When I said that Mayor Mike McGinn should repeat this line as often as possible—"This tunnel will cost $2.8 billion, but will move fewer cars than the Ballard Bridge"—I heard privately from several politically involved people who didn't think the mayor could stay on message even if he wanted to.

Well, check McGinn out on Wednesday's Ask the Mayor show on the Seattle Channel. Host C.R. Douglas started right in with questions about the tunnel debate, and McGinn responded with an Al Gore style chart he just happened to have with him, showing the predicted usage and cost of three structures: The Ballard Bridge, the South Park Bridge, and the proposed deep bore tunnel.

McGinn: On message, and getting all Al Gore on tunnel proponents.
  • McGinn: On message, and getting all Al Gore on tunnel proponents.

The red line that shows the cost of the tunnel runs almost off the chart, but the black line showing its predicted usage sat well under the present usage for the little old Ballard Bridge, and just above the predicted usage for the fixed-up South Park bridge. Said McGinn, pointing to his chart:

What their own preliminary [tunnel] studies show is that when you do [the planned tolling], you have 41,000 cars a day using the tunnel. I just want to put that in perspective, and I brought a little graph here... So the deep bore tunnel, it'll move a few more cars than the South Park Bridge, and a lot less than the Ballard Bridge, and cost... a couple billion.