Seattle's tunnel vote and the West Coast malaise

In stripping the elected leadership of authority, California and Washington are becoming economic regions unable to move forward on crucial investments, no matter how lengthy the public debate.

The original grand scheme, with conceptual "folds" at the Ferry terminal and south.

The original grand scheme, with conceptual "folds" at the Ferry terminal and south. City of Seattle/James Corner Field Operations

Tim Eyman

Tim Eyman

Why must we vote on everything? Aren’t we electing leaders to do something? Anything?

The controversy around the Alaskan Way Viaduct project is a stark illustration of the problems with direct democracy and why our Founding Fathers chose, after much debate, to develop a representative democracy, or a republic. The explosion of the initiative process in the West has handcuffed elected representatives and made it virtually impossible to move forward on any number of issues, especially transportation.

To understand where we’re headed in Washington state, just look at California. It’s not a pretty picture.

A recent special report in The Economist catalogs the troubles in California. Starting with the infamous Proposition 13, California has turned the initiative safety valve into an industry and a competitor to the legislature. The people have voted to restrict the ability of the legislature to raise revenue, mandated spending in other areas, and term limited legislators. All of this has reduced the ability of the government to get anything done and has reduced the once great and innovative state to banana republic status. The Golden State is now ungovernable, and in this power vacuum special interests are far too strong to rein in.

Polling from the Public Policy Institute of California, quoted in the magazine's essay, makes clear the people the outcome of all this: people are wildly unhappy with the legislature. In fact, the polling shows 81 percent of the people disapprove of the legislature while only 12 percent approve.

To be sure, California’s decline cannot simply be traced to the initiative explosion. There is also a staggering lack of leadership in that state which included the recall of Gov. Grey Davis. Will Jerry Brown fix things? Ironically, his plan A was to put an initiative on the ballot to extend emergency taxes for 5 more years to plug the gaping deficit. But becasue success at the ballot box is unlikely, he has moved to Plan B -- more deep cuts.

Our situation in Washington is not so different. In Seattle, initiative guru Tim Eyman is teaming up with Mayor Mike McGinn and the Sierra Club to let voters have their say — maybe even multiple says — on the deep-bore tunnel. The last ten years of public process and the exhaustive Environmental Impact Statement process do not seem to be enough. But instead of showing real leadership and proposing a viable alternative to the existing plan, the mayor, Eyman, and others choose to throw stones and create delay and confusion.

If this were only a Seattle and San Francisco peculiarity, it could be laughed off as something unique in our quirky locales. Just another circus animals, latte tax, or ban on circumcision. But there are larger issues here that threaten the West Coast’s ability to compete economically. Meanwhile, the East Coast, Gulf states, and Midwest do not seem to share in our love for over processing public policy decisions.

Consider the story of two ports: Los Angeles and Portsmouth, Virginia.  Both wanted to develop new container terminals. In LA, the terminal is called TraPac. Planning work started in 1997. The final Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 2007 — ten years! Construction has finally started and is slated to be completed in 2014. By contrast, the Portsmouth terminal in Virginia was planned in 2002 and was finished and opened for business in 2007: five years to a fully operational, state-of-the-art terminal.

There are many other examples of the West Coast's malaise, its inability to get stuff done. The Gerald Desmond  Bridge in southern California has needed repair for decades. It is so bad that they have diapers underneath it to catch falling cement. Seattle's South Park Bridge anyone?

The die-hard tunnel opponents and the radical defenders of public votes on properly legislative matters are all genuine in their beliefs. But they have pushed things so far that they are now all part of a larger, still mushrooming effort that is undermining our ability to invest in needed infrastructure, to sustain our competitive position with other cities, and to maintain a healthy trust in the legislative process. We are unable to make key decisions and move on. And if we can't make decisions in the public good, intense splinter groups will make them for their narrow benefit.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, May 25, 7:34 a.m. Inappropriate

David Brewster is a savant! Just a couple of days ago he wrote – on this very website! – that one of the tactics the pro-megaproject, pro-bond-selling special interest group in town would use is the following:

“Wrapping Tim Eyman, who showed up in support of the referendum, around the mayor's neck.”

http://crosscut.com/2011/05/23/alaskan-way-viaduct/20939/Seattle-s-tunnel-referendum:-hot-war-or-cold-/

Well played, sir! David Brewster, you hit that nail on the head.

