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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 26, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Deep-bore tunnel approved

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Jim Bates / The Seattle Times

The viaduct, seen here at night, is slated to be torn down and replaced by a tunnel.

Goodbye to view from viaduct

Editor, The Times:

It took years, but the downtown real-estate interests are finally getting their way, while the people of Seattle and tourists will be denied one of the world’s most beautiful views [“Tunnel to take place of viaduct,” page one, April 23].

Motoring north on the viaduct, you can see the Sound, ferries, ships and Olympics to the left and a bustling city or city lights to the right. Just turn your head and enjoy the panorama.

That will be no more. Only the elites, living in the exclusive million-dollar condos, will be entitled to the views west. Not even they will be able to see the city to the east, except from a tour boat or a private yacht. The plebes will be confined to the street-level, where they will mix with the vagrants, derelicts, rats and drug-dealers to catch an occasional ground-level glimpse of the Sound.

But what can we do? This is Seattle and this is Washington, and this is how things are done here. The people voted against a tunnel, but they will get one anyway. And even get to pay for it!

— Andy Zamelis, Burien

Current design is flawed

The Seattle Times’ April 24 editorial concluded by stating, “Final agreement on a tunnel represents momentous progress for Seattle and the larger region” [“A tunnel and a dig,” Opinion, editorial, April 24]. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

The 2.1-mile-long tunnel design, incorporating a pair of two 12-foot lanes — but with only a single 4-foot shoulder on one side and an 8-foot shoulder on the other — is a flawed design that fails to even partially meet the adopted state and federal design standards for this class of highway.

These state and federal design standards were adopted for safety reasons. At a minimum, both shoulders must be 10 feet in width and must include a 1.5-foot “shy distance” between the shoulder edge and tunnel wall. The proposed design in the digital rendering you have displayed fails in these mandatory cross-sectional design requirements.

To abandon these currently adopted standards merely for the convenience of the Waterfront Coalition, among others, is in my opinion the highest degree of negligence.

While I cannot assume to speak for 105,000 daily users of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, I am certain that they have similar concerns regarding their individual safety, which will be obviously compromised by the tunnel design as now proposed.

— Christopher V. Brown, Seattle

Better option than noisy, elevated freeway

It completely baffles me how replacing the existing unsightly monument to the 1950s idealism of automobile travel with yet another unsightly monument to automobile travel is even still being discussed. Seattle is a city that is trying to move forward into the 21st century and we should look forward with our transportation options, not backward to a mid-20th century solution.

The conversation seems to be completely centered on functionality and economy, while the aesthetic quality and potential for a traffic-free waterfront is tossed to the wayside. Are these really our values as a community? We’re just so willing to bury the potential of a more pedestrian-oriented, green waterfront in favor of another noisy, polluting, elevated freeway that completely disconnects the downtown from Puget Sound, one of our most precious assets, all for the sake of getting there faster.

This is testament to how car-oriented we have become as a society, and even in Seattle this mode prevails.

Don’t get me wrong; there are serious questions about the cost of a deep-bore tunnel, and further issues of functionality. But we should not be so willing to throw our waterfront away to another episode of elevated concrete blight.

Seriously, if you want a nice vistas of downtown or the waterfront, get out of your cars and try walking, and imagine how much nicer it would be without visually and audibly suffocating from another freeway.

— Lance Smith, Seattle

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