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December 10, 2004

Excellent critique of Mayor Nickels' Tunnel Advocacy

Cary Moon has a thoroughly outstanding critique of the Mayor's plan to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct with an tunnel in this week's Stranger.

The mayor is right to say that freight mobility is a vital issue for the economy of Seattle and the region. But the viaduct is only used for 4,000 to 5,000 freight trips a day --out of 110,000 total trips--and freight-only lanes on arterials or I-5 would easily accommodate them.

WSDOT's own data reveal the delusion of the agency's insistence on capacity replacement. The computer models WSDOT uses to predict future traffic flow are based on assumptions about driving behavior. One of these assumptions is that as the region's population grows, the demand for car trips will continue to increase as well. They project that if the viaduct is torn down and not replaced, I-5 will be gridlocked by about 2030. Sounds bad. But when you compare that to WSDOT's projection in which the viaduct is replaced with a tunnel, I-5 still reaches gridlock--9 to 13 years later. Why would we spend billion of dollars and waste our one chance to reclaim the central shoreline if it only buys us a 9-to-13-year delay? Buying larger pants doesn't mean you're losing weight--it means you've got pants that you can grow into. Let's solve the problem, not delay it.

And I don't even think her 9-13 year window excludes the time it takes to reconstruct the viaduct. My thought has always been if we'll have to live without it for 6 years during construction - can't we live without it permanently?

Posted by Jeff on December 10, 2004 at 05:02 PM in Policy | Permalink

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