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 25, 7:48 a.m. Inappropriate

The leadership of Seattle has only itself to blame if people don't trust to follow it.

Posted Wed, May 25, 7:53 a.m. Inappropriate

The Viaduct replacement was corrupt right from the get-go. And the anti-tunnel advocates have a long memory and want it cancelled.

A short history lesson.

WSDOT allowed the Viaduct to fall into disrepair long before the 2000 earthquake. Example: deteriorated concrete roadbeds causing maximum noise. Should have been repaved with sound deadening asphaltlike other roadways.

In 1989, when WSDOT/SDOT sent their engineers down to San Francisco to evaluate the damage to infastructure from that earthquake, they came back with a report that requested $300 million to retrofit the entire Viaduct. Rather than acting to protect the public, they did NOTHING!

Amazingly, when the 2000 quake hit here, for all intensive purposes, the Viaduct survived it with only minimal repairs needed.NO LOSS OF LIFE.

The Governor (Gary Locke) with this emergency at hand, asked the Legislature for $2.4 Billion to"repair or replace" the Viaduct. Enter Seattle and Allied Arts who saw the opportunity to get rid of the Viaduct (for aesthetic reasons), and diverted the attention away from a transportation problem to an urban design opportunity at the public expense for ALL Washinton State taxpayers. The emergency request for funding was pass by the legislature because it was presented as an emergency.

Locke, should have immediately acted and started the long overdue retrofitting of the Viaduct which would have eliminated the risk, extended th life of the Viaduct into the future. It could have been accomplished with way less money ($1.2 Billion), although WSDOT trumped up some numbers and claiming that "retrofitting was less costly than replacement, but why waste money when you can build a new one for a little more money."

The rest is history. And, ten years later, we are still using the Viaduct even without total retrofitting, proof of the Viaducts longevity and continued stability.

I could go on. But the point is, we have seen 10 years of NO leadership. If the State had retrofitted it in the beginning, all of this drama would have never happened, and we could have focused on real regional issues like the ecomomy and employment. After all, what good is infastructure if you have no work to go to, nothing to spend and no businesses to service.
DA!
If it is retrofitted, we would end up with the same infastructure that has the best traffic volumes, speeds and access/egress. It could be retrofitted in under two years with little disruption.
And remember that the selection of the DBT was made because it would avoid "disruption." during construction. BS!

There's still time to right this wrong. Vote to stop the project, STOP immediately all construction/demolition of the southern portion. And take the balance of the original money, and start the retrofitting immediately. No other funding from other governments would need to be spent.

Afterall, WSDOT has already spent enough money to not be able to build the other alternatives addressed in their EIS is they decided to not build the DBT.

VOTERS are the bosses. They lead. Elected representatives follow. There is always good news when the public wants to speak their piece. This IS a participatory government last time I looked.

So, DO THE RIGHT THING and vote. Stop this maddness.

Posted Wed, May 25, 8:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Actually, the tunnel seems to be going like clockwork. On budget, on time, etc., aside from a small hiccup with this vote.

mhays

Posted Wed, May 25, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

Things are really quite simple. We have a representative government that we hire to represent the greater good of the public. Let them govern! There needs to be at least 2 major roadways through this major metropolitan area, that's 99 and 5. The least disruptive way through the city is a tunnel unquestionably! Regardless of all of the emotive offers of alternatives, a farmer from North Dakota (my uncle) gets it! Move on already and lets get something done. The viaduct will fall someday, maybe today, and it could have been replaced by now!!!

