Editors note: To celebrate Crosscut's 10th anniversary as a local news organization, so we are featuring the stories from April 1, 2007 on our homepage.
In a recent advisory ballot, Seattle voters dismissed two options, tunnel and bigger viaduct, for replacing the existing Alaskan Way Viaduct. Voters did not reject the third option, surface streets and a park, but only because it was not on the ballot. This is only the first vote, so it does not count for much.
It is a cherished Seattle tradition that the losers of a ballot measure can opt for "two out of three" and, if they lose the second, "three out of five." The existing viaduct must be torn down because seismologists predict it cannot survive the next WTO riot. Since neither the bigger viaduct nor the tunnel nor surface streets and a park have commanded a majority, we need an innovative solution that that appeals to advocates of all three.
I have that solution. A giant Ferris wheel. "The Wheel," as we would call it, would pick up northbound traffic at Dearborn Street and deposit it at Pine Street (the viaduct portion). Southbound cars would ride The Wheel's below-ground arc from Pine to Dearborn (the tunnel portion). The Wheel would be the centerpiece of a thriving civic park (the surface/park portion). Not only that, The Wheel would be self-financing, environmentally friendly, and fun for the whole family.
The Wheel would require no tax dollars from individuals. The cost of the project, a mere $3.5 billion, would be financed by:
- Annual fund drives ($842.7 million)
- Proceeds from nuisance lawsuits ($195.2 million)
- A tax on professional sports teams that benefit from the increased tourism generated by The Wheel (433.7 million)
- Sale of naming rights to Washington Mutual ($95.0 million)
- Silent auction of unclaimed property lost on the wheel ($17.9 million)
- Bonds on which the project will default after elected justices declare them unconstitutional ($1.22 billion)
- Rounding error ($274.3 million)
- Overestimation on items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 ($546.2 million)