Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Seattle City Council's transportation committee, said today that he can't speak to the state's definitive study on the deep-bore tunnel at an upcoming Town Hall forum because "I have only read the first page."
He must be an awfully slow reader.
The state provided the city advance copies of the Supplement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which is hundreds of pages long, in the spring, again (in more complete form) in September, and (in final form) in October. The Stranger posted copies of a draft (obtained form a public records request) in July, fellow council member Mike O'Brien sent comments about that draft to all of his colleagues in mid-summer, and several groups have been sending letters to the entire city council about it since last winter. "Letters in the past year have been raising all of these issues, telling them what to watch out for," says People's Waterfront Coalition director Cary Moon. "It's unconscionable for him to pretend like he's not aware of the serious risks."
Among other impacts, the study outlines the transportation impacts on city streets, I-5, in the tunnel itself, and on transit. (It finds that only about one-third of viaduct traffic would take the tunnel and the remaining cars would clog city streets, particularly downtown.)
In other words, the SDEIS is the city's most singularly informative asset about its biggest transportation project, and Rasmussen—again, the transportation chair of the city council—hasn't read it. But he has, since it's been available, voted to pass a resolution to let the state build the tunnel and for the city to chip in $930 million.
"I haven't had a chance to read it yet and I won't have a chance until I get back from vacation," Rasmussen says. He's leaving for California next week and says he's been too preoccupied by the city budget and Metro funding to look at the state's tunnel study. When pressed on why he won't talk about the tunnel at Town Hall, he says, "I don't think I would be very informed."
"There are so many serious problems this generates for local access and mobility," says Moon. "Solving these problems should have been the priority for the past year when the problems were first raised."
Asked about the tolling study and the drafts in summer, Rasmussen said only, "The primary job is the state's to get comment in." But the city council must decide what to do with an estimated diversion of 65,000 cars a day mostly on city streets, right? After he gets back from vacation, "I'll begin my work on this," he says.
"My primary interest is to protect Seattle's interest," he adds.
"If this is his watching out for our interests, we're in deep shit," says Moon.