chuck

Posted Wed, May 25, 8:41 a.m. Inappropriate

What is it about the Royers and Brewsters? They just don't get it. The taxpayers don't want the tunnel. Isn't it obvious? The fat cats, those who own real estate along the waterfront--and those in their pockets--want the tunnel. The city council is inept and out of touch with the taxpayers, and they will be voted out of office--deservedly so. As for you Chuck, when your uncle puts his farm up against the tunnel cost overruns, then his opinion will mean something.

rorric1

Posted Wed, May 25, 8:42 a.m. Inappropriate

More’s the pity. If completed the tunnel provides half the capacity and access for twice the cost of an elevated solution. There will be increased congestion and loss of a bypass for downtown. Our leadership is more concerned about how the city looks on a post card than the mobility of its tax paying constituents.

Voters who will be paying for this expensive cosmetic perk for downtown developers should take note of their elected official’s position on this project and let it guide them when it's time to vote.

jmrolls

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:23 a.m. Inappropriate

So let me get this straight, if something needs to be done, ie X, but it's not something the voters would want, then there is a leadership failure, because they are unable to explain why doing X is the right thing to do?

Or is it that the voters wanted "Y", and are visibly upset that "X" is being done inspite of what they wanted? And that's malaise? And a failure of leadership? I thought we had a representative government, you know, the one that does what the majority of the voters want.

In this particular case the tunnel is an expensive stupid idea that benefits only the real estate developers on Western. (Oh and probably the city as the tax revenue from those buildings will increase.) We can argue in another forum whether a retro fit, replacement or surface option is the preferred voter choice, but it's pretty clear that the tunnel is ranked 4th from those choices.

GaryP

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:24 a.m. Inappropriate

The provision Gregoire, Sims and Nickels agreed to stating that there would be a lot of additional bus service seemed to be a key to signing off on the deep bore tunnel. That funding and the plans for that service now seem nowhere to be found.

On all of these projects, one has to ask, when is something "material"? And if that something is no longer present, then does the project agreement still hold? Or should someone be able to say "time out, no more bait and switch." It seems if there's no check and balance, then there are significant incentives to say whatever is needed to close the deal, then after the ink is signed, say oops, sorry, we can't fulfill what we promised.

As I look at the 'folds' in the waterfront diagram, a question that comes to mind is how much they will cost to maintain, and will that funding be available when funding is in short supply to maintain current parks?

Also, the question does exist about cost over runs. That question does not seem to be answered in Mr Royer's artice. In fact it is ignored. If the legislation in Olympia stated "seattle area shipping companies are going to pay all over runs", would he be so sanguine about this? or how about if the provision stated "we will impose a levy of $1 per container or equivalent for bulk break on all cargo going in and out of Puget Sound area ports first, and then if that funding is not enough, we will tax Seattle area property owners." I bet he would then welcome the assistance of Mr Eyman, the Mayor, or anyone who would stand with him at saying "time out, we need a different plan."

I personally don't mind the deep bore tunnel, but for those of us south of Seattle, it absolutely will increase the travel time, and absolutely will reduce the number of trips into downtown.

sjenner

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Royer writes "initiative guru Tim Eyman is teaming up with Mayor Mike McGinn and the Sierra Club to let voters have their say."

Um, citation needed. Is there any actual evidence that Eyman and McGinn are working together? Or did Eyman just show up because he wants attention, and has had no involvement whatsoever with the campaign? I think that merits some evidence.

Royer writes also about California, but that too misses the mark. Prop 13's problem is that it created a 2/3 rule on taxes for both legislators and voters, which makes it impossible to budget properly.

Still, democracy has actually enabled megaprojects to move forward there. In 2008 voters approved a high speed rail project and $10 billion to get it started. In that same election, 2/3 of Los Angeles County voters approved a tax increase to massively expand subways and light rail. Also in that same election, 2/3 of San Jose voters approved a tax increase to bring BART trains to their city. That too is a controversial project, but it was the second time voters said yes, and opposition has vanished as a result.

