highway tangleToday, the Seattle Times has something of a landmark op-ed on the eternal viaduct debate. It’s jointly signed by Governor Gregoire, King County Executive Sims, and Seattle Mayor Nickels.

It seems to say some good things:

In the year 2008—not 1950—we need a viaduct solution that not only moves traffic but addresses these larger issues so our children and grandchildren don’t have to wrestle with the legacy of shortsightedness.

By pulling together transportation, climate pollution and environmental health, many voices and interests are shaping a path to success. A joint recommendation for the future of the central portion of the viaduct will be presented at the end of this year.

That sounds right to me. The viaduct clearly has implications beyond just moving cars. But as is often the way with joint statements, the article seems so hashed and rehashed that it’s hard to make any sense of some parts.


Today, we are looking at the existing transportation system as an integrated whole and determining how to make better use of what we have. We are looking at improvements to I-5, downtown streets, transit service and the existing Highway 99 corridor. We’re also contemplating policy changes. We believe a combination of solutions will bring us more bang for the buck.

The 10 options referenced in a recent Seattle Times article [“Viaduct alternatives have expanded to 10,” Local News, April 30] are just one dimension of the challenge. We have multiple options for what could replace the viaduct on the central waterfront. However, equally important are other considerations that will influence the future of this vital waterfront travel corridor.

Uh… what?

What are the “other considerations”? What are these “policy changes” they’re contemplating? And what does “bang for the buck” even mean in this context?

Somebody help: I’m not being facetious, I’m just confused. (And I’m not the only one, apparently.) Is this statement supposed to be telegraphing something?

If anybody finds my secret op-ed decoder ring, please return it.