From today’s Seattle Times:
A previously unreleased report shows that when the state’s Alaskan Way Viaduct project team examined a four-lane-tunnel concept in January, the group thought the tunnel could handle the expected traffic.
Since then, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) reversed course, concluding Feb. 13 that the option nicknamed “Tunnel Lite” — in which cars would use the shoulders as exit-only lanes at peak times — would be unsafe. Gov. Christine Gregoire promptly declared she would only support a $2.8 billion six-lane elevated highway.
The State of Washington studied the Hybrid Tunnel January 8th through the 12th, 2007. They looked at several elements of the plan: cost, capacity, the “flex” lane, the tunnel’s shoulders, freight mobility, and more. The Hybrid Tunnel, the City of Seattle’s official choice for replacing the Viaduct, was to be included on the March 13th ballot. The 50 page study produced showed the Hybrid Tunnel to be not only cheaper than the original tunnel proposal but technically feasible in every respect.
But on January 12th, Governor Gregoire stopped the study.
On February 13th, WSDOT flip flopped, and declared the Hybrid Tunnel unsafe.
While I have not favored building a tunnel on the waterfront for some time, this news strikes me as being incredibly unfair and dishonest. WSDOT, including Doug MacDonald and David Dye, appear to have disregarded the facts with which they don’t agree in favor of facts that fit their goals: building an elevated freeway on the waterfront.
These revelations show that the tunnel never got a fair shake, and it gives me every reason to believe that the ‘surface plus transit’ plan will never get the fair shake either.
If a workable $3.4 Billion Hybrid Tunnel is rejected in favor of a Frank Chopp Fantasy Viaduct, the price of which could easily exceed $3.4 Billion, can Gregoire, Chopp, and other legislators honestly say with a straight face that a “rebuild” is any more financially viable than a hybrid tunnel? Gov. Gregoire demanded that the public have a vote on what is built; she said such a decision should be made by Seattle voters. From that moment on, the State of Washington has done everything it can to rig this March 13th vote.
Seattle voters have been told that no matter which way we vote, the “rebuild” is the winner. Legislators have told Seattle voters that they’ll lose funding if they go with the “surface plus transit” option. Speaker Frank Chopp has declared that he’ll ignore the March 13th vote if Seattle chooses a tunnel. It is political theater that is being staged at Seattle’s expense.
In 2004, Governor Gregoire promised, if elected, that she would “blow past the bureaucracy.” She should start now.