So if Royer is so confident that the deep bore tunnel is a good idea, why are he and other tunnel backers so afraid of a public vote? California proves that a good idea will win majority backing. Democracy isn't anything to be afraid of - unless you know the public doesn't support a project.

In that case, forcing an unwanted project on the public and denying them a chance to vote on it isn't a good process - it's bad government. And that's what enables Tim Eyman. His whole career is one of exploiting politicians who thought they could act without first rounding up political support for the action.

Eyman can show up wherever he wants to; it's a free country. But if we're going to stop him, government should stop enabling him and start trusting the voters to make the right call.

junipero

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:50 a.m. Inappropriate

The comments here quite good.

Posted Wed, May 25, 10 a.m. Inappropriate

...Starting with the infamous Proposition 13, California has turned the initiative safety valve into an industry and a competitor to the legislature...Polling from the Public Policy Institute of California, quoted in the magazine's essay, makes clear the people the outcome of all this: people are wildly unhappy with the legislature. In fact, the polling shows 81 percent of the people disapprove of the legislature while only 12 percent approve.

Are people wildly unhappy with the legislature because of the results of mushrooming initiatives? Or did initiatives begin to mushroom because they were wildly unhappy with the legislature? Sure, the initiative process does seem to have been taken over by well-funded special interests. But we shouldn't forget why initiatives exist in the first place.

Posted Wed, May 25, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

This has the smell of bad propaganda:

"Actually, the tunnel seems to be going like clockwork. On budget, on time, etc., aside from a small hiccup with this vote.

— mhays"

Well SOMEBODY must have access to inside-information. I've been trying to figure out for months how the public will be able to ascertain how close WSDOT is getting to the $2.8 billion spending budget. And here's a poster who might be able to explain it!

The statute contains a cost-shifting provision that puts some as-yet-unidentified set of Seattle property owners on the hook for all amounts WSDOT racks up over $2.8 billion. You can see that here, in RCW 47.01.402(6)(b) – ( http://www.apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=47.01.402 ).

WSDOT has signed lots of contracts relating to the tunnel, the work in SLU near Mercer St. and Aurora, the work in SODO around Alaskan Way, removal of the viaduct, etc. WSDOT isn't done signing contracts yet, and obviously there will be contract overruns, mitigation costs, and damages to buildings and infrastructure.

So "mhays" - what makes you think all the contracts and other obligations WSDOT has committed to so far relating to its responsibilities are under that $2.8 billion budget? Enlighten everybody (or are you just blowing smoke?).

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 25, 11:17 a.m. Inappropriate

spending what will easily be $25 to $30 billion to create a contrived "people zone" in place of an absolutely vital transportation asset like the viaduct is the reason why the initiative movement has sprung up. sure, its great to have urban showplaces, but seattle is full of large scale parks, walkways, gathering places and viewpoints. isn't the function of a city also to allow business to thrive, for people to be able to move from point to point? The track record on these urban improvements in Seattle is sketchy at best. The sculpture park? lol. Chihuly museum anchoring the Center? lol Discovery Park? 100 acres of deserted boring dirt and crumbling cement. The current waterfront is a vital, popular, authentic place, why is this so abhorent to egg headed urban planners and "designers"?

beaky

Posted Wed, May 25, 11:26 a.m. Inappropriate

The one big failure of the sculpture park is that they took the mass transit station out of it! So if you want to go you have to walk to the far end of the waterfront or drive. You could bike, but it's not a nice ride.

Of course had they moved the maintenance barn the waterfront trolley would be bringing those cruise ship passengers right to it! And it would be taking them to Pioneer Sq, so instead of having to scrounge around for high speed internet for offices in Pioneer Sq, we'd have a thriving retail area.

It's amazing to me how the city doesn't get that transportation in all forms helps fuel growth.

