For the last couple of months, I’ve been putting my time and money where my mouth is, and volunteering for Protect Seattle Now, the campaign to stop the tunnel and build the I-5/Transit option that stakeholders and government agreed was the best solution for replacing the Viaduct.

As I’ve engaged with this group, I keep learning more that amazes me. Basically, through a stakeholder process and actual study, everyone had already come out in support of the I-5 improvements, street grid improvements, and transit investment option. The Downtown Seattle Association, the Governor, WSDOT, all have strong quotes on record supporting this option.

Then something changed. It’s hard to know what really happened. A backroom deal was made to switch to a tunnel – with lip service to transit, but of course no funding. There’s no transparency at all, no reasoning that holds up under any scrutiny.

This isn’t how we do things. The public process was flipped on its head. There’s no evidence for a tunnel – every new study (a new one from UW today) says it offers little benefit, and shows that the I-5/Transit option that was already the consensus is still best. Even the Port commissioners know this is a waste now.

Seattle has fought highways before, and won. We joke about the Seattle process, but it’s resulted in an incredibly livable city – one where we build transit, parks, schools, and libraries, not huge freeways. These are our values – talking things through and understanding them, then making an informed decision. The state is telling us it knows best – but we’re learning they’re wrong. So we fight, and they’re telling us they don’t want democracy, they don’t want us to have a say. That in itself is worth fighting.

We collected nearly 29,000 signatures in only a month. That is unprecedented for any city campaign. And we’d like to have a celebration to kick off the real campaign.

Please join me tomorrow night and toast the fact that we’re smart, we’re involved, and more than ever, we’re right to fight this – dare I say it? – boondoggle. Come learn about our legal fight, meet the campaign, even sign up to help out!

When: Wednesday, May 11, 7:00 to 10:00 pm

Where: Havana, at 1010 E Pike Street on Capitol Hill

I look forward to seeing you there!

82 Replies to “Tomorrow Night: Protect Seattle Now Campaign Party”

  1. What a remarkable post. It combines almost everything normally found in anti-transit hit pieces from the right: appeals to emotion, allegations of conspiracy and insinuations of elitist and anti-democratic tendencies among otherwise uncontroversial public figures, and thinly-sourced critiques of the logic behind the project. I think I’ll pass.

    1. You sound like “rich gay activists want to redefine marriage” anti-family/anti-gay types. Use the same watery thin rhetoric you accuse others of, you poison the well and reference some invisible justification for the rightness of the current status quo (“logic behind the project” vs. “5000 year old institution of marriage”), then pull an “AM I RIGHT, YOU GUYS?” to try to bait people into agreeing with you.

      Doublepseak fail.

    2. You mean “this post actually looks like it was written by an organized campaign with a message, therefore it must be bad.”

    3. Unfortunately, if you had EVER BOTHERED TO LOOK AT THE HISTORY of the deep bore tunnel, you would know that it actually came out of a mysterious backroom deal.

      I challenge you, Bruce, to actually research the history of the deep bore tunnel. Because you clearly haven’t.

      While the city process supported I-5/Transit, the state process supported the shallow tunnel combined with the seawall (which has a lot to be said for it). Then, suddenly, mysteriously, after secret meetings of legislators and the governor in Olympia, they all came out announcing their support for the deep bore tunnel which had been previously REJECTED by the professional environmental analysis fore being inferior in every way.

      1. Initially, the state proposed ripping down the viaduct and replacing it with another viaduct, then Mayor Greg decided he wanted some expensive tunnel so we could have some nice big waterfront park (yeah, right) with lots or green spaces…or just a lot of expensive real estate to develop. The Gov should have just ripped it down and rebuilt like she said the state was going to do cause it would have saved us from wasting a lot of time on this whole issue. Just re-build the damn thing and be done with it.

  2. Bruce, I wish you and your fellow compatriots the best of luck. I’ll be missing the meeting due to my commute home to Whidbey.

    This stooooopid tunnel hopefully isn’t a done deal, something obviously did happen behind closed doors, ugh….But I myself tend to think that’s how a lot of American politics does indeed get done.

