[UPDATE: Some Constantine people emailed me to assert that the full transportation section of the speech provides much needed context, in contrast to the PubliCola excerpt. Indeed, Mr. Constantine goes on to hit very strongly pro-transit points in his talk.
I'm still unconvinced that the Surface/Transit/I-5 plan is a radical anti-road plan. Not spending huge amounts on the DBT frees up state money to work on the surface roadway and I-5, which in turn frees up city money to improve the transit. Nevertheless, a much longer excerpt of the speech is now below the jump, so you can decide for yourself.]
[UPDATE 2: I got this statement from Constantine's office:
Our office is committed to fighting for funding for transit in downtown Seattle and throughout the county and fighting to add capacity to I-5 as part of the resurfacing project.
Our only point of disagreement is whether a tunnel or a six-lane surface highway is the best way to move cars and trucks through downtown. The Executive in his speech says he supports the tunnel.]
I slammed Governor Gregoire for using anti-environmentalist hyperbole, so it’s only fair that I highlight the story that Andrew linked to yesterday, where Dow Constantine, a great friend of most causes that this blog supports, used some unhinged language about the surface/transit/I-5 option.
Constantine accused “a small faction” in Seattle—obvious code for Mayor Mike McGinn and his fellow proponents of the surface/transit/I-5 alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct—of “believ[ing] that the key to the future lies in forcing traffic gridlock so that people abandon their cars.”
It’s a shame that he had to use this framing, as most of the rest of what PubliCola quotes is at least a cogent argument for the deep-bore tunnel*. Unlike the Governor, Constantine at least avoided right-wing code words like “social engineering” and the implication that surface/transit advocates are totalitarians.
But there’s still that ugly rhetoric of “force”. Once again, the surface plan spends $2.3 billion of a $3.3 billion total on highways. It is hardly giving up on moving cars through the city. Constantine implies that spending a little less on roads and a little more on transit is the use of force. I don’t know how to reconcile that with his broader record of supporting transit. More below the jump.
I’m starting to agree that this is sort of pointless to argue about anymore, because the tunnel is going to happen. But if prominent officials keep labeling people like me as extremists because we want to reserve a mere 14% of a megaproject’s cost for transit, and save $900m in the process, I’m going to rebut it.
*Obviously, one with which I disagree.
A long excerpt from the speech is below:
“In both of these proud, forward-thinking cities there is an odd undercurrent, an opposing force, that if yielded to results in: Gridlock. Transportation gridlock. Political gridlock. Economic gridlock.
In one city, the city across the lake, a small faction seems to believe that the key to the future lies in forcing traffic gridlock so that people abandon their cars.
This group is guided by a noble set of values: to address the realities of climate change, to fight overdependence on foreign oil, and to promote the fact that merely adding capacity is never a lasting solution in solving traffic congestion.
I share many of these values, but I disagree with them on a simple point.
I know that traffic congestion—even intentionally-created traffic congestion—has dreadful and unintended impacts to our economy, our quality of life—and our environment.
I don’t want a 6-lane, slow-motion, surface highway along Seattle’s waterfront. And we all know that freight doesn’t take the bus.
I support the bored tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct because I want to see a world-class waterfront, in a world-class city, that isn’t choked with buses, trucks, and cars sitting in gridlock.
I want to see a Port that can compete internationally, while creating family-wage jobs in the most trade-dependent state in the nation.
A contract’s been signed, let’s get the tunnel started and put people back to work.
On the flipside of the gridlock crowd in Seattle is a group here in Bellevue, whose opposite stance could create the same result.
Opposition to light rail – despite the will of the voters who approved East Link – has created an atmosphere of political gridlock and acrimony outmatched only perhaps by the Viaduct debate.
That gridlock threatens to create unnecessary delays in bringing voter-approved and voter-funded service to this vibrant, growing downtown community.
We owe it to the voters who spoke with a clear voice for light rail – we owe it to the employers and communities – those both in and beyond Bellevue – to move forward.
We must acknowledge that a car-only culture, the mirror image of that faction in Seattle, is simply not consistent with our shared vision for the future …. and it’s not, as I mentioned, how we prepare our region for the greatness we can achieve.
What then is our urban vision—how do we move forward to embrace that bright future?
It starts with how we develop our built environments and link our communities.
Like most of you, and like this region’s voters, I believe we are best served by a true, multi-modal transportation and transit network.
That means more transit and more efficient transit, cleaner cars, less congestion, safe routes for bikes and pedestrians, and walkable urban centers where we are closer to shopping, schools, and jobs.
We should not try to reduce our dependence on the car by creating congestion and harming downtowns—that merely forces frustrated residents and businesses to abandon the urban core and sprawl into rural and ex-urban areas.
Instead, we must direct capital investments into our downtowns to make them exciting, livable hubs of commerce and culture.”