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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Arguments in Favor of the Tunnel

Posted by on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Three readers responded to yesterday's call to write a guest post in favor of the deep-bore tunnel. One more post is on the way, but for now, two pro-tunnel pieces (as cogent and convincing as any we're hearing from elected officials) are after the jump. They're completely unedited.

From Scott:

I support the Tunnel.

It is by far the best compromise between the reality of our current transportation system and the real need to begin to move beyond car focused development.

The forces arrayed against the project may be loud, but they are wrong.

They are also contradictory. For example, you hear both that we are building a new highway/expanding auto capacity, and at the same time the tunnel will only hold a fraction of the trips the Viaduct currently does causing gridlock. Well which is it?

In reality the Tunnel preserves needed cross town capacity including freight that needs get to/from the Port or other locales. At the same time we are reducing car capacity to downtown, a place well served by transit from almost anywhere in the region. A person in Burien or Georgetown can get downtown almost any time of day via fast frequent transit. You cannot say the same thing about getting from those same places to Ballard or points north.

The Surface Option puts all those cars on our waterfront and city streets causing gridlock, noise, and general unpleasantness.

With the Tunnel we keep a good, underground, route for those needs.

This also presents an opportunity to push for more transit. The loss of Seattle exits will make travel downtown more difficult creating demand for alternatives. The Mayor campaigned on a promise to let us vote on light rail to Ballard and West Seattle. The Tunnel project can help make that a reality. The newly opened waterfront could potentially be an excellent corridor for light rail with a fully built street car network carrying people to other points from there.

The City also could and should use its clout not to kill the Tunnel, but to give us the means to make our system better. We should be demanding the state allow us to build more light rail. We should be tying our cooperation on the Tunnel to Olympia giving us the means to adequately fund Metro. And we should be fighting for a two lane, not four lane, road down the waterfront to provide space for bike, train, or pedestrian use. The Mayor can lead on this if only he is willing.

The other main objection is that Seattle will be on the hook for overruns.

Contrary to what some say, the City of Seattle is not named as responsible in the legislation outlining the plan for the tunnel. Instead it says that “Seattle Area Property Owners” should pay and the truth is that there is no legal way for the State to make this subset of people pay. The State Constitution forbids it. They can ask, but we can say no. This is a State project and in the event there are overruns we should pay no more than any other citizen of this state.

Though with a solid contingency fund, and the fact that this is not the first time we have tunneled under the City, overruns are far from certain. If they occur, we should refuse to pay, but let’s fight that battle when it happens.

Finally, what the opponents don’t tell you is that if the Tunnel is killed the most likely result is a rebuild. In fact many currently arrayed against the Tunnel are actively in favor of a rebuild. The dreams of the Surface Option are just that, dreams. They have no funding, nor any real hope that Olympia will decide to move funds from the Tunnel to them instead of other projects. Even if they kill the Tunnel and a rebuild the most likely result is a demolished Viaduct and nothing in its place.

The Tunnel gives us a chance to open the waterfront, create more demand for transit, and keep goods and people moving. It is without a doubt the best choice and a reasonable and fair compromise.

It’s time to move beyond this battle.

From Justin:

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I LIKE TUNNELS.

Fine work, Scott and Justin. Have you ever considered running for Seattle City Council?

 

Comments (129) RSS

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iridius 1
Seriously, these are the only responses you received? The first one does more for the argument of "No Tunnel" then in support of it. Each of his arguments is easily countered.

Is this a trick? :)

P.S. I'm AGAINST a tunnel (I'm from Boston, I always think of the Big Dig there when I hear tunnel... shudder)
Posted by iridius on March 22, 2011 at 11:45 AM · Report this
2
@1, not many tunnelistas bother to post here, except the ones who enjoy a good shouting match.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 22, 2011 at 11:48 AM · Report this
3
"A person… in Georgetown can get downtown almost any time of day via fast frequent transit."

Good one, Scott!
Posted by paulus on March 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM · Report this
4
Iridius: Can you tell us the easy counters to his arguments? I moved to Seattle only a few months ago and I've been struggling to understand all sides of this issue. And although Scott's letter doesn't seem super-duper compelling, it also doesn't seem easily countered to me. I'm sure this is because I'm new here, but I'd be interested in hearing somebody respond to his claims.
Posted by spructo on March 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM · Report this
5
The first letter is fairly poorly constructed, but I would enjoy an argument with this Justin fellow. He seems to really grasp the finer points in the debate.
Posted by Faber on March 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 6
As someone who lives in Burien and commutes daily to downtown via buses, I can say the first poster is full of shit.

Fast bus service? Only exists at rush hour times in the morning and evening. All other times you are taking a long ass bus ride through White Center to get there.

And what happens to that current "fast bus service" from Burien to town once the viaduct is down? Currently the two primary routed to and from Burien take 99 and exit at Seneca to downtown. With the tunnel, where exactly do those buses go?
Posted by Akbar Fazil on March 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Enigma 7
@4 Glad you asked.

#1:In reality the Tunnel preserves needed cross town capacity including freight that needs get to/from the Port or other locales.
Rebut: The article Dom wrote this week shows how the majority of traffic on the viaduct doesn't bypass Seattle, it feed into Downtown. We have I-5 for a Seattle throughfare and the Surface/Transit option would widen I-5 while the Tunnel option has no money for I-5 improvements.

#2The newly opened waterfront could potentially be an excellent corridor for light rail with a fully built street car network carrying people to other points from there.
Rebut: This is a great point, one many Surface/Transit advocates are promoting. We don't need to build a costly tunnel to get this done. In fact, building the unnecessary tunnel takes money away from what could be a great opportunity to spend lots to build an integrated transit network to places like Ballard and West Seattle.

#3: And we should be fighting for a two lane, not four lane, road down the waterfront to provide space for bike, train, or pedestrian use.
Rebut: Have you seen the SF Embarcadero? It's four lanes of traffic, plus two transit, plus parking in some areas, and wide blvds. It's functionality is great.
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 12:04 PM · Report this
GlamB0t 8
What I love is how we MUST have a solution and that solution isn't to fucking SELL your god damned car.

You NEED your car right? You have kids and a job therefore you MUST have one. For emergencies, beer runs, and such.

Only you don't and all this imaginary money could be used to enhance mass transit to function better.

Posted by GlamB0t on March 22, 2011 at 12:04 PM · Report this
9
" The loss of Seattle exits will make travel downtown more difficult creating demand for alternatives. "

Really? That's your argument? That the tunnel will make traffic so bad that the state (which has a $5.1 billion deficit) will give MORE money to fix the mess it created because we cooperated with the tunnel?

Or, you know, we could skip that step.

To say there will be no cost over runs is a lie. And then to say if there are over runs, we'll won't pay them. And if they are cost over runs, then we won't be paying more than other residents. Yeah, either way you're still paying for cost over runs.

Also, no discussion of the toll.

The second argument is more honest.
Posted by Thunderbird on March 22, 2011 at 12:05 PM · Report this
10
#7 Why not address his point about what happens if you kill the tunnel,and the likelihood that we will NOT have a surface/transit option if that happens, but rather a rebuilt viaduct? I have yet to hear a single credible person who wants to stop the tunnel explain what happens the day after you stop the tunnel, and the clock is set back to zero. There is very little public support for the surface option, much less than for the tunnel, so how would that do if subjected to a referendum?

