Seattle tunnel tussle: New city initiative to be filed tomorrow

Just out of the WSB inbox, word that the next initiative targeting the tunnel-replacing-Viaduct plan is to be filed with the City Clerk tomorrow morning. This one is to bear the name Seattle Taxpayer Protection Initiative, and according to its sponsors’ news release:

• Requires the City of Seattle to hold the State solely responsible for cost overruns and to require budgetary transparency on all state transportation projects located within Seattle.

• Requires all branches of City government to cooperate in holding the State responsible for project costs and report progress to the citizens on a quarterly basis.

• Establishes a Cost Accountability Commission to inform and monitor implementation of the ordinance.

• Instructs City Officials to fulfill the requirements of the ordinance within the full limits of their established authority.

The sponsors, including the state Sierra Club and Real Change, have a website at This is separate from the “no tunnel” initiative for which signature-gathering has been under way for months. P.S. The filing tomorrow will come three hours before the governor is scheduled to open bids from the 2 teams vying to design and build the tunnel.

ADDED 2:16 PM: Reaction from the pro-tunnel Tunnel Plus Transit coalition, excerpted from a news release they just sent:

“This initiative is a complete waste of time, trees, and money. The backers say they are concerned about protecting Seattle’s wallet, but they admit this will have no real affect – except, of course, that they want to waste the taxpayers’ money to put it on the ballot. We don’t need symbolic gestures, we need to replace the capacity of an aging and dangerous structure, we need congestion relief, and we need to take advantage of the favorable bidding climate right now. More delay is irresponsible,” said Bob Donegan, coalition spokesman.

13 Replies to "Seattle tunnel tussle: New city initiative to be filed tomorrow"

  • James December 8, 2010 (1:30 pm)

    No wonder the rest of the state doesn’t like Seattle.

    Seattle whines and moans until they get a tunnel, and then refuse to pay for it.

    Where do they think this money going to come from? The state is broke! We can’t afford it.

  • Ken December 8, 2010 (1:36 pm)

    Nice. A generally worded whine which the state will use to sue the city when the McSchwinn bikers hold up the utility move permits which will add money to the total cost of the project thereby becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

  • Buddy December 8, 2010 (3:17 pm)

    Why is this being sponsored by Real Change?… seems a bit out of scope for them.

  • hoffanimal December 8, 2010 (3:21 pm)

    The bids will be opened at 1 p.m. in the ST Board room, for those who care.

  • CB December 8, 2010 (5:51 pm)

    I wonder how long till we have a public vote on running water? We better turn off the tap before someone gets wet.

    Seriously, this is a case study on what’s wrong with Seattle.

  • DW December 8, 2010 (7:52 pm)

    Stupid waste of time. We’ve decided on the tunnel and that’s the way forward. Don’t see what concern this is of Real Change at all.

  • redblack December 8, 2010 (8:36 pm)

    heh. “favorable bidding climate.”
    translation: “we can get this thing cheap! (until the change orders are presented.) and we’ll drive at least three construction and/or engineering firms out of business – and collect their bonds!”
    james: seattle is coughing up a good chunk of change for this proposed boondoggle.
    what part of “cost overruns” don’t you understand?
    DW: who’s “we?”
    “Results released Tuesday night showed widespread opposition to a new elevated highway on the downtown waterfront, with more than 55 percent rejecting it. Voters were even more harsh on the four-lane tunnel pushed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, with nearly 70 percent opposed.
    “we?” as in how “we” voted “no” on public funding for corporate sports stadiums?
    replace AWV with nothing but a new seawall. we’ll get over it.
    or around it.

  • (required) December 8, 2010 (9:43 pm)

    I bet Da gasbag McGinn is behind this. His hatred of the tunnel is legendary. His hypocrisy is famous. And this thing is sponsored by Sierra Club, where McGinn’s been a volunteer leader. Remember McGinn spent tens of thousands of dollars on some stupid “expert” to say what McGinn wanted him to say — that he poo-poos the tunnel?

    I am sick of McGinn and this whining. Build the tunnel already. Kudos to James’ comment above. James, you’re right on, buddy.

  • Blue Collar Enviro December 8, 2010 (10:22 pm)

    Where has the “pro-transit” Tunnel Plus Transit group been while we’ve been lobbying for the transit funding that was promised as part of the state deal?

    TPT is just a DBA for the tunnel boosters. Every serious transit supporter knows that the tunnel is the *worst* option for transit.

  • Blue Collar Enviro December 8, 2010 (10:24 pm)

    Certainly, there must be better arguments for the tunnel than “It’s a done deal”, if we don’t do it the legislature will be mad (which undermines the first talking point), and the mayor has a name that is easy to make fun of.

    It’s no wonder the tunnel boosters are afraid of a public debate.

  • Blue Collar Enviro December 8, 2010 (10:28 pm)

    A quick perusal of the members of Tunnel Plus Transit reveals that its member groups contain not one environmental or pro-transit group. It’s just a bunch of Chamber heavies using words that polled well (namely, “transit”).

  • Blue Collar Enviro December 8, 2010 (10:35 pm)

    Real Change is involved because they fear the inevitable: The city’s general fund will get tapped to cover the cost overruns, meaning a lot less money will be available for social safety net programs. Regardless of what you think of those programs, it is hard to fault Real Change. Indeed, I applaud them.

  • Paul December 9, 2010 (3:56 pm)

    I went to several of the town hall meetings while the city was deciding options to replace the viaduct. At the time, surface streets was the preferred option. The city recognized that the option created a problem for West Seattle that “they hadn’t gotten their head around.” the surface street option would have had required drivers from West Seattle to go through 23 lights to go through downtown, or go around on I5, thus significantly increasing traffic. In addition, there would be additional gridlock for years during construction. In other words, ringing the death knell for West Seattle and its property values.

    The tunnel option was the only one that allowed for the viaduct to stay open during construction. Many businesses testified they would close if that region was closed to construction for years, creating costs not calculated with the other options. The tunnel was also the best option to reduce traffic downtown, without clogging I5, and opening up the waterfront.

    I was not a tunnel proponent before, but became one after listening to people discuss all the options. I hate the toll idea, and think it needs a central exit, but it is still the best option, I think, for Seattle and, in particular, West Seattle. If this gets voted down, get ready for those snow-style commutes every day.

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