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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 16, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Bored tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct

Don’t be deluded

Editor, The Times:

Wake up, Seattle!

The tunnel will have only four lanes compared with the six we currently have. There won’t be any exits in downtown Seattle compared with the five exits we now have northbound at Columbia, Seneca and Western and southbound at Western and Royal Brougham Way. There won’t be any access to Belltown, Magnolia, Ballard or lower Queen Anne without going all the way through to Mercer Street. You won’t be able to get into the tunnel from downtown without going all the way south of Safeco Field or north of Denny Way.

And it’s the most expensive option. How is this servicing Seattle? You won’t even be able to get into the heart of downtown from the tunnel. Those of you who use it daily to get to your jobs downtown will have no option but to travel two miles of surface streets to get to your offices.

Don’t be deluded by their proclamations that we’ll “reclaim” the waterfront. Alaskan Way and the train tracks that run under the current viaduct will still be there; the same wide expanse of traffic and transit we have now between downtown and the waterfront will still exist. The viaduct will be replaced with more generic condos, not parks or recreation.

The politicians involved are pushing their own personal agendas, have stopped paying attention to the needs and wishes of their constituents and are spending our money recklessly at a time when none of us can afford it. Do something. Make your voice heard. Stop this ridiculous proposal.

— Heidi Bernave, Seattle

Hybrid option

The whole process to determine the viaduct replacement focused on either a tunnel or an elevated structure. Why not a hybrid leaving the raised viaduct from the south to about Qwest Field and then a tunnel for the remainder of the distance along the waterfront? This would shorten the tunnel portion, save perhaps a half-billion dollars, reduce construction time, upgrade a major part of the waterfront and still preserve some elevated portion for the view.

An added benefit for the long run: If the tunnel proved to be a mistake, there would be less to correct.

— Robert Mandich, Seattle

Greater capacity than alternatives

There is one aspect of the opposition to a bored tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way that I don’t understand. Opponents say it would reduce the capacity of Highway 99 from six lanes to four. But all the other options, including a replacement viaduct, retain the Battery Street Tunnel with four lanes, which would serve as the “pinch point” of the system.

By contrast, the current proposal, as I understand it, has a four-lane bored tunnel plus the existing Battery Street Tunnel connecting to Alaskan Way, a wide boulevard. Thus, the total capacity of the system through downtown Seattle would actually be greater than under the alternatives. In addition it would, of course, open up downtown to the waterfront.

So, other than cost, what’s not to like?

— Donald Padelford, Seattle

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