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What's the best option for the viaduct?
Gov. Gregoire seems to have resuscitated the possibility for a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Have you decided what transportation option you want on the waterfront? If not, what information do you need in order to come to a decision?
If they put the viaduct into a tunnel the land above it could be sold to developers thereby offsetting some of the cost. This would make putting it into a tunnel cost about the same as rebuilding the viaduct.
Posted by Brian at 12:44 AM, Jan 23, 2007
If Seattle wants a tunnel, Seattle needs to step up to the plate and pay for the tunnel cost over the cost of a viaduct.
There are many more inmportant transtportation projects for the state to fund rather than beautifing the Seattle waterfront.
Posted by Everett Wenke at 03:17 AM, Jan 23, 2007
We haven't heard much about the no-tunnel-no-viaduct option. What about putting the billions of dollars into improvements to the surrounding infrastructure? Surely there's a way to forego this road--we already have a major thoroughfare through the middle of the city. And besides, cars and roads are so 20th Century!
Posted by Bryan at 03:21 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Since I dont live in the city and wont be paying for it, I say tunnel. Never in a million years will I use it though, as it will be a disaster waiting to happen. One earthquake or terror attack will take it down and kill everyone inside. The reality is the viaduct is an eyesore and should be bulldozed down permanantly.
Posted by Ra Shields at 04:34 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I honestly cannot believe that our mayor is standing so staunchly behind a tunnel concept for the Viaduct replacement. Having lived in NYC for a number of years, I saw how horribly snarled and immovable traffic became when any of the metropolitan tunnels experienced an accident, stall or high volumes. In a city where traffic is already a nightmare during most driving hours, this plan just doesn't seem to make sense - in addition to it being fiscally irresponsible. Most importantly, our politicians need to stop bickering and covering their own backs and allow their citizenry to make a decision. Politiking is not helping our neverending traffic issues.
Posted by Jennifer Hawes at 05:56 AM, Jan 23, 2007
No tunnel! Don't make our children pay for the politicians legacy and the condo owners view.
Posted by Michael Alexander at 06:00 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Almost six years from the Nisqually Quake and still no action. If this were a business - where time and money count -there would be swift terminations of parties involved. At this point, JUST DO SOMETHING!
Posted by No at 06:14 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I think a tunnel is irresponsible to the City of Seattle and the tax payers of Washington State. For once, and maybe just once, I agree with our governor in that we cannot take the risk of turning the Seattle Waterfront into downtown Boston. We need to accept that the viaduct may not be pretty, but it works, and a direct replacement for the current viaduct is the most economic and responsible path to pursue.
Posted by Jimmy Q at 06:16 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The squabbling in Olympia and in Seattle is unfortunate, selfish and short sighted. The city and state should look for a more comprehensive view of how to replace the viaduct - Rep. Jim McDermott and others in Washington DC ought to be able to help. I believe that Rep. McDermott suggested looking at other routes that would take the roadway away from the waterfront and would include provisions for mass transit. Both of the current options (a small tunnel or a bigger waterfront viaduct) seem to amount to choosing the lesser of two evils. Any new construction should have capacity for future growth and mass transit and a bigger elevated highway at the waterfront adds more darkness and noise to a part of the city that could be so much more beautiful. Instead of being so concerned about cost and doing the bare minimum, I wish everyone would consider how we might create a solution that would enhance the lives of coming generations.
Posted by David Rosenbaum at 06:26 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The Tunnel option with four three or four lanes going north and south might be a viable option if not for the cost and the displacement for years of the traffic that would be rerouted onto surface streets. The Mayor's "Tunnel Lite" option is hard to swallow. My big question is what happens if there is a diabled car or accident in a two lane tunnel. How would emergency vehicles even get to the scene inside a two lane tunnel? I've lived in Seattle since the early sixties and the inability of this city to make a timely decision on solving traffic problems is a nightmare.