    1. Even if you’re missing it – can you find someone to send instead? Some friend who wants to learn more?

  3. “Then something changed. It’s hard to know what really happened. A backroom deal was made to switch to a tunnel – with lip service to transit, but of course no funding. There’s no transparency at all, no reasoning that holds up under any scrutiny.”

    Bad reporting, nothing concrete, no evidence. This blog entry sounds like something we’d see on FOX news.

    1. Yes, Fox News is all about transit, sensible management of existing roadways, expansion of transit, reduction of greenhouse gases and emissions and they totally love buses.

      I wish you and the rest of the Let’s Move Forward crew luck in selling a road as a “green” option then vanishing from the public eye if it gets built, to avoid having to deal with the inevitable backlash from building what WSDOT calls a “major freeway”.

    2. The whole point is that there’s no evidence. The stakeholder committee, the state, and the governor agreed surface/transit was the best option.

      And then a few weeks later, with no public discussion, the governor, county executive, and mayor came out for the tunnel, all at once.

      That’s pretty much the definition of a backroom deal.

      On our side, we have a growing number of studies saying the same thing: I-5/transit works.

    3. Hello! I was there, ringside, for every step of this. What Ben writes is true.
      In Dec 2008, the three leaders of the stakeholder process reached a conclusion, and put forth two recommendations. I5/Surface/ Transit or Elevated/Transit hybrid. Here’s a link to a news story of that day.

      Note that the officials said the bored tunnel was not brought forward to to its high cost; David Dye had already “poured a cold dose of fiscal reality” on that idea, even though the chamber of commerce guy pushed it hard.

      Those of us on the committee knew we better find common ground in order to move forward together with something constructive; if we didn’t have a solid answer, the elevated was likely to win out. So a representative subset of diverse organizations signed a letter saying let’s do I5/Surface/Transit now with the money in hand, and keep considering the addition of a bored tunnel for later. It wasn’t exactly what the green/ urban side wanted, we felt the evidence for I5/S/T on its own was plenty convincing — but hey, consensus often means compromise.

      In the two weeks that followed, Gregoire checked in with all the folks & businesses she called ‘stakeholders’ (not to be confused with those of us who had put in a year working within the process). And guess what? With no data in front of them, and no costs in front of them, they said a) are you crazy? you can’t take out a highway, and b) we want a megaproject; how about this new-fangled bored tunnel we keep hearing about? So bam, she announced the single bore tunnel, biggest-ever-attempted-in-the-world, and NOT even considered as part of the in-depth analysis due to its high cost and risk, was the answer.
      Those of us who had worked so hard in the stakeholder process — at least those of us who were getting the shaft — got a polite phone call in early January from the head of WSDOT giving us notice that she was ignoring our process and our recommendation. Awkward, to say the least. And then one month later, she vetoed the one provision she had promised to get Ron Sims to go along — $190 million in MVET authority for transit.

      Sometimes it’s hard to believe politicians can be so irrational, so blind to risks and constraints, in their zeal to be deciders. But that is what happened.

    4. Well, since the deep bored tunnel was championed by the same people, the Discovery Institute, who are behind getting “intelligent design” instilled in public school science education it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there were something fishy going on behind the scenes. The deep bored tunnel quite literally came out of thin air, with none of the development process that went in to the other alternatives.

      1. Yep, it wasn’t even an alternative at the time the others went to the stakeholder group.

      2. I hate the tunnel as much as I hate the neadnerthals who push “intelligent design”, but I do have to give credit to the part of Discovery Institute that kept regional transportation on the front burner over the last 20 years.

        Strange bedfellows, etc.

  4. Don’t know how much time they had but in 2007 the good people of Stuttgart, Germany collected 67,000 signatures to get rid of that Stuttgart21 – another stupid tunneling project. They are still fighting now.


      1. The project is on hold and being reevaluated. The state government got thrown out because of it. Everyone knows that it is financially untenable. So they are trying to find a way to slowly disengage and for everyone to save face.

