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.
World Class Cynic spews:
If “tunnel lite” was such a great idea, why didn’t Nickels run with it in the first place? Do you really think that a tunnel would be any more immune from cost overruns than a viaduct?
Governor Gregoire is blowing by the bureaucracy. Your problem is that you don’t like the plan she came up with. Your problem is that she quite properly doesn’t think that state transportation interests — remember, Seattle is the economic engine of this state — should be hijacked just because a handful of developers who want to buy bigger yachts.
The dishonesty has come mostly from the viaduct haters, who have had six years to come up with a plan and a way to pay for it, and they’ve completely failed. In fact, they’re madly hopping from plan to plan (Tunnel! No, tunnel lite! No, surface + transit!) like a baseball manager subbing in pinch-hitters in the ninth inning of a 12-3 loss.
I was mixed on this issue, but I’m really, really, really hoping Seattle voters shut everyone up by voting yes on the viaduct.
David Sucher spews:
Oh poor baby. So your precious Tunnel (which you cannot afford) wasn’t studied fairly. Well neither was the Repair or the Bay Bridge or the Surface/Transit option, either.
One report out of how many other reports?
Is this the only report that DOT cranked out? It is not. Do you, or the Times, cite any conflicting or mitigating information that would have induced DOT not to release this report? You do not, and the Times does not either.
Does that mean there was no conflicting information? It does not. This report, or at least what the Times says is in it, confirms what you want to hear, so you’re already waving your arms about calling bullshit.
In fact, down at the bottom of the Times story is this disclaimer:
“But, the report cautions, ‘because of the short time frame, the Project Team was not able to produce definitive conclusions as to either the feasibility or the cost of the City’s proposal.’ ”
No definitive conclusions. You got nothing, Will. This is not good reporting. It is not good blogging. It is not even good advocacy journalism. It is Erica C. Barnett-class bullshit.
How big is that chip on your shoulder?
I don’t mind when people disagree with me. People disagree with me all the time. And they use hateful language in expressing it. That’s the nature of HA’s comment threads, and that’s fine.
But I do mind when people consistently misrepresent my views no matter how many times I correct them.
Will and I are not “pro-tunnel”. Never have been. We’re anti-rebuild. From the moment I started writing on this issue I said that if the money could be found, a tunnel was by far the better alternative to a rebuild. Nobody in their right mind should want a massive, double-decker freeway running through our downtown waterfront. And over time, as I’ve come to understand the issue better, I’ve come to question the necessity of a freeway at all, and have frequently argued for serious consideration of the surface option. Hell, I’ve even posted in favor of a retrofit, if it made economic sense, if only to give us a enough time to make a proper decision.
And from our conversations, I’m pretty sure Will and I share similar positions on the Viaduct.
And yet, you continue to angrily accuse us of being unthinking tools of the pro-tunnel forces. What gives? Why can’t you just accept that our position is what we say it is?
Facts Support My Positions spews:
Screw the tunnel. First, use the money to start taking care of our troops…..
Join the Army. You can get used as a political pawn for the president’s powergrab.
You can spend 5 tours in a dusty sh*thole. When you come back missing a few limbs, you can get treated in Walter Reed, and if you are lucky, you can get a room not knee deep in rat sh*t.
Of course, if you need a job, because of the trauma you lived with every day for months, many employers pass you over….
Does serving your country really mean defending Bush’s political career, and oil company, and defense contractors profits, by making America more hated worldwide?
Oh, by the way, I heard a Washington State Congressman at the crab feed Monday say there is no money for “infrastructure” left. Much less anything else.
Laurence Ballard spews:
National distinctions are clearer; as an unabashed Washington nativist and political independent, when it comes to talking real money and politics at the state and local level, the current crop of Democrats and Republicans are Tweedle-dee and dum.
Give me a Gov. Evans, any day.
Gov. Evans opposes a rebuild. (Or at least, that’s what Gov. Locke told me.)
Laurence Ballard spews:
So do I.
harry tuttle spews:
This person has nailed the crux of the problem, that is, the arrogance of downtown/Belltown:
“In 30-40 years when we might have adequate public rail infrastructure for hauling people, then I’ll be willing to consider taking out one of the two through north/south roads so Josh and Erica in their old age can walk their dog/cat/iguana along the fancy waterfront designed by Charles with the cute 8 year old skateboarder in the fancy hipster pictures put up by Cary Moon’s minions.”
The disruption represented by seven to nine years without the traffic capacity of the current AWV alone is a reason to “Repair and Prepare”.
Right Stuff spews:
For those who question the need for the viaduct.
Here is a portion of an article that ran March 1, 2001 in the Seattle Times.
“From the March 1 Seattle Times
“Closing the heavily traveled Viaduct made the Thursday morning commute from West Seattle to downtown a 1 ½ to 2 hour nightmare. Before the reopening was announced, one veteran traffic reporter was recommending that afternoon commuters “leave incredibly early, allow a ton of extra time, treat each other with kindness and keep their radios turned on.”