Posted by Steve C at 06:30 AM, Jan 23, 2007
We need to stop having a discussion based solely on price. This is a legacy structure that will effect the life of people well into the future. In San Francisco they thought they could not live without their downtown freeway. Now they have a beautiful waterfront. We need to stop thinking day-to-day and think 10-20 years out.
Seattle needs to show vision on this one. We need the tunnel or take it all out and find an alternative!
Posted by curt collinsworth at 06:47 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The French recently built the Millau Viaduct, and it is a very beautiful bridge. Surely we can replace our viaduct with something equally graceful, and a whole lot less expensive than a tunnel.
Posted by Brian Miller at 06:48 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Why not build the "tunnel lite" for through traffic, with no downtown exits, and an expanded (6-lane?) surface boulevard for local traffic. That should take care of both the capacity and aesthetic issues. What's not to like?
Posted by Jim Biles at 06:53 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Essentially we will get a "surface plus transit" option for the duration of building process of any other option anyway. Probably 10 years of time or more.
I haven't had it proven to me yet that after the building period is over with, the new structure is even going to be relevant. The majority of damage to our economy will occur during the building period.
We should seek to minimize that damage, with particular attention paid to how it affects the Port of Seattle. Individual commuters will sort out their own situations during the construction period anyway.
Posted by jon baars at 06:56 AM, Jan 23, 2007
We are talking about downtown waterfront property here, aren't we?
Posted by John Windberg at 07:12 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I support neither option. I wish for a BRIDGE that generally connects north and south Seattle and lies just slightly west of the current viaduct. Off- and on-ramps at each end of the bridge would be sufficient for downtown routes.
A bridge would allow the viaduct to stay in place while it was being built, minimizing the absolute craziness of the loss of the viaduct for West Seattle and South Seattle.
Seattle needs an alternative to I-5. Without it, yikes!
In the meantime, before the decision is made, Seattle ought to be vastly modifying the off-ramp at West Seattle bridge and First and making a new off ramp from West Seattle bridge to Fourth and possibly one at Airport Way. Why wait on that?
Would a bridge destroy views in downtown Seattle? Mildly. And, that might be its only downside that could be minimized by its design and placement (height).
Posted by West Seattle Ron at 07:13 AM, Jan 23, 2007
My preference is a tunnel. I now walk in the walkway under the viaduct leading to the ferry terminal and am terrified it will fall. Too old and unsafe. I prefer a tunnel(s) so we can reclaim our waterfront!! And build something NOW before people get hurt.
Posted by Nikki at 07:25 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Let's see a side-by-side comparison of the options. How soon could work begin? How long will that corridor be out of action for each option, and what will be the economic impact of that downtime? How safe would drivers and the surrounding areas be in the event of an earthquake? What would be the yearly cost of maintaining each option? What would the city or state do if the viaduct was to fall down TOMORROW? One of the options must be the best option, and a popular vote is not the way to answer that question.
Posted by Jim Fachini at 07:26 AM, Jan 23, 2007
My problem with either version of the tunnel is the cost. Does anyone out there believe that the full version of the tunnel will "only" end up costing $4.6 billion? Ask yourself Seattle - is the tunnel worth future funding for schools, parks, libraries ..etc. It's not for me.
Posted by Dan Foley at 07:27 AM, Jan 23, 2007
While I am a resident of Snohomish County, not Seattle, I cannot help but think that the tunnel option affords opportunities for economic development in the downtown corridor and waterfront that cannot be entirely quantified. I don't care for the elevated structure option. Let's develop the tunnel option and move forward with revitalizing a vastly underutilized resource, Seattle's waterfront.
Posted by Chris Schamer at 07:29 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The best option?, the most affordable and the least time consuming.
Posted by Terry J. Pratt at 07:44 AM, Jan 23, 2007
When the mayor supported the monorail to promote mass transit, there was no concern over an elevated structure. He now favors aesthetics over an option that will be more effective at moving people through the city. Replacing a six lane elevated structure with a four lane tunnel makes no sense at all. Isn't the goal to imrove traffic flow in a timely, cost-effective manner?
