Comments

1
People support the tunnel because it's convenient. Proponents have oversold how awesome it will be and have made little secret of their efforts to scare drivers in this region with visions of clogged streets and forced transit ridership.

It's one reason tunnel proponents are so hesitant to improve funding for transit -- not because it digs into their cost, but because it could easily be interpreted as "forcing" some users of the tunnel onto transit, especially in light of the intent to toll the structure.
2
Jesus fucking God, if I hear one more word about "park space" or for chrissakes, "greater variety of wildlife" I'm going to spew like a Japanese reactor.

The thing is RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN.

What regional planning needs to be focusing on is preserving a greater variety of wildlife in the places where it is being destroyed more rapidly than you can imagine: in the exurbs. NOT DOWNTOWN.

The other examples are simply stupid -- there is simply nothing remotely similar about the SF and NY examples. And while the Portland example is vaguely similar, it too presumes that the waterfront is merely pretty and serves no commercialized urban function. Just a park. Useless ground.

But our waterfront isn't useless. There's NINE MILLION ferry boardings a year there, for starters. It's not a goddamned park.

If you want to talk about traffic capacity and so on, do so, but please stop pretending that downtown is or should be a pristine wilderness. It's ANTI-URBAN, and in being anti-urban it is in fact anti-nature. It's ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORISM. Because that nature is disappearing elsewhere. We should be cramming that area as full of urbanism as we possibly can, not restoring goddamn "streams" that haven't been there for over a century.
3
Fnarf, I don't advocate anywhere there for a park. I would like to see that land, ideally, go to high density development, and second a boulevard. The rest of your comment is based on an invalid premise.
4
The referendum "sets things right" how, exactly?.
5
"Seattle Doesn't Need to Rebuild a Highway"

Which highway are you referring to, the tunnel, the rebuilt viaduct, or the 6-lane waterfront highway with a 30mph speed limit that is proposed by the surface option?
6
So Ben, the tunnel, which will run entirely through downtown Seattle, will "cause sprawl by extending cars' reach"?
7
I always thought fat and isolated from one another was the American dream.
8
ian - yes. Let's say I have a commuter who lives in Burien and works in Northgate. The same way widening 509 induces sprawl for his commute, so does building a bypass of downtown, because they're both part of the same commute.
9
ian again - the referendum is a step on the path to getting a surface/transit option rather than a new highway.

seandr - Seattle doesn't need to replace the current elevated structure with either a tunnel or an elevated structure. A 30mph surface street is a good choice by scaling back the subsidy we offer to cars.
10
@3, you gave us several examples that all involved parks. Portland - park. Seoul - park. My flashpoint phrases are taken from your article. If you want dense development you should have said so.

It's not the tunnel I'm supporting here; it's CITY. Note that the tunnel advocates have just hired the most expensive architects in the world to design a, yes, park on top of it. I personally love every inch of the viaduct, but if you tear it down and build dense development? Bring it on.

Though I am less than sanguine about the ability of modern architects and developers to build good urbanist density, given their 0% success rate in other projects. "Dense development" in Seattle's going to mean a waterfront that looks like a two-mile-long Pacific Place mall. But that's just me being pessimistic.

Just don't come out with any "park" justifications. That's my detonator.
11
@1: Baconcat, dude, don't pull your punches.

The truth is, tunnel proponents have no moral compass, no shame. Most of them aren't even from Seattle, but were moved here by the oil companies!

They kick cats. They litter. They make no effort to suppress their farts. They wear too much makeup. They neglect to take off their shoes when they enter your house. The husbands beat their wives, the wives beat their husbands, and everyone beats their kids. They'd eat human flesh if the price was right and they could get away with it.
12
Ben, in three words you convinced me to be pro highway, pro tunnel, and pro viaduct every time. Those three words? Increased Real Estate Value.

What you want to do is better for people rich enough to buy homes and telecommute and dicks over the already-struggling everybody else. Unlike NYC or SF, we don't have rent control. And, the rents here are already getting high unless you want to live somewhere that's an hour+ away by bus from anything nightlifey.

Basically, Ben. Fuck you. I can't afford to buy in Seattle's already inflated housing market, and if rents keep going up without salary increases, I won't be able to rent here either.
13
Fnarf, I've been supporting density for the better part of a decade. Ever read Seattle Transit Blog? I have no interest in a park - Jane Jacobs made great points about parks being amplifiers, not positive on their own, but only able to make a good place better or a bad place worse. It doesn't make sense to put a park on the waterfront, it makes sense to build a bunch of buildings (and put a nice streetcar there to get people to and from).
14
Those who sold their souls to the Tunnel of Doom only got the ashy taste of death as their reward.
15
I would buy this argument if Seattle voters didn't seem opposed to expanding high speed mass transit in a reasonable time frame. I'd rather take a DC or Chicago style train system any day, but since you didn't take the free system that was offered to you by the Feds in the 70's (no thanks, give it to miami instead), it seems that we're going to need cars until a reasonable system is in place.

16
The viaduct is the most efficient link between the west sides of north and south Seattle. While "Many of the people who had used these highways switched to taking transit, or picked a closer destination instead" may have worked in some cases, the substitute transit options in Seattle are currently grim. If I "switch to taking transit", the 15 minute drive that I frequently take along the viaduct becomes 45 minutes on the bus, plus another 15 minutes of walking and waiting, making 2 hours round trip. In addition, a significant fraction of the trips on the viaduct are people moving from one in-city location to another in-city location, which is not a situation that is increasing sprawl.

