This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

We’ll know more in the morning, but here are some things to keep in mind in tunnel discussions. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few hours perusing the Discovery Institute’s website, as the bored tunnel was their idea, and we have to assume that they’re the go-to resource until we get more information from WSDOT. Discovery has reprinted several op-eds on the tunnel, including a West Seattle Herald piece from Vlad Oustimovitch, the oft-quoted West Seattle architect on the advisory committee, an op-ed from KC Councilman Larry Phillips, and a PSBJ article.

From these, several things emerge:

  • The viaduct would stay in place until the boring is complete, which could be five years or more.
  • There would be no downtown exits
  • There would be no connection for traffic coming from Ballard on Elliot/Western. That traffic would get pushed on to Alaskan Way. Which might be a good thing for Ballard companies like Ballard Oil, since…
  • Hazardous materials won’t be allowed

Some other questions:

  • Where is the money for transit in all this?
  • Will buses be routed through the tunnel? If so, why no HOV lanes? Right now I can’t think of any bus route that goes through downtown without making any stops, and I can’t see why you’d want one.
  • Will Ballard traffic start taking Leary > N 39th St > Aurora Ave. > Tunnel? That’s how I’d go to get to the Airport and points South.

But even more importantly: when this tunnel finally opens (say, 2020?) it will — at a cost of $4B — reduced the capacity through downtown from 6 lanes to 4. It will also surely be the only 21st century urban highway built without HOV lanes or the room to add them. Since the Viaduct won’t close until the tunnel opens, traffic won’t have time to adapt to a new pattern. Will it fill up immediately with new trips?

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