The surface and transit option should be considered dead.
I don’t think traffic on AWV has lessened since 2001. If anything it has increased. Where will all the cars go?
Now, Tunnel Light? please… Digging a big hole and only putting in a roadway that carries the same capacity as the current AWV seems crazy. For the tunnel, it should be all or NADA.
On a side note.
It is clear now that Goldy is Roger is Goldy. Amazingly, as soon as Goldy was off traveling to FL. Roger dissapeared. No posts. Then suddenly, as soon as Goldy posts? bammo there is Roger. I have been suspicious…now I am convinced.
Going back over days and weeks, I can’t hardly find an hour, let alone days that Roger hasn’t posted. Just when Goldy was traveling and not posting……
Right Stuff spews:
My only question now is determining how many other “names” Goldstein is posting under…..
I know there are more.
harry tuttle spews:
Are you saying the monstrosity pictured here last week is our only option? Aside from the aesthetic consideration, it will take away the traffic capacity for about the same period as the tunnel.
A better plan than those officially proposed has to emerge. Until the, do no harm.
One thing I find interesting is, where’s McDermott on all of this? The guy’s been in Congress for 30? years and he can’t bring any money from the Feds?
In the last Federal Transportation Bill, McDermott was able to secure several million dollars. Not very much, that’s true, but that was back when the GOP held the House.
Rep. McDermott is actually in favor of the “surface plus transit” option.
Right Stuff spews:
No, the covered structure makes as much sense as the surface and gridlock option.
I believe the new elevated structure will look very much like the current one. Wider but mostly the same.
And you are right that during construction there will be serious traffic problems, further proving that the surface option is DOA.
Right Stuff spews:
you said “Rep. McDermott is actually in favor of the “surface plus transit” option”
This is from Mcdermott’s own website.
“The Alaska Viaduct isn’t just a roadway. It’s the highway that will connect Seattle’s economic future. It’s must be safe, reliable, and replaced as soon as possible,” McDermott said.”
So is it the highway that will connect Seattle’s economic future? or Something that needs to be torn down to beautify the waterfront?
harry tuttle spews:
They’re both double-deck structures, but they don’t look very much alike, to me.
Right Stuff spews:
@17 I don’t think that is an actual or official representation of what the new elevated AWV will look like.
More likely, a spoof by the surface and gridlock group.
McD did a QnA at The Stranger in which he was asked if he supported the “surface plus transit”. He said he supports it. I’ll link ot it when my computer isn’t so g-ddamn slow.
Harry Tuttle spews:
Hmmm, how about it, Goldy. Is the artists concept proportionally correct?
I still find it incredible that a state which “cannot find the money” to build a tunnel is apparantly seriously considering using upwards of half a billion dollars to build a new Sonics arena in Renton (which fans will have to pay upwards of $70 each to use for a few hours at a time). PLUS a NASCAR track in Kitsap county (which makes NO sense, considering the lack of roads & hotels there), as well as other sports arenas around the state (hey, can’t leave out Eastern Washington, can we?).
Look, if its only a money issue, then contininue soaking the visiters with a hotel/restaurant/car rental tax into the next century, but use it to build a tunnel instead of a new viaduct, and while you are at it put in an incline railway/trolly between Pike Place Market and the waterfront, to make it easier for tourists to spend money at both locations. That way you can justify the financing by saying its all going to be paid by out-of-towners, anyway. Hey, if it works for the Sonics, why wouldn’t it work for the Tunnel, too?
(P.S. – be sure to eliminate the mid-town entrances/exits to save money and free of the shoulders for breakdowns and emergency vehicles, like we discussed before).
Look, even if we cave in to the Sonics and build the new arena at taxpayer expense in Renton, they are going to threaten to move anyway in about ten years, leaving us with two empty arenas in the region, one located in Renton and the other at the Seattle Center.
Yet whatever we build on the waterfront will be there for the next 75 to 100 years.
Build the Viaduct right. As for the Sonics, tell them – “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.
Right Stuff spews:
Question that needs to be asked.
If the six lane Tunnel/elevated structure has been designed for future capacity needs, why is a tunnel light even on the table?
If Tunnel light was such a good idea, why wasn’t THAT proposed initially?
Becuase while it doesn’t meet the capacity needs for the future, it does beautify the waterfront, increase the property values of a few rich owners, and provide a legacy for Nickels. None of which are legit reasons to further gridlock the region..
Harry Tuttle spews:
I think the situation is getting beyond the current elevated/tunnel/surface frame. The question now is: are ANY of the proposed “solutions” taking into account the reality of peak oil and global warming?
The viaduct can be fixed well enough to allow it to be the alternaste N/S artery for long enough to design and implement alternatives.