Posted by Andrew; West Seattle Resident at 07:57 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I don't like either official option. Building a better tunnel deep under Belltown and going with a huge (12+ lanes) surface boulevard seems like the best way to me. It isn't the waterfront that is the traffic choke point...it's the connections to the north and south ends that must be smooth. If that is done, a surface solution on the waterfront could really work.
Posted by Rob Stumpf at 08:00 AM, Jan 23, 2007
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair the scar in Seattle's face that is caused by the viaduct. Noise, air pollution, loss of beauty, and the physical separation of the waterfront from downtown can be cured now.
Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Oslo, Norway are examples of cities that have taken the time, resources, and boldness to repair the gash on their waterfront and create a more livable city.
There are many traffic alternatives that have yet to be explored properly and there appears to be an unseemly rush to judgment.
One-way tunnel? Reversible tunnel? Additional capacity on I-5? These and other creative alternatives need to be defined and assessed along with the options now being "considered".
It's time to move forward quickly, openly, and responsibly to choose a solution that is more than just the lowest capital cost option and which allows the Seattle waterfront to grow and glow again.
Posted by Steve Hockaday at 08:01 AM, Jan 23, 2007
My concerns about the Tunnel Lite option:
2) The cost reduction of $1.4 billion is not realistic. While the cross-section is smaller and the excavation not as deep, the pit for the tunnel will be wider, creating more impact to existing Alaskan Way traffic. It is unrealistic that there won't be significantly greater costs for maintenance and protection of existing traffic. And to reiterate, ventilation needs to be added.
3) If Tunnel Lite is such a good option, why haven't the Mayor and City Council supported it previously? It was one of WSDOT's final five options in 2003.
4) The debate among options we've seen over the past year is the classic Seattle Way, showing why very little is ever accomplished there. It's a combination of not wanting to offend anyone, trying to please everyone, indecisiveness, selfishness, and politicians covering their backsides.
5) What is the goal of this project? My impression was to maintain capcity of the existing corridor. Now it's morphed into "world class city". Considering the lousy public schools, a building emphasis on condos out of reach of middle class families, and a tax load forcing families and the middle class out of the city, being world class should be the least of Seattle's concerns.
Posted by RB at 08:02 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Have we Seattle residents not learned our lesson with the monorail? These big transit project always go overbudget and city taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Rebuild the viaduct (better yet, reroute the traffic to surface streets) and lets spend all that money on extending light rail service. In this day of rapid climate change, we shouldn't be spending so much money on a project that encourages people to keep driving cars, not to mention the many other potential environmental hazards the tunnel project presents.
Posted by Daniel Corcoran at 08:11 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The choice of the tunnel will help chart Seattle's place for the 21st century. Are we a major international city, where we take pride and want to build a livable and beautiful city. The great cities of the world build major works. Or do we fall to the short sighted whims of politicians that are just concerned about being re-elected. Build the tunnel now and give the water front to people and businesses.
Posted by Loren Hill at 08:17 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The Puget Sound has significant transportation problems today due to the slow and ineffective response of a government that has been unable to prioritize and implement projects that would have the greatest impact on managing the problems. The new viaduct idea is another example of how poorly the government prioritizes transportation projects. If it were up to me I would not have spent billions trying to connect the airport to downtown, and I would not be thinking about spending billions to connect West Seattle to downtown because these are not the Puget Sound's biggest bottlenecks today. Instead I would look at this web page during rush hour http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/ and focus my transportation resources on where the web page is black. If the experts determine that the viaduct is dangerous and too expensive to replace, I would tear it down, turn it into a park and focus my transportation dollars else ware.
Posted by Joe Martin at 08:18 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Pleeeese. Don't we pay WSDOT a lot of money to do the studies and make the recommendation. Stop a vote that is meaningless and unnecessary and stop wasting taxpayer money by delaying the project. Move ahead with the tunnel, asap! I don't want to be that person that dies when the viaduct collapses.