If we'd built the monorail, I might have felt differently.
17
Fnarf, I'm sure you must be familiar with the Tiergarten. Just because Seattle's downtown wasn't originally planned with any green space doesn't mean green space is inappropriate for a city center.
18
TheMisanthrope:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexcha…

Every time we push against development because it "makes people richer", we make the city unaffordable.

If you want the city to be affordable, fight for more construction. If you want to shoot yourself in the foot, fight developers.
19
@12, you should probably move.
20
SEATTLE HAS NO VIABLE MASS TRANSIT. kcmetro buses are unreliable at best. other cities with fantastic rail and subway systems may do well without a freeway; seattle has no other option.
21
whiskeypony and Chris Jury:

Highways, like this one, kill prospects of mass transit, by making people uninterested in improving the transportation network. When I can drive 60 from place to place in the city, it's hard to get activists to come together and demand light rail.

The reason we don't have subways in Seattle today is that we built highways and grew outward instead of upward as a result. Continuing down this path and building new car infrastructure will KEEP us from getting mass transit. I understand mass transit issues very, very well, and this campaign is a necessary step on the path to getting light rail (or monorail) to ballard and west seattle.
22
@12: If it's too expensive, you can always move back to the midwest. :)

@20: Then let's build more!
23
So, if all of this is true, and a strong majority agree that there are corresponding positive impacts to removing highways, why such a limited initiative? Why not fully leverage all this righteous support and push an initiative calling for the outright removal of all existing highways and freeways into, out of and through the city of Seattle?
24
@18 WTF?! Were you not around for the past decade? Condos and homes went up...and rents skyrocketed.

Now, you're saying that if we stop development (which is what you want to do) and it makes the city unaffordable. Basically, we are fucked either way.

@19 and, if I moved, there'd be no freeways to get to work in a reasonable amount of time (<1 hour).

Catch 22 FTW.
25
at the end of the second paragraph and am still not sure if you are trolling.

this ben guy does not live in the real world, thanks for making the seattle transit blog look exceptionally shitty. i'll make sure to never go there.
26
@12 that was 4 words.

@24 You have that backwards. Rents skyrocketed, so condos and homes went up. It's basic supply and demand: if you limit supply but not demand, prices will rise and rise.
27
@20 then do something about it. For around $15M (wasn't it about a third of this to just put a suicide fence on Aurora?) and a year of effort (assuming you could get anything done in a year in Seattle), W. Seattle could have a 4 minute link to light rail with no waiting time. Sure, it's not it's own light rail system (that will come in time), but it's up to 4,000 passengers an hour each way.
28
@17, the Tiergarten is not downtown. Like Central Park in New York, it was built in what was at the time out in the sticks, only to have the city grow organically around it. A big hunk was not torn out of the working center of the city to make it. Golden Gate Park, Chapultepec, there are loads of examples. We have Volunteer Park (plus miles of waste ground along Elliott Bay to the north of downtown already).

@13, I know, I know. To be honest, all I saw was the word park and I broke my water and my core melted. I'm like that.

But you did use the word! It is my belief that the suburbanizing force of Seattle's hippies and yuppies is so powerful that even mentioning the word "park" in a broader context will cause urbanism to decay.
29
TheMisanthrope - anecdotes will not serve you well. At the same time we were building "lots of" condos, lots and lots MORE housing was being built in the suburbs. Matt the Engineer has it just right.

Swearengen, the real world understands statistics and transportation engineering well enough to know WSDOT is pulling the wool over our eyes.
30
@30: A 30mph surface street is a good choice by scaling back the subsidy we offer to cars.

Really, you think a 6-lane traffic-choked arterial full of idling cars is a good choice for the waterfront? Because it reduces mobility?

And this is a win for the environment? Given all of the sources of pollution in the world, I'm thinking the impact here would be to either add or subtract a couple of minutes from the time the last polar ice cap completely melts, depending on your theory about where all the viaduct traffic goes.

31
Fnarf, it does make sense to put a park in Seoul - they have TONS of density already and didn't have much park space. The waterfront isn't a good place for a park (at least not where the viaduct stands now). We're in agreement!
32
seandr, using terms like 'traffic choked' just throw so much bias into your comment that it's hard to really respond.

It is a win for the environment to build less highway capacity. It will lead to slightly higher urban development and slightly lower suburban development - transportation is a forcing function that changes the game for land use. Every project is a percent this way or that, but this one is big and lasts a very long time, so it's worth fighting right now.
33
61.5% of portland commuters are sovs...despite billions in "transit".
34
these arguments against the tunnel and freeways in general are getting absurd. completely congesting traffic by removing freeways will force people to take mass transit.... once the proper systems are built by what...the year 2020? I'm all for thinking toward the future, but this is ridiculous. it's the same logic that made McGinn jack up all the parking prices. "if we screw drivers over hard enough they'll just stop driving altogether, and we'll all live in a beutiful utopia where everyone rides bikes"
35
@29 did you just suggest that increased development in the suburbs is linked to higher rent in the city? Really?