If it turns out to be a tunnel, it better have room for train tracks down the center. Maybe tracks and trucks will be all that goes through a tunnel. The “on and off ramps” will be a passenger station at the foot of University.
It almost certainly won’t be an elevated freeway, because much of the current traffic has to go by mass transit in the future.
If it is to be surface only, where will the trains run?
Harry Tuttle spews:
the word above should be alternate.
23: A six-lane, or even a ten-lane tunnel is not going to substantially effect future capacity requirements in the area. Seattle sits in a natural bottleneck, and there just isn’t room for increasing highway capacity by increasing the number of lanes.
A lot of the problem stems from the 1950’s era design of the region’s interstate highway system. At that time, federal authorities considered Seattle a “dead end” terminus of the highway system. Seattle was a relatively small city, its main products either flew away upon completion of manufacture, or were transported by boat or rail (timber). It just wasn’t expected that I-5 would handle much more than local traffic, or traffic which was originating/terminating in Seattle. You can see it in the fact that in the center of Seattle,only a couple of lanes each way are really “through” lanes. “After all,” federal highway officials thought, “how many people really traveled to or from Canada?”
But that was before Boeing built the Everett plant to produce it’s new 747 in the late 1960’s. Boeing was threatening to build that aircraft in Wichita, so the state of Washington (plus the Federal Government) agreed to extend I-5 beyond Everett, with a spur (Hwy 526) which went directly from I-5 to the Boeing/Everett plant.
In the mid-1970’s I-405 was completed to bypass what was by then already very congested conditions on I-5 (well, at least during rush hour). But for quite a few years, you could travel on I-405 with virtually empty freeway all around you. The explosion of the Eastside communities changed all that, as Microsoft and other tech businesses located to the Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland, and it became a favorite residence for lots of the more wealthy or asian immigrants (Korean/Japanese). And then there was NAFTA, and even before then there was a substantial increase in cross-border trade which had semi-trucks going right through Seattle to points north or south of the city.
So in the meantime, Seattle is still trying to get the state to approve some kind of mass transit plan, ANY kind of mass transit plan, but disputes over the shape and nature of the plan keep postponing its implementation for decades. What was originally conceived as a system of bringing people from bedroom communities in and out of the Downtown Seattle corrider has become quite a bit more complicated, as population has spread out considerably to the East, North, and South. Originally the problem was how to get people from Northgate/Shoreline areas into downtown Seattle and back, but now people are commuting from Arlington in the North, and Carnation/Federal Way in the South. Also, the Eastside commute is no longer a one-way problem – now more people who live in Seattle are commuting to Redmond to work, rather than the other way around.
In the meantime, Seattle has no more “buildable” space, it is going “up” rather than “out”. You can see it in the number of condos going up now. As density increases, we have other problems – where do we put the cars (in underground garages?) And where do these people work, and how do they get there? If we have eighty people and thirty cars occupying twenty condos on the same 1/4 acre lot which previously housed four people and two cars – where are we going to put the other 28 cars – on the street?
The tunnel is not a long-term solution to Seattle’s transit problems, any more than a re-built Viaduct is, or even the “surface” option. It only keeps the problem from getting worse than it already is, using current traffic volumes. To solve future capacity problems, Seattle has no choice but to have a regional mass-transit system of some sort.
By the way, I’m at the point where I’d like the State to hire an official from Japan and appoint him as the “transit czar”. Tell him to build a system which will work, impose the taxes to finance it, and not to let us (particularly the politicians) interefere in any way. Give him/her five years to complete it.
I’ve spent some time on business trips to Japan, and you have to admit that they know how to move a lot of people very efficiently, with minimal use of private automobiles. After all, owning a car is VERY expensive in Japan, just the cost of renting space to park it overnight is out of the reach of most people. The one thing I don’t like there is that every highway is a toll highway, and you have to stop and pay a toll every few miles.
eponymous coward spews:
rhp6033, thanks, that’s COMPLETELY the right idea. Mass transit is going to make Seattle liveable 50 years from now as an urban center.
Ira Sacharoff spews:
We don’t need to go to Japan to find a transit czar. I’m sure I could do a credible job…seems to me that both Nickels and Gregoire have dug themselves into their respective positions pretty deep, which is too bad because a need for compromise is certainly in order. I think most people are both anti tunnel and anti rebuild. ( And I think the vote will reflect this.)
But if it’s not going to be a tunnel, and not going to be a rebuild, what next?
1. Bay bridge has been done in other places, and at less cost. Maybe cool jets for a bit and study this one a little more, by independent, impartial parties.
2. How about a surface/transit scenario where there is an express two lanes with fewer lights for carpools, buses, and freight. In addition, extend the streetcar to West Seattle.
Single occupancy, non freight vehicles don’t need to be catered to. They can move slowly along Alaskan Way, or go to another street. This would give people the incentive to carpool or take transit. Just as transit and light rail don’t eliminate congestion, it gives people a choice to not sit in this traffic.