Tunnel Resurfacing

Yonah Freemark recently wrote on The Infrastructurist that Seattle’s proposed deep-bore tunnel is one of “The 4 Highway Projects that Would Be the Biggest Waste of Money.”

Meanwhile Mayor-elect McGinn is still questioning the cost overrun provision,  House Speaker Frank Chopp might want to play, but head of the House Transportation Committee Judy Clibborn definitely doesn’t. 

And the reality that the tunnel portals will have major impacts is also starting to get more attention, at the north portal, but more importantly, at the south portal right next door to Pioneer Square and the stadiums.

The idea that the tunnel is a waste of money is not new, and as the debate is not over, this 2006 study on the “No-replacement Option” is good refresher course.  Lots juicy info, like how conservative modeling done by Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated that 28 percent of trips would disappear as people adapt their routines.  And choice myth busting: 

Myth #1 – Most Alaskan Way Viaduct trips are long distance trips through the city
Myth #2 – AWV is critical for freight movements
Myth #3 – The downtown street grid lacks capacity to move additional traffic
Myth #4 – There is a traffic “demand” that is independent of roadway supply

Responding to concerns over compromised connectivity between north and south Seattle neighborhoods, the authors write:

Here is an alternative view. If people shop and use services closer to where they live, this is a positive contribution towards Seattle’s goals for vibrant neighborhoods and sustainability.

Exactly.  We know that cars are our region’s single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and we know that reducing vehicle miles traveled—as mandated by State law—is a huge challenge.  What’s not as evident to many is that this does not have to be a sacrifice:  reducing car-dependence and localizing communities can actully make life better for people.

UPDATE:  New plans for the south portal have just been posted here.