This is the main reason I support the tunnel. I don't see any way the surface option can happen. Very little public support and very little political support. So that leaves a rebuild, which is horrible. So until somebody tells me how exactly the surface option is going to happen after we stop the tunnel, I will continue to support the tunnel. I don't want a rebuild, and I do not want another 10 years of this arguing and craziness. So convine me. Dominic? Cary Moon? Hello???
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 12:12 PM · Report this
11
@7 Majority =/= totality.

Tunnel plus locally funded transit is the best choice.
Posted by giffy on March 22, 2011 at 12:14 PM · Report this
12
I support the tunnel because I want fewer buses and streetcars, and more fast bypass routes for cars. That the toll will keep out the hoi polli is an added bonus.
Posted by David Wright on March 22, 2011 at 12:17 PM · Report this
13
@10 and 7:

This is probably a stupid, stupid question, but what is the "surface option"? Does that mean repairing/rebuilding the viaduct, or does it mean demolishing it and replacing it with a road that isn't all stop-and-go like the rest of downtown? (Or something else?)
Posted by spructo on March 22, 2011 at 12:17 PM · Report this
14
@10, I don't understand how your default position to the question, "How do we replace the earthquake damaged viaduct?" is to build a giant, expensive tunnel next to the bay over a major fault line, because you lack the imagination to consider any other option.
Posted by Thunderbird on March 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM · Report this
16
@7: The main point I found compelling in Scott's letter was freight to/from the port. You don't really rebut that. I'm willing to believe either way with evidence, but that seems like a reasonable argument.
Posted by also on March 22, 2011 at 12:24 PM · Report this
michaelp 17
The most important point that Scott hits is the political one. This isn't about what's the best option, it's about what's the best option that Olympia will let us have.

Never mind that less than 25% of the city supports the S/T option, the people who make the actual decisions have said we get a reduced capacity tunnel or an increased capacity rebuild.

I'm all for reduced capacity.
Posted by michaelp on March 22, 2011 at 12:29 PM · Report this
King Rat 18
Tunnels are pretty cool.
Posted by King Rat http://www.kingrat.us/ on March 22, 2011 at 12:29 PM · Report this
michaelp 19
@16 - that argument is actually flawed. Freight trucks, if memory serves, won't be able to use the tunnel, but instead will go along the expanded Spokane Street Viaduct, which will be expanded in both scenarios.
Posted by michaelp on March 22, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
20
I just wish somebody would try to spell out Mike Davis "City of Quartz" style who the interested parties are here, divorced from all the ideology about reducing the numbers of cars, etc.

I know there are people who want that on purely ideological grounds, and the mayor may be one of them. But I have to think that the people putting relatively large sums of money into either side of this issue view that money as an investment in their economic interests. Moneyed interests are not a monolith. They have disagreements too.

Is there anyone besides real estate interests, the port, and the building trade unions who have a strong dollars and cents interest in the tunnel?

Who benefits from a viaduct rebuild besides trade unions?

What about the surface option? Who benefits economically from that?

With the monorail fight, it was easier for me to see why certain forces did not want a competing train along the western edge of Seattle. You build trains so you can develop real estate along the route. If you're hoping to gentrify the south end of Seattle, you don't want another train going through neighborhoods that are going to be desirable to the very people you're hoping to lure to the south end. That makes sense to me. Two trains right now could potentially mean too much supply chasing not enough demand.

The tunnel, I'm a little more confused about. In economic terms, who fears they might be an economic loser if a particular option is chosen?

Why is the governor and the state so hardcore on the tunnel?

I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that it comes down to some high-minded ideal about the soul of Seattle's future, or a lack of vision. Why aren't we getting more reporting on these kinds of nuts and bolts.

Also, given the cost of viaduct replacement, if they rebuild it, won't that be tolled too?
More...
Posted by j-lon on March 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 21
Justin has the best argument.

Scott and michaelp are trying to pretend that political forces don't react to the Voters and the will of the Citizens, but must be obeyed since we are all Serfs and they are our Masters.

Which isn't true, of course, unless you let them convince you that when we Kill Roads & Transit there will never be Transit funding for light rail ever again ...

Oh. Wait. There was. Which means we do have a CHOICE.

And we - the citizens - are in Control.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Enigma 22
@10 Let's look at the downtown bus tunnel closure to start. (I'm writing without notes, so dates are very likely inaccurate).
So the bus tunnel was closed for like 2 years. People predicted downtown would be an even bigger clusterfuck than it usually is, but guess what, traffic improved. 3rd Ave was closed to traffic during rush hour, people made adjustments to their schedules(carpooling, driving during non-peak times, taking transit) to accommodate the change, and 3rd Ave has now permanently been made a transit only corridor during rush hour. There was prep work. The regional authorities spent months working on traffic mitigation and signage and all kinds of studies to make sure the disruption was as small as possible.
Give people time (say, don't we have about a year before the Gov. said the Viaduct was coming down no matter what?), study the mitigation options (isn't that what SDOT, WSDOT, and Metro are for?), and make a solid plan.

The question I have for all the "let's build a tunnel cause the Gov. said we have to people" is, why aren't you questioning the research? I'm not saying come down on the anti-tunnel side, but if you look at the traffic, environmental, and financial aspects, the tunnel looks like a boondoggle waiting to happen. Why do we realistic folks have to keep beating the same points over and over while the pie in the sky "no cost over runs, wide open downtown streets cause of the tunnel" people get a pass?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
schmacky 23
Isn't it true that the $2.8 billion we have coming from the state can ONLY be used for the tunnel? And if we don't build the tunnel, we don't get that money? Sure, there may be cost overruns, but will the overruns cost more than any other solution (even surface/transit), given we'd have to pay for the whole thing ourselves?

Also, does the entire anti-tunnel thing not carry a whiff of the "Seattle Way," i.e. this town's ongoing commitment to complete buy-in from all parties involved, which continually stymies project after project? Isn't there an argument for just moving forward on something for once, now that we're this far along? After all, while we suspect there will be overruns, we don't KNOW that as stone-cold fact, nor do we know how serious they might be. Who knows? Maybe it'll work out. And I have to say, I'm excited about the prospect of a big, ole waterfront park downtown.

Lastly, while I agree that the tunnel doesn't make sense because a lot of people use the viaduct to get INTO downtown, not around it, isn't there some way for the tunnel to provide an exit or two into downtown? Do we need to ditch the whole project just because of this, or is it just a matter of tweaking?

I'm sure I'm wrong...just playing devil's advocate here. Still, I wonder now if I should've written one of these rebuttals (or is that what I just did?)...
Posted by schmacky on March 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 24
@16 in WSDOT figures in the DEIS they show that in fact the Deeply Borrowed Tunnel has the lowest freight capacity to the Port of all three options - in fact both Surface Plus Transit and the Rebuilt Viaduct have 50 percent MORE freight capacity.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 12:36 PM · Report this
25
@21 What people forget is that we got almost a third less light rail than we would have under roads and transit. I will never forgive McGinn for his dishonest campaign against it and the Sierra Club will never get another dollar from me.

Posted by giffy on March 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM · Report this
DOUG. 26
Scott's argument that the tunnel helps us "begin to move beyond car focused development" is Rumsfeldian.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on March 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 27
@25 who is this "we" - do you mean the suburbs which are now cutting bus service because they can't afford it - since in fact those were the "transit" portions killed?

Most of the local transit impacts were replaced by the Seattle "Bridging the Gap" replacements.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 12:43 PM · Report this
28
@23 The last exit off of 99 won't be that far from where the Senaca exit is now.
Posted by giffy on March 22, 2011 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Fnarf 29
@16, have you looked at the pictures? The port is going to be even more cut off by the tunnel approaches than it is by the tunnel. What is really needed to make the port function like a modern facility is a rail terminus right there at the cranes, but that isn't possible with the tunnel.

