liberal KUOW.

The bloggers like Goldy or the crew at The Stranger's Blog — intellectually livelier but a whole lot less responsible — also refuse to even say the word "Repair." (As a clarification, I don't believe that most of the writers at The Stranger are journalists.)

Why do they ignore & fear Repair? Some, of course, have lost their critical faculties and believe everything which authority figures tell them.

Some remain silent out of fear.

Their silence is foolish but not irrational. From their perspective the danger (what they fear so much that they cannot even admit that a Repair is possible) is that the "Repair" will be done and the "Prepare"will be forgotten. No question, that is a real problem. It will take focus over many rears to create the infrastructure of transit which will even come close to allowing dismantling the Viaduct. During that long interim period new issues can shift public focus and the "temporary" Repair can become practically permanent. Consider the "temporary" structures of WW2; many were still used into the 80s.

Like all great works, changing the transportation patterns of a major city will take time. Time is the enemy of the deal and in this context the Repair is a danger to those simple enthusiasts who wish to simply "tear down the Viaduct" and let the Devil take the hindmost.

But the danger cannot be avoided. It must be faced squarely. A Surface/Transit option without an interim period of Repair — which interim period may be a decade or more even with the most vigorous pro-transit policies — is a stillborn Surface/Transit option. "You can't get there from here" unless you admit a Repair and make it part of your program. Wake up, dreamers!

Posted by David Sucher | March 17, 2007 4:39 PM

Re: David Sucher @ comment 55:

I tend to agree with you. The question that seems never to be asked is, how imminent is the danger of the viaduct collapsing? The answer is, we have no idea. Given that we have no idea, I believe it makes sense to go ahead with the repairs and start planning like nobody's business for the surface option. I'm a semi-regular viaduct driver, and I'm willing to take my chances. If we go ahead and rebuild, I probably have as great a chance of dying in ambulance stuck on I-5 on the way to Harborview sometime in the next ten years as I do getting pancaked on 99 during the Big One.

There is obviouly no perfect solution, and no way of judging the optimal solution before the fact. Given that there is a paramount need to start rearranging our transit system now to deal with the circumstances of the next 50 years (principally, skyrocketing oil prices and decreased suburb-centric demographics), I don't see a better alternative.

Posted by cryodonfacelift | March 17, 2007 8:14 PM

According to this there is a 5% chance there will be an earthquake strong enough to make it unusable in the next 20 years

Thursday, June 28, 2001


Chances of the Alaskan Way Viaduct's surviving a major earthquake are worse than earlier thought and the aged span should be replaced within a decade, according to a special team of engineers whose report will be made public today.

The state Department of Transportation brought in the six engineers, headed by David Goodyear, to evaluate the structure after the Nisqually quake Feb. 28, which cracked the 48-year-old span and left it leaning 3 inches eastward at South Washington Street.

DOT spokeswoman Linda Mullen said the engineers found the two-mile-long waterfront artery would be vulnerable in a stronger earthquake "with or without liquefaction" of the loose soils underneath.

A 1996 study by two University of Washington engineering professors found that soil liquefaction "was the most problematic threat should there be a major quake," Mullen said.

The panel also said there is a 1-in-20 chance of the double-deck viaduct being hit by a major earthquake in the next 10 years -- one severe enough to make the structure "unusable," as Mullen put it. She was quick to add that this was a statistical probability, much the same as rating a 100-year storm.

Posted by Sherwin | March 17, 2007 9:22 PM

sorry in the next ten years - 5 years have passed

Posted by Sherwin | March 17, 2007 9:24 PM

it might be very Strangerish, Catalina ---- but but but poking fun at the mentally deranged and unstable is not cool

oh, Dan and David do it all the time - well honey, with that nice made up name you have a few more smarts

apology needed, he is my brother

Posted by earl | March 18, 2007 4:58 AM

Who's your brother, Earl?

If your name IS Earl....

Posted by catalina vel-duray | March 18, 2007 8:51 AM


How about building the transit FIRST?

You're making WAAAAY too much sense.

Posted by World Class Cynic | March 18, 2007 6:06 PM


A lot of drivers insist that axing the viaduct is impractical, the product of a kind of wishy washy idealism. But the idea of practicality that's being pushed by the pro viaduct crowd is based on the assumption that the city has no choice to be anything other than a car city. The very idea of challenging car culture is a threat- the environmental problems caused by cars is something to be ignored, because it's "impractical" to consider the future or the quality of life, because hey, cars aren't going away! People insisting on the "practicality" of cars and freeways have no vested interest in creating practical public transit.

Yeah, how selfish and evil of me to want a mode of transportation that is flexible, comfortable and effective and gets me from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. How selfish and evil of me for not placing my faith in the good intentions of those who have given us, in order, the Seattle Bus Tunnel, KC Metro's street destroying overweight MAN buses, Sound Transit, the monorail and the South Lake Union Streetcar. Hey, JMS, here's a crazy idea, why don't you, instead of posting meaningless, preachy crap like that, come up with this 'practical' public transit. While you're at it come up with something 'practical' enough so that it will be used by Ron Sims, Greg Nickels and Peter Steinbrueck. Seriously, let's see some leadership by example on the part of Ron, Greg and Peter instead of their current "do as I say, not as I do" which gives the three of them roughly as much credibility vis a vis public transit as Dick Cheney and George Bush have vis a vis military service.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | March 18, 2007 7:42 PM

JMS @43

That was a mess, let me try again:
To clarify, I'm saying that the city should already be investing more in public transit, instead of wasting money promoting and rebuilding what amounts to a glorfied road. With the kind of capital we're talking about the transit nightmare could be fixed.

OK, JMS, let's assume that we have 2.8 billion dollars to spend on transit for the SR99 corridor. Show me a plan that will move people along this corridor as quickly, conveniently and efficiently as rebuilding the viaduct. Show me a plan where you're going to build something that people will actually want to use, that will actually make them want to get out of their cars instead of forcing them out of their cars. Show me a plan that isn't based on self-righteous bullshit (i.e, whining about car culture and what horrible pricks drivers are for not using public transit), wishful thinking or doomsday scenarios. Show me a plan based upon saying "we're going to develop something really, really good and compelling for people who currently drive". Show me a public transit planto replace the viaduct that isn't faith or abstinence based, which most of our transit plans have been.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | March 18, 2007 8:21 PM

Well, until the city seriously considers researching and allowing planners to come up with a viable suface option, we're not going to have one. The city, as you well know, has not seriously considered surface transit as of yet- this may change in the coming years. Give the transit supporters the funding and the tools to create a model for the public, and then I will present you with a plan.

btw: I think it's hilarious that you can pretend that naysayers like me need to single handedly present a fully worked out plan and budget on an online forum to convince you, when you know full well it's up the city to seriously consider a surface option and a budget. So no, I don't have a fancy million dollar proposal worked out- that's what I hope the city works out when it, ya know, does its job and works out a plan. Or in other words, fuck sophistry and up serious research.

Posted by JMS | March 19, 2007 9:51 AM

JMS Wrote:
"I think it's hilarious that you can pretend that naysayers like me need to single handedly present a fully worked out plan and budget on an..."

Hilarious you may think it is, however I don't believe it is unreasonable to
expect you to post some sort of general plan that would support your position. Certainly many on this forum have stuck their necks out and done just that.

--- Jensen

Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 19, 2007 10:40 AM

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