@26 If rents abated as the new housing went up, i'd agree...but, rents rising rates didn't slow as supply filled in. They only slowed after the economy tanked, and are now gearing back up again.
36
@21 & 22 & 27: i'll be dead before this city ever gets their shit together enough to build a usable subway system. i fought against that suicide fence on aurora. i've lobbied and petitioned and wrote letters for a decent metro. i'd do anything to have every dollar and sweaty brow stop what they're doing and build an underground train, but you and i both know that's decades away from happening.

seattle transit is so depressing people HAVE to bike - not because they like it, or because it's fun, but really because there's no other way to get to work.
37
@32 Ben: seandr, using terms like 'traffic choked' just throw so much bias into your comment that it's hard to really respond.

Hilariously ironic. 4 stars.
38
@37 FTW
39
@32 Also, Ben, punishing people into new habits is not the way to win hearts and minds. Build better transit and they will come. Getting to my ex's house in Greenwood/Northgate from U-District took 1hr15minutes minimum by current public transit. I know because I used to do it all the time. By car, though, it took 15 minutes. 20 with traffic.

The thing you transit idolizers don't realize is that we have a population explosion still happening. And, Seattle's current bus system isn't the way. The light rail is a good start. But, unless we start developing apartment buildings that change the landscape with 400sq ft apartments that cost $1500/mth, something other than your immediate fix of "punish the suburbans" has to happen.

Also, I use transit frequently. I only drive to and from work, and do not use my car for much of anything else unless it is somewhere out of the city. I wish the transit system is better, and would pay for it. But, I still think high-capacity roads are necessary.
40
I for one welcome our Debt-Enthralled Tunnel Overlords and their clear lack of rational thought processes.
41
Jesus...more bickering.

I support the tunnel. I will urge everyone I know to boycott the initiative and/or vote to end this petty obstruction. I have not heard ONE compelling argument cleary stating why and how the considerable vehicle traffic served by the viaduct can be effectively re-routed. Thinking that these thousands of trips per day can and will just disappear into thin air is sillines of the first order. Mr. Scheindelman sems like a fine fellow, but I just cannot agree.

Build the damn thing and get it over with already.

42
@41...Maybe if mayor big pants had the stones to stand for the people who elected him rather than his political patrons and built the monorail a tunnel to replace the viaduct wouldn't be needed.

But THAT happened, didn't it?
43
Since SLOG is freely offering itself up as a vehicle for anti-tunnel advocates, I look forward to its allowing an equally compelling puff piece from a pro-tunnel advocate. SLOG can then, at least, provide the impression that it is a vehicle for a variety of viewpoints. Fair and balanced. Now, there's a novel idea.
44
@32: No idea how you've construed "traffic choked" as evidence of bias. But whatever.

Your density argument makes sense if we're talking about a highway to the burbs. The highway in question, however, moves traffic efficiently from one part of the city to another. I can't imagine how this will make Seattle any more or less dense, unless the strategy is to choke off West Seattle in an effort to force its inhabitants to move to Seattle proper.

If reducing car mobility is your only tool for socially engineering density, than you've already failed. Trust me - Eastsiders idle away countless hours in traffic already, and they aren't flocking to Seattle because of it.

A more effective way to promote density is by designing cities that are pleasant to be in. To that end, we should open up the waterfront to a park and/or new development - it's a precious, one-time-ever opportunity to promote this city and enhance quality of life. It's a shame that so many "proponents" of urban living have, in the holy name of environmentalism, thrown the human aspects of urban design completely under the bus.

@Fnarf: Downtown/Belltown currently has shit (literally and figuratively) for parks. You want to draw people into the city and get them out of their cars? Great, then give them a place to go kick a soccer ball around with their kids. Without having to drive, that is.
46
There is an overly simplified debate going on about new development's impact on housing costs. Density does not equal affordability. Matt the Engineer is overstating the power of increased supply to decrease housing costs. New development's downward effect on housing costs is more than offset by it's upward effect on the adjacent older housing stock. This is why billions of dollars of transit investments in places like the Rainier Valley lead to gentrification (which is a good) but then ultimately will force displacement of existing communities unless there is an intervention that creates a sufficient supply of affordable housing. This could be more publicly subsidized housing or it could be created by the private market in return for the increased density allowed and needed around transit stations.

The takeaway is this; huge transit investments create a housing market failure to provide affordable housing to all. It becomes a privilege to live near light rail and not have to own a car.

What Ben and others don't understand is the relationship between new and old housing stock. New housing is great in disinvested neighborhoods but not if the existing communities are displaced rather than benefit from gentrification.

Oh yeah, and the tunnel sucks. Creating more road capacity to cure congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.
47
This is fairly amusing.

Only in Seattle can you get shrill screams of HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST TRANSIT without any sense of irony or awareness.
48
The reality in every major world city is that density costs money. If you want to live close to the downtown core, chances are you will pay a lot of money for a "middle class" existence. But a good transit system can help mitigate that by making affordable neighborhoods within or near the city accessible. Places like West Seattle, Bitterlake, Northgate, Shoreline become the affordable neighborhoods for the city all easily accessible by Link or Bus Rapid Transit.

Quite frankly, I really like the Gondola idea. It sounds nutzo on one level but it seems like a perfect fit for connecting West Seattle to SODO and even the waterfront. Queen Anne to South Lake Union etc. And it appears to be cheap to deploy.

