Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on Initiative 912 (October 20th)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

For the last couple of months, we've been posting a picture or illustration here every week reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and destruction.

Kobe Earthquake: The Destroyed ExpresswayThe image to your right is a picture of the spectacular collapse of the Hanshin Expressway in Kobe, Japan. The expressway collapsed in 1995 when an earthquake struck, killing about 5,500 people and injuring over 26,000 others. The economic loss in the earthquake was over $200 billion dollars.

Liquefaction was a major cause of the massive damage that Kobe suffered. Earthquake liquefaction is the process by which saturated, unconsolidated soil or sand is converted into a suspension during an earthquake. "Liquefaction" essentially means that the soil is turned into a liquid.

The key ingredient is a formation of loose, saturated sand. Loose sand has usually been deposited gently underwater, either naturally, or sluiced into what is called hydraulic fill. The loose grains can support considerable weight, with the help of the water, which forms a good portion of the mass.

Once strong earthquake shaking begins, the grains are sheared into the more compact arrangement. The water, however, interferes, and the grains float in a liquid slurry. The excess water is squeezed out which causes the quicksand condition at the surface.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle is susceptible to the same tragedy that befell structures in San Francisco and Kobe. And it's not just the viaduct: other structures that are not up to recent seismic standards could also be destroyed in an earthquake.

Initiative proponents (notably Brett Bader) have scoffed at our concerns and accused us of trying to scare voters. Well, guess what? The threat is real. Other urban areas have neglected to fix the problem, and look what's happened. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kobe have all been hit by devastating earthquakes within the last twenty years.

We had an earthquake recently too - the 2001 Nisqually quake - but we got lucky. That doesn't usually happen. We cannot simply hope that we'll get lucky again. We must act before disaster strikes and Seattle becomes the next New Orleans.

Protect this investment in our future. Put Public Safety First. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

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