The biggest drawbacks to the tunnel don't have anything to do with the tunnel portion of the project itself, but everything else that needs to happen.If you think Pioneer Square should be converted into a freeway onramp, then yes, the tunnel might be just your ticket.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 22, 2011 at 12:46 PM · Report this
30
#14 - I don't have the imagination to consider any other option? Huh? I supported the fucking surface option, back when all this crap was being decided -- but it lost! Unlike the vase majority of people in this city, I can accept that what I wanted didn't get picked, and so I moved on. You're the one who can't consider any other option from what you want - not me!
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Report this
31
@27 I mean we, including those of us who would have enjoyed taking a train to Tacoma and think that we need regional and local solutions.

And as I pointed out to you yesterday, R&T lost mainly due to an anti-tax vote with McGinn ans his fellow liars playing the role of Nader.
Posted by giffy on March 22, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Cascadian 32
@16 Freight traffic makes up only 5% of the daily viaduct traffic, and unlike commuting traffic does not have to happen during commuting hours. The tunnel does nothing to help freight, because it has few access points for it because of the lack of downtown exits.

On the larger issue, I think it's unfortunate that the surface and transit elements have been combined and separated from the rebuild/tunnel elements so that we don't think about surface and transit as an essential part of ANY solution, including a tunnel or rebuild.

A rebuild without more transit just induces more traffic and leaves us a generation down the road with another expensive, congested highway and no way to deal with the extra trips we'll have in the corridor. A tunnel without more transit will be gridlocked, and the surface streets without transit will be gridlocked (both with or without a tunnel.) The city should focus on transit and surface improvements regardless of whether there's a tunnel, rebuild, or entirely surface option.

Even the configuration of Alaskan Way doesn't depend upon a tunnel. It should be at most a four-lane road (as it is now), preferably with street parking (though that can't happen if there's a rebuild.) There are arguments for an even narrower frontage road but we'll be lucky to keep it at four lanes so that's unrealistic (plus we do have to accommodate ferry loading and unloading). The linear park/open space vs. development vs. retaining the current state as a side road with parking is a separate issue from fixing surface streets and transit.

If everyone agreed transit and surface improvements are needed regardless of tunnel, rebuild, or no build options for the 99 freeway, we could START with those elements and get to the controversial replacement option later. The first thing we need is BAT lanes and BRT. We should also consider surface light rail and/or streetcars. We need to connect the east-west grid across Aurora. We need to provide ways for freight and passenger travel to use surface streets as an alternative regardless of how we replace the viaduct. I'd even argue that we should do a transit tunnel for Link light rail before we settle on a replacement for the freeway (or not). Do transit and surface first, THEN worry about the completely separate freeway question.
More...
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Kinison 33
@19 "Freight trucks, if memory serves, won't be able to use the tunnel"

How? Please explain. This is the biggest tunnel ever made, how would semi trucks be banned from its use? Its going to be built using steel re-enforced concrete along the walls, which as you know, is good enough to errect 80 story buildings, but somehow its not good enough for semi trucks or heavy machines?
Posted by Kinison http://www.holgatehawks.com on March 22, 2011 at 12:51 PM · Report this
34
#22 - In what way does that answer my concerns? I have heard all the arguments for the surface option many times. I'm not asking if it is the best option. I'm asking how, the day after you stop the tunnel, you get the surface option put into state law (like the tunnel is now) and how you get it to withstand the kind of referendum that the tunnel is being subjected to now? It has the least support among the public and among the political players involved. That is just plain fact. So how do you get this surface option, and not a rebuilt viaduct? That's all I want to know.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Enigma 35
@32 I completely agree.
The reason I'm so incensed by the tunnel project is the lack of planning the supporters are going off of. The EIS isn't done, which state law requires be completed before agreements are made, yet agreements are being made left and right.
The pro-tunnel people keep telling us we're too far gone in planning, but that's just not the case. We are as far along in the studies for all the options as we've ever been, but for some reason the Gov. wants to stymie the EIS to only look at one option. How is that good policy?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Cascadian 36
Oh, and the answer to the freeway question? Make the essential surface and transit improvements (BAT lanes, RapidRide routes), then tear down the viaduct. Then see how people adjust (over about a year or so). Then plan and build extra road capacity based upon the changed conditions after the adjustment period. My guess is that we don't need a 99 freeway through downtown at all. Then we can focus on making Alaskan Way into a neighborhood destination for locals and not just a tacky tourist stop.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM · Report this
37
Still no explanation of how you get people to use a tolled tunnel when there is a slow un-tolled option right above and a fast un-tolled option six blocks away. And every pro-tunnel argument is predicated on people paying ~$4 each way in the tunnel to save 10 minutes under normal traffic conditions*.

*no snow, no sports events, no riots, no presidential visits etc.
Posted by SoSea Resident on March 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM · Report this
38
@24: Thanks for the data. That's more useful than @29's picture-based analysis.

What I wonder is if freight volume is the most important measure. From a quality of life point of view, I would prefer to have fewer trucks downtown (preferably, only those delivering/picking up downtown).

But yeah, it does sound like the "tunnel for freight" argument is dubious.
Posted by also on March 22, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Kinison 39
@9 "will make traffic so bad that the state (which has a $5.1 billion deficit) will give MORE money to fix the mess it created "

That will occur no matter what option you go with. Tear down the viaduct, built a 4 lane road, if that makes traffic worse, then the state will have to spend more money to fix the problem. If the tunnel is not an option, then you still face an expesive re-build of an elevated highway. All the money used to build the surface option might go to waste as its much cheaper to trash the existing street option in order to have room to build the elevated option. If you want to keep the surface street and build an elevated platform ontop of it, then its going to cost more to build around that street without destroying it.
Posted by Kinison http://www.holgatehawks.com on March 22, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 40
@34 um, the day after? we haven't even had 2 of the 3 mandatory DEIS hearings by the State, we haven't had any of the three mandatory EPA hearings, and the Deeply Biased Tunnel wasn't even what anyone wanted in the first place.

Tearing down the existing Viaduct does not preclude the State from building any of the following:

a. Surface plus Transit
b. Rebuilt Viaduct
or even c. Covered Tunnel (currently option 2 in the DEIS, option 1 being the DBT)

In fact, tearing down the existing Viaduct is a necessary step in a, b, AND c.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
41
@30. You're kidding, right? The tunnel and rebuild lost their votes, and the tunnel is still being forced down our throats. So while you supported the surface option before, now that the tunnel is being forced you're okay with it because you don't like arguing about things? That's the Seattle Way.

The Tunnel is going to be a boondoggle from every metric. We have civic examples of tunnels being bad in Boston, and tearing down waterfront freeways being good in San Francisco. This isn't ground breaking territory, and building the tunnel is going to waste a lot of our resources in a time of scarcity.
Posted by Thunderbird on March 22, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Mike Smith 42
Is Justin on the City Council?
Posted by Mike Smith on March 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM · Report this
43
#35 & #35 - all your arguments were around 5 years ago when this thing was being decided. I'm not going to say that your arguments are wrong, just that they didn't win. So if you couldn't win when all this was still being decided, why do you think you will win now? Let's take it for a fact that the surface option is the most awesome thing ever. For some reason, you haven't been able to convince anywhere near a majority of the public, nor most of the power players in the city and state. So how do you get this surface option built? What happens when you stop the tunnel? The rebuild has a lot more support than the surface option. Convince me that we won't wind up with a rebuild.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM · Report this
45
#41 - I think you must be kidding. The surface option got POUNCED. And nothing won. The rebuild got the most votes, so if anything won, that did. And if anything lost, it was the surface option. Of course, that vote was for a different tunnel, so the current plan actually hasn't been voted on yet.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Cascadian 46
@43, let's put this simply: there isn't a single "surface option." Every alternative requires surface and transit improvements to work. Every one. So pretending that improvements to the surface have been rejected and so we have to build a tunnel (or a new viaduct) logically makes absolutely no sense.