And, I would relish the prospect of being free of car ownership. That would save several thousand dollars a year that could go towards rent or property ownership and an occasional Zipcar rental.

I
49
So the surface option is 30mph; the tunnel is 50mph. Over its 1.7 mile length, that's a difference of... a minute and a half.

There's a lot of reasons to ridicule the surface option, but its speed limit isn't one of them.
50
Shit...build the monorail over Alaskan Way.

With or without the tunnel.
51
Ben - you responded to me that "the referendum is a step on the path to getting a surface/transit option rather than a new highway." That strikes me as a completely dishonest statement. The referendum doesn't even MENTION the surface/transit option. And I have yet to hear a single surface/transit advocate call for putting the surface option up for a referendum! And you know if you somehow stop the tunnel, what makes you think you'll be able to waltz in with your surface/transit option and not have your opponents insist on a referendum for that? One which you will lose badly. No, Ben, the referendum is a step toward another decade of DOING NOTHING which is a much worse option than the tunnel. So unless you can explain to me with some credibility how this referendum is a step toward a surface/transit option, and how you are going to make this surfacce/transit option popular enough to withstand its own referendum, then I say you are completely full of shit.
52
Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah...

So...after the tunnel is built, how many more years of arguing about whether it was a good idea will we do in Seattle?
53
Tear it down and don't replace it. Build whatever you want on the site of the viaduct (although it sounds like Fnarf Park is out of the running.....).

I'm much more worried about the seawall than that silly viaduct.

54

"I think it's clear that a strong majority in this city agree with these statements."

I think YOU'RE WRONG.
55
Fnarf et al:

Here a comparative-density illustration that I recently posted on Seattle Transit Blog.

I got a surprising amount of blowback (S.T.B. being a pro-density community) for suggesting that we already waste so much space with our "ample" streets and sidewalks-- we already ensure most services and activity centers are too far from one another -- that any talk of adding "open space" is inherently counterproductive and anti-urban. So this time, I'm posting the Google Maps with as little commentary as possible:

Boston, at approx. 1 inch = 100 feet:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s…

Paris, at approx. 1 inch = 100 feet:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s…

Now here’s Pioneer Square — Seattle’s physically densest area inasmuch as all its buildings come directly to the lot line — at approx. 1 inch = 100 feet:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s…

56

Hey Ben - lemme guess - you in college?
57
@47 - I'm not seeing that. I am seeing a lot of people who are wary of vague, undefined "transit improvements" coupled with major reductions in road capacity. While that's not something I personally have to worry about now, I can sympathize, because I've been in their situation before, where the difference between driving and riding a bus is an hour+ of commute time. I'm not saying that anyone is wrong to advance such a program, but this condescension and narrow perspective isn't helping anyone see the light of your arguments.
58
@49: There's a lot of reasons to ridicule the surface option, but its speed limit isn't one of them.

You are forgetting stop lights, congestion, and the utter evilness of an urban design that sees the waterfront and thinks, "hey, that's a perfect place for a traffic jam!"
59
If we laid the bodies of all the tunnel supporters end to end and covered them with fill from the Denny Regrade ...

Now that would be a good thing.

And cheaper.
60
@58 stop lights - most modern port cities with waterfront boulevards (most of which are highways) have these new fangled inventions called turn lanes. They prioritize them so that transit and freight can signal an immediate next-cycle light but other lower-priority traffic (Bill Gates in a limo, people on pedicabs, stuff like that) have to wait until an optimal amount of time has passed before a light is signaled.

Seriously, are you stuck in the 1960s or what?
61
@46 I'd be happy to debate the points with you, but please go here first and read the entire thing.

Are you back already? You must have skimmed.

Ok, the points.

1. You say I overstate basic economics. It's basic economics - an increase in supply without an increase in demand WILL drop prices. There's no "might" or "sometimes" about it. Sure the new highrise you built has high rent. But the one down the street just dropped its rent, or raised less than it would have without the new capacity. This is fundamental, although sometimes hard to understand.

One easy way to understand it is to look at extremes. Build an extra 4M housing units downtown (using reaaallly tall towers). It doesn't matter how much they cost to build, housing prices all throughout the city will drop off a cliff. Affordability will go up so high, that people with $5 in their pocket are no longer homeless. Take the other extreme: put a freeze an all building. Prices will skyrocket, as people are forced out into the suburbs/exurbs that want to live downtown.

2. Housing prices near transit go up. Duh. As do housing prices near views. Or free ice cream stands. This is a good thing - you've made that location a place where people want to live. Now we have to decide who gets to live there. In a free market, that's the rich and the poor have to live further away. I'm fine with subsidising housing if you feel the poor have more of a right to live there than the rich. In fact, I'd argue a mixed-income neighborhood is more enjoyable than a non-mixed neighborhood. Of course, that'll drive up the prices further.

3. "New development's downward effect on housing costs is more than offset by it's upward effect on the adjacent older housing stock." That is not possible. See #1. If your argument that a dense neighborhood is a more enjoyable neighborhood and therefore people will want to move there and this increases prices, then prices necessarily go down in the other neighborhoods. Using your logic, why not make a neighborhood less desirable? That would drive down prices. Just remove trash service in that area. Of course, then prices would go up in other neighborhoods.

62
@39 I suggest you look harder, rents are decreasing, not increasing. They have been doing so since 2008. Why do you say such stupid wrong things?

Source: http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/WA-…
63
@62 Hilarity. Considering almost everybody I know got a rental hike last year and this year (I didn't, thank God), and that the minimum rent is $150 HIGHER than what I started my lease at 2 years ago...this website is bunk.

Thanks for reinforcing my points...
64
Matt, again your argument is based on oversimplified economics. You speak nothing to tight versus weak markets nor the relationship between new versus old housing stock. Putting a new development with high rents into a neighborhood that also just received a major transit investment does not make the "one down the street just drop its rents". From a land owners perspective they begin to view their property as worth more and expect a higher return, thus increasing their rents. From a renters perspective that area becomes more desireable because of the improvements they see and the perception of "an up and coming area" and thus are willing to pay higher rents. That is how gentrification works. Without intervention of affordable housing, that is how displacement works as well.

Now I realize why engineers at Sound Transit could site a light rail station (ex. Mt. Baker) with no consideration of what will develop around it; they have no clue about the real estate market.

If sky scrapers are the answer to our affordability problems then why are 4/5 of all housing in Singapore public housing? There is a major major flaw in your understanding of real estate economics and when policy makers who share your belief (absent the data that undeniably shows otherwise) it results in policies that push lower-income households into a drive til you can afford scenario.
65
@64 You're looking too closely. If a neighborhood is being gentrified, of course rents go up there - it's suddenly a more desirable neighborhood. Go read my free ice cream argument again. If you gentrified the neighborhood by renovating old homes or replanting gardens and held everything else equal, then the average price in the market wouldn't change but the average price in that neighborhood would go up. However, if you add more homes to a neighborhood then the average price of the market goes down. Yes, the fact that those nice new homes gentrify the neighborhood can tend to raise prices there. But those richer new neighbors must have moved from somewhere else - that somewhere else just dropped in value. Overall prices in the market have fallen.
66
@10- Parks are urban. Parks make living densely more appealing because instead of having a shitty quarter acre park (aka lawn) around your house, you can share a kick-ass five acre park with a few thousand other people (most of whom will just walk past the damn thing most of the time, just like they would their lawn.)

Your detonator is silly. You're being silly. Stop being silly, fnarf.
67
@53: Hear hear! Replace it with food carts and homeless people selling old paperbacks. I'd go downtown more often for that.
68
Had a good laugh listening to Constantine's completely self-contradictory excuses for the Tunnel on the radio this morning ... e.g. Tolls are a great way to control the use of the tunnel ... but then, a surface option would create excess traffic. Hey Dow: how about using surface tolls?

Man's glib but missing some connections. Except with the people whose interests he's trying to protect from public scrutiny.

Here's a nice article: http://www.slate.com/id/2278883/entry/22…

To quote from the last page:
"The best answer may come from those cities that have torn down portions of postwar expressways: Predicted transportation cataclysms have generally not materialized, and new urban value has been added—vibrant new spaces rather than social anomie.

"Writer Sara Mirk points out that when current transit planners visit from exotic Houston and D.C. to admire Portland's progress, what they are really admiring are the roads not built—freeways erased from the maps decades ago."
69
Also, Fnarf @2, you couldn't be more wrong about the SF and NY examples. Both are analogous in many ways, and more so than the Portland example.

The Embarcadero Freeway and the West Side Highway both carried buttloads of traffic. Both were closed due to structural deficiencies (rather than any sort of altruistic planning foresight). The Hudson River waterfront is not only more active than ours now, but was still a highly active locus of shipping and industry at the time of the highway's closure.

Both were replaced by major arterials that still accept a high volume of traffic and are just as vital to the movement of people and freight as Alaska Way or the freeways that preceded them. And the Embarcadero Freeway's demise directly precipitated the revitalization of the Ferry Building -- including the return of ferry traffic as a viable commuting option (nothing "useless" about that).

You're correct on issues of urbanism nearly 100% of the time. And the examples you employ tend to be spot on. I can't figure out why you're always so in a rush to deflate the contributions of others; on these two comparisons you come across as a simmering cauldron of ignorance.

70
@69:
Both NTC & SF had extensive mass transit systems IN PLACE before they took down their roadways. Seattle... notsomuch.
71
What if they put in a surface light rail line that went from (say) the junction to downtown Ballard with stops at Coleman, the aquarium and interbay? If you want to get really fancy, Start it down at 35th and Roxbury and end it at 85th and 15th. Let the drivers fend for themselves on I-5 or the surface streets.
72
@63 sounds good, everybody you know is probably a more representative sample than hundreds of self reported renters in Seattle anyways. Congrats on winning!!!
73
@63: Uh huh, I got a rent decrease and I live downtown.

@70: The removed corridors are nowhere near mass transit spines, folks in this corridors used buses upon removal. SF eventually built the F Market & Wharves line and T Third, but at first? Not so much. For NYC, the IRT 7th and IND 8th don't come near the West Side Highway's corridor until the UWS, the easiest way to get around in the vicinity is the M11 or the M5.

Finally, Ballard, Downtown and a good deal of West Seattle have a high transit ridership closely in line with the high ridership in the U District and Cap Hill. We will also have an expanding transit spine through our core and there are proposals for a quick-build MCT or HCT line from Ballard to West Seattle.

