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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Tunnel, Says Mayoral Candidate McGinn

Posted by on Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 4:33 PM

Mayor Greg Nickels has signed off on a b.s. amendment to the state House version of the viaduct replacement bill that would put Seattle businesses on the hook for any cost overruns incurred during construction of the largest deep-bore highway tunnel in the world. Under the amendment, any overruns would be paid for by "property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacement of the existing viaduct with the deep bore tunnel." The state has committed $2.4 billion, plus $400 million in tolling revenues, toward the project; as Josh reported this morning, no local government has ever been held responsible for cost overruns on a state-funded project.

Nickels's deputy mayor, Tim Ceis, told the Seattle Times that he was "not going to jeopardize the project over what I see as a fairly petty gesture, a negative gesture, towards the city of Seattle."

Today, mayoral candidate Mike McGinn issued a statement and YouTube video blasting Nickels for "risking the city’s financial health for decades to come.” Although it's unclear what power the mayor of Seattle would have to ignore a legislative decree that Seattle taxpayers pay for overruns, McGinn vowed not to "authorize the use of city tax dollars for the tunnel or associated cost overruns." Nickels has already pledged $900 million in city revenues for the project. The Big Dig in Boston had cost overruns of more than $10 billion; in 2007, 70 percent of Seattle voters rejected replacing the viaduct with a cut and cover tunnel.


Comments (33) RSS

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Seems to me the beneficiaries of the tunnel would be businesses in Tacoma and Everett.
Posted by Simac on April 22, 2009 at 4:44 PM · Report this
The beneficiaries of the tunnel are the SOV drivers in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard & West Seattle. Perhaps we could have a special toll for SOV drivers on 99? It could equal the amount of the overrun divided by a certain number of car trips expected in a 10 year period. You drive on it, you pay for it.

Go, McGinn! Finally, some fiscal responsibility.
Posted by I (heart) McGinn on April 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Another reason not to vote for McGinn!
Posted by sgiffy on April 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Earth Day tally: McGinn 4 (this, Parks, ST1, ST2), Mayor 0.

Seattle just got screwed by the state. Thank you again, Frank Chopp.
Posted by Ben Dover on April 22, 2009 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Go McGinn! Here is his statement in its entirety:…

I, for one, would welcome a mayor whose priorities are Seattle's priorities. It was bad enough that Nickels agreed to the tunnel deal to begin with, but now the deal is even worse. Yet he is caving to the Legislature.
Posted by Gary on April 22, 2009 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Win with McGinn!
Posted by Baconcat on April 22, 2009 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Regardless of the machinations involved, will you please stop with the bullshit regarding the 2007 ballot measure?! It really makes you look ridiculous.

This isn't a cut-and-cover tunnel, so that doesn't relate to the current debate at all. Beyond that, your 70% figure is completely made up and you know it. Nobody knows what the hell people voted for or against because the question and possible answers were so horribly designed. Guessing at what people were really thinking (and then continually spouting false facts) just so your own position looks better makes you less a journalist and more a Fox News contributor.
Posted by J on April 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM · Report this
This was an opportunity for Mayor Nickels to walk away from a lousy deal that was neither recommended by an expert committee that analyzed viaduct replacements nor approved by Seattle voters. He blew it. Seattle's got no one willing to stand up for its best interests -- unless you're a transportation contractor.
Posted by Mayor Watch on April 22, 2009 at 5:29 PM · Report this

While I think it's pretty safe to say that most of those 2007 votes were against a tunnel of any kind, the more interesting assumption was that the vote validated the so-called "Surface/Transit" option, which wasn't on the ballot at all.

As I recall, a number of polls that were done before the vote saw S/T getting clobbered by the voters by as badly or worse than a tunnel was.

There's a reason S/T wasn't on the ballot.

