Despite the fact that voters rejected a tunnel for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2007, the city, state, and county agreed on Tuesday to move forward with a single deep-bore tunnel from South King Street to Harrison Street downtown and to build a surface street for local traffic on the waterfront.
The tunnel, which would include no downtown exits and no HOV lanes (making it difficult, if not impossible, for transit to use), was originally estimated at $3.5 billion. It's now at more than $4 billion— a number that's likely to rise over time.
The good news, if there is any, is that the city and county alone will now be in charge of implementing the surface and transit parts of the plan, which means Seattle will again have a say in re- designing its own waterfront. (The state has always thought of the viaduct as a highway project, not a waterfront project.) And the county is seeking authorization to levy a new motor-vehicle excise tax (MVET) to pay for additional transit serving the corridors.
On Tuesday, a Magnolia resident, Elizabeth Campbell, filed an initiative to stop the tunnel project. Her preference? Another option voters rejected—a larger new replacement viaduct. ERICA C. BARNETT
The Seattle/King County Municipal League released its candidate ratings this week for the February election for King County Elections director, and just two candidates—current elections director Sherril Huff and former Republican King County Council member David Irons—received the League's top rating of "outstanding." Another, former bank manager Bill Anderson, was rated "very good"; the remaining candidates, schoolteacher Chris Clifford, former elections director Julie Anne Kempf, and state senator Pam Roach (R-31), were merely "adequate."
The Muni League bases its ratings, in part, on interviews with the candidates and candidate questionnaires, which the group makes public on its website. In her questionnaire, Roach brags about getting her ham radio certification. In hers, Kempf—who was fired for lying about the late mailing of absentee ballots, and subsequently arrested in an investigation of forgery, theft, criminal impersonation, and assault—brags, with no apparent irony, that she "successfully managed this elections office in a time of crisis." The election, which will be the only thing on the ballot, is on February 3. ERICA C. BARNETT
On Monday, January 12, the King County Council had its turn interrogating Metro general manager Kevin Desmond, KCDOT Road Services Division director Linda Dougherty, and other county officials about the performance of Metro and the county's transportation network during last month's snowstorm.
Dow Constantine, the new chair of the county council, asked Desmond why Metro couldn't have simply limited service to streets it knew it would be able to keep open—major arterials like Aurora Avenue and Lake City Way. Desmond responded that even if Metro had switched to a reduced schedule, it would have made little difference. "Even on those corridors where we think we can guarantee service, if a tree falls down, as it did on Aurora, we were massively delayed. And the buses then stack up and we really have no effective means to tell people downstream what's going on."ERICA C. BARNETT
Tim Killian, a longtime player in city and state politics, has assembled an unlikely roster of supporters in his bid to run for city council, announced last week. The first name on Killian's board of advisers is former city attorney Mark Sidran, reviled during his tenure for pushing laws that banned sitting on sidewalks and allowed police to impound cars driven by people with suspended licenses.
Killian's second adviser? Cary Moon, cofounder of the People's Waterfront Coalition and an advocate for the surface/transit alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Killian has been an adviser to the PWC and says he's running, in part, to promote the surface/transit option. DOMINIC HOLDEN