Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Setting the Record Straight on the Viaduct Replacement Project


Dear Chamber Members:

As the primary campaign heats up, we're hearing more and more rhetoric about the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. In particular, two candidates, Mike McGinn and Mike O'Brien, are attempting to make the Tunnel+Transit solution a campaign issue.

While we respect that there are many different components to a campaign, this is an issue the Chamber has invested considerable time and energy on. It's important to set the record straight for all candidates and voters so we can move on and avoid another prolonged period of conflict and impasse.


In opposing the Tunnel+Transit solution, a couple of candidates are getting their basic math wrong. The fact of the matter is, the tunnel portion of the project costs $1.9 billion, and state funding to the tune of $2.4 billion has already been allocated to cover it--that's codified in state law http://list.seattlechamber.com/t/6744/332044/2462/0/.

The stark reality is that with the 'surface option,' advocated by McGinn and O'Brien, the costs to local taxpayers would have actually gone up, not down. State legislators have already said they would provide *less than half of their current financial commitment* under this scenario. And instead of getting a world-class waterfront which our citizens can enjoy, the surface option would have given us a super-sized parking lot for cars and trucks on the waterfront, downtown and I-5. Indeed, an independent consultant retained by the city of Seattle concluded that the surface plan would have undermined the livability of downtown and its pedestrian feel by choking up city streets. Our citizens deserve better.


I'm proud of the central role the Greater Seattle Chamber played in the stakeholder process and negotiations that led to a Tunnel+Transit compromise. Every stakeholder gave something up to support the solution, but in the end stakeholders reached something not achieved during the eight years since the Viaduct was shaken by the Nisqually quake: *a broad-based consensus about a positive path forward*. Our Mayor, County Executive and Governor rallied around this consensus decision, and the state legislature subsequently ratified the


And this solution is endorsed http://list.seattlechamber.com/t/6744/332044/1963/0/ by over 100 individuals, elected officials and organizations, from AAA to Allied Arts of Seattle, from Anderson Hay & Grain in Ellensburg to the King County Labor Council, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, People for Puget Sound, the Pike Place Market PDA and the Seattle Parks Foundation. Support spans across the state from Spokane and Wenatchee to the industrial and manufacturing zones around the Port of Seattle and up and down the I-5 corridor.

The Tunnel+Transit solution preserves capacity for freight and commerce, increases transit and creates a pedestrian and bike-friendly waterfront, reduces air and water pollution and improves the quality of the Puget Sound. It avoids the enormous potential negative impact of viaduct-related construction activity on the regional and state economy, ensures public safety, creates thousands of jobs when we need them most, and assures long-term business growth by providing the needed transportation mobility for small, medium and large businesses

in the city and region. Most importantly, this solution puts to rest a project that has been plagued by expensive political deadlock and delay for too long.

Instead of generating more controversy and inaction, let's pull together to move our region forward with the needed infrastructure and transit that will keep our economy strong and create a waterfront that generations can enjoy for years to come.


Tayloe Washburn

Chair, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce