Gov. Christine Gregoire (wikimedia)

A brief timeline on Governor Gregoire’s promises on viaduct related issues:

1/3/2008: Gregoire promises a 2012 teardown, for safety reasons:

“It’s coming down in 2012. I’m taking it down — the middle,”…

“That’s the timeline. I’m not going to fudge on it. And if we don’t have some alternative by then, boy are we going to have a mess on our hands because it’s coming down.”

Asked if she, as governor, could trump the state’s largest city and county and unilaterally tear down a highway that carries more than 100,000 vehicles a day through the heart of Seattle, Gregoire said:

“Yeah, watch me.”

The viaduct is now to be torn down by 2016, because safety risks pale compared to the horror of having only one freeway through downtown for four years.

1/13/2009: In a press conference with Mayor Nickels and Executive Sims, Gregoire announces her support for the deep-bore tunnel plan, which includes new state-granted authority for a 1% MVET, bringing in $190m in capital funds and $15m per year for Metro.

2/2/2009: Gregoire backs away from the MVET part of the deal at the first sign of trouble in the legislature:

Legislative leaders in the state House and Senate say the proposed 1 percent motor-vehicle excise tax, or $100 yearly on a $10,000 car, would have a hard time making it through the Legislature this year.

“To the Legislature I say, separate it out from the tunnel because it doesn’t have anything to do with the tunnel,” Gregoire said at a news conference.

5/19/2009: Gregoire goes out of her way to specifically veto a legislative provision allowing Metro to levy a $20 vehicle license fee, aimed at preventing cuts to service rather than expanding it.

6/3/2010: The Governor signs a “letter of commitment” saying “We fully endorse this partnership and are each personally committed to invest the time and resources needed to ensure this program reaches a successful conclusion.”  Still no detail on who would pay for the overruns.

Mike McGinn, apparently disinclined to make empty promises, refuses to sign.

104 Replies to “Tunnel Oath”

  1. i’m not a Seattlite , so ask you guys :

    over/under on when this monstrosity will actually get torn down?

    1. It’ll get torn down by external forces… I don’t think there will be any human intervention at the rate this has been going on.

      My bet is that it’ll be within the next 4 years. I hope I remember not to take 99 from the airport anymore :)

    2. It’s funny because in 2007 the Govenor said that the people needed to vote on whether to rebuild the viaduct or replace it with a cut and cover tunnel. Nothing about a deep bore tunnel. She also is stating the the city will pay for any cost over run and the Govenor pledges to pay the viaduct replacement in full.

      How is it all the sudden a deep bore tunnel is being forced on the people?

      The viaduct is a gorgeous structure whose integrity needs to remain. If the viaduct was rebuilt safe and sound, would you still call it a monstrosity?
      Or perhaps you have tunnel vision?

  2. It should also be remembered, that at the end of 2008 it was all but decided that we would go with the surface/transit option (with the tunnel explicitly removed from consideration on account of cost), to be official with Gregoire’s January 1st decision. Then the Downtown Seattle businesses freaked out, the governor delayed her decision, and came out two weeks later with the tunnel decision.

    1. Seattle businesses and citizens freaked out, especially those in the West Seattle-to-Greenwood corridor who would find their communities virtually cut off from downtown.

      Let’s not fool ourselves as we watch McGinn flog his one-trick pony (because he’s failing at everything else), this is getting built. The utopian visions of people just giving up their cars for the sole reason that they can’t get around – they’re flights of fancy, nothing more.

      AFTER we finish our grade-separated light rail throughout the city, we can pat ourselves on the back and tear out the highways. But until then, people have to get from place to place. No matter how much you might hate the car driver, that’s hard, hard reality.

      1. How does tearing down the viaduct cut off Greenwood from downtown? If you’re on the viaduct it means you’re going through downtown, not to it.

      2. Agreed, and considering the tunnel has no downtown access, I fail to see how the surface option could possibly have LESS connectivity to DT.

      3. First Ave South exit from the Viaduct provides fast access from communities with quick access to Aurora in north Seattle (e.g. Greenwood) to south part of downtown and International District via a 180 degree left circling motion involving Royal Brougham. Similarly, going only 90 degrees left just past the stadiums from First Ave South is fast access to I-90.