      2. Norman, I don’t think they were protesting against the trains. They want the trains and their old Hauptbanhof. They just don’t want the redevelopment project that goes along with the new line.

      3. The Greens in Stuttgart are indeed supporting an alternative train tunnel, last I checked — one which doesn’t involve demolishing historic buildings or inner-city historic parks. (Which is what Stuttgart21 would have done).

  5. There is no public support for the “surface/transit” option:

    “Today’s Elway Poll, which 40 Comments and 0 Reactions that a majority of Seattle voters support a vote on the deep-bore tunnel, also showed little voter support for the surface/transit option—just 21 percent said they’d support a surface option, compared to 38 percent who said they’d support a new or repaired viaduct, and 35 percent who said they supported the tunnel.

    “Interestingly, those numbers have barely budged from a poll of 681 registered voters conducted for PubliCola exactly one year ago. In that poll, 21 percent supported surface/transit, 35 percent supported the tunnel, and 36 percent supported a rebuilt viaduct.

    “Unlike the Elway poll, which has come under fire from surface/transit supporters for referring to surface/transit, somewhat misleadingly, as “new and improved surface streets” and including viaduct repairs (which the state and city don’t consider feasible) along with the viaduct rebuild, PubliCola’s poll asked explicitly about a surface option with improvements to transit and I-5 and a rebuilt viaduct (with no repair option). Even with those differences, the two polls yielded almost identical results.

    “That suggests that voters haven’t budged since a year ago in their preferred viaduct replacement options. And it suggests further that—contrary to what surface/transit supporters like Slog argue—tunnel proponents’ loud opposition to surface/transit since McGinn was elected—hasn’t changed voter opinion one bit.”

    There are only two realistic options with public support: elevated or tunnel.

    Elevated is less expensive and has more capacity than the tunnel, and elevated has an offramp and onramp which the tunnel does not.

    The choice is very simple and obvioius: replace the viaduct with another elevated roadway. And that is the option with the most public support.

    1. Yeah, you know, when you spend a lot of money to convince people something’s a good idea by lying about it? They support it.

      Go look at the opposition website – they call out transit and bikes, and even say their plan funds both! Of course people will like it. :)

      1. “Yeah, you know, when you spend a lot of money to convince people something’s a good idea by lying about it? They support it.”

        That is certainly true of ST light rail, no doubt about it.

        How much money has anyone spent trying to convince people to support an elevated? lol I must have missed all those advertisments.

        However, people have been driving on the viaduct for decades. This is not some theory. They know it works. That is why the viaduct has the highest level of public support — because people use it and like it.

        People also drive on surface streets and I-5 and take transit. And they know how well surface streets work through downtown — not well. And, again, that is why the public supports an elevated over surface streets.

        You can compare driving past downtown on the viaduct versus driving through downtown on surface streets right now. You don’t need to read any absurd “studies” to know that the viaduct is vastly superior to surface streets through downtown.

        That is why the public supports an elevated roadway. The public knows from experience that the viaduct works better than surface streets through downtown Seattle.

      2. You’re being deliberately disingenuous as usual, Norman. The alternative which was pushed with lies was the deep bore tunnel, and that’s why 35% support it, when the percentage of support ought to be 0%, and is 0% among people who’ve actually looked into the alternatives. (The combined shallow tunnel and seawall was a plausible idea; the deep bore tunnel is ridiculous and has nothing to recommend it.)

      3. Since you brought up the seawall/tunnel proposal I have to point out that it may well have gotten a majority vote if it hadn’t been competing with an “elevated” proposal (single level viaduct). Or, a single level viaduct might have gotten the nod if people could wrap their heads around the concept that a modern single level elevated roadway is nothing like the current viaduct.

        I think there is a strong “surface/transit” constituency that is partially transit advocates (the group on this blog) combined with a “don’t give a rat and want to spend as close to zero as possible” demographic. I think this coalition voting against both tunnel and elevated sent both to defeat even though a strong majority support one or the other over surface streets and I-5 band-aids.

