Tasty Tunnel Facts

Since I was given temporary and entirely undue credit yesterday morning for helping to create TunnelFacts.com, the least I can do is give it a little HAC love.  Bask in the pure wholesome goodness.

And as a reminder of the fact that there is a sane, fully vetted, and far less expensive alternative to a tunnel, here’s what the authors of the 2008 Seattle Urban Mobility Plan (pdf) had to say:

We looked at the removal of obsolete highway infrastructure in San Franciso, Milwaukee, Portland, and Seoul, Korea. Our research found that the removal of central, elevated highway structures reduced the number of auto trips in these cities, and did not require a major shift to transit. We found that “spillover” traffic was absorbed by the rest of the traffic system. In fact, freeway removal had a catalytic effect on development in these cities. But the projects were part of a larger strategy, and were very carefully designed. The building blocks of the Seattle Urban Mobility Plan, for instance, were surface street improvements, transit investment, development of an at-grade replacement boulevard, transportation demand management policies, and a Transportation System Management (TSM).

12 Responses to “Tasty Tunnel Facts”

  1. Joe G

    I am loving tunnelfacts.com I find it really hard to believe that we really need a freeway replacement for the viaduct. Just like your quote at the bottom of the post suggests, the people will adapt to their new surroundings. The best thing for this city will be to tear down the viaduct and incorporate the waterfront as a viable part of our downtown core. Lets make it an even bigger, more beautiful attraction than it already is. We already have the obstacles of enormous hills that separate the city from the waterfront, lets tear this thing down!

    And once again I must reiterate the fact that the way of the future is not to worry about how we can move single occupancy vehicles, rather we need to focus on how to move people. McGinn can set this city into the right path!

  2. David Sucher

    I am also totally against the tunnel but I am struck by the continued ungrounded rhetoric supporting the so-called “Surface-Transit” option. Listen to the plan: “surface street improvements, transit investment, development of an at-grade replacement boulevard, transportation demand management policies, and a Transportation System Management (TSM).”

    It’s all words. Just vapor. There are no specifics. It’s a bunch of pretty images meant to appeal to over-educated white collars. The so-called “Surface-Transit” has as few clothes as the tunnel.

  3. mahanoy

    What I find telling right now is that you don’t see a lot of anti-tunnel rhetoric coming lately from People’s Waterfront Coalition. If anyone has a platform or a place to reignite the tunnel-vs.-surface/transit fight, it is Cary Moon and company. And yet, they’re holding their fire.

    Their last mailing list message was a January 13 response to the governor, mayor, and exec’s agreement. And it contained this passage toward the end:
    “The bored tunnel still has lots of unanswered questions about its feasibility. Details about its cost, constructability, schedule, and funding will be refined over the next few months. If it ends up not looking like the silver bullet people envision today, People’s Waterfront Coalition will be happy to help figure out Plan B. Until then, it looks like we’ll mostly focus efforts on ensuring the street and transit projects are done fully and quickly, and keep collaborating with others to lay the groundwork for the best possible future waterfront.”

    Thems folks are politically savvy, and I think there’s something to be said for their not saying anything. Something that is maybe lost on the righteous Dan Bertolet, Mike McGinn, Ben Schiendelman crowd.

    I have some hypotheses myself about what Cary Moon is thinking that these other folks are not, but I have to formulate my thoughts first.

  4. Michael

    Here’s a “tasty” fact for you: three of those “comparison” cities have usable non-auto mass transit, and the fourth never had a traffic problem in the first place.

    Seattle already suffers from gridlock. We have no viable alternative to roads like SF, PDX or Seoul do (I cant even believe a smart person would use those cities as comparison – oh yeah, vested interest.)

    Sounds like “Tunnel Facts” is more like “Tunnel Stuff We Want to Believe.”

  5. Michael

    Oh, and LOL at “fully vetted.”

  6. Matt the Engineer

    “Seattle already suffers from gridlock.” Ha! Having moved here from San Francisco, I always find it humorous when people complain about downtown traffic. “Gridlock” here is about one hour of people trying to get to the freeway after work. Adding more cars in the North-South direction won’t affect these east-bound cars at all.

    Actually, a good way to get rid of this gridlock would be to remove the downtown on-ramps and pull everyone down south to hop on the freeway. This will just move “gridlock” south, but it would remove it from downtown.

  7. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Michael, I agree Seattle has “no viable alternative to roads,” but luckily we’re not talking about taking out all our roads, just not building a new deep bore tunnel to replace one stretch of elevated freeway.

    Perhaps you meant no alternative to the Single-Occupant Vehicles that currently clog our roads? I think we all know there are many viable alternatives to SOVs. Personally I’d rather fully develop the surface transit plan instead of spending $2.4b on “1% engineered” guesswork

  8. dan bertolet

    David @2: So I guess the city of Seattle paid Nelson/Nygaard half a million dollars for vapor. You should probably file a complaint. Nelson/Nygaard seems to be doing plenty of transportation consulting nationwide, so it’s up to you alone to reveal that all they produce is vapor.


    Michael @4,5: WASHDOT and SDOT had both signed off on surface/transit option C before the tunnel came back at the eleventh hour:


    What is your definition of vetted?

  9. Zed

    What I don’t understand is why the state insists that there is a huge demand for a bypass route when their own traffic counts show that the majority of viaduct users are going to and from the city, not through it. And why the need for a limited access highway when SR-99 is a surface street with traffic signals at both the north and south ends of the city? If SR-99 functions just fine as a surface highway along the rest of it’s route, why not make it a surface street through downtown?

  10. dan cortland

    “Gridlock” here is about one hour of people trying to get to the freeway after work.

    Strictly speaking, Seattle doesn’t have gridlock at all. It has traffic congestion.

  11. TunnelFacts.com | Deep-boring holes in bad ideas | TunnelFacts.com: Week Two

    […] had a few good mentions in the press: Publicola, HAC, and Seattle Transit Blog, and some nice links from environmental sites WorldChanging and […]

  12. Marcelle Grona

    I truly liked this article, this one will go straight to my stumble upon account :)

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