Hm, tearing down a viaduct and putting in light rail? That sounds like what happened in SF...

Major transit spine nearby, but requiring buses in-corridor? Hm, sounds like NYC...
74
Catalina Vel-DuRay @71: What if they put in a surface light rail line that went from (say) the junction to downtown Ballard with stops at Coleman, the aquarium and interbay?

Catalina, you've hit on what to me is the real indirect, ultimate prize--light rail in the Green Line monorail corridor. I could live with a tunnel or a surface route provided we can see Ballard-West Seattle light rail up and running within 20 years. One quibble though. I'd hate to think this light rail line would run at-grade, at least through downtown.
75
@72 Self reported renters have a shitton more time than most people I know, methinks. But, that's the basic "Who the hell responds to surveys anyways" dilemma.

@73 That's good for you. Was your rent jacked higher than average in the first place?
76
@75: Nope! Slightly below the average square footage cost in this neighborhood.

You know, living in this area isn't for everyone. Sometimes you have to figure out if the costs associated with living in a city -- often remarkably higher than living in the suburbs -- are worth it. Some regions in this country are probably more suited to your economic need and will, which is why I think you'd do great in a cut-rate place like the midwest. Perhaps Indiana or Michigan? The social and quality of life benefits are diminished, but it would certainly cut a major cause of frustration in your life out.
77
@65: The problem is those richer new neighbors are generally moving in from the suburbs. So you're moving the people who can least afford a long commute to the areas with the longest commutes and worst transit options. Then you're arguing that making their car commute harder will force them to move back to the neighborhoods they can't afford. Do you see the logical disconnect here?
78
@76: So your suggestion to someone who complains their expenses are too high is to move to somewhere with no jobs? Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
79
@77 But why have they moved in from the suburbs? Because the prices have dropped! That's why they were out in the suburbs in the first place - cheap prices. There is a constant demand of housing in the city from people who want to live in the city but can't afford to. Every home we build within the city translates to one fewer home built in the sprawled out exurbs. But it also means that demand drops in the city (one fewer person that wants to move to the city) and prices go down.

Listen, you have 2 choices. 1. Don't build new capacity. Prices will go up as demand increases. 2. Build new capacity. Prices go down compared to #1 as demand is satisfied. There are no other choices.

"so you're moving the people who can least afford a long commute..." No I'm not. These are new homes that didn't exist before. So there's now room for more people in the city. There's no reason to think the people who lived in the now-destroyed homes are moving out of the city, since the average price in the city drops with new capacity. If they could afford a place before, they can certainly afford a place now. But so can a few more people that used to have to commute. Everybody wins, except exurban developers.
80
Rents in Seattle have increased on average close to 3% per year for the past decade. That has outpaced the (pathetic) average increase in income by quite a bit (less than 2%). Regardless of whatever personal anecdotes people post on here, rents have increased significantly in Seattle.
81
@79: Except prices haven't really dropped in the area you're talking about. The problem is building dense buildings is expensive, so the only way to make them pay off is to stuff them with luxury condos. So while it's true that more housing is being built, that housing tends to be on a higher price tier than the older housing stock.
82
@81: One reason dense building is so expensive, aside from land cost? Tens of thousands of dollars per parking space. :)
83
On a Seattle Transit Blog post highlighting this-here post, Ben Schiendelman is surprisingly frank about the surface supporters' end game.

Blogger Martin H. Duke writes:
I wonder about the ballot measure, though; will it accomplish anything besides embarrassing tunnel supporters? That’d be fine, as tunnel supporters deserve to be embarrassed, but I’d be more excited about a measure with a concrete path to a better alternative.

Schiendelman responds, in part:
Second, a pure surface transit option probably wouldn’t pass. Voters aren’t informed about induced demand, largely because it’s counterintuitive, and they’re afraid of congestion, just like in every other city that’s removed a highway. And they are fatigued already, thanks to the state trying to force this for so long. The only way to get to the good policy choice here is to kill the bad ones.
84
My thoughts on the Seattle Transit Blog post I just referred to...

There's something, dare I say, hypocritical about Ben's odd combination of populism and elitism. On the one hand, you use the blunt instrument of direct democracy to kill the option you don't want. On the other hand, you don't want to use the same blunt instrument to advance the option you do want because you know it will get killed too.

I'm sure if I were in his shoes and I had the same "by any means necessary" mentality, I'd approach this the same way. If there's anything we've learned from West Coast direct-democracy politics, it's that most of what matters in a ballot measure is the wording and whether it gets on the ballot. You're not so much asking the voters for their views as you are manipulating the voters' existing views to suit your purpose. Like war, ballot measures are very much "politics by other means."

I'm not sure what's worse, though, having the option of going straight to the voters on an issue or not having it.
85
BTW, Transit that extends to the Suburbs also creates sprawl. It's the old time to destination thing, if you can ride the train in from the burbs or even the edge of town, you can then drive the last "mile" and live in a tract house.