        Here’s an interesting timeline from WSDOT. You don’t have to believe Ben, WSDOT documents the backroom deal out of nowhere:

        Governor Gregoire, King County Executive Sims, Seattle Mayor Nickels and Port of Seattle CEO Yoshitani recommend replacing the downtown waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a bored tunnel beneath downtown

        Every other option was vetted, studied, refined over a period of years. The DBT was a bastard son of the Democrats labor/union relationship kept secret until born. Since this cabal owns Washington State politics they knew it could be rammed down our throats despite the illegality of proceeding without an EIS; just like the 520 fiasco.

      4. No problem! It does illustrate how politics makes for strange bed fellows.

        Not that I’m trying to get you in bed or anything :-0

      5. LOL! I wasn’t worried. :)

        This is the very definition of a backroom deal.

      6. Thanks for digging up the timeline, Bernie.

        At the time of the vote I said they needed to do the vote using *approval voting*. Have people vote up-or-down on every single option and the option which gets the most votes (the most *approval* wins). Of course they didn’t.

        Yet the DBT wasn’t even an *option* because it had been universally recognized as just-plain-stupid. Voila, mystery backroom deal….

    2. Maybe we can put the elevated through Broadmoor so it won’t spoil the waterfront. Oh wait, that’s near the arboretum…. But on the bright side, the ramps from 520 are already there.

      1. Not for long, those ramps are being removed in the 520 rebuild. But I’m sure they could be rebuilt to connect to the new elevated. ;-)

      2. A perfect example of how “elevate” somehow == viaduct rebuild. People often relate how great the views are from the viaduct and it’s true. Imagine a rebuild, half the height that has a non-motorized pathway on the seaward side (below and out of sight/sound of traffic) plus contiguous surface level covered access that buffers the waterfront from traffic. What surface/transit advocates fail to realize is that this option will create a whopping wide arterial that will make the waterfront about as inviting as waiting for a bus at Montlake Freeway Station.

      3. Yes, the viaduct has a great view, though only in one direction, and even then, I usually pay more attention to the other traffic. There’s no view to speak of southbound, but you can pass the time pondering what it might be like to be the filling in a concrete sandwich.

        But if the views are the big deal, no prob. Just leave one segment of the viaduct standing. Rebuild as needed for earthquake safety, add elevators and staircases as needed. Then anyone will be able to enjoy the views for as long as they want, without any danger of distracted driving. And the large chunk of concrete will serve as a reminder of why the damn thing was disposed of in the first place.

    1. By “this” I mean whatever backroom deals were made. A court may force the state to reveal just who asked for a tunnel despite the consensus.

  6. I love and always vote for transit. Always. Since Forward Thrust. I support the deep bore tunnel compared to rebuilding/replacing the viaduct. I can easily live with the surface option, as well. Let the chips fall where they may.

    I DO have a significant problem with Mayor McGinn lying about NOT impeding the tunnel. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise. He LIED to get elected. That bothers me BIGTIME!

    1. Rod,

      Anyone who changed their mind and voted for McGinn when he ‘promised’ to not impede was foolish. Of course he was just saying that to get elected. And everything he has done since was in direct conflict to his campaign promise.

    2. Would you mind producing the text from Mayor McGinn’s promise that you claim he abrogated? All I recall is that he promised not to abrogate the one agreement the city council had just passed in October of 2009.

      1. As I keep having to point out, he only pledged to follow that one agreement between the city and the state. The referendum is about a new agreement, which is on hold pending legal process and possibly a public vote.

  7. Will there be any formal presentations or is this just a party? Would it be worthwhile coming later – say 8:30?

  8. The 520 Bridge without any transit connection, the Columbia River Crossing, and the Deep Bore Tunnel all will be the curse that the present state administration leave us. Environmental impact statement — who cares?, open process — who cares? The people who will pay for these blights — who cares about them?

    START A RECALL CAMPAIGN RIGHT NOW! Do not support or vote for any of the city council who voted for the tunnel in the next election or any subsequent election. We need to fight this turkey all the way.

