News Mar 9, 2011 at 4:00 am

Referendum to Put Tunnel on Ballot Raises Big Bucks


I am a grassroots citizen. I volunteered to help protect LGBT rights, and now I'm volunteering to help our environment and financial security by giving the people a voice.

Joni Balter works for a GOP-endorsing paper that opposes transit, this is all pretty much par for course for her.
Hate Joni, hate the tunnel, where do I sign?
That could probably pave a new viaduct with all the gravel in Joni's throat. If only her anger and rage could melt asphalt!
"Polling shows that most city residents oppose the tunnel."

Dominic: polling shows that most city residents oppose ALL options, though the tunnel is least opposed - and the surface - is most.

From Publicola on that poll you reference:

• Although most Seattle residents preferred the bored tunnel to the surface/transit option (69 percent vs. 27 percent) and a rebuilt viaduct, (67 percent vs. 28 percent), a majority said that if forced to choose between surface/transit and a rebuilt viaduct—the likely scenario if the state withdraws funding for the tunnel—they’d pick the rebuild: 51 percent said rebuild, compared to just 41 percent for surface/transit.

The truth is, the surface/transit option reduces downtown traffic more than the bored tunnel. The truth sounds counter-intuitive only because Seattle's authorities refuse to conduct a full and fair debate. The public is being misled by automobile-related business interests and react accordingly in polls and their vote.

The surface/transit option will reduce traffic congestion downtown, Lake Union, Denny Triangle and Queen Anne. Alaskan Way is expected to have 'nominally' more traffic than the bored tunnel, but with a better boulevard design that's now on SDOT drawing boards and includes streetcar transit, Alaskan Way too would have less traffic than the bored tunnel. That's the truth, you pitiful clueless losers.

Alaskan Way (with the surface/transit option) is expected to have 'nominally' (about 12%) more traffic than with the bored tunnel, but with a better boulevard design (than) what is now on SDOT drawing boards, and includes a streetcar line, Alaskan Way too would have less traffic than (with) the bored tunnel.

Clueless losers, bully unions and Uncle Toms aren't dutifully standing up for their right to know what their elected representatives are doing.
"There are better alternatives." Yes, a 4-lane surface boulevard with light rail between Ballard and West Seattle would be a better alternative. But guess what? There's no funding available for a serious surface/transit alternative. The state only has gas tax revenue available for the project (the state constitution restricts gas tax to "highway purposes") and even if those dollars weren't restricted, the state insists on building some sort of highway to replace the Viaduct. The inconvenient and unfortunate truth is that the state gets to make the decision, not the city.

So, if McGinn and O'Brien succeed in delaying the tunnel with this initiative, all they're going to accomplish is getting the state to cram a bigger, wider Viaduct rebuild down our throats. Or, some monster 6-lane waterfront freeway that fucks over Pioneer Square, the Waterfront, Pike Place Market and Downtown far more than the tunnel ever would.

"Delaying the tunnel with this initiative will only mean the state would build a bigger, wider viaduct, or some monster 6-lane waterfront freeway that fux Pioneer Square, the Waterfront and Downtown far more than the tunnel ever would." TranspoGuy.

This is BS. An Alaskan Way surface route would remain SR99 and qualify for state funding. Even with the planned 17-20 stoplights, it's still a State Route highway.

A 4-lane Alaskan Way is possible (instead of a 6-lane version) and does not rule out the Cut/cover tunnel depicted in the DEIS eventually or while rebuilding the seawall.

Hey Wells aka Art Lewellan who lives in Portland. You sure do spend an inordinante amount of time worrying about Seattle issues.

How about dealing with Portland's problems, you konw like your pedophile mayor?
Wells: Just because the state could spend gas tax dollars on a surface boulevard doesn't mean they will. The reality is they won't because they don't want to. The state can do whatever it wants on their right of way. And they've made it quite clear they want a limited access highway, not a boulevard. That they're willing to build a tunnel is really a compromise with city's desire to open up the waterfront. If delay by the city causes the tunnel to become too expensive, they'll just shove a rebuild or surface highway down our throats.
Fact: cost is an unknown.
Fact: capacity is a problem.
Fact: no downtown exits.
Fact: cost overruns are not planned for.
Fact: we never voted for this.