Posted by Judy at 08:19 AM, Jan 23, 2007
NO BIG DIG. Since State Route 99 is the highway on the Alaskan Way Viaduct this issue is a statewide issue. The vote should be a statewide vote as the main funding is state funding and, and the extra construction time and lowered capacity of a tunnel will affect statewide commerce. Also ultimately the state will be on the hook for exorbanite maintenance costs, most likely the inevitable huge cost over runs.
Posted by roy ruffino at 08:32 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Before anything is decided it would be very instructive for the city to shut the structure down from Battery Street to the West Sewattle Freeway for a period of 10 days. This would give a clear picture of the impact on traffic flow during regular business hours. My concern about the viaduct project is the potential financial impact on downtown business, particularly the retail and restaraunt sector. 8 years of 20 hour a day gridlock could bankrupt a huge portion of the central business community. It will be critical no matter what happens for the DOT to reaccess the flow of traffic on the Express Lanes, surely the most valuable and poorly utilized highway infrastructure in the State.
Posted by Rob Hone at 08:53 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Whether the voters want a tunnel or a new viaduct, can't we incorporate it with a light-rail route. After all traffic is going to get worse regardless of what goes up. We need to help facilitate the population growth by producing viable options for commuters. I also think that tolls should be installed to not just help pay the cost of building the new span, but keep those tolls to help pay for it's maintenance. I use the viaduct regularly, and if that means that I have to pay to use it, then so be it. If we want efficient means of travel, we have to pay for it. Whether if it's now or later.
Posted by Steve Iwai at 08:58 AM, Jan 23, 2007
As a professor as UW once told me, "people seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
Retrofit aside, the rebuild is the Walmart solution for the Viaduct: it might be cheaper, but it lacks long-term value.
What is the value is of having a connected waterfront park with a dozen acres of open space running from OSP to Colman Dock for the next 50 or 100 years? Start with 240,000 downtown employees, 3.5 million people in the region, and $2-4 billion in annual tourism dollars, do some aggregation for time and inflation, and then think of all value that can't be quantified in numeric terms.
Regardless of the chosen alternative, we will have to deal with nearly a decade of construction. Let�s spend the extra money and create a gift to future generations on our waterfront.
Posted by Chris Fiori at 09:10 AM, Jan 23, 2007
After reading the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Project, the tunnel option is a better solution. The problem with the viaduct is no only the earthquake damaged structure, but the seawall underneath which has serious structural flaws. Though the tunnel may cost more up front, it will save money in the long run because the tunnel will serve as the new structure and the new seawall in one project. It has been proven numerous times that tunnels are structually sound after earthquakes. The viaduct is in an earthquake prone area, and this needs to be taken into consideration.
Posted by Violet Barnard at 09:14 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Does a public vote really matter? Remember the vote for Safeco Field? Even though it did not pass, the tax payers were forced to pay for the new facility.
Posted by Chuck at 09:40 AM, Jan 23, 2007
What about a bridge? This is all going down badly. I bet we end up with a "Tunnel Light" BigDig type of cost and the development of the waterfron will never happen.
Posted by flyguykd at 09:43 AM, Jan 23, 2007
We need the tunnel. Rebuilding the structure as-is would be incredibly short-sighted. If we throw it underground our waterfront will become a world-class attraction. All you need to do is look up the road to the Sculpture Park to see what it can be like.
Posted by Adam at 09:44 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The viaduct is a Seattle signature structure which binds us to our waterfront heritage. While I understand those who see it as an eyesore, I disagree. As a member of two major stakeholder groups (Federal and State Taxpayers) I oppose the use of those funds to bury a structure I like. If Seattle taxpayers (the third major stakeholder group) chooses the higher cost option of a buried tunnel, they alone should shoulder the added cost, including the cost overruns that will result from that option.
