Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Big Dig tunnel collapse

And Mayor Gridlock wants to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct with a "cut and cover" tunnels...why? Sure, it's probably a fluke, but really. I already spend most of each drive across the viaduct worrying about an earthquake dropping me 100 feet to street level (or sandwiching me between decks first, then dropping 40 feet to the street). I don't want to spend time thinking about bolts breaking and dumping 20 tons of concrete on my head.

Besides, the People's Waterfront Coalition has a pretty good vision of what things might look like if we blew up the viaduct and replaced it, not with a tunnel, but with a wide surface-level roadway similar to San Francisco's Embarcadero.

So where will the cars go? Well, if Mayor Gridlock hadn't killed the Monorail I'd say they could ride that. But he did, so that's out. My feeling is that people will adapt. After all, even if we build the cut-and-cover boondoggle tunnel there will be several years without either a Viaduct or a tunnel option, and I seriously doubt the city will grind to a halt. Sure, we'll bitch a lot, but we do that anyway. By replacing the Viaduct with a 6-lane surface street with well-timed lights and (hopefully) some pedestrian sky bridges we'll significantly cut down the amount of time the main artery is gone, as well as saving all the money that was going to be pumped in to digging the tunnel. That cash can then go to fixing the sea wall, creating parks and walking spaces, and generally making the waterfront something other than an orphaned tourist-trap.

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