On this day after the state, county, and city went public with the final two “scenarios” for an Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront replacement, we are continuing to publish expanded reactions to the proposals, starting with the West Seattleites who have been part of the Viaduct-vetting process as members of the Stakeholders Advisory Committee. This committee does not get to vote on what it wants to see – it’s been brought together from various groups and areas with a particular “stake” in this, and has been used as something of a sounding board, through a series of long and arduous meetings (for which they are not compensated). Late last night, we published the reaction of committee member Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point; this morning, here’s what we’ve received from committee member Vlad Oustimovitch of Gatewood:
As I’m sure everybody has already learned, the combined project team from the three Departments of Transportation (Washington State, King County and City of Seattle) announced two options for dealing with the damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct. Unfortunately, the two options selected, a new waterfront side-by-side viaduct with no downtown exits, and a surface option that simply boosts the capacity of existing surface streets without maintaining through capacity, are both options that will generate incredible opposition from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. The rebuilt viaduct option has been deemed unacceptable by both downtown and environmental interests, and the surface solution is unacceptable to both the business community as well as all of the commuters that depend on the Viaduct to get to their jobs. West Seattle, more than any other community, would be seriously impacted by the surface solution. Neither of the two options offer a solution that will garner support from a broad base of constituents, and will undoubtedly once again lead us into acrimonious debate, dividing the region and stalemating the process.
The good news is that at yesterday’s meeting the stakeholders took the initiative for a diplomatic solution, with 24 out of 25 stakeholders stating that it was important to avoid the battles that would ensue from the decision to limit the options to the two offered, and to work on a compromise solution. David Brewster wrote an excellent article in Crosscut
“A peace treaty for the Viaduct wars” that explains how we are trying to broker a solution that is acceptable for the greatest number of stakeholders. Not just the stakeholders on the committee, but to all the stakeholders in the region. This would include different components of surface improvements, as well as a bored tunnel that would allow through capacity similar to what it is today.
I realize that many people in West Seattle would like to see another elevated solution that maintains the drive with the best views in the region, but I think that we all recognize that the most important thing is to maintain our ability to get around. The bored tunnel offers us two things, first the potential to retain the existing viaduct during construction, which is not possible with a rebuild and secondly (but perhaps most importantly) a political alliance that allows the Viaduct issue to finally get settled. If we do not consider the interests of everybody in the political equation, then it is very possible that we will be left with the surface option, which to me is not an option at all. We need to maintain our transportation capacity. The bored tunnel, although slightly more costly than a rebuild is a good investment. Economic studies have shown potential losses to our regional economy of up $3.4 billion dollars a year during any closure of the Viaduct and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
We need a solution, not another impasse that could have disastrous consequences not only to West Seattle, but to the whole region. That is why I am working very hard with the other stakeholders to help craft a diplomatic solution to stave off the crisis that will certainly result from the selection of the two alternates announced yesterday by our political leaders. I am disappointed that after a year of working on this, our leaders have decided to pit us against each other. To me, that is not an option. We need to work together in these difficult times.
I read all the responses posted on the West Seattle Blog on the subject on the Viaduct, so please take the time to post a comment. It is very useful to me to get feedback.
Thanks to Vlad and Pete for agreeing to share their thoughts. In the pipeline for later today – a guest editorial from former West Seattle Herald editor Jack Mayne.
If you want to follow just our Alaskan Way Viaduct coverage, by the way, here is the direct link to all stories we’ve flagged for that category (newest to oldest) – if you read via RSS, find the WSB Categories list in the right sidebar, where you’ll note each category has its own RSS feed.
For all the project information, and links to send your thoughts directly to decisionmakers, there’s an ever-growing website at alaskanwayviaduct.org. For other coverage, you can also check the automated feed on the WSB “More” page – in addition to pulling links from regional media mentioning West Seattle, we also programmed that feed long ago to include Alaskan Way Viaduct mentions too.