The city's responsibility should be to institute those elements. The freeway elements are the state's responsibility and it should pay for the whole damn thing (which amounts to 25% Seattle funding anyway because city residents pay state taxes.) Just don't go forward with that state freeway until we have clear evidence that it's needed. Which we don't have until we put surface and transit improvements in place and demolish the current unsafe freeway.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
pinksoda 47
@33 - I am not positive (someone will, no doubt, correct me if I'm wrong), but I believe freight shipments will be limited in general and prohibited outright in some circumstances due to the nature of their contents. Hazardous goods, for example, are forbidden (already) in the Battery Street Tunnel, and may travel on the AWV only during non-peak hours - this is per our Hazardous Goods Transportation Ordinance. This is yet another reason why the freight argument carries little weight.
Posted by pinksoda on March 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Cascadian 48
This is the best time to demolish the viaduct, anyway, because traffic is down over the last several years and isn't likely to rebound until employment picks up, which will take several years. And we have a major state budget deficit that isn't going away until employment recovers, so this isn't the best time to build a new freeway anyway. So take down the current freeway while traffic volume is down, put in transit and surface improvements to better manage surface traffic, and then build to proven capacity needs as the economy comes back in line in a few years. With luck, people will adapt and we won't need to spend the money at all.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM · Report this
49
#46: You're still talking about what should be. I don't question your ideals. I'm talking reality. You couldn't make this happen before. Why on earth do you think you'd make this happen now? The majority of the public and the business community, not to mention the state, are demanding something very different from what you think should happen. That hasn't changed. In no way do you explain how you are going to change the tide to get the support to make the surface option happen. I don't think you, or anybody else, have the slightest idea how to do it.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Report this
50
Build the tunnel
Posted by Democrat1234 on March 22, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this
Cascadian 51
ian @45, the surface option was never on the ballot. The vote was on freeway-replacement options, either a tunnel or viaduct rebuild. Both failed. So why are we going forward with a new freeway when we haven't had an affirmative vote in favor?

We should put surface and transit improvements on the ballot, not as a freeway alternative but as something that needs doing regardless. Something of value by itself. Transit is not an alternative to a freeway. It is something that helps the city and this corridor whether we have a new freeway or not. If people vote it down as a standalone measure, then all the tunnelites blathering about how people don't want more transit and surface improvements might finally have a point.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
raku 52
Does anyone else in Seattle care yet that WSDOT is building a new 4-6 lane surface highway on top of the tunnel? You know, the reason we're getting a 7 acre sliver of park instead of 20+ acres freed up by tearing down the viaduct?

http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/ne…

Nobody? Seems kind of important but oh well.
Posted by raku on March 22, 2011 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Enigma 53
@45 The surface option wasn't on the ballot so how could it have gotten pounced?

Okay, I'm going to step back and give my support to what should be referred to now as the "Realistic Option". Cascadian is right in that every single option needs to have the viaduct torn down, improvements need to be made to the surface grid and I-5 regardless of option. So all those people who are on the fence as regards the tunnel can get behind the city putting their weight behind the tearing the Viaduct down, doing these improvements, and seeing what kind of tunnel or rebuild needs to happen, right?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 1:21 PM · Report this
54
All you thoughtful, eloquent armchair city planners sure don't seem able to rebut the Justin-likes-tunnels argument. Grab me a shovel, I'll help.
Posted by Angry Sam on March 22, 2011 at 1:21 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 55
And every pro-tunnel argument is predicated on people paying ~$4 each way in the tunnel to save 10 minutes under normal traffic conditions*.

*no snow, no sports events, no riots, no presidential visits, no normal rush hour traffic


Fixed that for you.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 22, 2011 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Cascadian 56
ian, no one ever put extra transit and surface improvements on a ballot as something of value in itself, which has ZERO connection to what we do about the decaying freeway on our waterfront. Everyone is acting as if transit is an alternative to a freeway and as I keep saying, it's not. And you keep saying that a freeway won support but no freeway option has ever demonstrated that it has majority public support. It has the support of WSDOT, and the governor, and public officials, and certain special interests, but not the public as a whole.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 1:23 PM · Report this
57
I like tunnels and I like Justin.
Posted by ohheidi on March 22, 2011 at 1:25 PM · Report this
58
#53, Sorry, I was getting confused -- it was in surveys where the surface option was trounced, not the vote back in 2006 or 2007 or whenever it was. But whatever, I think we can all agree that the surface option has by far the least support among the public.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Enigma 59
@ian So I've been thinking about your question on how to get the political leaders to sign onto the surface/option plan and I just realized it was staring me in the face the whole time- Start a referendum that shows Seattleites don't want the tunnel. I understand they're used to ignoring us, but with this thing on the ballot they'll have to start paying attention to some of the arguments.
And hey, this referendum will be a great way for those same political leaders to win big. If it gets on the ballot and loses, well they can say how much Seattle supports it and run full steam ahead. If the referendum wins and those same political leaders keep ignoring the anti-tunnel folks, well, an election is coming up and quite a few are being challenged because of this very issue.
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM · Report this
60
#56 - Are you calling for the surface option to be put up for a public vote, like the tunnel? So far, there has not be a single call for such a vote among surface proponents. I would imagine that if you folks really felt that there was support among the public for it, at least one of you would want it to be voted on.

In a poll one year ago, the surface option got 21% support: If you combine the two freeway options, they got 71% support. It is to your advantage that the freeway support is split between tunnel and rebuild.

http://publicola.com/2010/03/29/publique…
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 61
So, we're all agreed.

Tear down the existing Viaduct.

And let the DEIS finish with the best option that the Citizens Vote For.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 62
@58 surveys have a bias towards "stakeholders" - which is political code for "suburbanites who don't actually live in Seattle and Old People who answer phone calls during the work day cause they are retired".
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM · Report this
63
#59 The problem with your argument is that more people who want to stop the tunnel are in favor of a rebuild than a surface option. Can we all agree that a rebuild is the worst thing, far and away? Can we all agree that by stopping the tunnel, you are flirting with the possibility of a rebuild happening? I don't think any of you will honestly address this question. And I think it is really irresponsible. If we get stuck with a rebuild, I think it should be called the McGinn Elevated Freeway and it should have exits named after Cary Moon, Dominic, and so on.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM · Report this
internet_jen 64
Is there going to be any sort of light rail connecting northern and southern areas of 99 to downtown? We can make it a toll road once really good transit get's in place. I don't drive but ride with others when we're going to be out on the town late.
Posted by internet_jen on March 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this
65
@56 McGinn promised a vote on light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, but so far has not delivered. I agree separate the two out and advocate for more transit independent of the tunnel.
Posted by giffy on March 22, 2011 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Enigma 66
@63 Why is the rebuild the worse option? If your arguments slant toward keep car capacity at current levels, why wouldn't the rebuild be the best option?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 67
@63 technically, a rebuild, using modern sound reduction methods, would have slightly more carbon impact than a surface plus transit option, mostly during construction, in that one of the reasons the AP wire on the state transportation budget that passed today was for LESS was the declining gas sales tax revenue and the lack of replacement licensing, weight, and other usage fees to replace it.

