The City Council Is Lying to You, Seattle


A. Remember the Maine!

B. In your last sentence, replace "incredulous". People are incredulous. Things (lines of crap) are not. It's like the difference between "sensuous" and "sensual" explained to Tim Matheson by the sexy grammaw in Animal House.

Now, on with your evenhanded writeup of the mayor's press conference, beginning in one minute.
you actually have six points.
It's time, Seattle:…

Let's stop the NAIOP and other big real estate donors from forcing a giant exhaust pipe on Downtown Seattle.
@3, wouldn't surface/transit excite developers just as much? As long as the viaduct gets gone somehow, opening up that juicy privately-owned property to new vistas, what do they care how it happens?

I suspect the only option in which they'd find less opportunity would be a retrofitted or rebuilt viaduct. I'm not sure that option's worth it just to avoid the distasteful sight of developers, what's the term, "wetting their beaks".
@4: Air rights.
"People should file an city initiative that would require the state legislature to remove the provisions about Seattle paying cost overruns and address who will pay if the project runs over budget before Seattle gives permits to dig underground. Remember, 34 percent of megaprojects run over budget. A successful initiative would force our legislative delegation to act. "

My representative democracy degree is a bit rusty, but can a city initiative really (1) compel the legislature to do anything? or (2) compel our own representatives to act in any particular way?
@6: It's specific to the city and would say the city in no way will pay overruns causing the state to reconsider its end of things. The legislature would be more than happy to walk away from this and spend gas tax money on other projects.
@4 and @5 are correct.

Face it, the council members don't want to give up the massive bribes and after-retiring Advisor jobs they plan for the foreign - not local - firms that want Seattle taxpayers to pay for a Billionaires Tunnel we can't afford, that INCREASES congestion, that DECREASES freight capacity, that INCREASES commute time, and that only works for property developers to build view-blocking buildings in the newly rezoned area that will obscure all the "new views" that will occur - and those on council who get their bribes.

Never forget Abscam was in Seattle. Not Florida. Seattle.
"...we're not sending this out to a second public vote."
If I'm not mistaken, didn't the first, patently ignored, vote decree that almost 70% of Seattle residents were opposed to the tunnel? It's amazing to compare that to the grass-roots monorail initiative, where YES vote after YES vote after YES vote meant nothing until finally the negative PR and foot-dragging convinced barely over 50% of people that "if this was how the city was going to handle it, it would be a waste of money with no follow-through", and they were finally allowed to kill it.
Make no mistake: this will come to a vote, it will be voted down, and the viaduct will collapse before a replacement is agreed upon.
Only problem with a public vote is, if its just a Yes or No vote and people vote in favor of rejecting DBT, you wait 2-3 years for a valid alternative to the tunnel to show up. Which the public gets to vote on again and it has a good chance of not passing. Do you honestly think McGinn is going to present 3 options on a vote to replace the viaduct ? No, the only plan offered will be his plan. If it is a multiple choice vote, then McGinn will pad it with 2 other obscenely high priced options that are designed to steer people into the option McGinn wants, even if its more expensive than the current DBT plan.

Should a 2nd vote on the viaduct not pass, the Viaduct becomes more unstable and the state may decide to tear it it down. At that point, it no longer becomes an interstate road and the state might be able to wash their hands of the problem, offloading the full cost of the replacement on the city.
@11: That's fine. We'll replace it like they did in Portland with an open-flow and smaller profile boulevard, a la Harbor Drive (formerly around 100,000 ADT). Then Seattle will throw its voter weight into getting gas taxes rerouted through to transit improvements and allowing the eastside more access to funding for things like I-405 expansion through downtown Bellevue.
If their lips are moving they're lying!
@12 is correct.
This might sound crazy, but don't ALL viaduct replacement options start with taking the existing structure down? Can we all agree that THAT part needs to happen, and we can start in on it while deciding what to do next? Whether we build a tunnel, replace the structure, or go without, given that we'll be directing traffic onto surface roads for the entire duration of construction of ANY option regardless, why hasn't anyone brought up the idea of just waiting a year and evaluating how bad the traffic problem becomes before deciding the magnitude of the solution we implement?

For instance, if we determine that the main problem is just I-5 overflow - people trying to get into town from Burien, South Park, West Seattle, etc - the exitless tunnel will not help at all.
stuckie, you've won the internet.

Dom, stuckie's comment deserves its own post.
@15 yes.


I agree with Baconcat.
@15, you've put your finger on a very large part of why the DBT option was considered the best-lipsticked pig - it seems to offer the only option that would keep the existing viaduct open to traffic during construction of the alternative.

If somebody could ever debunk that it would win some hearts and minds. Get to it, best and brightest.
@15 At this point I wish the viaduct would quietly collapse tonight at 3am with no one on or under it, and no injuries, just to shut everyone the hell up.
Joe, that's what local wags have said from the start might be the only way we'd get anything done: wait for disaster to trigger federal FEMA replacement dollars. Plus a collapse (yes please, with nobody hurt, but also somehow magically no economic harm) would remove the tunnel's importance as the only solution that could be built while keeping the viaduct working.

So it'd be back to the drawing board, knowing Big Daddy Fed would pay. Whee!

The only problem with taking down the viaduct and paving a 2 lane road is. Still wont be able to connect to 1st ave as the only thing that did, was the elevated viaduct.

