A group calling itself the the Tunnel + Transit Coalition (TTC), an association of pro-tunnel downtown business and labor unions, blasted a proposed initiative on the deep-bore tunnel today, issuing a statement saying the ballot measure would be a legally meaningless waste of money because taxpayers would pay to process the ballots. (I wrote about the initiative that will be filed tomorrow and its weak language here.)
"We don’t need symbolic gestures, we need to replace the capacity of an aging and dangerous structure, we need congestion relief, and we need to take advantage of the favorable bidding climate right now," Ivar's president and coalition spokesman Bob Donegan said in a statement release a few minutes ago. "More delay is irresponsible.”
But in its criticism, the group stumbles into a conflicting argument. They claim that the initiative is wasteful because it would do nothing (even proponents concede they can't compel the state to do anything) and it would delay the tunnel (presumably because it grips the state's process in some way). Obviously, it can't be meaningless and alter the state's plans simultaneously.
"I take them at their word that if the initiative builds political will and that political will is to delay the project, then that would be irresponsible," says TTC member Don Stark when reached by phone. "Frankly, putting something on the ballot is also irresponsible if you care about the city budget."
Stark calls it "a waste of taxpayers' money and trees—for the paper, you know the joke."
TTC chides the anti-tunnel advocates for wanting a surface/transit replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct that would transfer 110,000 vehicles daily to I-5 and city streets. But TCT doesn't mention that the tunnel would put over 65,000 vehicles on those streets without any money left over from the tunnel—such as the transit they purportedly advocate—to mitigate those additional trips. As examples of the transit it supports, TTC's website ballyhoos $190 million in Metro funding and the First Ave. streetcar. The governor vetoed that bus funding in 2009 and the First Ave. streetcar is dead in the water. Stark says the group is in discussions about transit funding in next year's legislative session.