But either option is far superior to an insane overly expensive lower capacity massively inefficient DBT option.

@65 i think he said that was this year. Last time I checked it was still March, not November.

Personally, I think whatever is built should have Naming Rights for each Exit sold to the highest bidder. Because even the cheapest option is still damned expensive.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 1:59 PM · Report this
68
#66 OK well thanks for clearing that. So you guys are cool with a rebuild? So it makes sense that you're in bed, so to speak, with Elizabeth Campbell. At least now I understand. Protect Seattle Now is about getting a rebuilt elevated freeway.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 1:59 PM · Report this
69
One thing that bothers me, though. If you all are cool with a rebuild, why do you keep talking about the surface option? Why aren't you being honest with people and tell them that you'd be fine with a rebuild viaduct?
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Enigma 70
@69 Well now you didn't answer my question this time, did you?
I don't want a new freeway build anywhere in the US until we have high speed rail crisscrossing the country. I'm not cool with a rebuild and think it's a horrible legacy to the freeway culture of the 50's.
But I'm asking you as a tunnel supporter why the rebuild is a bad thing.
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 2:06 PM · Report this
Fnarf 71
A rebuild is an even worse option than the tunnel. One of the things that makes the current viaduct so attractive is that it was built to 1950s highway standards. There's no way in hell you'd get a structure with that footprint today. The ramps at Western and Spring Streets alone would give the builders the heebie-jeebies.

No, everything at both ends would have to be torn down, probably including part of the Market and half of Pioneer Square, and the whole structure would have to be twice as wide as it is now. One of the charms of the current viaduct is the way it doesn't really impede the foot journey to the waterfront. That would all go away.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 22, 2011 at 2:13 PM · Report this
72
@55 - 1)There is no GOOD reason to be in a car downtown during rush hour; you deserve any frustration if you make that stupid choice. Why aren't you on a bus, the two times a day when they are plentiful? reading, listening to music, playing games on a device, etc...? That's right you can't smoke or stop at the bikini coffee stand or cheer for Rush or justify owning a BMW SUV if you ride the bus.

2) The Seattle rush hours are a joke compared to any major American city. 90 minutes when cars have to go 10mph below the speed limit and stop at lights in the downtown grid. Boo hoo! Adjust your schedule 30 minutes and you'll miss them.
Posted by SoSea Resident on March 22, 2011 at 2:23 PM · Report this
73
#70 - Well, #71 answered it pretty well, and on top of that, a tunnel buries tens of thousands of cars underground, a viaduct does not. A tunnel will allow us to (one would hope) do something great with our waterfront. I lived in Baltimore and that city was completely transformed by redeveloping its waterfront. Yes, it was touristy, but it brought in millions of dollars, and a lot of people who worked downtown enjoyed it too. The tunnel is very expensive but it gives us possibilities. The viaduct does not.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 74
We could solve this whole debate just by zoning the entire downtown on-street parking area from Denny to the Stadiums as Handicapped Only Parking.

And then instituting a $5000 confiscation fine for anyone illegally using handicapped parking permits who did not have a handicapped person in the vehicle.

That would have several impacts:

1. force lazy suburbanites to take transit;
2. increase city revenue to cover the overage from the insane DBT supporters sticking it to us;
3. give SPD a good reason to shoot car drivers for driving and parking illegally; and
4. make it obvious the entire DBT was an excuse for rich people to get their limos from SLU and Seattle Center down to their private jets at Boeing Field.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
75
SLOG's willingness to run at least one pro-tunnel post is encouraging. Not because it's the right side of the argument, but because it's worth hearing both sides of any argument.
Posted by cavatappi on March 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 76
(note that Seattle's cab fleet is already all-electric so this has an extra added bonus for Xmas shoppers from Capitol Hill who buy Antique Furniture and Baby Doll clothing)
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Enigma 77
@73 But what opportunity does the tunnel provide that tearing the thing down first and improving the street grid/transit/I-5 not do better and cheaper? If car capacity is so fucked that after a few years without Viaduct or tunnel then shouldn't politicians have as much clout in building the tunnel as they do now?
Tear the thing down in 2012 like our Gov. promised us, then reassess.
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 2:56 PM · Report this
78

The Tunnel represents the limited scope thinking of all urbist ideologues.

Error upon error is compounded with the single idea of cramming as much stuff into the 1 square mile of the Seattle Pennisula.

Anyone looking at Google Earth on Western Washington, heck all of Washington State, will see that the Seattle Peninsula is singularly the worst place to build any kind of density.

And because it is a peninsula, all access is restricted, cumbersome and expensive.

If you want to do something great, start using the other 66,582 square miles of Washington.

Put a new convention center in Issaquah.

Put an NBA stadium in Bellevue.

Heck...put it in Yakima and build a 300 mph maglev to get us there.

Just stop cramming every single person, car, train and boat into the Seattle Peninsula.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Report this
79
I've got a third -

It pisses Capitol Hill New Urbanists off.

Which is almost good enough for me in and of itself - and I probably spent longer opposing tunnel proposals for the AWV (since at least 1995) than anyone posting here....
Posted by Mr. X on March 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM · Report this
80
#77 - Yeah, again, I know all the arguments. I know why you think the tunnel is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. I know, I get it. The thing is, what you say we should do is not what a) the great majority of the public wants to do b) the majority of the business community wants to do c) most of the power players in the state and city wants to do. And when confronted with that fact, all you folks do is spout of more reasons why the tunnel is bad and surface/transit is great. But that simply doesn't address how the hell you're going to make your vision a reality. You folks are completely disconnected from reality. Once you stop the tunnel, you're fucked. Unless you're really angling for a rebuild.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 81
Surprisingly, the major area of support for the Designed By Tarantulas Tunnel-to-Nowhere is Capitol Hill, @79.

Everybody else didn't drink the koolaid.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 3:24 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 82
@80 which is exactly what you guys said about what would happen if we killed LOTS OF ROADS and very little transit (Roads and Transit ballot measure).

But ... in the end, killing it resulted in Lots of Transit and No Roads.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 3:26 PM · Report this
83
@78: Feeding the trolls: Seattle is not a peninsula. A peninsula is a body of land that juts out into open water so that is it surrounded by water on three sides.

Seattle is an isthmus: a relatively narrow strip of land squeezed between two bodies of water (in our case, Lake Washington and Puget Sound) that connects two larger land masses. Although even this is a somewhat tortured usage of the term IMHO.

Identifying an isthmus got me to the state level of the Geography Bee in middle school. Learn it, love it, bitches. Isthmus.
Posted by Juris on March 22, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this
84
It is a myth that the tunnel doesn't allow access into downtown. The tunnel actually improves access into downtown--downtown traffic is diverted onto an improved Alaskan and other streets where it can access downtown from 25 different points rather than just 2 (Right now there are long line-ups at the Seneca and Western off-ramps.). It provides the same access to downtown as the surface option but works a lot better because it takes traffic that's just passing through out of the mess, so now the cars and buses can actually get into downtown rather than sitting there idling in a big 6 lane waterfront parking lot.
Posted by Karenin on March 22, 2011 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Enigma 85
@80 I'll agree with you that the majority of political and business leaders seem to want this tunnel, but how are you claiming the majority of "the people" do? The people voted against a tunnel and a rebuild. The people voted for McGinn and O'Brian who ran on anti-tunnel platforms. The people are running a referendum to stop the city from going forward with this boondoggle. Using "the people" as a generic group does nothing for any argument.

