If the deep bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct does get built it’s supposed to come with about $200 million in additional investment in transit infrastructure. Where does that number and notion come from? It comes from the big agreement signed by Governor Gregoire, and the now former mayor of Seattle, and the King County executive. Here’s what it said:
King County is responsible for additional Rapid Ride and peak express bus service to downtown Seattle. . . provide city street improvements related to improved bus operations. The total estimated cost for this work for King County is $190 million in capital and $15 million in annual operating expenses.
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The whole tunnel deal is contingent on this agreement. But how is King County going to live up to this? The legislature has to pass legislation to give the county authority to collect a one percent Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. The legislature and governor have failed—twice—to get this done.
A movement has been born to urge the city council to condition their agreement on the state’s fulfillment of this promise. I haven’t the foggiest idea whether the money would reduce carbon emissions and by how much. Or whether the money would result in a drop in Vehicle Miles Traveled in the city. But everything I’ve ever read or said on the subject is premised on the fact that investment in transit instead of highways results in less auto dependence. Now all of that could be wrong, but I doubt it.
So what would it hurt if the city council conditioned it’s support of the tunnel on transit promised in the agreement? And what a great way for the city council to close the Sustainability Gap they opened up with the tunnel to begin with. What would it hurt? Hmmm. Maybe the tunnel agreement itself?
Photo taken by the author on an ordinary i Phone.