      4. As a pedestrian downtown I hate the viaduct. As a car driver I took it on a Saturday to avoid the congestion Southbound on I-5 and it worked fine.

        If it was my wallet paying for this project, I’d tear it down and run SR-99 as a surface option only and put the money saved into a Light Rail line to West Seattle. And save the underground space for a future Light Rail line N/S through the city.

      5. Why bury future light rail underground? Why not in the near future convert the viaduct to mass transit? Why not give the people the views? The scenery is of huge value to the viaduct and why not keep that for the people?

        A small group of monied interest will benefit from removing the viaduct while the majority of the people will lose.

        Oh by the way,
        today,Tue June 02 @ 1:30 is stop the tunnel meeting,, next to the Ballard Library at the neighborhood community space.

      6. The viaduct is going to fall down if it’s not torn down. Seismic retrofits could extent it’s life but it would be nearly impossible to prevent it from continued sinking into the muck that it was built on. It would be cheaper to start over. Personally I’d like to see a comparison of the current DBT plan to a single level viaduct. The views from the viaduct are terrific and just as they are providing a bike path/walkway on the new 520 sinking bridge a pedestrian/bike path on the seaward side of a new elevated structure would be fantastic. Just make it so head level is below the top of the Jersey Barrier.

        The area under the viaduct doesn’t have to be lost to a parking wasteland. It can provide a covered pedestrian and bike corridor along with providing some parking. Colonnade is a great example of how area under a roadway can be reclaimed as a park. I’d argue that the “view” at ground level trumps the intrusion of the view from a single level elevated roadway. And don’t kid yourself, once the viaduct comes down the existing footprint is going to become a clogged arterial creating more of a barrier to pedestrian access than we have now.

      7. You obviously don’t use the viaduct from w sea because I can get off for pike place market, pioneer square, the waterfront, lower (and upper) queen anne, capitol hill… you get the idea. But I’m just going through right?

      8. Michael,

        AFTER we finish our grade-separated light rail throughout the city, we can pat ourselves on the back and tear out the highways. But until then, people have to get from place to place. No matter how much you might hate the car driver, that’s hard, hard reality.

        That’s exactly the problem — this tunnel is going to consume city resources that might have gone towards completing light rail; by making more driving more attractive, it will also reduce political support for rail, and reduce ridership estimates so as to make a rail project less competitive for federal grants.

      9. More than that – the tunnel will cause ridership estimates and perceived need to be far lower for a transit line, so we won’t get one. You cannot be pro-transit and pro-tunnel: the tunnel prevents transit.

      10. I’d like to see more on this. Considering the tunnel is just a DT bypass, how much of an effect will it have on the high demand corridors that we will be looking to expand Link to in the Future?

      11. Lots. Every car that uses the tunnel to bypass downtown gets off I-5, making space for more commuters.

      12. Every new transit rider might be also making more space on the freeways.
        Not a good argument.

      13. Yes, every new transit rider also makes space on freeways. That has no impact on the argument – the argument is that if you create a bypass, you reduce demand for transit. The same does go the other way – if you create transit, you will reduce demand for a tunnel.

      14. What grade separated? We tried to get it grade separated in Rainier Valley and SODO but people said, “Oh no, that’s too expensive.” So we’re stuck with a 75% efficient rail system that can never have driverless trains (which would allow more frequency for the same cost), unlike Vancouver which built it right the first time.

      15. But there is NO credible option for such light rail, and it’s not even in the cards. Mayor [ad-hominem] is currently proposing a streetcar for the corridor – something to be built quickly and on the cheap. And even that plan is basically cocktail-napkin math with no solid research or planning behind it.

      16. Ryan, actually, much of the planning work was done by the monorail project – ridership projections were done that apply to light rail as well, and route planning is still just as relevant today.

        Sound Transit is preparing to do preliminary engineering on that corridor in a few years – all we’d have to do is get the city council to pay for it instead of waiting.

        So, no, you don’t seem to be informed about this at all.

      17. Except the monorail would have been grade-separated and not directly affected by street traffic. The proposed streetcars still have to deal with traffic lights, no matter how hard DOT and ST try to time them.