Posted by Mr. X on April 22, 2009 at 5:30 PM · Report this
Yeah, J but her basic jist is correct. This Mayor has too often--more than twice, importantly--defied the will of the voters. And this Mercer Mess shit over fixing so many other projects in town--has finally pissed me off. Get this guy out of office, please.
Posted by matt Jones on April 22, 2009 at 5:32 PM · Report this
History repeating indeed. Perhaps a look at the "on budget' claims for the City of Seattle's Bus Tunnel will reassure all.
A bit before the Stranger's time, but the Seattle Times archives are amusing; try and find which articles use the same numbers more than three times.....
Posted by Chk_It on April 22, 2009 at 5:45 PM · Report this
@11: Why is it safe to say that a vote against one project is a vote against a completely different project? Unless, of course, you backed viaduct replacement, which was rejected by the voters.

Now that viaduct replacement is off the table, that only leaves a tunnel or S/T or both (which is essentially what the deep bore tunnel plan does).
Posted by Alki on April 22, 2009 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Dang, I meant @9.
Posted by Alki on April 22, 2009 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Oh please, people voted against a tunnel (personally, I think the current plan is moderately better, but I would still vote against it if given the opportunity).

An elevated AWV replacement got far more votes than the rejected tunnel did, or than all of the polling at the time showed S/T would have if it was on the ballot. In short - there is plurality support for one of the options, but not majority support for any of them.

Frankly, your argument reminds me of stadium apologists who say that voters didn't actually reject the Mariners' Stadium, they just rejected the specific tax on the ballot - which is a crock.

Posted by Mr. X on April 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM · Report this
Absolutely true-and as one of those daily SOV drivers that toll should be in place at fair market value. If I take METRO I lose three hours a day to my commute from West Seattle to Magnolia/Interbay and back-at state minimum wage I am willing to fork out $22 a day for a round trip pass.
Sadly, I was duped into voting for TRANSIT NOW! 2006 - my Rapid Transit Bus is unfortunatley still being built (over budget and behind schedule) in Italy and the money raised by the initiative is wholly insufficent to operate the BRT program.
And so - to my car via the VIADUCT OF DEATH and home-as my time to wait out traffic is now at a close!
Posted by Chk_It on April 22, 2009 at 6:16 PM · Report this
FWIW - if the current tunnel proposal and S/T were on the ballot head to head, I'd vote for the tunnel.

Posted by Mr. X on April 22, 2009 at 6:19 PM · Report this
Have you heard of the gothard base tunnel? The tokyo bay tunnel?

Largest deep-bore highway tunnel in the world? Don't just make shit up.
Posted by andrew on April 22, 2009 at 6:26 PM · Report this

It's actually "Gotthard Road Tunnel", but still. Of these that were "deep-bored":

Hsuehshan Tunnel (8.042 mi)
Arlberg Road Tunnel (9.01 miles)
Zhongnanshan Tunnel (11.21 miles)
Lærdal Tunnel (15.2 mi)
Gotthard Road Tunnel (15.3 miles)

Are all way the fuck longer. I don't like that tunnel, but don't just print bullshit McGinn talking points without even wikipeding to see if maybe there is some tunnel longer.

Erica Barnett: Credulous Hack of the Day
Posted by andrew on April 22, 2009 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Too bad. I was open to McGinn, but now he has positioned himself as TOTALLY anti-progress and anti-development.
I'm as green as the next Seattle-ite, but I will not accept this "we voted against the tunnel" argument OR the we can just ride our bike from Ballard to the Sodo. Dumb.
Not McGinn. Still not sure about Nickels, but absolutely not McGinn.
Posted by topjimmy on April 22, 2009 at 8:16 PM · Report this
So nice to have ECB back so that the amount of shoddy journalism can return to The Stranger's usual levels.
Posted by Good Grief on April 22, 2009 at 8:35 PM · Report this
@19 If you are in reasonable physical shape. Ballard to Sodo on what exists (bike trail) versus extensions to serve the peculiarities of you commute should take, you what, 45 , minutes? Or less-a lot less? Think out side-a-da-fuckin-box, my fiend!
Posted by Spandectomy on April 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM · Report this
Posted by asshat on April 23, 2009 at 12:53 AM · Report this

As opposed to driving it in considerably shorter time than 45 minutes right now?