Anything else anyone needs to know? I don't get why the handwringing. If you're confident this is the best solution, put it to a vote and own it.
Fact: cost is an unknown.
Fact: capacity is a problem.
Fact: no downtown exits.
Fact: cost overruns are not planned for.
Fact: we never voted for this.

Anything else anyone needs to know? I don't get why the handwringing. If you're confident this is the best solution, put it to a vote and own it.

How about injecting a little personal responsibility in this. The elected reps that are so sure this is a good idea should bear some if this goes south. I want them all to pledge 50% of their worth if anything goes wrong. Do you think they will support it? Just wondering.
me thinks the referendum supporters are a little desperate.

Why does everyone pretend that a city referendum about the extent of city participation in the state project will actually stop this state project?

Time to get real and accept the fact that this project is and will move forward. This is one Seattle resident who supports the tunnel project.(most city residents do) It is the only realistic solution that combines the tunnel for bypass traffic with surface improvements.
Surface only is a pipe-dream and disaster. And there is no way a taller and wider viaduct will ever be built on our waterfront.
Sorry Dozer,
your type of thinking would mean no mega project would ever get done. What ever happened to American exceptionalism and doing the big things?
As for your other points:
Fact: cost is an unknown.
in fact the project is in the design stage with a pretty good estimate system in place. The state has signed a contract with a contractor that gave a bid for the work. They will be held to that bid, and work will be covered by unprecidented insurance policies. So what is so scary here?
Fact: capacity is a problem.
in fact capacity is not a problem. The new tunnel is so much better than the Battery Street tunnel. Why do opponents "forget" to mention this fact?
Fact: no downtown exits.
in fact there is a great downtown exit at the stadiums, only 12 blocks from the Seneca Steet exit. Vehicles may disperse among several options including a great connection to Alaskan Way, 4th Ave, 1st ave, etc. And don't forget about the exit at the north end of the tunnel.
Fact: cost overruns are not planned for.
in fact they are. It is called the contingency fund. I suggest looking at the project information.
Fact: we never voted for this
this is funny. So we need to vote for everything now? What do we elect representatives for? Regardless I am good with a vote because most Seattle residents support the project and then just maybe the people that didn't get their way will finally accept the fact that this project is happening.
I say if Seattle throws the tunnel out the window that they had all but forced the state into doing for them after years of bickering, then the state should just take the money somewhere will it will be appreciated, or better yet tare down the viaduct and replace it with a new elevated freeway, downtown exit problems solved, capacity issue solved, and funding issues solved as the state has the money to cover that and unexpected expenses are so much lower on that option. Maybe then Seattle would learn to stop dragging its dang feet and demanding the rest of the state put up with it's flipping hissy fits.
It's like the folks complaining about Seattle not being "Real America" with regards to elections where, you know, majority rules. I'm sure that folks out in Yakima or living out in Moses Lake think they're more important...but, well, aren't they against people giving special favors to minorities?
Tunnel Supporters Get Desperate

Really? By "Supporters" you mean "a single writer for a competing paper" and by "Desperate" you mean "holds a similarly incoherent but different idea then I do"?

Referendum to Put Tunnel on Ballot Raises Big Bucks

Was there actually a dollar amount? Because outside of a few contribution amounts there wasn't any support for the bi-line "big bucks."
I'm saddened/amused (there should be a word for this) that the same people who wailed and gnashed their teeth over the constant law suits to stop/delay Light Rail, which ended up happening anyway, but at a significantly higher cost, are supporting the same tactics against a tunnel that will enforce reduced capacity (less cars is good, right?) and open up the Seattle waterfront (Open space is also good, right?).

The tactic of delaying and holding up construction seems like a self fulfilling prophecy to ending up paying for cost over runs.

But then again, what do I know, I'm just a project manager for civil engineer projects, not a writer for some hip weekly.
@ Seattleisagreatcity
I am all for American exceptionalism, where it won't bankrupt us if done with poor planning, as this tunnel project is. Let's go through your points and lay them out a bit in order to suss out the bullshit.