      18. Ryan,

        There’s no concrete proposal yet, but we’ve already done some analysis on it. It would probably cost a bit under a billion to do Central Link standards to West Seattle — as it happens, that’s about what the city has to chip in to the tunnel because the gas tax money is all going underground.

        You’re right that Ballard is probably stuck with a streetcar for now, but then they have more alternatives into downtown.

        And of course, there’s RapidRide, which can be good or bad depending on how many resources people are willing to put into it. But take $900m+overruns out of the city budget, and the opportunity to do things like street improvements is toast.

      19. I would love to see the timelines for the new, proposed streetcar lines. I know Ethan has said in the past that there will be further discussion of the new streetcar lines in the future, but no possible dates has been given (probably due to the economic climate currently and the fact there is no money to begin any of them.)

      20. To answer Cyclist Mike – URS’ ridership study for the monorail modeled at-grade as well as grade-separated transit. We have decent data already.

        And I wouldn’t be a big fan of a streetcar. Just because McGinn says it doesn’t mean that’s the way it will go – that won’t meet demand at all, and planners will shoot it down.

      21. I am quite informed, Ben. No analysis has ever been done on a streetcar line from downtown to Ballard via Fremont and Leary Way. What would the ridership be? How would the line add to existing congestion near the Fremont Bridge, or what investment would be made to ensure that the existing congestion is avoided?

        The monorail planning was done for a grade-separated line in the 15th Avenue corridor, including Queen Anne. The streetcar we would get from McGinn’s “proposal” (and I hate to call it even a proposal, because it’s so vague) would resemble nothing similar.

        Don’t get me wrong – I do support such a streetcar – but not as mitigation for a removed Hwy 99 corridor. At a minimum, a full central-link style line with grade separation downtown and across the bridges would be needed before the waterfront highway could be removed. Unfortunately, there’s no such plan. Thus, a tunnel is necessary.

      22. The monorail’s alignment analysis studied a light rail alternative. I said it, you ignored me, that doesn’t make you right.

      23. Ben and Ryan are talking past each other. Ryan is talking about the Fremont/Leary corridor, Ben is talking about 15th.

      24. At least some of us in West Seattle will lose the express bus access to downtown with the Tunnel, e.g. 21X.:( Stoplights and traffic on 1st Ave S on the way to downtown even with limited or no stops could be slow.

  3. As I have said before the Governor doesn’t understand transportation issues. I support her on many issues but when it comes to transportation she just doesn’t get it.

    1. And her Sec’y of Highways (Transportation) has even less understanding than Cruisin’ Chris of public transport issues – she used to lay asphalt for a living!

      I am no conspiracy theorist, but have been around long enough to see politicians push a pet proposals so as to defeat a program or plan they abhor – the Deep Bore tunnel is a perfect example.

      Deep Bore must defeated at all costs, or as many have already written here, construction of transport infrastructure will be set back a decade or more in the city.

      1. Don’t rule out conspiracy when it comes to transportation planning. The Deep-bore tunnel and its related surface street projects Alaskan Way and Mercer West are obviously the worst engineering. It’s probably been a healthy respite of humor for who knows how many conservatives close to blowing a cranial blood vessel over how much they hate Seattler liberals:

        “Hey Martha. Those clueless idiot weirdo Seattler jerks still haven’t figured out that moving the Ballard traffic from Elliott and Western over to, uh, Dexter & 6th to Broad, Denny Way and Western to Elliott, or, Mercer to Queen Anne & 1st Ave to Harrison or Thomas or Denny Way-Western to Elliott, or, 2-lane Mercer Place to Elliott? Then there’s the Alaskan Way bullcrap, maybe 17 stoplights there, 5 or 6 through Queen Anne if they pay a toll. Wow. And they think we’re stupid. Ha Ha! Can’t wait to watch what it does to their Mercer Mess. Ha Ha.”

  4. Wait, I thought McGinn was the one being reckless with people’s lives? So we can’t wait a second longer to get the cost overruns taken care of, but waiting four more years so as not to inconvenience drivers is A-okay?

    1. Well, in keeping with personal responsibility, drivers can take it upon themselves to avoid the viaduct. The state could put up signs at the entrances with a skull and crossbones and an icon of an earthquake and a broken bridge to make sure drivers are fully informed.

