Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Governor ready to endorse a new viaduct?

The tunnel has already been declared dead once. Here come the obituaries again:
Sources say Gov. Christine Gregoire is preparing to endorse a larger new elevated viaduct regardless of what Seattle voters choose in a March 13 vote.


The news comes on the heels of an announcement by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that the mayor's four-lane "surface/hybrid" tunnel is unacceptable from a financial and safety viewpoint.

WSDOT's rushed analysis of the tunnel, released earlier today, found that the four-lane tunnel (with shoulders that could be converted to travel lanes at rush hour) would result in "unacceptable sight distances" and "does not meet the state's safety standards." Additionally, the four-lane tunnel would not "maintain vehicle capacity needs in 2030," WSDOT's overriding concern.
Reading this P-I article, it seems that safety is not nearly as important as maintaining capacity. That's the Department of Transportation's roads mindset on display for you. The horror of less pavement!

Frank Chopp, Judy Clibborn, and other influential lawmakers have already thrown their full weight behind the construction of a bigger, noisier, uglier viaduct (a regrettable decision that is extraordinarily unwise.) The Governor will be making a huge mistake if she follows suit. She pledged to listen to the people of Seattle - making an endorsement now would send the message her words were nothing more than an empty promise.

State leaders and bureaucrats are asking for a big, nasty storm of litigation if they attempt to force a new viaduct on the city of Seattle. Those who feel strongly that a new elevated highway is a disastrous mistake are not going to sit by idly and watch the state put one on the waterfront.

UPDATE: Indeed, here comes Gregoire saying the tunnel option is dead. She already said this before. Around and around in circles we go:
"I appreciate the value of the Seattle waterfront and recognize that the project design must be mindful of the principles of the community. Today we need to move forward with the one option that meets safety standards and is fiscally responsible: the elevated structure."

- Governor Christine Gregoire
Those two sentences don't belong in the same paragraph. It is impossible to have an attractive, people friendly waterfront when it is dominated by an ugly concrete monstrosity built to serve the automobile. Does the Governor need a civic planning lesson? It is imperative that we stop building urban infrastructure around cars! Insisting that highway capacity be preserved at all costs is irresponsible and does not demonstrate sound thinking.

Even if the Governor is not open to a surface/transit option, Speaker Chopp and other leads have indicated a willingness to seriously consider the idea. Given that so many other projects are needed and given the significant opposition to the tunnel, the surface/transit option may be the only feasible and realistic choice left.

A new viaduct is out of the question.

<< Home