Last week I posted a commentary suggesting that “It’s Gov. Gregoire who needs to take the lead in pulling the tunnel cost overrun provision,” not Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
My premise was simple. If, as the Governor suggests, Mayor McGinn’s focus on the cost-overrun provision “is just something to hang his hat on” in his effort to scuttle the Big Bore tunnel, and if the cost-overrun provision is as unenforceable as she says it is, and if the Governor is really promising to sign a bill that would remove this provision… then why not just take the lead in doing exactly that, thus swiping the Mayor’s hat peg?
I’m on record as opposing the tunnel, but if the goal is to move forward with this project as quickly as possible, I argued, the Governor and the legislative leadership should just swallow their pride and promise to push through what she claims to be a mere symbolic legislative fix. It was, I thought, a pretty damn constructive proposal coming from somebody on the losing side of the tunnel debate. But you wouldn’t know it from the comment thread, which proved particularly vitriolic and disinformative even by HA comment thread standards.
Indeed, this thread is pretty much emblematic of the “Fuck Seattle” attitude that often seems to dominate political discourse throughout the rest of state. “I hope Seattle fucking chokes on the cost overruns,” one commenter writes, while another insists that Mayor McGinn deserves “a taste of his own medicine.” While I magnanimously proposed a way to politically move forward, my critics clearly remained focused on extracting retribution.
Ah well. So much for attempting to be the voice of reason.
Ironically, in objecting to the advisory vote in which Seattle voters rejected both a tunnel and a rebuild, one of my most vocal critics in the thread inadvertently makes a pretty damn strong case against sticking the city with the cost-overruns:
Get it straight. Highway 99 is not the property of the city of Seattle. It is a STATE FUCKING HIGHWAY. It happens to run through Seattle, and through a hell of a lot of other municipalities. One hell of a lot of people depend on Highway 99 who are not Seattle residents, and their tax dollars damn sure support that highway.
The state built it. The state maintains it. The Legislature controls the purse strings…
Okay, it’s a “state fucking highway.” Great. Then let the state pay for it. Including any cost-overruns. Especially considering that, unlike the existing Viaduct, the new deep bore tunnel will include no exits or onramps.
Did you hear that folks? No exits or onramps! This is a tunnel explicitly designed not to serve downtown Seattle, but rather folks seeking to drive through it, and because of the lack of exits comparable to those northbound at Seneca and Western, and the rush hour traffic backups they create, the tunnel will be much better suited to this particular purpose than any of the other proposed options.
So don’t give me this shit about how if Seattle wants its “gold-plated tunnel” Seattle taxpayers should have to pay for it. Yes, the removal of the existing Viaduct will open the waterfront to redevelopment, but the much cheaper surface/transit option would have done same while providing far better ingress and egress to downtown Seattle than a deep bore tunnel with no exits.
In fact, the only people who will benefit from the tunnel over the surface/transit option will be those seeking to drive through downtown Seattle without being slowed down by the street traffic above.
So yeah, Highway 99 is a state highway, and the state rejected the less expensive surface/transit option in favor of the deep bore tunnel so as to better meet the needs of the thru-traffic driving on it. You win some and you lose some. I can live with that. And I’m guessing, in the long run, so can the Mayor.
But the Governor and the Legislature are making an awfully big mistake if they insist on giving McGinn no political exit.