This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
So we had this big election, there was all this last-minute posturing on both sides and then… what? Relative silence from our elected officials. It turns out that a few have been working furiously behind the scenes to move the ball forward.
David Brewster offers us a look at the new Sims-Nickels alliance and it’s efforts to break the deadlock:
From conversations with Sims’ and Nickels’ staffers comes the outline of a joint county-city-Metro Transit approach that combines the boulevard with a broad attack on various choke points for downtown traffic and freight and a good dash of faster bus service.
The basic pact between Sims and Nickels is that Sims gets BRT routes (which means the city giving up some traffic lanes on streets) and Nickels gets his small boulevard along the central waterfront.
Sims knows that for his BRT Plan, RapidRide (.pdf), to truly be effective, he’ll need some major road improvements. So it’s time to make nice with Nickels.
Of course, the Sims-Nickels surfact-transit plan still has to win the approval of Gov. Gregoire, whom Brewster singles out for her “Olympia” mindset on transportation:
The Gregoire maneuver cost her among many Seattle interests, and it indicated how much she remains caught in an Olympia mindset, which sees transportation as a highway issue, while Seattle is increasingly seeing urban transportation as weaning-from-highways.
Nonetheless, there might be a compromise in the works:
Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a master dealmaker, has predicted the shape of the ultimate compromise: a depressed roadway along the waterfront, probably six lanes wide, with pedestrian bridges across it to waterfront parks. Munro compares it to the Interstate 5 ditch through downtown. That’s not very pretty, but it avoids the cost of a tunnel lid, puts the traffic a little out of sight through use of berms, and isn’t a new viaduct. Ceis dismisses this idea out of hand, saying that if you are going to build a trench you might as well put a lid over it.
Indeed. But that might give the city leaders a backdoor route to the tunnel they’ve always wanted: agree to the trench deal and then drop a lid on it a few years later, when no one’s looking.
Either way, one thing’s clear: this thing’s far from settled.