GaryP

Posted Wed, May 25, 12:25 p.m. Inappropriate

I wish this system had. "likes" system on this blog as so many of he comments are all or close to right on in my view.

Thank goodness that so many people see through the City and its satraps.

Posted Wed, May 25, 12:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Really? Who wrote this? Seriously? You think a really bad tunnel idea is going to help us compete economically? Globally? I'd love to see that! Thank god for Mr. McGinn and his allies who are actually doing what the people want and oppose that stupid, stupid, wasteful project.

For sure there are viable alternatives many of them have been around for a long time you just have to be able to understand what they are and who has them and what they really mean.

Your eh, article? says nothing about the push back from the other side in so far as lobbyists and business community are concerned. Nothing! As if they simply don't exist! There is real and mounting pressure from what i'll call the invisible hand of our "system" pushing hard for this tunnel. Why don't you find where the money is flowing from? Why can't you put a face on the people who behind the scenes, are greasing the palms of Yes the Port, City and transportation officials? Why don't you waste our time with an article about that?!

And then you throw in the South Park bridge as if that is holding our region back from economic glory. Oh the laughs my friends and I will have about that one!

As for the intuitive processes and your critique thereof. Listen, in such a system, anyone can file and initiative, Not just Tim Eyman. If there is sufficient signatures (read, popularity). Tim is still just one vote and always will be. The process is open to all comers.

If our state government gave us a viable, viaduct solution and not another third runway style fiasco, the job would be done and under budget by now too! But they have not.

The Port "signed off on it" gimme a break!

Bigsplash

Posted Wed, May 25, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

the deep bore debate is in the context of a state and national tax aversion that is leading to infrastructure failure. it has happened before. in that context, deep bore opponents are correctly questioning whether the deep bore is the first project that should be funded with the capped state funds. the establishment has lined up in favor of the deep bore, but no one is taking the tough revenue votes that include: to provide Metro the one percent MVET of the January 2009 deep bore agreement; to cover the deep bore costs above the state cap; to fill the $2 billion gap in SR-520 funding; to fill the $2 billion gap in I-5 rehab funding; to back fill Metro funding as the great recession eats away sales tax revenue; to implement systemwide tolling to control traffic congestion on the limited access highways; the $900 million in Seattle funds to complement the deep bore; the $300 POS share of the deep bore; and, the $1 billion to build sidewalks on arterials that lack them. we have failed before. in the first third of the 20th century, the streetcar network was allowed to fall apart; in the second third of the 20th century, the electric trolleybus network was allowed to decline; today, we suffer from many decades of deferred pavement management. the basics are being ignored in favor of the partly funded mega projects. no wonder voters are restless.

eddiew

Posted Wed, May 25, 1:59 p.m. Inappropriate

I must urgently warn that the "subsurface hydrology" and unstable soil conditions through which the bored tunnel passes is incredibly dangerous, in construction, in an earthquake, even in its long-term presence beneath downtown buildings. Think of the bored tunnel the same way embedded in-street rail works its way to the surface!

I must also make a nearly as frantic warning about the Mercer West project. The recent Nielsen/Nygaard report predicting severe traffic impacts along the Elliott to I-5 Mercer and Denny Way corridors mirrors my long held conclusion: Mercer West will degrade Mercer Phase One, dramatically increase traffic through residential Queen Anne and damage the intended pedestrian-oriented nature of the districts. If a tunnel is absolutely necessary, the only sensible option is the cut/cover as depicted in the DEIS. Wsdot's earlier cut/cover proposals were suspiciously more costly and disruptive to construct.

Jordan Royer can't bring himself to consider or answer these dreadful concerns because James Corner Fields sketches are like totally like awesome like in a totally like sophisticated way, man.

Wells

Posted Wed, May 25, 2:14 p.m. Inappropriate

"We can argue in another forum whether a retro fit, replacement or surface option is the preferred voter choice, but it's pretty clear that the tunnel is ranked 4th from those choices."

