This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Well, I guess it’s all over but the shouting. Barring a major upset, Referendum 1 is going to be approved and the deep bore tunnel will happen. At least we’ll get a new waterfront out of it. I’m sorry we couldn’t convince our neighbors here in Seattle that this project was a poor use of limited dollars. Unlike Matt, I’m not interested in continuing to fight this battle.
On the plus side, it’s great that we’ve moved the debate this far. The battles of the past few years were about the legitimacy of mass transit in general and light rail in particular. Those battles were, in a sense, easier, because they didn’t involve zero-sum tradeoffs. Light rail is funded primarily by new tax money. The tunnel project, on the other hand, would have meant taking existing tax money and spending less of it on single-occupancy vehicles and more on other forms of mobility. That’s a bigger deal. So, no surprise that it lost on the first go-round. But considering the tunnel lost 70-30 a few years ago and then won 60-40 yesterday, I’d say public opinion is still pretty flexible on the subject. And that gives me hope.