Man, that whole people expecting value from their tax dollars thing just sucks, doesn't it?

McGinn is a complete idiot. Period.

Nickels is barely smart enough to realize that if he really really really wants the tunnel, then those that will benefit most from getting rid of the viaduct (read: developers) will have to pay the extra cost.

Of course, this threatens their world-class cred by not sticking taxpayers across the state with their bill while walking away with the profits. Life sucks. Grab a straw.

We could've reached this compromise five fucking years ago at a considerably lower cost. Way to go, world-class city!
Posted by World-Class Cynic on April 23, 2009 at 2:04 AM · Report this
Just to point this out, north-to-south, Seattle is about 14 miles. There are highway tunnels that are longer than 14 fucking miles.

Largest? What fucking stupid measure? Jesus christ.
Posted by max on April 23, 2009 at 2:10 AM · Report this
Why shouldn't every location have to pay for cost overruns? They all go to the legislature with their demands and requests and believe it, the bacon is not handed out in a scientific and impartial manner.

If the people in Belfair, or Bremerton, or Silverdale had to pay for overruns they would have a new incentive to get it right.
Posted by serial catowner on April 23, 2009 at 6:36 AM · Report this

Seattle's getting the special treatment it wants. They just have to pay the extra cost. Why is that not fair?
Posted by World-Class Cynic on April 23, 2009 at 7:52 AM · Report this
@24: Diameter. Please find an example of a completed tunnel anywhere in the world larger than 50' in diameter.
Posted by Greg on April 23, 2009 at 8:37 AM · Report this


It's the states job to maintain the STATE highway system, not the local jurisdiction.…

Seattle isn't getting "special treatment" having the viaduct repaired. They are offering to pay $930 million dollars already. They are giving the state a good deal. McGinn is right. It's a bullshit move for the legislature to peg cost overruns to the backs of Seattle taxpayers for a state route that runs from Tukwila to Everett. The states job is maintain the state highway system, period!
Posted by hoary on April 23, 2009 at 10:05 AM · Report this
@28 It's Seattle's preference to build the state route into a tunnel, therefore Seattle will help pay for the tunnel. If Everett wanted highway 99 to run underground through their city the state would laugh at them and tell them to come up with the money if they want it so badly.

I think the state is being rather generous paying so much of the pricetag, considering the massive budget shortfall forcing park closures and massive tuition hikes, among other fun things, just to make Seattle happy.

Seriously, why is this a good idea again?
Posted by SOO!!! on April 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM · Report this

It's just complete lies, there's no truth to it, even with that ridiculous definition of "largest"

Posted by andrew on April 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM · Report this

You beat me to it. Thanks.
Posted by World-Class Cynic on April 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM · Report this

It's not a good idea. That's why 70% of people voted against it in March 2007.…

We don't want it. We don't want to pay for it.
Posted by hoary on April 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Remember Boston's "Big Dig"?
This is like getting involved in an illegal (the people are against it), expensive (several times the cost estimates), and rather stupid decision, just like Vietnam & Iraq. NO TUNNEL! Follow the money: the city wants the taxes from shoreline developments (hotels & condos). I love the views from the current viaduct. A suspended bridge would be better, like they have in Vancouver, B.C. Taking that tunnel would be a life-threatening gamble, and I would avoid it at virtually all cost. This is an ego thing, a legacy thing for the Governor and the Seattle Mayor, but if there were a referendum, it would not pass. Is this a democracy or are our politicos seeking the equivalent of Bush's library in Dallas ("The Museum of Shame") for their ego fulfillment!!
Posted by jedstrom on May 14, 2009 at 1:27 PM · Report this

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