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.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Seattle Times discovers yet another reason to support the Alaskan Way Tunnel

Yesterday the Seattle Times published an article by reporter Mike Lindblom which noted that a rebuilt version of the Alaskan Way Viaduct would be 50 percent wider than the current structure.

Viaduct ComparisonNPI opposes the construction of a new viaduct for multiple reasons - primarily because it isn't the safest option, but also because it would be another ugly eyesore and a barrier to making the city a better place.

As Allied Arts Waterfront Committee chair Sally Bagshaw noted, "The aerial structure itself is absolutely not an acceptable option. It will kill the waterfront for the next 75 years."

Lindblom discovered that several legislators who are pushing for the state to abandon the tunnel and focus on the unfeasible "rebuild" option were unaware that a new viaduct would be a lot wider:
Asked about size last week, Reps. Helen Sommers and Mary Lou Dickerson, both anti-tunnel Democrats from North Seattle, thought a new aerial highway would leave the same footprint as the 1952 version. Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a tunnel supporter and House Transportation Committee chairman, knew the rebuild would be bigger. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, had no idea.

"It certainly couldn't be any uglier," she said.
Here's why a new viaduct would be so much wider:
  • Columns would be 8-foot-wide cylinders, to withstand the worst expected earthquake in 2,500 years, project manager Ron Paananen said. The current viaduct has 4-foot-by-5-foot rectangular supports.
  • New shoulders would allow cars to pull off the highway, which is impossible now — as seen on Friday morning, when a truck had a flat near Pioneer Square and slowed morning traffic.
  • Traffic lanes would be 12 feet wide. On the current viaduct, some are 10 feet or leaner, so trucks and buses can't fit into them.
As I wrote last Friday, replacing the current viaduct with a tunnel is a sensible investment:
A tunnel would be safer, allow the waterfront to be revitalized, and would take less time to construct then the "rebuild" option. It would also be cleaner, with less air and water pollution.
Seattle has a golden opportunity to redefine the waterfront and build a safe aterial for transportation at the same time. It's nice to see that Mayor Greg Nickels and his administration have recognized this and are continuing to work hard to make the Alaskan Way Tunnel a reality.

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