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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 27, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct solutions

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.

Tunnel doesn’t “replace” viaduct; access is sacrificed

Editor, The Times:

In Friday’s paper you seem to endorse the tunnel replacement of the viaduct [“Replace the viaduct with a tunnel,” Times, editorial, March 27]. However, you should not be so hasty.

The current proposal does not offer access equal to that of the current viaduct. The plan envisions a tube running from the north side of the Battery Street tunnel to Qwest Field.

By eliminating access to and from Western Avenue and Seneca/Columbia streets, the proposed tunnel does not “replace” the viaduct. It merely substitutes a fraction of its usefulness.

Where will all of that existing traffic to these ramps go? Eliminating two onramps and two offramps is not building an efficient and functional transportation project to handle future growth. It is merely an expensive solution that would create a new problem that would need to be solved by another, future, expensive project.

Why can’t we just get it right the first time?

— Derek Mitchell, Seattle

Don’t put me in a hole

Every day, I enjoy the Seattle waterfront. I do this with many other people as I travel the Alaskan Way Viaduct twice a day–marveling at the scenery and feeling blessed to do so.

But now the powers that be, including The Seattle Times, would like to put me in a hole that has decreased lanes and limited access.

Do those who make these decisions ever travel this route? Have they forgotten the polls that indicate most of the public did not favor a tunnel?

I hope the downtown developers enjoy the view as much as I have.

— Kim Virant, Seattle

Less functionality, more cost

It appears that the biggest selling point for the deep-bored tunnel as replacement for the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct is that it can be bored without disrupting traffic on said viaduct.

The tacit assumption inherent is that most people don’t want the functionality of the viaduct diminished; we just want some improvements from Battery Street to South Holgate.

A Washington State Department of Transportation-studied solution that provides construction to modern federal safety standards, that retains the Columbia and Seneca ramps, that provides shoulders, that provides better runoff treatment, and that uses quieter pavement and acoustic tiles is deeply buried on the WSDOT Web site.

If one accepts Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ argument that voters in March 2007 voted down any elevated solution, then by the same argument, we must conclude that the voters in that election voted down any tunnel, since almost half voted for an elevated replacement while less than one-third voted for a tunnel.

Why are Washington citizens accepting an uber-expensive, deep-bored tunnel with less functionality than a less-expensive, elevated viaduct?

— Harvey Friedman, Seattle

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