On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Friday, November 24, 2006

SR-99: Not In Our Front Yard, Governor!

The debate rages on regarding the options for the Alaskan Way Viaduct: replacement, tunnel, or nothing.

Yet as I drive on the existing roadway, I wonder why people don't consider the fact Seattle already has a tunnel, the Battery Street Tunnel, that the existing double-decker structure feeds at it's north end.

This is the section of road I'm talking about:

This is the aerial view of the streets and blocks above the tunnel:

Consider the ramifications to that area if the Battery Street Tunnel didn't exist, and either a street level or elevated roadway existed instead. Such a highway, slicing through the heart of Seattle would never be considered.

Yet, for some reason a replacement, and larger double-decker highway is being considered as the front running alternative for the Seattle waterfront, an area that one would imagine would be even more of an unlikely location for such a roadway.

The WSDOT has produced realistic animations that show just what the elevated structure would look like, vs. the tunnel alternative. So that the tunnel animation can be more widely viewed, I've converted it to a YouTube video with pointers back to the WSDOT page.

Watching this animation provides all the argument needed to convince me that if a roadway carrying SR-99 traffic through Seattle must continue to exist, this is the way to do it. The opening up of the Seattle waterfront to park and pedestrian space, while hiding the highway, and eliminating the noise, are just too important to not strive for. Mayor Nickels is right to fight for the cut and cover tunnel alternative as he recognizes the incredible positive transformation that the city will undergo as a consequence. The fact the project is likely to take less time than a new viaduct is an added bonus.

Yes, this will be more expensive, but the gains are so transformational, so profound, that it will be worth every penny, and paying to just replace what we have with more of the same and worse would be shear folly. Governor Gregoire will be deciding soon what options should be pursued. Seattle has suffered far too long from NIMBYism that has caused past projects to fail to get off the ground. Now is the time for some long overdue NIMFYism. This time all Seattleites should demand that no new viaduct should be constructed in Seattle's front yard, and that any structure that is built go underground.

This is Seattle's chance to be rid of the blight of the Alaskan Way Viaduct once and for all, Governor. Don't stand in the way of that happening.

5 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Particle Man

Its about the money. There is not enough to go around. As a result, if the tunnel option moves forward it will do so with huge changes including the selling off of the "new land" over the tunnel for new tall buildings.

11/25/2006 4:52 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous David Sucher

It's about the money and about 5-10 years disruption to Seattle.

Look, the Tunnel is a nice idea. But there are lots and lots of nice ideas and when I measure the Tunnel's $5-6 billion (or more) against many many worthy public improvements it just doesn't rank very high on my priority list.

11/25/2006 5:44 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

People keep throwing around numbers like $5 or $6 billion. Give me a break. Like the $4 billion to replace the viaduct with another monstrosity isn't an issue. This is a case of massive civic improvement. If you want to live in a second rate city, rebuild the road wall. As for disruption, you'll have it regardless.

Suck it up Seattle. Inflation makes the price tag larger than you've ever paid for in the past. Just imagine what it will cost in the future - or is that just the problem for another generation?

11/25/2006 5:57 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger thehim

Dan,
That was a very inaccurate simulation. The drivers didn't slow down to 25 mph to read the signs as they drove through the tunnel.

12/11/2006 9:14 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Heh.

12/11/2006 12:14 PM PT  

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