Totally wrong. It is crystal clear that the "surface/transit" option has the least public support of the three options: tunnel; elevated; surface/transit. Every poll taken of Seattle voters shows the surface/transit option has the least support.

As for the process used to arrive at the decision to build a deep-bored tunnel -- that was a complete sham. The "stakeholders" committee was hand-picked by then-mayor Greg Nickels to be weighted heavily against a new or retrofitted viaduuct, with a few token viadcut supporters thrown in for appearance sake. When the "leaders" are corrupt, and ignore the will of the voters, they should absolutely NOT be trusted to make decisions. That is what the referendum and initiative processes are for.

The reason this is all taking so long is that the powers that be decided years ago that they were not going to listen to the people, and repair or rebuild the viaduct, but that they knew better than the voters, and were going to impose their will on the public. That is the problem -- corrupt "leaders" who think they know better than the "rabble" who voted for them. When "leaders" try to force something on the public that the public does not want, it shouldn't be easy for them to do so, and they should be exposed for what they are trying to do.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, May 25, 3:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip, surely you know that a big cost question was whether they'd be able to sign the main tunnel contract for the predicted price. They have. While there's room for cost to grow in some ways, much of the variable is now contained. Particularly since it's design-build, which means the contractor can't blame the designer for missing scope, because they're the same entity.

mhays

Posted Wed, May 25, 5:20 p.m. Inappropriate

mhays, I thought the contingency fund needed to be drawn down to keep the bidders interested (effectively a cost overrun before the project has even begun).

spock

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:53 p.m. Inappropriate

This has the smell of bad propaganda:

"Actually, the tunnel seems to be going like clockwork. On budget, on time, etc., aside from a small hiccup with this vote.

— mhays"

Heh! You ARE just blowing smoke there, "mhays".

You CAN NOT link to one single fact to substantiate your claim that all the contracts and other obligations WSDOT has committed to so far relating to its responsibilities for this megaproject are UNDER that $2.8 billion BUDGET.

Just admit you were fibbing. There's no way you can prove WSDOT is "on budget". WSDOT is not disclosing to the public whether or not it is "on budget".

crossrip

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:57 p.m. Inappropriate

That's an issue of how they've allocated dollars within the same maximum.

mhays

Posted Wed, May 25, 9:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Have another beer crossrip.

(my last post was for spock)

mhays

Posted Thu, May 26, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Ah, well, the usual tropes here - back and forth. "Fat cats" and "radicals" and "the people" - the latter as if only one thought exists out there (Republicans use that one all the time, as in "the American people [sic] want..."). I'll just add that Royer's best comment is the one about expectations on this coming vote: "....the mayor has put his supporters in a position that will only make them more angry and cynical about a vote so problematic as to be open to endless interpretation by winning and losing sides."

That spin's already started. Even though the judge clearly limited the scope of the initiative, the proponents are twisting themselves into narratives knots trying to insist that it's really a vote yes or no on the tunnel. Nope. Go back and read again. The real Seattle problem is that there is never a no, and end to the process, a time to move on (as Royer clearly lists - there was plenty of process, God knows, on this corridor); there's always an Eyman, or someone or some group ready to find another way to repeat the question. Portland had light rail years before Seattle, developed a real town square (instead of the joke called Westlake), a terrific waterfront park on the river, etc. because somehow, they know how to move on. We just reframe the same old questions. Gag me.

Posted Thu, May 26, 11:52 a.m. Inappropriate

The problem with the polls on replace the viaduct is that they don't articulate what the new viaduct would look like or be. Breakdown lanes, high barrier walls, etc. When people are told about that "minor" detail it stops being a favored option.

I would agree, that most voters would prefer that we "repair" the existing viaduct. That means we don't have to add the lanes, or the barriers etc. But merely reinforce the supports. It would give the viaduct at least another 20 to 25 more years of service and then we'll be able to better decide whether another auto only tunnel is what we need or another tunnel for the Light rail system. (The current tunnel will be at max capacity in 20 years when the Eastside and North routes are built out.)