    Personal recommendation — shut down the Viaduct tonight at 2100 and leave it shut down for 3 months — then evaluate what the impact is. Personal opinion — won’t be much, people will adapt far better than the WSDOT types give them credit for.

    Transit — and in my mind that means primarily steel wheel on the steel rail — is the only way out of our morass in the long run. We need to start working on it right now.

    1. Garrison,

      Getting rid of the five city councilmembers up for re-election would be faster than the recall process.

      And every time I hear someone advocate “recall”, it comes off as shrill right-wing rhetoric, such as we are hearing from some tunnel advocates.

      They keep calling for the mayor to be recalled, but they won’t actually do it, since they know they would lose.

      1. So, how would you approach deposing these 5 in the upcoming elections? Who would run against them? What platform would they have? What base of support? Do any of these 5 have any redeeming qualities?

    2. shut down the Viaduct tonight at 2100 and leave it shut down for 3 months — then evaluate what the impact is. Personal opinion — won’t be much, people will adapt far better than the WSDOT types give them credit for.

      If true, it would mean not only don’t we need to spend billions to replace an existing highway but there’s no need to fund additional transit. That would mean the logical next experiment is to start eliminating transit routes and examine it’s effect relative to closing the roadway. Maybe people don’t need government assistance as much as some people think. Perhaps the result would be a return to the era when we had a more extensive system of ferries and streetcars; all privately operated.

      1. It’s not that it’ll be perfect, it’ll just not be anywhere near as bad as WSDOT suggests. We have lots of other reasons to build that transit.

      2. Sure, lots of other “reason” but if the “medical experiment” gets conducted and there’s almost zero impact on the local economy; then what? Transit advocates are back to the social equality arguments which tax the rich to support the entrenched establishment and use the “poor” to leverage votes.

      3. Social equality, environmental, built environment, economic… there are tons of reason other than traffic congestion to support transit.

      4. Bernie, you seem *slightly* confused. The rich *are* the entrenched establishment, in the big picture nationwide.

    3. That sounds like a great way to protest. Make it an issue about public safety : close the viaduct now! All you need to do is gather enough kids who like to protest (50% of the under 25 crowd in Seattle) and block the on-ramps.

      1. What’s funny is that I personally did that to fight I-912. I shouldn’t have.

    4. Are recalls even possible in Washington? In any case, we need to use recalls sparingly, otherwise every election will be followed by a recall attempt by the losers. The Wisconsin recalls against the union-busting legislators seem to be legitimate because they’re pushing an extreme agenda they didn’t reveal to voters, and it’s really an attempt to shut their opponents out of the political process.

      But Gray Davis’ recall was over energy prices which the governor of California has no control over; it was political opportunism. And Nixon’s resignation was followed by a trivial attempt to impeach Clinton, which was followed by attempts to impeach Bush and Cheney, which was followed by attempts to declare Obama a non-native or non-citizen.

      We need to use recalls sparingly in only the most extreme cases. Otherwise it’ll be like the invasion of the initiatives where a last-resort safeguard becomes a tool of special interests.

      (Yes, there is an argument that McGinn is pursuing an extreme agenda that he didn’t reveal to voters, but I don’t believe it. McGinn said he’d hold the DBT accountable to financial soundness, and that’s what he’s doing, and it’s what every mayor should do.)

      1. I disagree slightly, and I’ll explain why.

        The modern national leadership of the Republican Party will use whatever means they have to attempt to gain power, legitimately or not, including recalls and impeachments. *Our behavior will have no effect on this*. They’ve proven this behavior repeatedly, with Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida providing interesting examples of throwing around power which they really were never supposed to have, legally. They already will recall after every election they lose (if they think they have a chance).

        When fighting such no-holds-barred behavior, we must also use every tool available to us, otherwise we’re just tying one hand behind our back.

        I do agree that we should not emulate their behavior — we should avoid recalling and impeaching people who are behaving reasonably. Impeaching Bush and Cheney for violating the Convention Against Torture, ignoring the Fourth Amendment, and lying the country into a war would obviously be appropriate. Impeaching Clinton for lying about a blowjob? Uh, censure and move on.

