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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Breaking Viaduct News: Ideas Needed To Solve Problems

posted by on May 29 at 11:50 AM

It took three elected officials—Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims, and Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire—plus god knows how many publicly funded staffers—to write an op/ed in today’s Seattle Times calling for—are you ready for this?—a solution to the viaduct problem.

What solution inspired Gregoire, Nickels, and Sims to break their long silence on the viaduct? Well, that isn’t clear. What is clear is that we need thinking. “Multidimensional thinking.” Not one-dimensional thinking, although two-dimensional thinking might be OK. Just as long as it’s more than one. It’s 2008, after all. Did you know that? “2008—not 1950.” It’s time to address larger issues. “Our children and grandchildren” deserve no less. Fortunately, “we have learned a lot in the last few years.” And now we have “multiple options for what could replace the viaduct on the central waterfront.” On the other hand, “equally important are other considerations.” Elected officials are “getting letters and phone calls from citizens.” That’s good. But “there are tough choices ahead.” Eventually, though—given enough input and discussion and thinking and dimensions—we may at last “reach a solution that makes the most sense.” And then, and only then, will we have “a future we can all be proud of.”

Whatever the hell that might look like.

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appoint Cary Moon "Viaduct Czar". do what she says. fuck WSDOT.

Posted by max solomon | May 29, 2008 11:57 AM

ditto that. maybe Robert Mak could translate that mess

Posted by jackseattle | May 29, 2008 12:05 PM

We are SOOOO overdue for an earthquake in Seattle, sooooo overdue. Then we can get rid of the viaduct (along with a few SUV's and their drivers) and since it is a recession we will not be able to afford to rebuild it and go with the surface option.

Yeah, I am dreaming of a disaster: Viaduct collapse crushing a bunch of SUV driving GOP voters... ahhhhhh!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 29, 2008 12:12 PM

Well I agree with Chris, Ron, and Greg's bold, visionary plan to oppose bad things and support good things. I share their dislike of what is bad and furthermore I also share their liking of what is good. The easy political way out would be to pander to everyone, including those who hate good things, but they're willing to risk offending the entire anti-good/pro-bad voting bloc, and that takes a very special kind of courage.

Posted by elenchos | May 29, 2008 12:19 PM

But ECB, I thought your solution to the viaduct was to wish it away or replace it with big, green fields of grass where bunny rabbits and children can laugh and play. That will solve the problem for good!

Posted by montex | May 29, 2008 12:21 PM

I hope it's a monorail or a high-speed commuter bike trail.

Posted by crazycatguy | May 29, 2008 12:24 PM

@1 has the best idea.

But, realistically, we have to start from the givens:

1. DOUBLE all bus and monorail and waterfront streetcar transit from current levels - both in frequency and quantity. Within 4-6 blocks of the impacted area. ... NOW ... not later. Yes, that means buying a spare monorail.

2. Kill mercilessly all tunnel options other than the slightly recessed roadway with pedestrian/road/streetcar overpasses. Full cover solutions make no sense, other than as rain diverters. Narrow the list down to:

A. surface plus EVEN MORE TRANSIT than mentioned in (1).

B. elevated rebuild - axe the fake options for keeping existing structure with supports, won't work.

or C. aforementioned Cut No Cover option.

As construction starts, convert all parking lanes N-S adjacent to construction sites (exception: Pike Market) to bus/transit/bike/motorcycle/taxi only lanes. No parking. Use E-W streets for parking instead and the increased bus transit.

Oh, and the most important thing - stop whining.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 29, 2008 12:35 PM

My translation is "We're going to tear down the viaduct and not replace it with anything, and we'll do whatever else we can to limit the traffic impact, but since that's going to freak people out we can't come out and say it yet so you'll get this meaningless blather instead."

Outside of the central portion, there will likely be some combination of rebuild/retrofit. There will certainly be a transit component. Who knows, maybe they'll find some way to put a partial tunnel in somewhere nearby for a portion of traffic. Then they can claim they're using multiple options when in reality they're just delivering the only sensible option: surface + transit.

Posted by Cascadian | May 29, 2008 12:41 PM
We're working hard to reach a solution that makes the most sense. We have until the end of this year. We cannot and will not spend the next five years debating and studying.

I'm happy to take their word on this one. But come 2009, whatever their decision is, they need to follow through on it, unequivocally, even if it ends up costing every one of them reelection. If you're an elected official, are you holding your office just to hold office or are you holding your office to actually accomplish something? There comes a time when those two choices are mutually exclusive and a politician has to pick one. ... Or neither. Or just not make a choice. Hey, it's Seattle.

Re. max solomon @1: The day Cary Moon decides to run for elective office in Seattle is the day I write a check to her campaign. Well, if by that day I haven't given up on Seattle myself.