GaryP

Posted Thu, May 26, 1:45 p.m. Inappropriate

Voters don't understand what a retrofit would mean. Unlike a building renovation where seismic upgrades tend to be fairly hidden, with the viaduct it would be more of an exoskeleton...new foundations, new structure, I'd guess new roadway supports, certainly a new roadway and paving, etc. After all that the highway would still be way below code due to lack of a breakdown lane. Of course the existing tunnel will always be way below code, and Aurora will always be a barrier. And none of it would last very long. No, I don't think a "repair" would do well at all. Voters don't want to start this debate again 10 years after a retrofit completes.

Further, every option other than the deep bore is a wild card regarding cost. Even if the economy and construction prices don't jump back up in the years before anything else could start, and even if the legislature provides money again, virtually zero design or site investigation has happened on other options, particularly with the I-5 upgrades or the retrofit...anything that hasn't at least gone through an official finger-in-the-air test for the EIS process. It's funny to watch opponents quibble with relatively minor elemements of the deep bore while making wild presumptions about their pet solutions, particularly since they typically have bizarre ideas about schedule.

mhays

Posted Thu, May 26, 2:51 p.m. Inappropriate

"Further, every option other than the deep bore is a wild card regarding cost."

That's a crock too. We already know that a deep bore tunnel will run 30 to 50% over estimated cost.

"minor elemements of the deep bore"
Yeah like it being the widest ever tunnel dug, and that it's on a major fault line, and it's in sand, and it's below sea level, and it carries only 60% of the existing traffic, and that tolling is likely to cause worse congestion on the surrounding streets yet no money is allocated to that problem... minor details I'm sure no actual voter cares about.

GaryP

Posted Thu, May 26, 2:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Interesting that one attack on the tunnel is its diminished capacity, yet for some in the now split environmental camp, that was a victory - the state backing down from an early insistence that whatever replaced the tunnel had to carry the same or more traffic. It was a concession to the reality that we'll need to move commuters in other ways - i.e. improved transit. Now it's an albatross.
Time to move on, recapture the waterfront, find enough money for the seawall re-do, and improve the hell out of transit, not fight the tunnel over and over.

Posted Thu, May 26, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh, on the what a refit would look like, so far we've only had an artist rendition which looks like the guy took illustrator and an image of an "I" beam and added the most number of "X" braces possible. No actual engineering drawings have been done because WSDOT has no actual intention of doing a retrofit.

GaryP

Posted Thu, May 26, 2:56 p.m. Inappropriate

"improve the hell out of transit, not fight the tunnel over and over."

There isn't money for transit if it all ends up in a hole in the ground. That's why the fight. The state can't even come up with the last $2B for the 520 bridge.

If you support rapid transit in it's own right-of-way, then this tunnel project has to die.

GaryP

Posted Thu, May 26, 4:51 p.m. Inappropriate

Voters perfectly understand both retrofit and/or rebuild solutions for the viaduct. They understand that either will be far superior to either a tunnel or surface solution in terms of access and capacities. And they know that either will be roughly half the cost of a tunnel providing nothing goes wrong with the boring process…then it could be a third the cost, or who knows? Plus there’s no speculation about how to handle the congestion resulting from a tunnel because there wouldn’t be any.

It must be really hard to keep attacking something that does its job so well.

jmrolls

Posted Thu, May 26, 6:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Come on GaryP. It's not the "widest tunnel ever dug" or even the widest within three miles. While the cost could go up, there's no reason to think it would go up anywhere near that much, particularly with much of the cost now contained. Obviously rapid transit isn't hurt by the tunnel, including the ability to build future tunnels through Downtown. You're basically taking the fox news "whatever sticks" route.

mhays

Posted Thu, May 26, 11:24 p.m. Inappropriate

What's this "most voters would prefer a repair of the existing viaduct"? I imagine there's a large body of folks, myself included, who will be happy to say goodbye to that wall blocking the waterfront. That's been a local dream for a long time. Of course not everyone wants it down, and that's partly our problem - there don't seem to be enough "most folks" behind any of the proposed viaduct fixes. That's why we have representative government - to make those calls so we don't have to have a citizen vote on every issue. Let's move on.