In my response at 77 I never advocated for any option except taking the Viaduct down ASAP. So why aren't you for that option? You say you aren't really for the tunnel except that the Gov. says this is what we're getting so shut up and take it. Do you think the Viaduct needs to be left up for the next 4-6 (to8-10 depending on the boring machine and state of soil) years while the tunnel is built?
What do you have against redoing the surface streets/adding transit/improving I-5 before we sink billions of dollars into the tunnel?
Why does the tunnel have to be rushed like this?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM · Report this
86
#82 I can't believe I'm feeding you, the ultimate troll, but since you're 100% in favor of a rebuilt viaduct (and only willing to entertain a surface option because you're so anti-tunnel), STFU about roads. You love roads. You want a fucking elevated freeway on our waterfront.

And now, I will continue to ignore you, like everyone else.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 3:45 PM · Report this
87
#80: I am claiming the people are against the surface option based on the survey that I cited it earlier. It should 21% supported a surface option. And I have yet to hear any of the Dominics or Cary Moons of the world clamoring for a public vote on the surface option. They know, as do you, that it would go down in flames. But if you're confident that the public wants surface, by all means, start a movement to put it up for a vote -- I dare ya!
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
88
#77 Dude, I don't give a fuck about the viaduct. I would love it if they took it down tomorrow. I don't own a car, I have no use for the thing, and it's ugly and loud and makes the waterfront unpleasant. The thing is, I realize there are other people in the world -- people who commute by car, people who drives trucks and vans for a living, people who live in W. Seattle. I don't hate these people and I don't want them to suffer. I wish everybody lived like I do, but I am grown up enough to realize people make other choices and that's ok too. And yea, I wish we had a subway and more light rail and a monorail or whatever. It's not their fault that we don't, and it's not mine. Those horrible decisions were made decades ago. I 100% support public transit--the more the better I say. But there are a hell of a lot of people who think this roadway is critical and nothing you and Cary Moon and Dominic have said have convinced these people that you are right. I accept that. And I can at least acknowledge that the tunnel does have some advantages: as someone who dislikes cars, I do not object to them being buried underground. Frankly, I wish they were all underground.
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
89
Also, the surface option increases pollution, and the tunnel is more amenable to adding transit in the future because it doesn't make such a mess of everything. From Nick Licata's blog; In 2006, as then Council President, I commissioned a study of a 6-lane surface option, to further analyze it, as Councilmembers wanted additional information. The study indicated it would result in more pollution, greater congestion, and showed how streets with too much vehicle traffic quickly become pedestrian unfriendly.

The study also noted “If Viaduct capacity were reduced, or trips diverted downtown, future decision-makers would have little flexibility for the surface street system to accommodate transit needs in the future, because the Downtown grid can accommodate about 20-30% of Alaskan Way Viaduct traffic during peak periods; once you get to 40-50%, you start breaching the capacities of the streets.”

So the tunnel is really a surface/transit/tunnel option.
Posted by Karenin on March 22, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 90
@84 is correct.

The Deeply Bent Tunnel does in fact provide access to Downtown.

You just have to take AN EXTRA 8-20 MINUTES TO GET THERE AND HOPE MSFT IS NOT HOLDING A SHAREHOLDERS MEETING LIKE TODAY.

Or hope it's not a game day. Or no LPG fueled cars set on fire in the DBT. Or it didn't rain.

You know, perfect weather - but not too sunny cause that will make you even slower too.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Cascadian 91
Seattle is actually a bunch of peninsulas if you count rivers and canals as bodies of water. The Ship Canal makes all of Seattle north of it one peninsula and all of Seattle south of it another. But really, Queen Anne/Interbay/Magnolia is one peninsula and the land on the other side of Lake Union is another. West Seattle is a peninsula, thanks to the Duwamish.

Before the Ship Canal was completed 95 years ago, you could call the whole city an isthmus. Not now. And it matters for more than just pedantry, because this geography affects how the city has been developed and how we connect all the different parts that are separated by bodies of water. It's exactly why we need a second light rail branch on the west side of Lake Union--that's two miles north-to-south where you can't have any connecting corridors to a central spine. It's why we have a freeway on both sides right now. We need to replace it either with another freeway, or with transit that can carry as many people during peak hours. Transit's actually cheaper in the long run and has higher capacity, plus all the environmental benefits.
Posted by Cascadian on March 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 92
@86 what, I can't be in favor of either a rebuild or a surface plus transit option?

Look, I'm not the one trying to cram 50,000 to 85,000 EXTRA CARS onto downtown arterials like you DBT koolaid drinkers are and hoping for the best.

You are.

And at twice the price.

There's a reason why the Deeply Breaded Tunnel is a really really bad decision. Heck, there's tons of reasons.

And if you'd stop trying to loot every Seattle household - renter or owner - of $10,000 in extra taxes and $8 to $10 roundtrip tolls for a Tunnel We Don't Want you wouldn't have a problem here.

But you are.

And it stinks to high heaven.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 93
@89 this is an incorrect analysis.

I could go into the massive tomes of appendices to the DEIS for the SR-99 Project if you want and prove it to you. If in fact state revenues from gas taxes are dropping due to a. higher mpg vehicles b. greater use of electric and electric-gas hybrids c. people living closer to work - then this actually means over the total lifetime of the SR-99 segment from Denny to Boeing Field we will see LESS POLLUTION from either a Surface Plus Transit OR a Rebuilt Viaduct than we would from all the diesel trucks choking in downtown arterials due to a DBT dumping them.

Or do the fans and pumps required for the DBT run on magic fairy dust that comes from the wings of angels?
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Enigma 94
@88 So we should continue to make the horrible choices our Seattle fore-bearers did because that makes the city move forward.
I understand people have to drive too, and that's why I'm anti-tunnel. The tunnel does nothing for people living in West Seattle or Ballard. It costs more than the city, county, and state can afford, and it doesn't have the transit/surface grid/I-5 improvements that are necessary to even make it usable.
I actually don't hate cars. I've never owned one, but I enjoy driving when I get the chance (I volunteer as a driver every year for SIFF to keep me in practice). I built model cars as a kid and think they can be very pretty.
What I want is for the Gov. to give me a good reason we're not planning to take the Viaduct down in 2012. She promised she would and we should have been planning mitigation for the past year to be on that schedule. And we could have done it. People adapt- that's one argument the pro-tunnel folks like to ignore. If the Viaduct weren't there tomorrow, it would be a clusterfuck for a few months, but people would adapt. They'd carpool/ride transit/rearrange schedules, and maybe bug their representatives to build transit.
But the Viaduct isn't coming down tomorrow, we have time to plan. And if people like you who say you're anti-car really meant it, you'd be writing in to the city council and Gov. office letting them hear it. But you're not, your resigned to a freeway because people with money said that's what they want.
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
95
I think people would go easier on tunnel critics if they'd quit inflating the worst-case 45,000-trip number the DSEIS called unacceptable. Or if they didn't praise highway capacity reduction in general while both a) complaining about the tunnel plan reducing capacity and b) advocating an increase in I-5 capacity.
Posted by Karenin on March 22, 2011 at 4:25 PM · Report this
96
Anti tunnel folks: you can't complain about all the cars and trucks the tunnel would dump onto downtown streets and be for all the cars and trucks the surface option would dump onto them.

I'm for the tunnel because it's a compromise. People/goods get to move through the city AND we get a freeway off the surface. And once that happens we can work on augmenting our transit options. And I-5 has no way to increase capacity.

