Will (who you may remember used to write here, and could theoretically once again) has a piece on Slog where he argues that Seattle needs to be afraid of what the Olympia might do if we reject the tunnel. Bold mine because bolding on Slog seems mostly random.
If we reject the tunnel, the money will go away, and will be turned in to a north-south freeway in Spokane, or added lanes on I-405. Or part could be used to widen I-5 under the convention center, which might be the best-case scenario. Or it could be moved to the 520 bridge replacement project, which is short of funds. Or, just to spite us, they could give us a brand new viaduct, a wider, bigger, quieter replacement of the current structure complete with downtown exits and grand views of the harbor.
First off, the cost of a gallon of gas is rising just as quickly in the Eastside and Spokane as it is anywhere else. It’ll probably come down a bit off this high, but the trend is in the wrong direction. If they want to continue to tether themselves to foreign oil it’s not Seattle’s business, but good luck attracting skilled workers to the 21st century economy. Second, and more important, it’s past time Seattle (and frankly the rest of the urban-suburban Puget Sound, since the rest of the state hates them almost as much as Seattle) starts fighting spiteful bullshit with spiteful bullshit.
In 2009 when a few Tacoma legislators decided that they wanted to make sure that Tacoma Power could pollute more, they were able to gum up the works of the whole state. There’s no reason that the Seattle legislators who oppose the cost overrun provision couldn’t start demanding cost overrun provisions in any project (not just any road project) outside the net donor counties until the tunnel cost overrun provisions are repealed. And if they don’t get that to gum up the works. Seattle gives away our hard earned tax money to those counties and doesn’t see much of a return on their investment.
Partly this plan is out of spite for the state trying to saddle us with a freeway we don’t want, and then trying to make us pay for it. But you’re never going to get good policy until you’re willing to put your foot down against bad policy; while putting cost overrun provisions on counties that don’t pay their fair share is bad policy, it’s better policy than putting those provisions on a city that does.
And yes, the plan relies to some extent on the Seattle delegation asserting themselves. Relying on Seattle legislators to have any backbone is like relying on jelly fish to have any backbone. Still, if the tunnel loses an election in August and a few City Council members lose their jobs in November, it might put some steel in the legislature’s resolve.
Also, just as a side note, I supported Roads and Transit. Given how easily the Transit portion passed the following year, it’s probably fair to say that I’m more pro having the Seattle area pay extra for car infrastructure than the average urban King County resident. So call me a dirty hippie or whatever but if the state antagonizes Seattle enough, you can look forward to mayor for life Mike McGinn.