Families hate living in the city because school districts suck because cities give huge tax breaks to businesses to locate there. Families which pay the tax via property tax leave, driving the revenue down and the schools suck worse. rinse/repeat

Still the tunnel is a colossal waste of money. It's below sea level, in soil that is glacial till, in an area that could be submerged if the sea rises a bit. And it moves far fewer cars at much greater cost. Better to focus on moving people, that's bike lanes, and rapid grade separated transit. (Monorail/LightRail/Street cars.)
86
@76 Really... You're going to lecture on that? *psh*

BTW, I'm not just rambling for my own sake. I'm rambling for the sake of anybody who works in Seattle, but is finding it increasingly difficult to live in the city due to the rising cost of the city. It's nice that you can easily afford the city, but for the populace at large, it is becoming more and more a challenge. Half of my friends constantly yammer about how they're being driven away from the city center and it takes them ages to get anywhere anymore. And, then you want to make rent higher and higher for them while shutting down the roadways into it, all with a shitty transit system.

For everybody who is struggling financially, we thank you for this insight that the city isn't for everybody. Bless your little heart, Baconcat.

@84 Ben and most people who support suffering the masses in order to promote a transit system that is OK at its best, and sucks at its worst are deeply hypocritical. They don't want to give people free choice. They want it their way and you're going to suffer if you don't exist as they want you to.
87
@83/@84: Part of the reason it would get killed is the tunnel proponents penchant for using bunk science to obfuscate the legitimate reality of induced demand. They'll say "our tunnel won't make people drive more, and without our tunnel the same number of people will drive" -- like you do, quite often, in overstating the need for the tunnel.

The end-game scenario you're so paranoid about would depend highly upon folks getting it, but it also wouldn't preclude suggesting other options in the interim. It's a floating study that goes along with managing traffic to meet need. If absent a bypass drivers decide to either change their habits or change their route, then the demand would change. If at first it seems to not be working, then it's no big deal to move ahead with mitigation and find a best-fit solution.

This is unsatisfactory to tunnel supporters, however. Many will see it as a stunning loss in the war on cars, and they'll rail about how "Mayor McSchwinn" wants them out of cars and onto a bike! Because he doesn't get it, man, there's no global warming! Then they'll sink their teeth into transit proponents, who want you to waste your valuable time on the bus with all those people who are worthless.

And then there are another handful that will cringe at more studies, even though active management is proceeding.

Oh, and the jobs! We'll lose jobs! Now that people are forced to either use a different route, they may have to go to the minor and near-useless urban core of Downtown Seattle. With the highest density of office jobs in Ballard and West Seattle, we'll see massive losses in our office market. Folks will suddenly fight for jobs in Downtown Seattle where there are none, draining from the massive commercial cores to the north and south.

Dreadful, dreadful.
88
@86: Ahahahaha, yes, as a student I'm awash in riches. My largess has put me in such a fabulous position in this city.

Your anecdotal evidence is not backed by legitimate numbers, with rent prices dropping year over year for several years now, wages remaining static and a general market pressure toward suppressing vacancies and unemployment. Seattle's population is also growing, so apparently it isn't so unattainable. You can check the internet pretty quickly for all that. Do you want me to show you how to google?

As far as the transit system goes, Seattle has one of the highest percentages of transit users in a city without a major heavy rail system, highest within its statistical peer groups. Unsurprisingly, when focusing just in-city, that standing is boosted even higher. Usage is high, that speaks to quality. Transit proponents are so vehement because we're starting at a good jump off and have plenty to work with.

Your problem, again, is totally subjective. And by the way, I don't care what your friends say because I can't trust you to present what they say in a way that isn't favorable to your own bias and because it's statistically insignificant... but I'm sure they're fabulous people.
89
Baconcat @87 on surface supporters fear of putting their own option before the voters: Part of the reason it would get killed is the tunnel proponents penchant for using bunk science to obfuscate the legitimate reality of induced demand.

Voters are always manipulated and misled and shown to be shortsighted fools. That's what elections are all about. I'm sure the tunnel supporters will make the same case should the August advisory measure pass. But ultimately that's an elitist argument, and believe me, I'm as elitist as they come.

Even assuming that the surface route is the right goal, there is something hypocritical about using a populist weapon on the one hand and avoiding it on the other. There are worse things, I suppose, than stomaching hypocrisy when one believes one's cause is just.

Baconcat again: The end-game scenario you're so paranoid about would depend highly upon folks getting it, but it also wouldn't preclude suggesting other options in the interim.

Um, where do you get that I'm paranoid about something? I'm just interested in, and trying to get some insight into, how the surface contingent expects to make their choice happen. How exactly do you see yourselves winning, whether it be in two years or five years or 10?
90
@89: I don't know how you aren't putting 2 and 2 together, but if the viaduct comes down before any tunnel is built and we're forced to make use of surface streets and the predicted TRAFFIC ARMAGEDDON never comes to pass, then don't you think people will say "well, just make it pretty and don't add too many bike lanes and stop lights"? Yeah, there you go.

If I'm going to be told to have faith in this tunnel plan based on so many unknowns and counterintuitive things like more lane miles meaning less congestion and emissions, then I'm going to demand tunnel proponents accept that their feared traffic armageddon may not even happen if the viaduct closed prematurely.
91
Baconcat @90: @89: I don't know how you aren't putting 2 and 2 together,...

No, I'm asking you to put two and two together. Let's just assume this measure wins. What next? How do you presume to make the surface route happen? I'm not asking you for a case for the surface route; I'm asking you to explain the scenario under which the viaduct gets replaced by a surface route eventually.