Fact: cost is an unknown. You state that the project is backed by an estimate with unprecidented (sp) insurance policies. In fact the word "estimate" should have prevented you from continuing to type. Estimate, by the very definition of the word is, and I quote: "forming an approximate judgment or opinion regarding the worth, etc etc." No matter your assertion of unprecedented insurance policies, it remains an estimate. And every developer wort their salt will put in place assumptions that will cover them in case of overruns. Face it. Cost is an unknown. Let's move on.

Fact: Capacity is a problem. Yes, the Battery Street tunnel is less capacious, because CARS HAVE THE OPTION TO EXIT AT SENECA AND WESTERN. Why do the tunnel supporters "forget" to mention this?

Fact: No Downtown exits. Last I checked there are no downtown exits. The lame mention of stadiums exit or South Lake Union exit is conveniently overlooking the fact that they in fact are NOT downtown. 12 blocks away in high traffic might as well be Bellevue. Ridiculous. Point shot down. Next.

Fact: Cost overruns are not planned for. Quote: "The tunnel is expected to cost nearly $2 billion to construct. But a consultant for the Seattle City Council says there's a 40 percent likelihood it'll cost more than that." (…) Now, in the same article, at the end, there is mention of the contingency funding. It's this: "The state has a risk contingency plan for cost overruns with the tunnel. It's believed to be somewhere between $200 million to $400 million, depending on the bid amounts of the project." Are you willing to gamble with a 40% probability on an insufficient contingency fund? Oh wait, don't answer that, it clearly shows you are. Which makes you either a willingly uninformed party or an plain uninformed party.

Which is why we actually DO need to vote on this. And yes. We should vote on things. If it means putting the brakes on something that could bankrupt the region I am all for it. And it sounds to me like you are engaging in some heavy duty wishful thinking about this project happening. Maybe we should all wait a bit and see about that.
The tunnel is just a land grab for developers. They want the viaduct land to build big hotels, condos, and shopping. They will leave maybe some token open space, but that is it. The waterfront will be a expensive eye sore for tourists. I would not want to be in the tunnel during an earthquake or tsunami. I would rather take my chances above ground. It will carry less traffic and no exits downtown. I do not want to get off at the stadiums and have to back track thru event traffic to get where I want to go. If we want to be fiscally responsible we should take the least expensive option and do it. I love traveling the viaduct and looking out at Elliott Bay. I will never get to do that again when I am stuck in the tunnel with no exits during rush hour or when there is an accident. Oh, did I forget to mention there will be a toll to use it also.
Also, it's not like there's no model for a successful waterfront / viaduct teardown. All you have to do is look at San Francisco. It works. But hey, will this option better for waterfront land developers than a tunnel? Of course not. So guess what's the option we are not hearing about at all? Or when we do it's dismisses quickly and without discussion? You guessed it. Teardown / surface boulevard option.

Hooray! Let's dig ourselves into a hole literally and financially.
Seattle is a great city-
We did have a vote idiot and the tunnel was overwhelmingly defeated. As always the city council does as it pleases and over time the sheep in this city follow.
As a former AWV project sufferer of many years (since moved on to another project/state), I I have to say that the citizens of Seattle should be very wary of the deep bored tunnel project. The taxpayers of Washington should be even more wary.

The project is a wasteful train-wreck that has been grinding its way to nowhere for years. I have yet to see the public compare cost of the project to date against the amount of money required to simply rebuild a nice aerial structure along the waterfront. The aerial option in the EIS is the worst of the batch studied; it was likely included to slant public opinion against aerial solutions.

Someone might want to ask what happened to the other viaduct replacement options that were studied and then buried (some are quite nice). It would also be useful to ask how much of the "contingency" is still left after paying incentives to bidders. While folks are at it, they may as well demand a full audit of the project to see how their money is really being spent....and who's pocket the money is being transferred to.

The public is within their rights to demand transparency on this project. There is a lot of cash at stake. Public disclosure requests are your friend; use them.
Whatever happened to walking?Shouldn't they be discouraging commuting?The Greenhouse Effect,anybody?
Seattle is going to pay for 100 years.
All this talk of 'World Class City'.
Kids, it's a whopping 600,000 people.
Paris is 11,000,000.

See? Not enough money, but go ahead.

Please wait...

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