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Tunnel delays: Real hazard or red herring?

Our leaders keep silencing deep-bore tunnel dissent with the specter of viaduct catastrophe.

“Delaying the project only increases the danger of a catastrophe and hurts the economy and Seattle taxpayers.”
–Conlin in a blog post.

“I don’t think that [the mayor] understands that delaying this project is very, very risky.”
–Rasmussen said.

“This project’s an urgent safety problem and we need to stay on schedule.”
– Lloyd Brown, state Department of Transportation spokesman.

But the same leaders don’t seem at all worried about waiting longer when the tunnel itself causes delays.

Thursday WSDOT announced to the public that they’re adding yet another year to the tunnel timeline (mayor-style, they didn’t warn council – perhaps the end of a cozy relationship?). We have heard zero doom and gloom pronouncements from Rasmussen and Conlin.

So now the viaduct’s coming down in 2016, not 2015 – a full four years after Gregoire’s 2012 deadline. (“… if we don’t have some alternative by then, boy are we going to have a mess on our hands because it’s coming down.”)

Other alternatives such as the I-5/surface/transit option could start taking the viaduct down immediately.

So is the viaduct danger a real threat, or just a red herring to smack anyone who asks real questions about the tunnel and likely cost overruns?

All the science we’ve heard makes it sound like a serious danger. So we’d like to hear from Councilmembers Rasmussen and Conlin. Given this unexpected extra year of dangerous delays, how soon will you be canceling the tunnel plan?

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Tunnel quotes

“The voters have again told us loud and clear that a new freeway through the heart and soul of the city is not the answer. I couldn’t agree more.  They’ve sent a very clear message - whether it is above ground or below, they don’t want to build another freeway on our waterfront.  The three of us have heard the voters. This is the 21st Century and what the people of Seattle have said is we must put aside the 1950s mind-set about transportation and find new and better alternatives.”
said Mayor Greg Nickels [Now he supports it.] (in Seattle Post-Intelligencer)