Tunnel supporters just gained a new nemesis.
The Sierra Club.
“The Seattle group’s efforts to stop the tunnel reflect its view that a $3.1 billion highway project encourages driving, contributes to greenhouse-gas emissions and sucks up transportation dollars that could be better spent on less-polluting alternatives. …
Montz said the Sierra Club isn’t anti-road or anti-car. He said other cities, notably San Francisco, have taken down elevated highways, created pedestrian-friendly waterfronts and not built replacement roads.
If the tunnel isn’t built, he suggests, there wouldn’t be surface-street gridlock because people would drive less, drive at nonpeak times and use more transit. He said government could create incentives to make the alternatives work.
“People change their habits,” he said. “If we build buses and trains, we’re not going to have that congestion.”
I’m with the Sierra Club and M3 100% on this one.
Seattle has a world-class Downtown, and what is becoming a world-class transit system. Between the Link Train, the Transit Tunnel, and the Trolleys/Buses, coverage of the area is really quite good. I’ve even gone back and forth between here and Bellevue twice, and the 550 subway/bus was fast, comfortable, on-time, and only $2.50 each way. Once in Bellevue, transit was far less frequent, but that’s Bellevue’s choice. That’s their lifestyle, and good for them.
Don’t force it on Seattle, though.
From my nerd cave window, I can see Interstate 5. Every evening I watch it become a parking lot, and I just shake my head. In my opinion, it’s pure vanity. Sitting in gridlock for 2 hours each day is nothing more than a ritual designed to avoid having the neighbors think you are poor, have had a DUI, or are otherwise a loser because you take public transit.
While I certainly advocate everyone’s ability to live the lifestyle they choose, I don’t think the state should spend $3 billion to make it slightly more convenient to go from SoDo to South Lake Union. The more I think about it, the less sense it makes.
What will happen if this tunnel is not built? Will people really increase their commute time from 2 hours/day to 4 hours/day?
I doubt it. Even vanity has its limits.
All-in-all, the tunnel will be an overwhelming negative to Seattle, and also to the region which already has some of the worst traffic in the USA. Sure, a tunnel may have a temporary traffic-reducing effect, but encouraging more and more people to drive will only mean that the same problem will need to be revisited again in the near future. It’s a 1971 solution to a 2011 problem.
If $3 billion is spent on transit, it should be spent on sustainable transit. Urban transit. Transit that is less harmful to the city and the region. Not a tunnel which will simply cause bottlenecks at either end while providing a temporary solution to a permanent issue.