  5. Whether you like the tunnel or not, Martin’s most salient point is that Gregoire has proven herself to be much less trustworthy than McGinn. On transit funding, she’s a flat-out liar and a hypocrite. The day after she announced her support for the DBT, King County asked Gregoire to follow through with a Governor Request bill, but she said no. A few months later, when the legislature delivers her a (much smaller) bill anyway, she vetoes it.

    Gregoire touts herself as an environmentalist whose top priorities are fighting climate change and cleaning up Puget Sound. Yet, she fights (fights!) against funding for the transit that can help alleviate the biggest source of pollution into the Sound and into the air – private automobiles.

    Because the DBT will have no downtown exits, without additional transit service on the corridor, people who live in Magnolia, Ballard and West Seattle won’t find the tunnel to be much more useful than they find the Burlington Northern tunnel to them today. Downtown Seattle will choke on the 60,000 additional cars a day that will pushed out onto city streets because of the lack of exits and the $2-4 it will cost to use the tunnel.

    With Gregoire refusing to do anything about transit funding (except fight it), you have to ask why King County is even at the table on this project anymore. Dow Constantine should follow the lead of his former Council colleague, Larry Phillips, and walk away from this process. Gov. Gregoire is making the new county executive look like a patsy.

    1. Maybe I’m missing something with the argument of pushing 60,000 cars through downtown because there aren’t exits… One, I’m not sure where 60,000 is coming from, but let’s just use that number for the sake of it.

      Those 60,000 using exits to downtown on the current AWV are… wait for it… still going downtown. They are currently filling the streets. Maybe not end to end from north to south, but those cars are still there. Having a tunnel with exits at both ends will still have those cars going downtown. If you’re going on the AWV to bypass downtown, the tunnel will still do the same as exits aren’t necessary.

      If the tunnel is to be built, there will still be the surface street option as well to get to your DOWNTOWN location – as well as to your neighborhood that isn’t directly served by 99 anyway.

      Note: I’m not saying I’m in favor of the tunnel. I just do not understand the logic behind this argument the OP posted yet.

      1. The AWV was originally configured in the same way the DBT is planned to be. Ramps into the core were planned for but it required voter agitation to get them built, opening 2 and 7 years after the whole viaduct was completed, respectively. Or 9 and 14 years if we’re only counting the elevated portion through downtown and not the elevated portion south of Yesler.

      2. All taffic that enters or leaves downtown Seattle will have to use north/south streets to get to the northern and southen portals. Just imagine the current viaduct but without any downtown exists. That is where the extra trips come from.

      3. Adam,

        Sixty thousand cars do not use the Seneca and Spring ramps every day. In fact, those are the only “downtown exits”.

        There may be 60,000 cars accessing the AWV if you include the Elliott and Western ramps, but those are diversions from downtown not “downtown exits”. That is, Elliott intercepts southbound cars before they get downtown, removing them from the streets, and Western deposits them after they’ve passed downtown. (I understand we all know this geography, just pointing out that you can’t consider them as downtown access points).

        The ramps at Aurora and Denny will presumably still be there even with the new tunnel.

        The biggest impact on downtown will be that the DBT will not serve the Western/Elliott ramps, which divert many more cars away from downtown streets than the Aurora ramps add to them.

      1. It’s not 60,000 cars. It’s 60,000 people. And we have spare bus seats and train seats to put most of them on.

      2. seats mabye (there must be some extra 2300/3200s with the new hybrids coming online), but not the funds…

      3. Well, the funds currently planned to be used for the giant automobile tunnel would provide the funds…

  6. I really don’t understand this whole farce about “no downtown exits”. Access to downtown from 99 will not be much different than it is today. As it currently stands, just about all traffic downtown SB exits at Denny Way. This will continue to be the major exit with the tunnel. Yes, the exit at Western will close, but it’s no big deal if you ask me. First, it’s a dangerous exit and the state plans to close it anyway (short deceleration lane, very little space until the stoplight). Second, it dumps you out in an inconvenient area that’s poorly connected to the street grid. So, coming from the North, your access is just as good as it is today.

    Coming from West Seattle and points south, it’s true that you’ll need to exit near the stadiums rather than at Seneca. This may be a few blocks south of the current exit, but the much better surface access (via Alaskan Way and other streets) will mitigate this. Seneca becomes a one-way street shortly after the exit, requiring forced turns on 1st Avenue or 2nd Avenue, which isn’t exactly convenient as it is.