        Where I disagree with you, I believe, is on how frequently we are going to see totally unreasonable, extreme behavior which deserves impeachment and recalls. I believe the “most extreme cases” are just going to get more and more common, because of the existence of a movement which is genuinely intent on seizing power through any excuse (regardless of democracy and the rule of law), a movement which has taken over the national Republican Party leadership.

        Impeaching, say, Charlie Crist (for what?) would have been totally inappropriate. Unfortunately that’s the last example I can think of of a non-movement Republican who is nationally prominent. :-P Recalling McGinn would be likewise extremely inappropriate.

        And unless the various deals for the DBT, CRC, etc., are shown to literally be breaking the law (National Environmental Policy Act, most likely) and the politicians push forward on them ANYWAY, it wouldn’t be appropriate to impeach or recall based on that. If they are shown to be blatantly breaking the law and it just gets built anyway, that’s another matter, that *would* be egregious. The DBT is coming close to that, having completely circumvented the entire environmental analysis process, but I haven’t seen a clearcut case for violation of NEPA yet.

      1. I’m just surprised that there isn’t a STB meetup within 2 weeks. That would be FOUR visits in a row in which that happened!

  9. I’m extremely disappointed in this post. Back-room deal or not, we would be cheering if this was a back-room deal that resulted in a transit tunnel. This type of writing is exactly the type of whining that anti-transit proponents use.

    Yes, I’ve said it again and again. We need transportation investment period. Not just transit, not just road, but both. We’re spending billions of dollars on light rail, and there is no reason why we can’t spend billions of dollars replacing a critical piece of infrastructure to bypass Downtown.

    For Pete’s sake, Seattle Transit Blog used to be credible, but now it seems like it has taken to the same strategies as its opponents. “Protect Seattle Now”? Really? Sounds awfully like “Building A Better Bellevue”.

    This post has severely damaged your credibility and reputation as a group of transit supporters that not only provided concrete arguments but were once careful not to use the same blatant claims as its opponents. It’s unfortunate that the hard-earned reputation is being horribly tainted by such crude (yet ironically similar) writing. STB is now hypocritical at best.

    I won’t stop you, but I will say that two radical sides won’t achieve anything.

    Once again, extremely disappointed in this blog at the moment.


    1. That’s the thing; we’re not spending billions of dollars on what actually gets used. The piece of this project that’s going to be heavily used is the low-budget surface-couplet. That’s going to carry the majority of the current SR99 traffic. Only about 1/2-1/4 of current Viaduct trips are true bypass trips – trips from one proposed tunnel portal all the way to the other.

      Here’s the current, real-world numbers, total trips and the “through” trips that would use the tunnel from portal to portal. The low-high range is simply because no one knows how many of the cars that are on 99 before the project area get off in it (i.e. how much of the traffic that gets off at western got on at 1st). A survey to get that information SHOULD really be done for a project this big, but apparently we’re in a rush to build it and can’t be bothered to do the studies.

      NB total: 58,700 Thru: low 16,000, high 27,300
      SB total: 57,500 Thru: low 15,100, high 28,000

      This is using WSDOT’s numbers from the SDEIS, which don’t always add up quite right because the segments weren’t all surveyed at the exact same time. And honestly, these numbers are too low to warrant a 4-lane freeway with no onramps or offramps. And that’s before toll diversion. A fully divided 2 lane “super 2” in this section would be perfect. We did it with SR-522 between SR-524 and US-2 out in Snohomish County. That super 2 handles just shy of 30,000 daily vehicles with an entirely 1-directional (Westbound AM, Eastbound PM) commuting pattern. Even if the numbers turn out to be at the high end of the spectrum, the complete lack of a peak direction on the Viaduct would make this work.

      I like the idea of a tunnel. I am generally supportive of infrastructure investments of any kind. But this thing is WAY out of scale; the initial mockups only showed 1 GP lane in each direction and it should have stayed that way. We can do the job with a MUCH smaller, cheaper tunnel, or with infrastructure improvements on I-5 and upgraded transit.

