Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh Come On! Viaduct Tunnel Back on Table

Apparently they just couldn't keep the tunnel option out of their minds. What a huge waste of money. We did it (surface only) here in San Francisco, though some would say it resulted in another tunnel that will be a waste of money in the Central Subway, but I'm thinking that would be much cheaper than what Seattle is planning. I guess no one learned anything from the last 50 years and decided that giving cars a through way is the answer to all ills.

13 comments:

Cavan said...

Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

The Conventional Wisdom about mobility will catch up the reality only after we're completely bankrupt from our oil and asphalt bill and after all the East Coast cities are under water from global warming.

Justin said...

Considering the size of the TBM that will be used, they can use that to build rail tunnel afterwards.

Dave Reid said...

I think the key thing is to not build a viaduct. So if they end up spending Billions on a tunnel but get rid of the viaduct and open up the waterfront it's better than the other option.

jon said...

gotta love this backroom overnight decision. so much for the public process over the last few years to decide options for replacing the viaduct. nevermind that voters in seattle specifically shot down a tunnel replacement.

Rhywun said...

It's Westway West. Maybe you can find a fish in the Puget Sound that needs protecting.

Robert Cruickshank said...

The only way this happens is if Obama and Congress fund it. And since this project will be particularly ripe for Republican "omg it's big dig part II!" attacks.

This is a waste of money and I think most Washingtonians would agree. It's a backroom deal that doesn't have a public base. Of course this sort of thing is typical in WA - Seattle voters turned down proposals to build new stadia for the Seahawks and Mariners but the Legislature went ahead and did it anyway.

The money that'll be wasted on a tunnel should go toward the 520 bridge and toward transit projects in the region.

This project is FAR from a done deal, I would note, and I would fully expect some kind of ballot initiative effort to kill it.

AJ said...

We're getting a Streetcar out of this, though! Yay!

Pioneer Square to Uptown, engineering request went out a few weeks ago so it should be shovel ready in a few months. They want it done by 2011.

We will win this Streetcar network race!

Josh said...

I'm indifferent to tunneled highways as long as they don't take scarce resources away to pay for it.

Issue bonds, build the deathtrap, then charge tolls to pay off the bonds. When everybody successfully avoids the tolls by taking the much more livable surface grid, it will only be evidence that highways are useless eyesores.

(BTW, where did we do this in SF. I agree that the CS is poorly planned as is - and as it will likely be built - but the tunnel is not the problem. tunnels, and grade-separated rights of way generally, are good for transit. moreover, they represent infrastructure that can't be taken away in lean years. Where would the KLMN be without their tunnels?)

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Josh, yeah I think the tunnel is fine for the Central Subway, but it was very very poorly designed. But the whole history of the Central Subway was that when they tore down the embarcadero freeway, the city made a deal with Chinatown interests that they would build a chinatown connection because the freeway was taken down. Long story short, we ripped the freeway down and got a tunnel, just like Seattle. Though I'll take a transit tunnel over a car tunnel any day!

Jonlin said...

I live in Seattle, and I'm a transit nerd, but I'm pretty sure this was the only option that was gonna fly. Now people in areas that use the viaduct a lot are happy, the Downtown Seattle Association is happy, the mayor, county executive, and governor are happy, and even the environmentalists aren't making too much of a stink, especially because, as AJ mentioned, we're getting a streetcar and a lot more bus service out of this too.

jon said...

i've been reading the seattle transit blog and it sounds like there is no money associated with the project for 1st ave streetcar and that the gas tax cant go to it.

jon said...

i'm kind of mixed on this tunnel. they could have very easily have gone with a new viaduct which i'm certainly glad they didnt.
it is good to see that it will reduce the capacity from 6 lanes on the existing viaduct to 4 lanes with the tunnel.

maybe what irritates me the most is that here we are in 2009 and they have just decided on the project and it will be finished in 2015. good luck getting any transit project of this scope planned and built in double that time.

AJ said...

The money is there, or rather, it will be. Putting something like this under First Ave and Belltown requires massive pandering, so the previously fast tracked streetcar is on express routing. The PDA got a levy passed, stopping a tunnel would be easy.