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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Open Letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire

Following our Viaduct Hazard Demonstration in Seattle this morning, we have sent the following letter to Governor Christine Gregoire, urging the State of Washington to warn motorists about the danger of driving on the state’s unsafe roadways.

The threat to public safety in Washington State is very real. Our state is susceptible to earthquakes, lahars, storms, tsunamis, and other potential disasters which could wipe out our transportation network.

It’s time to invest now in the future of our transportation infrastructure and make public safety a priority. We need safe roads and bridges to drive and transport goods on. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

The Governor and state legislators have recognized the severity of this problem and have acted. Now it is time for the voters of Washington State to say NO to Initiative 912 and send a message to Olympia affirming the need to invest in the future.

The letter is as follows:

Governor Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

CC: Transportation Secretary MacDonald
CC: Washington State media outlets

October 26th, 2005

Dear Governor Gregoire,

As voters head to the polls to decide the fate of the state transportation improvement package passed by the Legislature last spring, they have been subjected to a lot of misinformation regarding the deteriorating condition of our state's crumbling infrastructure.

Proponents of I-912, which would repeal the gas tax adjustment that funds these necessary improvements, argue that structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct are in fact safe, and that the need for replacement has been overstated. Yet these assurances are directly contradicted by expert testimony:

“It’s not a little problem, it’s not a maybe problem ... the viaduct is just a question of when. If you’re on the lower level when it goes down, you’re dead.”
-- Mark Hallenbeck, Dir. WA State Transportation Ctr., University of Washington

“It’s way cheaper to fix it now when you’re not removing crushed beams and dead bodies.”
-- WA State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald

“Our best advice is to get off it five minutes before the next quake.”
-- WSDOT spokeswoman Linda Mullen

“Every reader of the Bible should remember: The time to build the ark is before the flood.”
-- Rev. John Boonstra, Washington Association of Churches

“There’s no question in my mind — you’re either going to fix it or somebody’s going to die.”
-- Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire

Given the powerful testimony of transportation experts and other leaders, backed up by engineering reports from WSDOT and outside firms, we believe the public deserves to be fully informed about the true hazards of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other dangerous structures statewide.

That is why we are writing today to urge you to post appropriate "Warning" signs along the length of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other hazardous structures, informing motorists of the imminent danger in the event of a moderate earthquake.

Should I-912 pass at the polls, thus indefinitely postponing critically need replacement or repair, we also urge you to instruct WSDOT to shut down to public access those structures deemed unlikely to survive another earthquake with the same magnitude of the Nisqually quake or even greater.

It is unconscionable and immoral to continue to expose the motorists to such well-documented public safety hazards, without at least providing proper notice.

We thank you for your time and consideration, and look forward to working with your administration to help address the state's critical transportation priorities.


The Concerned Citizens of Washington Defense

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