Tunnel vote: retreat, fall back, reload
We think public officials have created a sense of false urgency about replacing the Alaska Way Viaduct.
Over the last couple of years we have watched and studied the debate and now believe further consideration must be given to this important project.
(There is a familiar pattern here. Over time, entrenched private interests and politicians have managed to hornswoggle voters here and used our money to force feed us projects like the Kingdome, Quest Field and Safeco Field. In our view, none of those projects should have been located downtown. Why not? Each of those projects have contributed to maddening traffic congestion at various times of the day and week to principally benefit private organizations. We have been asked to subsidize wealthy sports team owners time and again.)
Now, we are being asked to pay for a road in a tube for which the financing is indeterminate, the potential likely cost overruns must be borne by taxpayers (the Metro tunnel digging device was broken and had to be dismantled and removed, with a delay of nearly a year to the project. Guess who pays for that) and using the tunnel will cost $9 a day in tolls.
We fully expect the state (which owns the road) to come back soon with a lower toll rate now that the shock of their original proposal has been felt.
There is more. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the proposed tunnel project. There is something melodramatic about the way Gov. Gregoire has touted the tunnel as a necessary public work. Her rabid support and George W. Bush-like aggressiveness in declaring that she will bring the viaduct down and her "bring it on!" defense of the project gives away the fact that she does not really have a thorough command of the scope and scale of this idea and that bluster will replace reasoned appeal. County Executive Constantine managed to catch up with the bandwagon too.
Same goes for the Seattle City Council. There is a very strong streak of me-too-ism that connects them. Only Mike O'Brien seems to have the guts to stand in opposition to this boondoggle. The man with the most courage is the mayor. He is steadfast in showing that he is one of the people and not one of the foot soldiers sent out to kill those who disagree with the project. He is throwing himself on his own sword. But isn't that more honest than what the rest of the foamers are doing?
For those living in West Seattle and Ballard and whose voices are just now beginning to be heard, there is fear and resentment of the planners. The fact that the state DOT is cheerleading this tunnel project should raise red flags and has. Shouldn't the DOT be neutral? Why are they not just presenting the facts instead of presenting rosy pictures of the benefits of the tunnel?
REFERENDUM 1 on the Aug. 16 ballot asks voters about part of a City Council ordinance, passed in February, that enacted agreements with the state Department of Transportation, about schedules, design, utility work and environmental effects. Voters are asked if the section of the ordinance should be approved or rejected.
Approved: The council is free to give DOT notice to proceed with the construction phase of the agreements, in time for groundbreaking this fall.
Rejected: The council would need to pass a new ordinance to proceed with the agreements.
We say vote NO on Referendum, 1. Retreat, fall back, reload.