But it’s a state highway!

Lynn Allen gets an interview with Governor Gregoire. Here’s the Governor’s answer concerning the “surface plus transit” option:

We did entertain it earlier but couldn’t make it work. We have a set of criteria we have to meet. We have to maintain safety. We have to meet capacity for both moving freight and people in that corridor.

We’re not accommodating increases in capacity if we either rebuild the viaduct or build a new tunnel. There won’t be an increase in today’s capacity. It’s now somewhere in the neighborhood of 110,000 per day.

Gregoire says she wants to move “both freight and people.” She then cites the number of cars that use the corridor, not the number of people. I don’t know if Governor Gregoire knows the difference between moving cars and moving people, or why that’s important. Also, I have no clue how she can say that “we’re not accommodating increases in capacity” by rebuilding a viaduct or a tunnel. I don’t believe the facts bear this out.

Read the whole interview (thankfully, it’s not all about the viaduct).


  1. 1

    Particle Man spews:

    You know Will, a growing recognition that the surface transit option is deserving of a more detailed examination is a good thing. It would be more healthy though to think about this option with a stronger connection to reality. I posted the following over on Postman which illustrates this point.

    With Seattle bloggers, legislators and city officials all in full campaign mode, each of the choices have been portrayed with fantasy graphics or based upon untested design. The viaduct is depicted as this huge, flat, gray five story high structure or is portrayed with video of the ugly old structure. The smaller tunnel option is the only option that presents a rather limited range for significant changes since the width cannot grow and double decking is cost prohibitive.

    But it is the surface transit option that is the least clear. Even the anti-viaduct ad shows first one view with two lanes and street parking in both directions and then two seconds later shows three travel lanes in one direction. Both views show a bunch of grass and planted areas with trees. The fact is that there is only so much width to work with in order to accommodate cars, trucks, transit, parking and pedestrians. For all its ugly noisy faults one thing the viaduct has provided is a ton of parking for anyone interested in visiting the waterfront. It is hard to see how the surface transit option would not eliminate some 1,000 parking spots and have a grave impact on businesses on both sides of the existing viaduct.

    Also, while it is easy to get behind the concept of the surface transit option, a huge fight is ahead over what shape it will take. In the end, the Miami Beach like feel portrayed in the campaign graphics is not even close to what it will have to look like to function. The surface transit option should be looked at but Seattle voters should not be fooled by clever graphics. This option will eliminate most of the nearby parking, create a huge (8 paved traffic lanes) at grade barrier and make it harder not easier for the general public to visit the waterfront.

  2. 2



    A rebuilt viaduct is “depicted as this huge, flat, gray five story high structure” because it’s going to be just that! Maybe not 5 stories, but if Frank Chopp gets his way, it’ll have a third deck.

    Your comment is mostly just more of the same kind of hand-wringing. Fucking parking is your concern? When folks wanted to tear down the Embarcadero in SF, THAT was a big concern. If you ask them now, they’d saw the trade-off was worth it. Besides, there is lots of parking downtown, its just that us lazy Seattlites want our cheap and free under-the-viaduct parking. Go park in a parking garage. I’ll be rockin’ the light rail and the streetcar.

  3. 5



    Like it or not, Will, the capacity that the Governor is speaking of is primarily people moving in their personal vehicles.

    Yes, I think it would be great if there was a transit option. Some sort of BART-like transit system that would allow folks to move freely about the Puget Sound without having to drive. Hopefully we’ll have that some day.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

    For a transit option to work, it can’t simply replace the car capacity for that section of the viaduct. People aren’t going to drive to one terminus, then take the transit for that section, and somehow magically transport their car to the other terminus.

    Then there’s parking (huge problem) at each terminus, feeder lines to make transit use feasible (this one is solvable) and there is still the problem of freight and other vehicle access, even assuming we can get a large percentage of folks out of their cars.

    Yes, the SoundTransit projects that are proposed will be a big help, but much of that is still on the drawing board and potentially decades away (if it ever happens).

    Folks like to point to the Embarcadero in San Francisco. What they neglect to consider is that the Embarcadero was never actually finished and was not a thoroughfare. It was a “road to nowhere”, and even so, removing it caused some pretty serious problems.

    Fortunately, San Francisco already had, in place and functioning, a pretty good regional transit system. Many folks living in the area didn’t even bother to own a car, as they had become unnecessary.

    I’d love to see that sort of thing happen here, but the transit has to be in place first, and the Viaduct isn’t going to wait.

    If the city can manage to get the tunnel option to work, great. It will make the waterfront area much more pleasant to visit and potentially generate tourist revenue. That’s one reason I think that the selection of alternatives should be up to the people of Seattle.

    I also think that since Seattle will reap the rewards, they should foot the bill for any extra.

    But unless someone can show that the vehicle capacity through the area will not be significantly reduced, the surface+transit option is a non-starter at the state level.

    And it’s a state highway!

  4. 6


    It astonishes me that Gregoire is not behind the Sherwin/Steinbrueck compromise of “Repair & Prepare” as it would certainly save her bacon, which looks like will will soon ber very fried.

    Of course she’ll have to fire some people at WSDOT who have boxed her into this absurd & destructive situation.

  5. 7



    Don’t even get me started about our new bridge, courtesy of the voters of King County.

    Before the new bridge, we routinely had morning backups that could, on occasion, stretch all the way to Olympic Ave.

    Now we get backups that stretch to Purdy, (which christmasghost insists is a long way from Gig Harbor).

    They figure that with the automated toll collection and lots of toll plazas, together with some rather impressive traffic management, once everything is completed, and assuming no significant increase in traffic, the traffic backups shouldn’t stretch much beyond Olympic Ave.

    And I get to pay “admission” every time I go to Tacoma. Oh, goody.

  6. 8

    ArtFart spews:

    7 Can’t help but wonder whether commuters between Seattle and the Eastside will face something similar or worse when the new and improved 520 happens…

  7. 9

    jason spews:

    don’t talk about “facts” with will regarding san francisco. he’s made up a narrative and he’s sticking to it. they’re both state highways, spur or not!

    bart, cal train, muni… it definitely would be nice, but we’ve already seen one rapid transit plan fall apart. i’ll advocate tearing up all the streets when i actually see one completed in this city.

    The Gridlock Gang
    “the very definition of truthiness.”

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If the Renton city fathers are serious about civic improvement, they’ll enforce their aggressive panhandling laws by arresting Clay Bennett.