      1. So with the toll diversions we’re talking a $2 BILLION tunnel that will carry between 15,000 and 25,000 vehicles per day.

        surface streets, I-5, and transit will get the other 85,000 to 95,000 vehicles per day.

        Tell me again why the DBT makes any kind of sense? The amount of traffic it will really see is less than many 2 lane artierals in the city.

        Would the money not be better spent on surface/transit/I-5 and the west end of 520?

      2. Well, there is a real lack of a proper downtown bypass route that isn’t clogged with local traffic. It’s a honest hole in the system. We need to put something in to deal with those bypassing vehicles, either on 5 or 99, and it’s best to put this bypass underground to preserve as much walkable surface space as possible. Doing it right is going to be big-budget any way you cut it. But 4 lanes worth of bypass is NOT needed after you eliminate all the ramps, and so it doesn’t need to be THIS big budget. ANY increase in capacity through here is pointless and counterproductive anyway, unless you’re planning on adding lanes across the Ship Canal and the Duwamish.

        Kemper Freeman’s off-the-cuff suggestion of a surface 99 with a new bypass lane on I-5 is downright sane, especially considering the source. I’m sure he’d support a massive increase in capacity, but I’ll ignore that.

        Like I said, I’m a supporter of a tunnel project. I was completely in love with the cut/cover design. Now, though, this project has jumped the proverbial rails and needs some serious design changes.

      3. A tunnel, even a cut/cover combined with the seawall is going to be very expensive. The difference between 2 and 4 lanes isn’t as big as tunnel vs. no tunnel.

        I think it shows how much the DBT has taken on a life of its own when even Kemper Freeman is a relative voice of reason.

      4. Thanks for pointing out that thru traffic that would use the thing is rather low. Access to downtown from Ballard and W Seattle is not going to be seriously affected. As the Seoul man said, yes, it could add some minutes to some trips, but the greater question is what kind of city you want, and what you need to become that.

        And there’s my point of disagreement with you. The AWV is a nice link for some tricks, utterly irrelevant to others. It’s not just that there are other infrastructure needs that can use a few billion. It’s that if you want a transit-friendly city, one of the worst things you can do is build stuff that makes it easier to drive. Which, relative to a teardown, is exactly what the DBT would do.

        As for your comment about the lack of bypasses that aren’t clogged with local traffic, I believe that’s what 405 was intended to be, right? ;-)

      5. The cut/cover leveraged the work which *already* had to be done for the seawall. (You don’t think they can build a seawall without digging a giant hole, do you?) This made it a surprisingly reasonably priced enterprise; support it or not, it wasn’t a giant waste.

        The deep bore leverages nothing. The large seawall costs have been foisted back on Seattle. (When you compare the price tag of the two, remember that: the shallow tunnel pricetag *includes* a new seawall, and the deep tunnel pricetag *doesn’t*.)

    2. If you really think “we need transportation investment period” is valid, I have some suburbs to show you. We have all the roads we need already.

      Remember that a suburban commute doesn’t just use a suburban highway – it uses a highway all the way to its endpoint. This tunnel would cause sprawl just as much as widening 405 does.

      The idea that you’re “disappointed” in someone for disagreeing with you and actually starting to frame out an argument that opposes yours is some of the most condescending trash I’ve seen written in our comments. Get over your overdeveloped sense of outrage and put an effort into differentiating transit spending and highway spending.

      1. I do believe that we have all the roads we have already, and we shouldn’t expand our highways. But the tunnel is a replacement of an existing structure. It’s not an expansion project. It’s not supposed to hold more cars. But it is designed for cars to bypass downtown. That in itself is worth the investment since I-5 barely holds up. We both know that no matter how much transit you build in the Seattle, you won’t be able to take 27,000 cars off the road that will be travelling elsewhere.

        And you’re forgetting other factors here, which is surprising since you normally do a great job comprehensively outlining possible factors. Highways have caused sprawl because of the way we’ve developed them i.e. too many access points, and not enough land use restrictions. A highway network doesn’t lead directly to sprawl, but it’s the lack of constraints that do.