Anyone who thinks surface is a good idea has never spent a minute walking or driving downtown in rush hour or tried to cross Aurora north of Greenlake.
Posted by c on March 22, 2011 at 4:33 PM · Report this
97
Where's the gopher rebuttal??? Why haven't we heard from the gophers out there?
Posted by sgt_doom on March 22, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 98
@96 sure we can.

We didn't try to force a Tunnel That Makes No Sense on Seattle - you did.

Just because you pro-tunnel peeps are on crack doesn't mean we can't point out that a. crack is bad b. stop taking it c. there are better things to take instead.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 99
@95 that wasn't a worst case estimate. It was an estimate in the DEIS for the number of cars - WITHOUT TOLLS IN THE TUNNEL - that would be added to downtown arterials.

it's in the DEIS supplements.

the worst case is FAR WORSE.

As in TOTAL FRICKIN GRIDLOCK.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Fnarf 100
@76, what are you talking about? Seattle cabs aren't all-electric. STITA cabs, which used to have the airport concession, are "all-green", but that's a combination of CNG and Priuses, far from all-electric. And Yellow cabs, which have the airport now and are still the largest company in the city, aren't green at all; they're mostly good old-fashioned Crown Victorias. Ditto Gray Top.

If you really wanted to do something for the surface option, Will, you'd lay your fingers across a railroad track when a train is coming. STOP TYPING.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 22, 2011 at 4:44 PM · Report this
101
#94: Again, you answer with arguments about why the tunnel is bad and surface/transit is good. I don't know how many times I can say it: you have been making this argument for years, and it hasn't won over enough people. It simply hasn't. Just because you keep saying it, it doesn't make it any better. This very same argument lost, which is why the tunnel is being built. And just because you can stop the tunnel doesn't mean your argument is any stronger or that people will suddenly be convinced of your righteousness. The only way surface/transit is going to happen is if you convince enough of the public, enough of the business community, and enough of the politicians. If you can explain to me how you are going to do this, after failing really badly at it for all these years, then I'm listening. If you're just going to come at me with more arguments against the tunnel, then you are arguing for a new viaduct, and you're going to own it when that happens..
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 4:46 PM · Report this
iridius 102
@4 - Each issue:

1) Capacity - research shows that the tunnel will have less lanes than the current viaduct. Logically, less capacity.

2) Getting downtown from North/Ballard - I live in North Seattle and I have 3 options to get downtown within walking distance of my house. Ballard has two option I can think of, without the need to reference the Metro website.

3) Cars will move to the waterfront with a surface option - not if you plan out a waterfront that is more about accessing the waterfront as a place to go. Even without planning, people won't go to a traffic prone area once the word gets out. Every driver I know in Seattle says "We're not going to place X at Y time of day, that place is a dead stop".

4) Less exits means more headache downtown. Let's get something out of the way here. You shouldn't be driving downtown in the business core unless you just want a headache. Take public transit. We have buses and light rail. Downtown is already a headache during peak travel times. People still don't know how to avoid 3rd avenue which you aren't supposed to travel on between 3 and 6:30 pm (or something like that, not sure of exact times). In the end, refer to 3.

5) If the tunnel is killed, a rebuild is the most likely result - not true. If the tunnel is killed it makes the city and state re-evaluate the situation and another viaduct is not the only option. There are other options, including a 6 lane above ground "tunnel" that could have parks and open spaces on top of it.
Posted by iridius on March 22, 2011 at 4:49 PM · Report this
103
@95 now where have I read that comment.....
Posted by gloomy gus on March 22, 2011 at 4:59 PM · Report this
104
102: Please explain your point #5. You don't explain why a new viaduct is not the most likely outcome. You simply say there are other options. Of course there are other options, but so what?
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 105
I think the major takeaway from this whole thing is that, if the Tunnel Of Doom is killed, the existing Viaduct will be torn down sooner rather than later.

Which is a good thing.

What replacements occur depend upon a very long multiyear DEIS (which we're not even halfway thru) and the three mandatory EPA hearings.

Anyone who says they can predict the future around here, is probably using their Windows cell phone at the MSFT shareholders meeting to say that - and is probably wrong.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM · Report this
Enigma 106
@101 This argument's only needed to be made to the public since the Gov. decided to shove this project down our throats. And I'm not sure what more you expect from people who are anti-tunnel than to discuss the merits of each project and come down against the tunnel. How are we going to convince people to our side if we don't use the facts we have?
I think we're winning over more people than you realize. When I start a conversation about the tunnel a lot of people think there is nothing they can do, when I tell them why the tunnel isn't a done deal they tend to get excited and talk about how much they hate the project.
This is now a PR campaign. The state is making it look like the tunnel is going forward no matter what, Protect Seattle Now is showing how that isn't the case. There are people willing to fight for a Seattle that puts transit and people over cars and I will fight with them.
We get the surface/transit/I-5 improvements by demanding it. A lot of the arguments right now have to focus on being anti-tunnel because that's the fight we're currently facing. How are we going to get the public behind our option when the Gov. refuses to study it (which I believe is illegal)? These movements always start with a small group, but they have to start somewhere. I have a petition in hand full of people against the tunnel. Why are you so quick to lie down and let the state roll over you without telling you the truth of the decisions being made?
Posted by Enigma http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/ on March 22, 2011 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Fnarf 107
@105, you've made SEVENTEEN comments on this thread. 17 out of 107. Is that some kind of record?

I would support a tunnel if you were buried in the concrete.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 22, 2011 at 5:38 PM · Report this
108
@99 WiS, that's just not so. Even Mike O'Brien's consultant Tim Payne briefed the council that the 40,000 worst-case range in the DSEIS was a really unlikely scenario since there was plenty of time to plan functional mitigation schemes - that last, he said, was a prospect long overdue on the downtown grid in any case.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 22, 2011 at 7:22 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 109
@109 read Appendix C. Read all of it. In a perfect world with perfect funding ... life is perfect.

We don't live in that perfect world.

@107 maybe if you actually discussed things, you wouldn't have time to count.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 22, 2011 at 9:13 PM · Report this
110
#83

Seattle is a self-mutilated isthmus. Mutilated into a Peninsula.

It is still surrounded by water on three sides...manmade or natural.

It is still the singularly the worst place in all of Washington to build density, industry, commercial real estate, transit hubs or sports stadiums.

Any place south of Lake Washington ( or North, Or East ) would make infinitely more sense as those locations could then be reached by right of ways from 360 degrees and without using tunnels, bridges and other conveyances to get around the water...of the Seattle Peninsula.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 22, 2011 at 9:54 PM · Report this
seandr 111
@ian - valiant effort.
Posted by seandr on March 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM · Report this
112
111: Thanks, I really tried. I think the best argument in favor of the tunnel is that the people who are trying to stop the tunnel have no fucking clue what to do next if they succeed. They are still making the same arguments they were making 5 years ago -- the ones that LOST then! And so if/when they stop the tunnel, it's going to be total mayhem -- a clusterfuck of surface/transit'ers and rebuild-the-viaduct'ers and cut-and-cover-tunnel'ers and bridge-across-the-bay'ers, etc. etc....is this what the people of Seattle really want?
Posted by ian on March 22, 2011 at 11:24 PM · Report this
113
Will @109, Appendix C's analysis shows nothing of the sort. Its projections of diverted traffic have as a worst case less than half the number you claim. Even that's only at what it predicts to be the most affected area of the surface grid - it projects maybe ten percent of your number at the other spots.