Oh and theres a fuck-ton of parking spaces UNDER the viaduct that will instantly go away with a surface option. Tourists and workers will find it difficult to get to the water front to buy or sell cheap crap if 80% of the parking vanishes.

As long as you don't mind a disruption in commerce and off setting the loss in tax revenue with a tax hike in addition to losing on/off ramps onto 1st ave, then the surface option is a BRILLIANT idea.
@12: The DSA estimates that at peak times, only 60 to 70% of parking is used. This was before we opened several large parking lots in downtown, adding hundreds of parking spaces in the last 6 months, the majority of which are within 3rd avenue and south of Belltown.

I'm pretty sure we're doing okay on parking at this point.
Make that @21. Forgive me for typing and talking on the phone at the same time.
@18 I seriously hadn't put it together that they were going to try to build the tunnel UNDERNEATH the existing could-collapse-at-any-minute structure, though I guess it makes sense: if they demolished it first, they could probably save huge amounts (and risk) even if the right answer ended up BEING a tunnel by executing it cut-and-cover rather than deep-bore...

It's an interesting choice, and seems to say something about how seriously they take the risk of a viaduct collapse that they're willing to risk 6? more years of continued traffic on it (and tourists below it, and construction below that) to avoid people having to deal with extra downtown traffic during the transition period while people are getting used to the change.

I realize that people are fickle and short-sighted, but is all this crazy workaround mentality just political defense by elected officials because they don't trust us enough to let them rip off the band-aid?
Why isn't an expansion of i-5 to include the 99 through downtown along with the removal of the viaduct altogether an option? Couldn't i-90 then also extend to the coast? There are other water front cities that only have one N/S Interstate (SEE: Chicago, Miami).
@19 ftw - even if @15 already got his own thread.
The viaduct should have been shut down on March 1, 2001. It could have been a decade-long case study in analyzing and implementing traffic alternatives.

Care to cite that? Finding some sort of parking somewhere in Pioneer Square may not be impossible, but the spaces under the viaduct are ALWAYS full every time I'm in the area. And are you seriously suggesting that pay parking lots are a peachy alternative to cheap/free street parking?
@28 My anecdotal experience mirrors yours; the under-viaduct parking is clearly being used, especially during peak hours, and Baconcat's studies, by his stated comment, are for "all" Seattle's parking, so your point is taken. Pioneer Square is a huge tourist zone; sports games are played nearby; it is indeed hard to park there, and losing these parking spaces will make it more so.

That said, I have mixed feelings about encouraging people to park as many cars as possible underneath a concrete deathtrap, and the idea that we can't do anything about that probleem until we figure out how we plan to create as many or more parking spaces covering the same area in the future seems like a misguided set of priorities. We're trying to create LESS car need in the area, not more. Besides downtown proper, Pioneer Square is probably the second-best-served bus zone in the city, and the best-equipped to suffer a loss in vehicle driveability. (though I admittedly don't have any statistics to back that up).

But if after a test, we as a community determine that our priorities ARE parking and the extra lanes the viaduct provided, I'll be the first on board to approve a replacement viaduct with safe, shady parking underneath. Just do SOMETHING, for God's sake, starting with human-life risk management.
The atrocious engineering of the DBT, Mercer West and Alaskan Way is more important than the cost overrun issue.

What's wrong with the Alaskan Way design, you ask? Plenty. There will be so much more thru-traffic, the 4-lane arrangement is inadequate. How so? The 13 stoplights proposed between Pike and King Streets will bottleneck thru-traffic AND add side-street traffic. Oh swell.

Early designs for Alaskan Way (pre-Crunican) added a 2-lane frontage road on the east side with islands between it and a 4-lane Alaskan Way. This separates thru-traffic from motorists looking to park. Without it, they are forced back onto Alaskan Way. With it, super-islands can be created at Columbia and Washington which makes entering/exitting Coleman Dock simpler, safer and faster. Another super-island at Seneca is logical.

Thus, 3 of the planned 13 stoplights can be removed to reasonably (not excessively) increase Alaskan Way traffic capacity and speed. With the frontage road, transit can be arranged, both the Waterfront Streetcar Line and east/west bus lines near Coleman Dock, along with a separate bike path, much like the current arrangement. More curbside parking spaces become possible, even diagonal parking on the frontage road, island side.

Mercer West is bogus, terribly engineered, yet it's integral to the DBT which is an engineering fiasco of nightmarish proportions.

The cut/cover tunnel is the better option. A 'stacked' SIX-LANE version is possible to construct while leaving the AWV in place and operating. It would solidify the soft soil along the waterfront as far from the new seawall as possible. Once the north portal at Pike is reached, traffic is diverted from Aurora via Broad, Alaskan Way and Tunnelite, at least 2 years ahead of the DBT. Lower Belltown and the Aurora segment are then rebuilt which should take 2-3 years. Seattlers could accept the fn inconvenience as a sort of penance for being maniacal motorist tools for the country club establishment.
There's plenty of parking downtown. You should have to pay for it if you're going to use it. If you don't want to pay for parking, don't drive.
@31 but will 50,000 people not drive - especially with the ever increasing population growth of Seattle?

Sounds like a massive disaster paid for by the taxpayers of Seattle - including renters.

Maybe we shouldn't build this tunnel.