    In other words, this “lack of downtown exits” seems to just be a red herring argument to me. One more in a long list of them.

    1. Ryan,

      If it’s great for NB traffic to exit at the stadiums, and SB traffic to exit at Denny, then there’s no need to build the tunnel at all – simply terminate SR99 at both points.

      1. The tunnel is a necessity to get traffic going THROUGH downtown. When Interstate 5 was built, it was assumed that most traffic would be coming from the outer area TO downtown, which is why the freeway narrows to just two lanes in the tightest part. Sure, we can moan all we want to about the mistakes of the past, but now we can correct them a bit, or at least not make them worse, by making sure we maintain two routes that will get people THROUGH downtown Seattle. Plus, cargo trucks that carry things like food, toys, washing machines and shoes need to get from the Port to various locations, and trains aren’t very efficient for most of those trips. I certainly don’t want all those trucks going through downtown or the waterfront on city streets.

        For the people who cry about the tunnel making it easy for people to drive and more difficult for transit planning, I say this: With the tolling that will be going on on all major highways, that in itself will be enough to get people out of their SOV and either into carpools or transit. Plus, if the money wasn’t being allocated to the new tunnel, what makes you think it would suddenly be available for your pet projects? If it wasn’t going to be spent on getting rid of the viaduct, it would probably go to Spokane for some more freeway lanes, or maybe Yakima, Wenatchee, or Walla Walla. Certainly not another Seattle project, which has been woefully short on repairing or expanding it’s roadways.

        For those who have read my previous responses on here, you know that I am pro-transit. But, I absolutely want a nice open waterfront free from the viaduct and the noise it creates. I don’t want some four or six-lane boulevard where the viaduct is now creating pollution at every streetlight. I am looking forward to having a waterfront full of tourists, parks, and yes, condos and hotels at each end keeping the waterfront a 24-hour area like it should be.

      2. The problem is, the argument is purely ideological. It doesn’t take into account the impact on the rest of the region. Expanding roadways destroys livability – we all know it, why do people still push for it?

      3. Because some people make a lot of money building out into the suburbs. Others have invested considerable amounts of money in moving there. None of them wants to admit to having made a mistake and thus lose money.

      4. I certainly see your point but when was the last time you or anyone you new drove from Seattle to Everett or Tacoma on SR-99? If the purpose of the project is to move people through Seattle, not around Seattle, it would be a much smarter investment to improve traffic flow on I-5.

      5. And where/how would you propose improving flow on I-5? It’s boxed in below by the soon to be dug Link Tunnel, above by Freeway Park and the Convention Center, and on either side by downtown itself. Or is you magic wand to improve it to simply toll the crap out of it? Outside of this board, that would hardly be considered a solution.

      6. Whatever the solution for getting through downtown Seattle, the users should pay the cost.

      7. They won’t. Those trips aren’t worth the cost to the users – they’ll make other trips instead. That’s why you can only pay for a little bit of the structure with tolls.

      8. Adam, the answer is to remove downtown exits from I-5, which has been seriously looked at over the years. In particular, Seneca nb. Last time I drove past they were cleaning up yet another accident on 6th.

        The farce of DBT’s lack of downtown exits was addressed, so I’ll bring up the farce of I-5 lanes.

        The line that “I-5 narrows to just two lanes” downtown sounds nice. But if you actually drive the freeway, or stand over it on a sidewalk, or just use Google’s Streetview, you’ll see that there are 4 northbound lanes and 4 southbound lanes — that go through — at the narrowest spot. [Even if you ignore the *through* lanes that feed the I-90 connector, that’s 3 each way?] And if you move a few dozen yards south of the convention center, the freeway is massive at about 15 lanes wide.

        Perhaps we are not making good use of our 8 lanes of freeway. I bet all of the sudden entrances and exits cause a bunch of the slowdown.

        But you and Jim Horn need to give up on this “two lane” nonsense. It confuses voters in Spokane.

