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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 14, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Gregoire signs tunnel bill

Seattle’s vote means nothing

We learned in the May 13 Seattle Times that Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law legislation to begin construction of a deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct [“Around the Northwest: Governor signs bill to replace viaduct,” NW Wednesday]. I fear her memory is short.

As most Times readers will recall, Seattle held a special election in 2007 about the viaduct. The City Council wanted to give the voters a choice between digging a tunnel and building a new elevated viaduct. One can only imagine the look of surprise on many public officials’ faces when the results reflected a clear rejection of both the tunnel and the elevated options.

Many, including Carrie Moon of the People’s Waterfront Coalition (PWC), concluded that folks in Seattle didn’t want either option, and were perfectly willing to live with a third option: surface-transit, which had been kept off the ballot. The PWC published voluminous information to show that moving people in the viaduct corridor could be accomplished by enhanced public transit and careful redesign of traffic flows on downtown streets.

As most are aware, global warming is going to make the world increasingly unlivable for coming generations. We also know that cars produce about one-third of global-warming gas. Shouldn’t we take every opportunity to decrease our reliance on cars, as the surface-transit option would have done?

What part of “no” doesn’t the governor understand?

— Brian King, Seattle

The tunnel’s numerous warts

Thanks, Gov. Gregoire — it’s our tunnel now, warts and all. And let’s examine the futuristic warts.

First, the cost overruns will cripple the city budget in the next decade.

Second, can the artists’ renderings of the waterfront boulevard now depict the future reality? It will not be a beautiful park scene with pedestrians strolling along. It will become a six-lane traffic nightmare with all the noise and pollution that comes along with mingling cars and people.

The thousands of affordable parking slots currently in place will disappear. If you want to continue using Embarcadero Drive in San Francisco as your benchmark, go drive it sometime and see its troubles.

Next, the view will not change — the historic piers in place will not miraculously shrink or receive a makeover.

And last, the buses that bring in commuters from West Seattle, South Seattle and Burien will now have to traverse the city streets. Don’t forget the industrial businesses that will now have find a new route to move goods.

Bucolic renderings of a peaceful waterfront are exactly what they are — a dream. Cold reality will emerge for Seattleites as we “pay” for the tunnel for many generations.

— David Wilson, Seattle

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