This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
The tunnel debate is over. Long live the tunnel debate.
This week’s vote may have settled the tunnel debate for now, but that’s no reason for anti-tunnel advocates to give up. No multi-billion dollar yet-to-be-funded-or-started project can be considered a done-deal until opening day. Consider the Superconducting Supercollider, which started off as a $4.4B project and was finally cancelled once they were nearly finished but the price had risen to $12B. Or the Monorail, which failed while shovels were hovering over the ground.
Consider that the tunnel has to dig under a Federal Building, who’s owner has refused to let the state dig under their building. Or consider the potential increase in the cost of borrowing now that the US has an AA+ credit rating. Or consider the fact that this project is still not completely funded, nor are several other multi-billion dollar road projects in this state. No, I’m not hoping for massive financial failure of this project – much of my resistance to it is because of how much it will cost us. But if an unavoidable roadblock should occur, those that prefer no Highway 99 through downtown should be prepared.
Here’s my proposed strategy. Have a campaign ready to go to the council, to the then-Mayor, and to the then-Governor. The campaign message: let’s try life without the tunnel first. Temporarily add more transit, close the thing down for a month, and see what happens. Mayhem, madness, and gridlock? Ok, you’re right – we will have to deal with whatever massive roadblock is in the way. But if nothing happens, would you consider just tearing the thing down and saving billions?