      9. Plus, cargo trucks that carry things like food, toys, washing machines and shoes need to get from the Port to various locations, and trains aren’t very efficient for most of those trips

        Congestion pricing can solve this problem. A high toll will drive away most cars, while trucks will pay to use a congestion-free roadway because time is money. No need for a tunnel!

        Plus, if the money wasn’t being allocated to the new tunnel, what makes you think it would suddenly be available for your pet projects?

        If the state weren’t sinking its whole contribution into the tunnel, some of it could be used to handle a lot of surface improvements that the city is currently paying for. Gas tax money isn’t going to transit but all that city taxing authority certainly could be.

      10. Nor would trucks use the tunnel, since it would still be faster to just go along the waterfront. The biggest bungle in this process was the decision to have the north entrance at Aurora instead of Western. The tunnel could have been a freight bypass. Now, it will only be a pricey alternate route for north Seattleites trying to get to SODO jobs or a game without using the RapidRide Line E, Link, or other handy one-seat rides with no hopeless parking search at the end. Small market, that group of drivers.

      11. “When Interstate 5 was built, it was assumed that most traffic would be coming from the outer area TO downtown, which is why the freeway narrows to just two lanes in the tightest part. Sure, we can moan all we want to about the mistakes of the past…”

        The mistake was that they didn’t realize how the freeways would change the traffic patterns in the region. I’m told that after I-5 was built, it took ten years to fill up because people didn’t know what to do with it. They didn’t live twenty miles north or south of where they worked because that would be ridiculous. The same of course is doubly true with 405 and 520, which essentially created the Eastside as we know it now.

    2. Voters forced the city and WSDOT to build ramps at Columbia and Seneca because using the AWV as a bypass while taking away Alaskan Way as a thoroughfare obliterated downtown traffic.

    3. Uh, “just about all” is totally incorrect. A minority of traffic exits at Denny Way. Please stop repeating falsehoods.

      1. Just as soon as you and the anti-tunnel cadre stop repeating the lie that there was a vote on this tunnel plan in the past and that it was defeated…

      2. I like how it can’t be “the tunnel plan”, it has to be “this tunnel plan”. So let’s say we vote on this one – they can move a bolt and say the same thing again.

        Voters don’t know a thing about the difference between this or that tunnel plan. They voted against a tunnel.

      3. There really are differences between the two tunnels, none of which would actually pick up any votes, as has been dissected to death on lesser blogs ad nauseam.

      4. That’s just the point. There was a vote against a tunnel plan, which just might POSSIBLY suggest voters don’t want any expensive tunnel. There was no vote on this tunnel — voters weren’t even consulted, it’s just being rammed down our throats.

  7. I am in favor of transit/ surface options and all that, but people’s belief that we use 99 just to get downtown is incorrect. I use 99 to get from Columbia City to Fremont, and judging by traffic, I say a few more people do too. Like I said I support the surface idea, but not to take into account ‘hood to ‘hood traffic is short sighted.

    This is mistake Metro makes all the time. If you want to get downtown from your house, great, but if want to go to another nieghborhood get ready for a ride twice as long as it would take to drive with a stop downtown if you want it or not.

    1. This is my biggest complaint as well. Few people I know use 99 to go downtown, they use it to bypass the mess that is I-5 and the downtown grid. I’d love to use transit more, but there are absolutely no options to places outside the CBD that don’t spend at least 30 minutes picking up and dropping off people downtown and forcing poorly timed and spaced connections. The 510/511-590/4 connection is particularly infuriating, as the latter always seems to leave about 5 minutes before the 510 arrives at 7th & Stewart. I guess ST just doesn’t like the idea of people seamlessly going from Everett to Tacoma for $3 (along with us freeway station users as well), which is why I will continue to drive my car along 99 and 599 to go south instead.

      1. Out of curiosity, would you pay $3 to use SR 99? Or likely more than $4 since that’s the discussed tolls level to pay for the DBT. Actually due to increasing fuel efficiency and the upcoming need to repave I-5, all the highways will probably have tolls in the next decade, and possibly Seattle arterial streets as well. Gas taxes simply are not paying even for highways.

        I completely agree that ST schedules should be better coordinated, though they’ve got a very complex problem since they also have to deal with MT and PT routes. I’ve gone to visit in-laws and needed to just missed a PT 11 at Tacoma Dome! What would be much better would be all-day frequent service up the hill on Tacoma Link.

