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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rasmussen on Tunnel Study: "I Have Only Read the First Page"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Seattle City Council's transportation committee, said today that he can't speak to the state's definitive study on the deep-bore tunnel at an upcoming Town Hall forum because "I have only read the first page."

He must be an awfully slow reader.

The state provided the city advance copies of the Supplement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which is hundreds of pages long, in the spring, again (in more complete form) in September, and (in final form) in October. The Stranger posted copies of a draft (obtained form a public records request) in July, fellow council member Mike O'Brien sent comments about that draft to all of his colleagues in mid-summer, and several groups have been sending letters to the entire city council about it since last winter. "Letters in the past year have been raising all of these issues, telling them what to watch out for," says People's Waterfront Coalition director Cary Moon. "It's unconscionable for him to pretend like he's not aware of the serious risks."

Among other impacts, the study outlines the transportation impacts on city streets, I-5, in the tunnel itself, and on transit. (It finds that only about one-third of viaduct traffic would take the tunnel and the remaining cars would clog city streets, particularly downtown.)

In other words, the SDEIS is the city's most singularly informative asset about its biggest transportation project, and Rasmussen—again, the transportation chair of the city council—hasn't read it. But he has, since it's been available, voted to pass a resolution to let the state build the tunnel and for the city to chip in $930 million.

"I haven't had a chance to read it yet and I won't have a chance until I get back from vacation," Rasmussen says. He's leaving for California next week and says he's been too preoccupied by the city budget and Metro funding to look at the state's tunnel study. When pressed on why he won't talk about the tunnel at Town Hall, he says, "I don't think I would be very informed."

"There are so many serious problems this generates for local access and mobility," says Moon. "Solving these problems should have been the priority for the past year when the problems were first raised."

Asked about the tolling study and the drafts in summer, Rasmussen said only, "The primary job is the state's to get comment in." But the city council must decide what to do with an estimated diversion of 65,000 cars a day mostly on city streets, right? After he gets back from vacation, "I'll begin my work on this," he says.

"My primary interest is to protect Seattle's interest," he adds.

"If this is his watching out for our interests, we're in deep shit," says Moon.


Comments (14) RSS

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Dammit - his pool boy was supposed to have read it to him by now. Fuckin' Fernandinho, man, that cat is lazy.
Posted by gloomy gus on November 17, 2010 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
I hear he outsourced the reading to his foreign contractor.

Maybe we should just realize that not only does Seattle NOT want it, but we can't afford it, and there is no way it will be approved by the VOTERS in Seattle, in King County, or in Washington State.

It is an EX-tunnel.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 17, 2010 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Give Rasmussen a break. Like other electeds he has 1000s of pages of documents to read every week (I'm not exaggerating). He and other electeds have 100s of staffers whose job is to read things like this and be experts. We are not paying him to read every boring page of every document. We're paying him to listen to the public, listen to the experts, weigh the evidence, and make a choice in our best interests. You guys gotta get over the idea that it's possible for an elected to read everything that crosses their desks.
Posted by Sandman on November 17, 2010 at 6:05 PM · Report this
Glenn 4
Whine whine, we can't afford it. What else is new? Soon everyone will be on a Mcbike and there won't be any traffic downtown but the occasional tourist.
Posted by Glenn on November 17, 2010 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Baconcat 5
That's 1 for "build it or the city will fail" and another for "why should he know what's in the study". We even got a bonus McPun.

Next up: claims of obstruction and a war on cars.
Posted by Baconcat on November 17, 2010 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Sandman @3 is right. Rasmussen, unlike a lot of elected officials, has a reputation for actually reading these kinds of technical documents. So, if he's saying he will read it, he's one city official who really will.

Not that it really matters. The SDEIS doesn't say anything that the City Council committee hasn't been talking about for more than a year, anyway. There's no council action expected on the tunnel until next year. I don't see Rasmussen saying he's blowing off the issues that affect Seattle, only that he hasn't (yet) read the 250 pages plus 20 technical appendices that make up the document. Big fucking deal.
Posted by Lawyer Hack on November 17, 2010 at 6:44 PM · Report this
Kinison 7
@Will in Seattle

Technically we cant afford to tear down the viaduct, yet alone re-build a similar elevated roadway. What is it? 2.5 billion to tear down and re-build, vs 4 billion to tunnel?

Either way you flip that coin, you'll have safety issues and cost overruns to deal with.

Or you can just tear it down and not re-build anything, one option nobody will like and fucks everyone in the ass hard, with no lube.
Posted by Kinison on November 17, 2010 at 7:14 PM · Report this
I figured it out. Seattle is a multiverse. You have all these groups of people running around with an "image" of what it's like, but with almost no one responding to the physical reality of what it is.

More on this later...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 17, 2010 at 7:59 PM · Report this
seandr 10
"He must be an awfully slow reader."

Just when I thought there were no bridges left for Dom to burn...
Posted by seandr on November 17, 2010 at 10:07 PM · Report this
@3: You are correct. A City Councilperson (or any elected official, for that matter) cannot possibly read every word of every document that crosses their desk. This means that Mr. Rasmussen must prioritize: he must choose, based on some set of heuristics, what to read personally and what to let his staff summarize for him. This means he chose not to personally read the most important document yet produced for the largest project within his direct domain of responsibility. Ergo Dominic's assertion that Rasmussen is not doing his due diligence is also correct.
Posted by Zelbinian on November 18, 2010 at 1:38 AM · Report this
Zelbinian@11: That is simply not true. He has not read it *yet*. The SDEIS was only published a couple weeks a go (in the middle of the budget cycle). While SDOT was involved in it's development, the council has no say in the development of a draft EIS. The public comment period is open until December 13. So, there is no harm that could possibly come to the city by him not having read it at this point. Dominic is making an issue out of nothing.
Posted by Lawyer Hack on November 18, 2010 at 7:43 AM · Report this
Mickymse 13
@ 12, I like Tom, but I wouldn't give him a pass on this one...

The City has had drafts of this circulating for SEVERAL WEEKS now. On top of that, Tom was one of several vocal Council members who ridiculed the Mayor for requesting an additional week to study the documents and suggest any changes, remember?

Whether or not Tom is informed or will read the whole thing, that suggests that it doesn't matter at all to him whether he reads it because he's already made up his mind on the project.

And, as numerous people keep trying to point out to our local electeds, the WHOLE POINT of an EIS process is to identify the risks and concerns on a project and to compare alternatives in order to THEN make a final decision.
Posted by Mickymse on November 18, 2010 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
In conversations with various electeds, it has become very obvious there are at least five lawsuits waiting to happen if the Billionaires' Tunnel goes forward.

All for something we don't even want.

It's time to just say NO.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 18, 2010 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15

Federal, state, and local bureaucrats are holding a public hearing on the Billionaires' Tunnel Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement. They are even taking public comments on the project's controversial EIS. Endorse the EIS and there are rumors circulating that Richard Conlin might preemptively sign for your tab at the bar later. (Plymouth Church, 1217 Sixth Ave, 5 to 7 p.m., free)

in case you forgot

and then head over to SLOG Happy for your filled cupcakes ... um, wait, no, the TSA is strip searching those.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Report this

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