Posted by Richard Armstrong at 09:48 AM, Jan 23, 2007
When I first moved here I could not understand what such an ugly thing was doing on the best public space in the city.This is the time to act. Re-place with a cut and cover tunnel. Seattle is known as being one of the most beautiful citys in the world, now lets make it truly a beautiful city by taking down the wall that holds us back.The future generations will thank us if we do.The tourism and money generated will pay back the difference in cost from Viaduct or tunnel. Its worth the 20% more in cost if its going to open the waterfront. Seattle is so MetroNatural then lets make it clean and beautiful with a new park that go's from Olympic Sculpture Park right down to the stadiums.Lets do it right!
Posted by Michael Moynihan at 09:50 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Isn't the tunnel "option" contingent on RTID passing in the fall? That would mean additional taxes, so if there are going to be taxes on top of the new RTID taxes for a tunnel, I'd want to know what those are, who they would fall on, and how long they would last. That is the kind of information voters need to make a rational decision. That is the kind of information monorail did not provide - let's not repeat our civic mistakes!
Posted by Bert Heinlich at 09:50 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I think the viaduct should be torn down, not rebuilt and that people should seriously consider other forms of transportation. At this rate, we're going to be struggling to keep up with increasing traffic as the population in the area continues to increase. There is only so much room for roads and freeways. We should look to cities like San Francisco to come up with ways to make effective public transportation a reality. Bigger, wider highways is not the way to go.
Posted by George Thomas at 10:03 AM, Jan 23, 2007
When will this state's leaders do some actual leading? Or, for that matter, when will any leader in this state? Even the Olympic Sculpture Park took ten years to go from approval to completion! Having come from Minneapolis, where politicians and other leaders actually lead... well, the frustration with the wimpy, waffling system here is just enormous and so perplexing. Why do we have to kill everything with democratic process? At this point, I'd praise a totalitarian.
Posted by Jenny Rose Ryan at 10:50 AM, Jan 23, 2007
1. Tear down the Viaduct.
2. Use funds to build a streetcar/ light rail network along waterfront.
3. Build parking garages north/south of downtown connected to new rail.
4. Impose a car tax for those driving in downtown, like London.
You want to go downtown? Get out of your car.
This preserves passenger capacity, opens the waterfront, is environmentally friendly, and good for waterfront businesses.
Posted by Ray at 11:25 AM, Jan 23, 2007
Spend five or ten million to reinforce the existing structure and revisit the prospect of new construction, (tunnel or otherwise) in five or ten years.
Posted by Steve at 11:51 AM, Jan 23, 2007
I din't think enough attention has been paid to NO tunnel or NO deck! The lack of a regional approach to the area's transportation problems are resulting in petty arguments over more roads, above or below ground. We have long needed a broader view including other public transport options for years, and instead keep getting the results of petty political interests.
Posted by Carl Hunter at 11:56 AM, Jan 23, 2007
The replacement of the viaduct is not just a Seattle issue. Seattle is the gem of the state, and one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It would be a travesty to step back into the mindset of the 1950s and re-construct the same blight that has plagued this city for over fifty years. It maddens me that another viaduct is even an option - and sadly, one that a majority of short sighted voters will get their way with. Shame on them.
Posted by Andy Stratton at 12:09 PM, Jan 23, 2007
I don't care. Just do SOMETHING. This election is meaningless (what happens if both measures pass?) I've had enough of the Seattle process.
Act like LEADERS already!
Posted by Eric at 12:40 PM, Jan 23, 2007
It would be a shame to waste the opportunity to remove a scar across the face of Seattle and open up our waterfront and Pioneer Square.
Posted by C.D. Olsen at 12:47 PM, Jan 23, 2007
It takes guts to be a visionary. The question is not what is best for Seattle and the waterfont today, but what is best long term. It took guts for Portland to tear down a highway that was blocking their waterfront and it took a lot of money as well. Today nobody thinks twice about that decision. The future benefits for Seattle need to be weighed against the costs being considered. Comparing each plan by dollars alone is not a visonary approach! Let's find a way to make the Seattle waterfront even more of a showplace.