      2. ST2 Link will allow you to go from northeast Seattle to southeast Seattle and beyond without spending twenty minutes going through downtown or getting stuck on I-5. You’ll just have to suffer four DSTT stops instead of the two that would be there if it weren’t downtown. A west side Link could do the same for the west side of town, which is why we’ve been pushing for it.

    2. Bypassing downtown is actually something we don’t want to subsidize people doing in their cars. Doing so causes decentralization – just like all freeways do. A small inconvenience in using I-5 instead will incentivize businesses coming into downtown and more local trips.

      1. Agreed. Dedicate a couple streets to full-time bus-only service (or with a majority of bus only lanes) and put the cars on the remaining available lanes. People might want to stick around downtown and avoid rush-hour. I’m a firm believer in the idea that not all congestion is bad – most cities with vibrant vibrant urban cores aren’t trying to move cars out or through as quickly as possible.

      2. Ah, the sweet dream of transit malls and pedestrian thoroughfares… I agree, give transit just a couple dedicated streets and both capacity and service quality would improve drastically.

        – Make Pike, Pine, 1st, and 3rd transit/pedestrian/deliveries only.
        – Let cars keep full access to Alaskan, Western, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Yesler, James, Jefferson, Columbia, Cherry, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, etc etc…

        The balance would still be HUGELY in favor of autos, and I bet they’d still complain bitterly about it.

      3. Can I spitball?

        Something which seems to be lacking in these discussions are the effects on Harbor Island and the industrial areas surrounding it. Removing 99 as a freight corridor into and out of the northern edge of this area will have a negative effect on industry within the city’s limits and, possibly, the region.

        So what, you might say?

        By deindustrializing the city, jobs and housing are pushed further apart (for those jobs that do not relocate entirely outside of the region). The city’s economic diversity is undermined because there’s really nowhere else to put a port inside the city limits. A loss of diversity leads to a decrease in economic resilience. Both of those are quite bad things both from an environmental and economic standpoint.

        Now, you might think this is an argument in favor of a DBT. It is not. Instead, I am suggesting a limited access surface option. Make that route freight and transit only. Sure, it is a bit less picturesque than most of the renderings of the surface option but it is better for the overall health of the city and metro region.

      4. CJH I completely agree. Freight mobility doesn’t need to mean new general purpose lanes. It has been set up as a false choice.

      5. Oh yes. Though, to be honest, it would never be acceptable to the waterfront property owners due to it being “ugly.” Which is why we’re stuck with this crappy tunnel.

      6. So if I go to the north end in my car and use 99 to bypass downtown, I am causing the decentralization of Seattle? Instead you would rather I sit in traffic on I-5 and pollute the area even more as I idle for hours? No…you would rather I take the bus through downtown and get to the north end two hours later. Sorry Ben, I love taking the light rail or the bus from Burien when I have to go downtown, but when it comes to going north of downtown, I take 99 in my car. Much quicker. Much easier. And there is no guilt.

        There is not one right answer for every problem. You seem to be hung up on this idea that there is only one good way to solve all of our transportation needs. Trains are good sometimes. Busses are good sometimes. Biking is good sometimes. Boats are good sometimes. Walking is good sometimes. Airplanes are good sometimes. And, yes, cars are good sometimes. They all have their place at the right time, for the right reason. And they all cost money to use.

      7. Yes, absolutely, that trip causes Seattle to decentralize.

        The key is, you won’t choose to sit on I-5 for those trips. The people who currently cross town will collectively make many fewer crosstown trips.

        You seem to be hung up on the idea that cars can solve our transportation needs. Cars can solve a very small portion of our transportation needs, but for the vast majority of trips in the city, we need to stop supporting them – or we will burn oil until we can’t afford it anymore and we’ve ruined our future.

    3. Darn right! Living in Shoreline but wanting to get to the Seattle Center area, I have to drive to where I can get a bus that takes me there. I would love it if a few more bus routes went from the north end to downtwon VIA Seattle Center(and also ran until late night instead of ending at 9pm or 10pm).

      1. Seattle Center seriously justifies a rapid transit line going from the city northward. We knew that, and tried to build the monorail, but we still need something. Demand it!

