Viaduct Redux: It's the capacity, stupid

Regarding the Alaskan Way Viaduct: I admire the mayor for telling the governor, "Tear down this wall." So I will vote "no" on No. 2 on the upcoming (March 13) ballot.

But I am also opposed to "tunnel lite," so I will vote "yes" on No. 1. Why? To paraphrase James Carville, Clinton campaign advisor in 1992: "It's the capacity, stupid."

Voting yes on No. 1 is the only option voters have to send the message: "Don't reduce the traffic capacity on the viaduct now or in the future."

Reports in the local media would lead us to believe that the only third option-not on the ballot-is to accept a surface street with transit solution. Hello? We are talking about state Highway 99, not state surface street 99.

No matter how many bus lanes and trolley tracks and beautifully landscaped medians are crammed into this sector, there is no way it will equal the current capacity of 110,000 vehicles per day. To imply otherwise is to defy logic and insult voters.

How is a retired couple in Magnolia supposed to bring home a new piece of furniture from Southcenter. By bus? How are the shelves of the stores in Ballard supposed to be stocked? By light rail? Freight mobility keeps our economy moving.

If the green pipe-dreamers turn Hwy 99 into Promenade 99, the Feds might as well put parking meters along I-5 to help reduce the deficit. Let's stop the insanity and admit that the March 13 ballot can never produce a consensus. Then let's go back to the drawing board and study all the options.

For example, why not try a cut-and-UN-cover freeway along the waterfront that provides a new seawall. A series of pedestrian bridges could connect the waterfront to downtown. An additional benefit would be that the current viaduct could stay in place while the new highway was being built.

The point here is that not all options have been fully vetted. We have let ourselves be caught up between two polarizing groups of ideologues. One wants neither viaduct nor tunnel and sees all cars and trucks replaced by buses and bicycles. The other wants to scar our beautiful city with a wall of concrete that makes the failed monorail tracks look like dental floss.

Sensible citizens should not feel forced into siding with either opposite.

It is a huge challenge, but Seattle has the talent and imagination to solve it for ourselves and future generations.

Vic Barry

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