Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tunnel, or Surface option? Eventually it could be both

In today's Seattle Times Mike Lindblom has written a story on mayoral candidate Mike McGinn's proposal to shelve the tunnel as the replacement for the aged Alaska Way Viaduct and go with a less expensive surface and transit option. The surface option would include increasing throughput on Interstate 5, a boulevard to replace the viaduct, and an increase in mass transit.

The good news is that McGinn's alterative would be cheaper, the bad news is that it will not be enough capacity.
The tunnel is a more expensive idea, it includes having vehicle traffic that is passing through Seattle not mixing with the local surface traffic. The good news is that seperating that traffic will help that some, the bad news is that it will not be enough capacity, either.

Skim through Washington State Office of Financial Management data here and it becomes pretty clear that Seattle is not absorbing as much population as the rest of King County, and King County is growing.
The facts are that people keep moving to King County, and to Seattle. King County increased by about 13% over the past 9 years, Seattle about 6.8%.

Over the lifespan of either option, surface, or tunnel, more capacity will be required, the question is moot.

McGinn scenario

MIKE McGINN would seek to move $2.4 billion in state highway funds to a "surface transit" plan instead of a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Alaskan Way/waterfront: Demolish viaduct, rebuild surface road similar to present width, mostly four lanes, $825 million.

Interstate-5 widening: Eliminate left-side offramps to fit an additional lane through downtown, make other improvements, $553 million.

Utility relocation: Paid by the state instead of the city, $250 million.

Sea-wall replacement: Paid by the state instead of the city, $255 million.

Transit: Cost savings applied to buy new buses and increase service in waterfront and other areas, $500 million.

Source: McGinn campaign

Read about the strawman debate here, in the Seattle Times Newspaper: McGinn's no-tunnel campaign counts on fewer cars

Build the Tunnel, and make all of the surface improvements, and the increase in mass transit, and the bike lanes, and the sidewalks, and a million people will come to King County and Seattle, no matter what.

Do it all, start with the throughput tunnel first.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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