  8. Excellent review of Governor Gregoire’s positions. The timeline speaks for it’a self. Thanks Martin H. Duke for taking the time to put this together.

    Governor Gregoire has lived most of her life in small town Washington and has little sympathy for Seattle. I am sure she curses under her breath when she is forced to come here on business. (I am being sarcastic, just a little). Don’t expect her to do whats right for us here in the “big city”.

    1. Gregoire: smart on transportation? No. OK on everything else? More or less. Better than Rossi? 1000X yes. Worse than an unnamed Democrat? Maybe, but I wouldn’t risk it until we know who the other person is. McGinn or Constantine for governor? (I can just see the shudders and screams on the right if we end up with Governor McGinn.)

  9. I can’t believe how drawn out this project has gone (well, maybe I can). Could we waste anymore time and money discussing this? It sounds like its time for Seattle to sprout some balls and commit to an alternative.

    Out of curiosity, why don’t we emulate our friends to the south and tear down the Viaduct a la the Embarcadero… leaving it to a surface option? Why don’t we funnel the funds earmarked to building a tunnel towards transit? It’s very clear we’ll never be able to please EVERYONE when it comes to the Viaduct decision, so why don’t we just rip the band-aid off quickly and get this project complete!

    1. Oh, we will waste several billions more while talking about the DBT (and 520) instead of actually building the transit systems that could have been.
      Remember, it took us 41 years to get to 7.18.09, and some of us lived through every minute of the agony.

      1. So that’s why the Celtic friendly match is on a Friday … it’s the anniversary party at the XBox360 pitch at Taxpayers’ Field II.

    2. The Embarcadero Viaduct was not a through route. It was a stub with a three sets of on and off-ramps feeding I-80. The AWV is both a through route and (slightly) a downtown access route. But it’s mostly a bypass; not the same thing as Embarcadero.

      1. Exactly. Not to mention the city streets near the waterfront will be significantly improved to provide better access to downtown (yes, including bike lanes and pedestrian paths). Additionally, the new tunnel will be tolled, which will discourage the casual users from driving… thus reducing traffic.

      2. So, basically, you’re going back to the fallacy that the viaduct is the only way through downtown.

        Do we all just keep forgetting that modeling shows that removing the viaduct doesn’t have anything like the impact people think it would on trips through the city?

      3. I love this fantasy that the AWV is a bypass. It’s not. Voters shot down the bypass through a vote, even as the central city was decentralizing in the 50s and 60s, forcing WSDOT to build access ramps into the downtown core.

      4. If you’re coming from the north, it is a bypass. The only exits are at Denny, Western, and Sodo.

    3. “Out of curiosity, why don’t we emulate our friends to the south and tear down the Viaduct a la the Embarcadero… leaving it to a surface option?”

      Some of us would like that, but we don’t have the votes to get it done, otherwise we would have done it five years ago.

  10. Seattle is so lost. We need to get rid of every Council member except O’Brien if we’re ever going to join the 21st century.

    Best, J

  11. Let’s put the modeling to a test. Close the viaduct for two weeks. Deploy all available extra buses to beef up north/northwest Seattle routes and southwest Seattle/King County routes, and see if Car-maggedon actually happens. I bet it will look more like bus-iness as usual. Our transit system has come a long way over the past generation, probably enough to replace 90% of people trips on the viaduct.

    The second week of the experiment, close the waterfront to non-freight private vehicles, and re-start the Benson. It’ll show how much of a difference a waterfront streetcar can make in the surface + transit option.

    Care to take that bet, governor?

  12. It’s really a travesty.

    The viaduct should be torn down now.

    We could have a one year “experiment”. Just tear it down and route traffic through Alaskan. This experiment would demonstrate the feasibly of a possible surface route option at almost no cost to the public.

    If it works, great, build out a fancier surface boulevard.

    If not, case closed. Dig your tunnel.

    The fact that they don’t want to do this, suggests they fear the obvious — that a surface street would be wildly successful and obviate the need for their tunnel!

    1. I’d like to see the viaduct close for a week or a month for “repairs”. Or if it were politically possible, for six months. Then we’d have concrete evidence of what the impact would be if no replacement road were built.

      I guess as the viaduct develops more cracks, eventually they’ll have to do this.

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