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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

A tunnel to replace Alaskan Way Viaduct

Washington State Department of Transportation

This viaduct-replacement schematic shows stacked two-lane tunnels, which would run mainly under First Avenue to bypass downtown Seattle.

Federal funds first

Editor, The Times:

Why has there been so little mention of using the much-talked-about federal funds for infrastructure and roads on the tunnel and seawall? [“Tunnel extras: $1.4B needed,” Times, page one, Jan. 14.]

No one would disagree that the tunnel, if affordable, would display Seattle as one of the most livable cities and tourist destinations in the U.S. The economic benefits of such acclaim would be substantial for at least the next 50 years.

— Gregg Teslovich, Seattle

Side effects

Seattle leaders have decided on a tunnel under First Avenue as a replacement to the viaduct. While I don’t particularly care for the tunnel option, I would approve of it if it met our needs.

The issues I am most worried about:

— Taking Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard and Crown Hill out of the equation because it will most likely force people who live there to use alternative routes and, as a result, clog up those roads;

— No exits to downtown and only two lanes in each direction being able to reduce traffic in the tunnel to 65,000 when there is no clear place for the remaining 40,000 to go;

— Problems that trucking companies may face getting to and from the waterfront. I am worried that this tunnel takes more than a step back in planning for the future growth of the city. Reducing lanes, pushing traffic onto side roads and limiting access to the Port is not the correct approach.

We need an option, whether it is a tunnel or viaduct, that improves access, transit times, etc., and allows for growth.

Trying to say that people in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard and Crown Hill can just use buses or build a light rail from those areas is irresponsible at best. We do not have the proper bus system from those areas now, and the monorail failed because it was too expensive. What part of this doesn’t the government understand?

We need a solution that solves the issues and allows for growth. A deep-bore tunnel does not do that.

— Kristina Falcone, Seattle

Truly world-class

I’m not a Seattle resident, but I am a citizen of Washington state. A tunnel plan will improve the city by opening up the waterfront and increasing tax revenue to improve waterfront-building aesthetics. This will truly make Seattle a world-class city.

— Scott Wigdahl, Everett

Creating congestion elsewhere

What happened to access for Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia?

No solution to the Alaskan Way Viaduct problem is perfect, but the deep-bore tunnel proposal has an especially glaring deficiency. Fifteenth Avenue West and Elliott Avenue West are the major arterials for all southbound traffic from Ballard, Magnolia, and West Queen Anne.

As now configured, the tunnel will force those of us who live in these neighborhoods to make our way to an often congested Interstate 5, wind through the streets of Queen Anne to Aurora Avenue or face stop-and-go passage through the downtown core to Sodo, West Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma or anywhere else to the south.

The northbound trip will be just as bad. The current Highway 99 entrance and exit at Western Avenue must be maintained in some form.

— Thomas Dyer, Seattle

Australia did it, so can we

Kudos to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for choosing the tunnel. As an Australian-born U.S. citizen who has lived in the Seattle area since 1973, I have been waiting for the choice you have made.

The enhancement possibilities to the foreshores of Elliott Bay are finally a reality. As a tourist destination, Seattle deserves this choice. The beautiful harbors of Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, B.C., for example, prove that in time this will be the right decision. The plan to build Sydney Opera House was not the most favored use of public money in its day. But the world now appreciates it.

To help defray the cost, consider what is logical: a toll for the use of the tunnel. San Francisco and many other U.S. cities, as well as cities worldwide, have done so with positive results.

Good for you, Mr. Nickels, for making the choice for the future, not just the “now.”

— Roslyn Resch, Snohomish

At the expense of children

It appears that medieval history is unrolling before us. Gov. Christine Gregoire claims we cannot afford to provide medical insurance for children. Too bad. You have asthma, you have to die. Sorry, we don’t have the cash.

But hey, when we are talking big business, we can front $400 million in new money (as a down payment) for the new tunnel to replace the viaduct. So what if the voters voted it down. Who do they think they are? So what if it will carry significantly less traffic than today. So what if there are only two lanes in each direction, rather than today’s three. So what if the tunnel is built under sea level. So what if the experience in Boston suggests that this project will be significantly over budget, meaning we will all pay a lot more for it.

We can’t give children that kind of medical care; they aren’t as important as this tunnel.

Why can’t the media figure out the real reason this tunnel is being jammed down our throats at the expense of our children?

— Bob Dickerson, Seattle

Profitable waterfront

I think the tunnel option is the best thing for making Seattle a world-class city. It is shortsighted to only consider the increase in taxes. By removing the elevated highway we currently have, we increase the property values in the area and create a vital waterfront with new stores and new opportunities.

The increased business and commerce will offset any tax increase. In the short run, we pay more taxes; in the long run, we have a beautiful waterfront that we can all be proud of. I think it is more than worth the price.

— Bryce Mathern, Seattle

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