The Viaduct… Still – Cary Moon Responds

Last month the governor washed her hands of the viaduct replacement decision and called for a Seattle vote to decide between a rebuild and a tunnel. Since then I’ve been hoping for a response from Cary Moon, co-founder of the People’s Waterfront Coalition that has been the leading advocate for the Transit + Surface Boulevard Option. This week, Moon responded.

Hey Friends,

Happy New Year!

Well, the viaduct politics are starting to resemble the Perfect Storm.

Governor Gregoire surprised everyone by not deciding on a solution last month. Rather, she declared the tunnel funding plan insufficient and infeasible, and then advised Seattle to hold a public vote to resolve the political standoff between the tunnel and elevated camps. Pro-tunnel folks are aware the tunnel has weak support and fear it will not win at the ballot. City Council, as you may remember, stated that the elevated highway does not conform to a variety of established city codes — shoreline protection, zoning height limits, and growth management — and made clear they would not allow it to be built. So neither of WSDOT’s highway proposals looks like it has much chance of being realized.

Given that, many local elected officials are thinking a special vote is not appropriate at this time, and are scrambling to find a compromise solution to offer Seattle citizens and state leaders instead. They are considering solutions that provide mobility through a variety of modes instead of channeling all the cars to the waterfront, which is GREAT. Yet we, the voters, should be wary of politicians taking the reins from transportation planners in a mad rush to reach compromise on a political timeline. This doesn’t bode well for getting the smartest solution.

In September, the City Council and Mayor Nickels stated an approach like Transit + Streets is their preferred plan should a tunnel prove infeasible. Then in November, Council set aside $500,000 in the 2007 budget to flesh out and refine a Transit + Streets proposal to an appropriate level of detail should a tunnel prove infeasible.

Now seems like exactly the right time to move forward on this. The tunnel plan has been declared infeasible by the Governor. As long as the elevated highway is the only plan on the table, it holds the dangerous position of being the obvious choice to most voters. The City of Seattle should act responsibly toward preparing their preferred back-up plan by fully developing the Transit + Streets proposal — before voters are asked to choose. There are transportation planners who have done this successfully before in other cities and who are eager to help Seattle figure out the best solution. There is funding to engage this expertise. There are two national public interest groups ready to help, organizations with a wealth of knowledge on how cities can achieve lasting gains for mobility, economy, environment and community by reclaiming waterfront land, improving connectivity in the larger street grid, and improving transit choices. The County and many leaders in the region and state are ready to work constructively with Seattle toward this solution.

Let’s all push on City Council, Mayor Nickels, and our state representatives. Tell them we’re counting on them to pursue the bigger win-win:

“I urge you to initiate the process to fully develop the Transit + Streets alternative for viaduct replacement. Please don’t force a public vote at this time between two bad choices. It is time to develop and assess the City of Seattle’s stated back up plan. It is time to see the best thinking by qualified experts on how a multi-modal, distributed solution can provide mobility to people and freight in the viaduct corridor. ”

Thanks for speaking out! As usual, forward this freely to all your friends; it takes many voices to give leaders courage to do the right thing for future generations.

And check out this excellent op-ed from Tuesday; well said, Sierra Club and Friends of Seattle.


Cary Moon and Julie Parrett
Co-founders, People’s Waterfront Coalition

1 Comment so far

  1. jason (unregistered) on January 5th, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

    translation – now that it’s unlikely we’ll get our way, we will avail ourselves of the seattle process. please continue delaying a final decision while even more studies can be commissioned. never mind that we’ve been advocating for our preferred solution knowing that it hadn’t been studied properly & are only now voicing such concerns.

    i’d also point out that the governor clearly made a decision – unless the city shows a proper funding plan for a tunnel, we’re getting a new viaduct.

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