Think of my question this way. I'm not asking you to fight me; I'm asking you how you're going to fight your opponents--if you wish to share such insights.
92
@88 The graph in the linked blog begs to differ with all of your statements.

http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2011/03/16…

I did not put it there either. Now show me a contradicting graph to support your statement that rents have decreased over the past three years.
93
@87: Your attempt to conflate tunnel advocates with global warming deniers is an example of exactly the sort of dishonest "poisoning the well" that you've accused me of in the past.

@90: Last time I tried to go up Alaskan Way while the viaduct was closed, it took me half an hour to move three blocks. That that was on a weekend, too.
94
#91 - I already asked that. I've asked that here and other places. They simply will not answer it. They have no answer. The only thing one can conclude is that they figure if they stop the tunnel, then nothing will ever happen and eventually the Viaduct will come down in a quake and voila! - the instant surface option (scattered with dead bodies, but that's just collateral damage, I guess)
95
@91: Again, we have plans for closure, traffic management, mitigation and control (approved 8-0 by the council in 2005). Easing people off use of the viaduct, the main reason for our purported need, will either prove we don't need a huge hatchet for a problem that requires a scalpel or it will ratify what tunnel proponents have said all along. If that traffic armageddon doesn't happen, then these people will be more than fine with saving money on surface upgrades.

@92: I contradict your data with... the same graph and article, showing that, oh look at that, rents decreased as average income dropped. Average income goes up, so do rents. Average income goes down (due to a spike in unemployment and such), rent goes down. Rent also trails incomes, so there will be delays and lags and sometimes overcorrection (like a real market, imagine that).The closer to that article should be a nice STFU: " If anything, rents seems poised to fall over the next few years to get back in line with incomes."

@93: A well-managed signed and promoted heavily in advance closure with multiple months of notice? No. You got stuck in traffic from a poorly managed closure. Not. The. Same. Thing.
96
@94: Nope, shutting down the viaduct and using active management of traffic that the city council approved and paid handsomely for will be the best test case and ultimately prove need.

I've repeated this over and over, but you guys just have this filter that imagines that there is no way the viaduct could ever possibly close before the tunnel-prescribed shutdown date.

I will ask this, though: what if the viaduct stays up like tunnel supporters want and collapses sometime between next year and 2016 (or later, depending), after the proposed shutdown date by surface+transit proponents and the Mayor (and campaign-mode Gregoire)?
97
#95 Another non-answer! You stop the tunnel, we're going to have to do something else to replace the viaduct. Do you not get that? What is this "easing people off use of the viaduct" crap? There is no "easing people off the viaduct" option, in case you hadn't heard. Are you saying you are going to get approval for the surface/transit option (which is still over $1 billion)? How are you going to do that? How are you going to get that approval and how are you going to withstand the inevitable referendum to stop the surface option? The surface option has the lowest support of any option.
98
Baconcat -- Do you think there is support to close down the viaduct, with nothing to replace it? Are you willing to put that to a vote? Or is it just that only the tunnel gets put to a popular vote, and you get to decide what you want like a little emperor? Or am I wrong? Are you willing to put what you want to happen to the viaduct up for a vote? Yes or no?
99
You should listen to ian, and be careful what you wish for. If the tunnel gets voted down I think the most likely result is the state gets fed up and just builds another viaduct. Which would suit me fine, but is probably not what you want.

The second most likely is the delaying tactics continue until the viaduct becomes unsafe and ends up being abruptly closed, which would result in exactly the sort of gridlock you're trying to convince people won't happen, just like it did after the Nisqually quake. That wouldn't help your cause either.
100
@97: Wrong. Your entire response includes a lot of wild conjecture, from an open-ended need for replacement (in other words, "the tunnel", although you don't say as much) to the belief that there are no plans to reduce and close the viaduct (except there are, approved via City Council in 2005 here) and an idea that all these folks that are so deadset on just doing something will suddenly decide "oh, this option I disagree with, I won't fund it even though I'm an elected official".

And low support is not the same as opposition. This "inevitable referendum to stop the surface option" will not materialize when the City Council-approved shutdown plan is put into action and folks are safely removed from the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct. You can claim it will, but it simply will not. Your derangement of a perfect compromise in the tunnel makes you believe that there simply cannot be any other options and that nobody in their right mind outside of the Mayor's office would back another option.

Again, what if you're wrong and the viaduct collapses in that extra time you're demanding it stay up instead of as early as possible as we're asking? If we're faced with traffic, oh, look at that, guess we can build your tunnel (we can have Oprah announce it! "You're getting a tunnel! You're getting a tunnel! YOU'RE getting a tunnel!") or another viaduct (guided by design protocol and such, fancy). If we're faced with your delay leading to deaths of dozens, we... well, we'll have dead bodies. You know, like that video WSDOT tried to scare everyone with when they joined Mallahan's campaign.
101
Baconcat @95, thanks for trying to answer my question about how you're going to make the surface option happen. So short answer: a managed closure of the viaduct.

Natural follow-up question: how do you make the managed closure happen? Certainly, you'd need the City Council's OK. But wouldn't you also need the state legislature's approval? I can't imagine WashDOT being able to close the viaduct on its own without some new damage being found.

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