I'm just going to take a wild guess that either you didn't take the time to read it, or you read it super fast because you figure you're just that good.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM · Report this
Baconcat 114
@112: No, the people of Seattle want the viaduct taken down before it kills people.

Don't hold us hostage to your arrogant "my way or the elevated highway" BS.
Posted by Baconcat on March 23, 2011 at 9:35 AM · Report this
115
#114: Huh? First of all, I would be 100% in favor of shutting down the Viaduct -- but then again, as someone who doesn't own a car, doesn't live in W. Seattle, nor drives a commercial vehicle for a living, it's easy for me to say take down the Viaduct. I do realize there are other people in the world, and from what I can see, most of them still want the Viaduct open. And you accuse me of having a "my way or the highway" attitude? That means you consider yourself a model of flexibility on this issue? Explain -- I would be (slightly) curious to know where you'd compromise your stance on this issue. Personally, I accepted the tunnel as a compromise even though I supported surface/transit initially, so I think I've been pretty flexible and anti-"Seattle Process." Everything I've seen you write has been arrogant and inflexible, so it's a strange charge for you to level against me!
Posted by ian on March 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM · Report this
116
@114,

Bullshit.

There isn't majority support for any option, but if it was put on the ballot the so-called "Surface/Transit" plan would get fewer votes than anything else - including a retrofit of the existing AWV or a brand new replacement.

You want arrogance? Projecting your OPINION onto all of Seattle's residents pretty much defines it.
Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Baconcat 117
@115: I've explained a few times that I'm fine with moving ahead on a replacement plan when we address the standing issue of removing the viaduct. You know, with science. It's shocking to think that we can take a measured look at our needs without the viaduct when we get rid of it. It's as though you're dreading this world where, god forbid, we find out that we can survive without it. If we can't and actual practice -- rather than theory that flies in the face of actual practice elsewhere -- shows that we need a high capacity solution, then we can build one. Not that hard.

@116: So you disagree that people want to get rid of the danger? Or did your knee jerk out of socket when you heard someone point out that the viaduct needs to get gone or get fixed?
Posted by Baconcat on March 23, 2011 at 11:20 AM · Report this
118
@117

Go fuck yourself, Mr. Know-It-All. Seriously (and if I knew you I WOULD say that to your face).

Close to a hundred thousand trips are taken every day on the AWV - do you think that all of those folks never heard of the Nisqually Quake, and just ain't as smart as you? I do hope you are consistent and never set foot in Georgetown, Pioneer Square, Historic Ballard, or Columbia City again, because you're every bit as much at risk there from a catastrophic earthquake as you are on the AWV.

You've gone from a blanket statement about what "the people of Seattle" to conflating that with "people want to get rid of the danger" because you're so blinded by your opinion that you can't see your own arrogance.

Get over yourself.

Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 119
@118 do you even LOOK at the City of Seattle main page and the Disaster Liquefaction overlays on it?

Seriously, if you don't understand earthquake risks, don't tell us how "safe" below-sea-level DBT is in a 50 percent collapsed totally liquified downtown.

People like you probably designed the nuclear reactors in Japan ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM · Report this
120
Um, Will, I happen to own three bricks from the old Fenix - you know, the only building in Seattle that actually closed after the Nisqually quake? You do know that Georgetown is filled with similar brick buildings on fill, too, right?

And did I even say anything about a below sea level DBT?

Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 12:24 PM · Report this
121
#118 Yeah, don't know if you saw a previous comment thread on the tunnel, but in it Baconcat explained what is going to happen once we stop the tunnel. He said that the people of Seattle will demand that the Viaduct be shut down immediately and then will vote out all the city councilpersons (except of course Mike O'Brien) and put in place a new city council that will have the Viaduct dismantled with no replacement. So, between Baconcat and Will in Seattle and Elizabeth Campbell and the engineer from the DOT that Publicola interviewed, the anti-tunnel group certainly does have its fair share of...er, what's a polite word for "crazies"?
Posted by ian on March 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM · Report this
122
ian,

I've stopped posting here (and at Publicola) because it's pretty much a privileged upper-middle class New Urbanist groupthink circle jerk, but appreciate your fortitude and patience in taking it on.

You'd never know if from what you see here, but most of Seattle's voters are with you (and even if they aren't wild about the options before them, they are long since done with this debate).

All of the incumbents who support the tunnel are going to win re-election handily, but don't hold your breath waiting for retractions from the SLOG and Publicola faithful.

Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 1:03 PM · Report this
123
Mr.X
I really hope you're right about most voters...I just don't know. I feel like people are often happy to vote against something -- I mean, if the referendum put the tunnel up against surface and rebuild, I do think the tunnel would win. But just the tunnel up against itself? I don't know.

I do think if the anti-tunnel crowd were honest about the fact that they have no clue what they would do next if they were to stop the tunnel, and we'd basically be setting the clock back to 2006, I think a lot more voters would say: let's just stick with the tunnel, it might be imperfect but at least it's moving forward, as opposed to more stasis and squabbling for a decade, and a very uncertain outcome.

However, the anti-tunnel people are very happy to make it sound like if we can stop the tunnel then their preferred option (surface or rebuild) will be a cakewalk to implement. It's a lie, but maybe an effective one. We'll see.
Posted by ian on March 23, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
124
ian,

Rebuild got a lot more votes than the tunnel did in the one advisory vote that has been held (and that was a less risky cut-and-cover iteration of a tunnel), and the so-called S/T plan was kept off of the ballot because the Councilmembers and then-Mayor who arranged that dishonestly structured vote knew damn well it would fare even worse at the polls than any of the other options.

I wouldn't worry too much about an initiative or referendum - it probably won't be allowed on the ballot for legal reasons if sufficient signatures are gathered, and won't be binding on the state if it does get voted on and passes.

Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 2:30 PM · Report this
125
...and for the record, I have been actively opposing a tunnel replacement for the AWV since 1994 - long before most of the people posting here even moved to Seattle.

But if the choice is between the tunnel or nothing (which S/T is - despite Baconcat et al's bleatings to the contrary), I'll take the tunnel.
Posted by Mr. X on March 23, 2011 at 2:37 PM · Report this
126
Well, for the record, I don't consider myself pro-tunnel, either. I do think there are good points to the tunnel as well as bad. But what I am very much against is the endless "Seattle Process." It's really time to move on to the next battle.

I do hope you're right about this referendum having no consequences even if it passes. I've heard contrary positions on that.
Posted by ian on March 23, 2011 at 2:51 PM · Report this
judgmentalist 127
@126.
Well, for the record, I don't consider myself pro-tunnel, either. I do think there are good points to the tunnel as well as bad. But what I am very much against is the endless "Seattle Process." It's really time to move on to the next battle.
I'm tunnel agnostic as well, but Amen to the above. Can't we ever just DO anything? How many studies and referendums and debates before something HAPPENS? How much does all this processing cost?
Posted by judgmentalist on March 23, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
dirac 128
"Seriously (and if I knew you I WOULD say that to your face)."
Like that makes you totally awesome! Get over yourself.
Posted by dirac on March 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 129
I hear the lines to turn in signed inits are longer at the Hunter-Gather Lodge than the were for the iPad2 rollout.

Or the Starbucks meeting.

Now that's participation!
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 24, 2011 at 4:48 PM · Report this
130
@128,

Whatever - lots of people say things on the internet that they wouldn't in person. I'm not one of them.
Posted by Mr. X on March 25, 2011 at 11:20 AM · Report this
dirac 131
Ok, so you don't disown your douchiness. Yay, points for you.
Posted by dirac on March 25, 2011 at 9:15 PM · Report this

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