        Ben, with all due respect, I share your views on transit and I will do anything to support transit, but I think your car-hating views place you in an equal but opposite extreme as anti-transit nutjobs. Transit supporters are not supposed to be operating on the same false, emotionally-driven rhetoric as people from Building a Better Bellevue, or the Eastside Transportation Association, or Kemper Freeman. But with this type of writing, it places you, the other authors of this blog, the readers of this blog, and the credibility of this blog on the same low level demonstrated by those groups and individuals. My post wasn’t about your views, it was about the way you are putting our credibility at risk with this type of rhetoric. That’s what I’m disappointed in.

      2. A majority of the current traffic on the viaduct will either use other routes or disappear entirely (combined trips, trips not taken, transit, etc.) at which point we’re spending $2.4 billion dollars on a tunnel that best-case will serve 15,000 vehicles per day. Mind you 15,000 vehicles per day is a very modest traffic volume.

        Even if one isn’t anti-car I’m sure there are $2.4 billion of worthy road projects within the City of Seattle. Two that spring to mind are 520 and repaving I-5. I wouldn’t be surprised if WSDOT’s maintenance backlog in Seattle alone could eat most of that $2.4 Billion.

        This is without getting into factors like project risk.

        Spending money on the DBT is essentially throwing it into a hole in the ground.

      3. So, Jason, your point is that the rhetoric in this post is likely to cause ignorant, uninformed people to dismiss STB’s credibility — even though STB is entirely accurate, everything it says is fully documented, and the rhetoric is in fact true and accurate, both as to evidence and as to conclusions?

        There is no “false” rhetoric in this posting. Unfortunately.

        You probably have a point, psychologically. People tend to reject what they see as “extreme” positions, even when the “extreme” is in fact entirely true. So you would suggest that STB lie and make the DBT sound better than it actually is, in order to get more people reading with an open mind? I don’t think that’s a reasonable response. Have you got a better proposal?

  10. Ben’s engaged in a huge waste of time on a mile of road that will thankfully be underground.

    I was for the surface option too. It lost. There’s no huge environmental difference except this: the surface option does not have sufficient support to get done. If Ben somehow succeeds with his campaign, downtown will be blighted by a freeway over the waterfront for many more years.

    We need investment in the biggest transit hub in the state right now. This sore loser campaign about the tunnel has been driving investment away.

    Get over it. What’s needed right now is a coming together to win the next opportunities to fund far more transit, not a retro faux freeway fight that gives Cary Moon the same old thing to do for another couple of decades.

    1. Hey, nice to see the Let’s Move Forward campaign is starting to send people to make disparaging comments. :)

      Trying to frame this as “elevated or tunnel” – check.

      Pretending that the tunnel plan has transit money (it doesn’t) – check.

      Pretending that bypassing downtown is somehow good for the urban core – check.

      You realize you’re actively hurting your own interests, right?

    2. Ignoring the fact that the shallow tunnel is superior in every way to the deep tunnel, and cheaper — check.

  11. Replace the viaduct with a suspension bridge, only instead of bridging water you are bridging surface areas.

    1. He’s definitely part of it. He has a personal financial interest – his firm got a contract right away.

    2. Interesting. But I would expect he, like any lawyer, must be working for someone. Why the preference for deep bore over shallow? Doesn’t seem to generate more legal fees. Is there someone employing him whose land is worth more with a deep tunnel due to the disruption of construction, or is he working for a construction firm which does tunnel drilling specifically?

  12. Good luck Ben!

    I’m all for another downtown tunnel, but one for LINK. We are going to need it once we max out the current one’s capacity.

    As a bicycle commuter and an Eastside voter, I’ll be passing on this meeting but all of the Viaduct fixes so far have been “backroom deals” from Nickle’s use one wall of the ditch tunnel as a seawall so Seattle doesn’t have to pay for a new seawall to the current deep bore tunnel.

    Thing is time is on the side of tunnel opponents. The state is broke, so delay helps because the state is likely to re-direct the money to other projects.

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