Posted by cressona | May 29, 2008 12:56 PM

have i mentioned lately that Cary Moon is one attractive woman?

Posted by max solomon | May 29, 2008 1:05 PM

No, but you're spot on, @10.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 29, 2008 1:30 PM

Jeesus, this trio isn't going to do a damn thing. Their "duck and cover" role (along with the entire city council) in bringing the useless "advisory" vote to the people should clue us all in to the "courage" they have towards finding a real solution.

@3 has correctly identified what will solve the viaduct problem, I just hope my transit riding ass isn't on the lower deck when the thing crushes the 55 along with all those SUVs.

Posted by Westside forever | May 29, 2008 1:34 PM

Sucks how the Times won't let me bitch about their crappy editorial in the comments. Comments should come standard.

Posted by blank12357 | May 29, 2008 1:46 PM

Tear the fucking thing down already. Reclaim the unused space underneath the existing viaduct and make that northbound traffic. Alaskan Way will carry southbound traffic. Train tracks in the middle will remain the train tracks in the middle. Build a new connector ramp to the Battery tunnel and call it done.

When it's all said and done, vehicle capacity will be pretty close to what it is now. Sync the stoplights and bias the timing in favor of north/south traffic so everything moves during rush hour.

I'm all for mass transit, but worrying too much about that for a couple miles of waterfront road will accomplish two things: jack and shit.

Keep it simple, stupid. Greg, Ron, and Chris are engaged in a big sloppy circle jerk, and they're not even close to coming yet (Greg can't even keep it hard).

Posted by Mahtli69 | May 29, 2008 1:50 PM

No matter what ultimately happens to the viaduct - whether they rebuild it, do the surface street option, or let it fall down in 2011 and crush hundreds of people in their cars - one thing is certain: The complaints generated by the 2/3rds of the population that's going to be pissed will be insignificant compared to the discourse we've heard so far. Meanwhile, nothing happens.

Posted by Dougsf | May 29, 2008 2:01 PM

We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by I see your boobie | May 29, 2008 2:06 PM

Hey! How about adding transit capacity thru a grade separated system....since we can't afford to put it underground, let's elevate it!

If it costs too much, I am sure the state will help by kicking in a few hundred million. Just not charging sales tax would help a lot.

And think of what they would save if they don't have to spend billions on a viaduct replacement! They could surely throw in a billion, if they don't have to spend 4 or 5 billion on a new highway!

I am sure the City would help. After all, it seems like now that their viaduct tunnel is dead, they know they need more north south capacity in this corridor.

Obviously they would support a new transit line, and they wouldn't charge it for the right of way, which could go anywhere along the waterfront, or above one of the avenues!

Of course, Sound Transit will step up and help out, too, since grade separated transit in the hwy 99 corridor will carry riders to and from light rail, too.

Wow. Just think -- we could add new capacity to replace the Viaduct capacity!
Well, we don't want a highway but we need some kind of capacity and we can't cram everyone onto all the existing surface streets even if we add lots of busses -- so we need a grade separated rapid transit line!


It's so obvious, this is a no brainer -- especially with the State, the County, Sound Transit and the City saying they will all act together for solutions (great idea!) and even think in multi-dimensions!!

Posted by R. van Monowinkle | May 29, 2008 2:38 PM

What this Op-Ed says to me...the big 3 still don't agree on this.

My guess is;

The Gov: Trying to figure out how she can keep her 'options open' until after Novemberís election (but still show progress is being made).

The Exec: Trying to figure out how to do congestion pricing and get Julia Patterson, Bob Ferguson, Jane Hague, Reagan Dunn and Pete Von Reichbauer to commit to the increased bus service that would be required to make the surface option work. What about the 40-40-20 split?

The Mayor: Is saying 'there is no fucking way you are building a highway through my city' (so find a way to bury it or pony up the cash to make surface transit work).

Same stalemate is in play, something has got to give.

Luckily Kelly Evans, the person who ran the No Aerial Viaduct Rebuild Campaign also happens to be running the Governors Campaign so maybe there is hope.

My guess is we will know a lot more after the Gov wins reelection and has more political clout (in order to hope that she can have some semblance of guts).

Posted by Read Between the Lines | May 29, 2008 2:42 PM

Nah, Ron's quitting this year, so RBtL you're off on that one. And Kelly lost the battle - and the war.

Time for Rainier to set off after a factor 8 earthquake and cover Kent in hot mud ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 29, 2008 3:11 PM

Will, I spoke with his staffer yesterday who said he is running again. Personally I don't think he should.

Posted by Read Between The Lines | May 30, 2008 1:06 PM

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