Posted by Scott Gilliland at 12:49 PM, Jan 23, 2007
The cost seems to be the main concern. I think this would be a great pilot test for a toll system just for this tunnel. Not only will residence of seattle will pay but anyone who chooses to do so will have to pay like international tourists or out of state visitors. This would help diversify the source of funds.
Posted by student at 12:58 PM, Jan 23, 2007
Further to Curt's mention of France's Millau Viaduct, that magnificent structure cost about $500m. What on earth is the multi-billion dollars for the tunnel or viaduct replacement going to be spent on ?
Posted by Ian Rae at 01:38 PM, Jan 23, 2007
Having lived in both San Francisco and Seattle, I can tell you that people who want to tear down the viaduct and not replace it are idiots.
Posted by Andy at 01:39 PM, Jan 23, 2007
This issue I agree shouldn't go to vote mainly because all recent major votes turn into a joke. 3 times the roof on Safeco was voted down and yet we still paid for one that has been useful for what 3-4 games now. Then there was the monorail voting. The way these issues are put to the voters unless you really know what your getting which takes the ability to be able read every survey and document that is available and not some interested parties cliff notes. Its near impossible to make an actual educated opinion. We voted the governor and mayor into position and they have tasked consultants to come up with solitions. With this information they should be able to make a reasonable proposal and make it happen.
Posted by NIall King at 01:53 PM, Jan 23, 2007
How about just building a surface road with transit? Look at how much nicer San Francisco's waterfront is once they tore down their viaduct? Traffic will go elsewhere - or the people who drive might just consider using transit. All this debating on what to do is so typical Seattle. It will be years before anything will even start to happen (see rail project). Meanwhile, costs are going up and there is still no solution. Give me a break - the situation really isn't that unique and the sky will not fall down if you don't build a giant road on the waterfront just so that people GOING THROUGH downtown will have it easy.
Posted by Chris at 03:03 PM, Jan 23, 2007
I don't know why Seattle residents would want to create a second "big dig" in our beautiful city. I have never thought the viaduct as an eyesore and the last thing I am concerned about is rich real estate developers being able to build condos with views in downtown. The facts of the matter are that the ground in which the tunnel is to be dug is fill and in an earthquake, liquefaction would occur most likely killing those inside and being a huge waste of money. At least Boston doesn't exist on a fault line.
Posted by Hanley Bonynge at 03:10 PM, Jan 23, 2007
I drive on the viaduct to and from work everyday. The northbound traffic in the morning is usually backed up because of the Seneca exit and the Western exit. The ever courteous drivers that wait and cut in at the last moment for these exits are a huge contributing factor to the backups. Soutbound in the evening also gets very backed up with the exit to 1st. If there is an event at either stadium it is at a standstill. One stalled car causes a huge backup. Not to mention an accident. A two-lane tunnel would be an absolute nightmare. It may look very nice, but it will do nothing to help with our traffic problems. It would be a waste of time and money. All of the money that is being spent to "research" the best solution is incredible. What about the monorail debacle? Let's not do this again.
Posted by Claire F. at 04:07 PM, Jan 23, 2007
i am amazed that after 6 years the viaduct is still standing.the very fact that rebuilding it is even an option is extremely shortsighted.to every opponent who claims that the rebuild is cheaper hasn't looked the costs of now but what our children will be burdened with,that 800 million dollar repair to the seawall isn't going away,add that cost to the viaduct rebuild and seattle ends of spending the equivalent of what the tunnel will cost,i would be willing to give up an extra latte or two to replace that blight on one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the world.
Posted by jeff w at 04:20 PM, Jan 23, 2007
I heart the viaduct. I would echo the other comments about France's Millau Viaduct. There are ways to make the viaduct functional, cost effective, and aesthetically pleasing. Building tunnels in sawdust hills makes no sense.
Posted by Jeremy at 11:00 PM, Jan 23, 2007