Posted Fri, May 27, 7:59 a.m. Inappropriate

This "wall" you speak of is just another myth about the viaduct. Anyone familiar with Venetian blinds understand that it blocks neither access nor view of anything. It actually provides cover for pedestrians when it rains. If you want a real barrier to access tear it down and watch 40,000 cars crawl through the core twice a day. Then you realize the value it serves as a bypass for downtown. The reason there's never been an honest tunnel vs. elevated vote is that special interests advocating the tunnel know that it will lose against plans to refurbish or replace the viaduct.

jmrolls

Posted Fri, May 27, 2:04 p.m. Inappropriate

"It's not the "widest tunnel ever dug"

really? You must not bother to be paying any attention to this project.

"Our TBM will cost around $80 million to build, and, at 56 feet in diameter, it will be the widest TBM ever constructed."

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/Content?oid=4399657

Which therefore makes everything else you have stated about this project just more smoke. No references to it being on time/cost/schedule nothing except some wishful writing.

GaryP

Posted Fri, May 27, 4:10 p.m. Inappropriate

You've got to be kidding. Do you think all tunnels are dug by TBMs?

The freaking I-90 tunnel substantially larger in diameter.

Honestly, do you even think before posting?

mhays

Posted Fri, May 27, 8 p.m. Inappropriate

Mr. Hays knows damn well what GaryP meant - that this is the widest tunnel of its type ever dug. He also knows damn well that it is using technology that is largely experimental.

I will leave it to others to analyze his motives in willfully misreading comments that are in fact 100% accurate.

Posted Sat, May 28, 11:32 a.m. Inappropriate

There is no perfect solution; the tunnel is the BEST solution. It allows for traffic flow during construction, unlike the cut and cover (which would require demolition of the viaduct). It is superior to retro-fit, which would require shutdown also, in order to bring up to current code, despite what some assert, it would not be possible to half-a## the job. Finally, on the statement that it reduces current capacity; the Battery Street tunnel is 2 lanes North and South! 99 is stop and go from the Duwamish River South and from Green Lake North! Why is it only through downtown is it demanded that 99 be non-stop? On the earthquake argument; I find this to be disingenuous at best. Seattle; (the whole West coast of the Americas is on the 'Ring of Fire'); in the event of the 'Big One', ALL human acts will be writ small.

sitka

Posted Sat, May 28, 5:56 p.m. Inappropriate

@ sitka " Why is it only through downtown is it demanded that 99 be non-stop?"

A very good question! Tunnel vision, maybe?

afreeman

Posted Mon, May 30, 10:36 a.m. Inappropriate

An Editor's Pick for a Sitka post despite its blatant misinformation? Does Crosscut now condone deceit? Is the DBT the 'best' solution? Hardly. Does the cut/cover require demolition of the AWV? No. Does the reduction of lanes from 3 to 2 matter? Yes! In any accident, minor or major, 3 lanes reduces their severity, a lifesaving safety factor. The DBT will struggle to handle more traffic than the Battery Street Tunnel does now, even with the wider shoulders. Sitka has joined the "Let 'em fry" Club of sickeningly money-grubbing Seattler trolls, punks and high mucky-mucks who value convenience ahead of public safety.

Wells

Posted Tue, May 31, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Wells; Are you attempting to claim moral authority on the tunnel debate via the public safety? Long past time to add the 'Keeping the people safe" argument to the list of scoundrel's camouflage. Evidently the best solution isn't enough, nor the perfect solution; you are looking for the "Magic" solution! Haha, Good luck.

sitka

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