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May 8, 2006

Opinion: Viaduct tunnel most viable

Phil Brown rightly suggests (in “Viaduct options: give the surface street a chance” DJC May 1) that “the city and state do some cold, hard analysis of the numbers” concerning how to replace the viaduct. I agree.

It makes sense to begin any project with the end result in mind. To Brown's list of questions about traffic flow and people capacity we need to add some key questions:

• What will the land along the waterfront look like after all the earth-movers and bulldozers have left the scene? (This, after all, is what we will live with for at least the 75-year lifecycle of whatever is built.)

• How can the land currently under the viaduct — some of the most precious waterfront land in all of the Northwest — be deployed to benefit all of Seattle's citizens?

Finally, I appreciate Brown's interest in maintaining vehicle capacity along the waterfront. But putting those 110,000 cars and trucks on the surface alone will create an Aurora highway on the waterfront.

The vehicles will drip pollutants that wash into the Sound, and a vast carpet of cement will separate people from the water.

When choosing between a cut-and-cover tunnel (think I-90 through Mercer Island) and rebuilding an aerial structure (think 50 percent bigger than what we've got), WSDOT says the closure times will be roughly the same.

The tunnel, then, is the more viable option.

Todd Vogel


Tunnel way too expensive

Thank you for your article. I am a professional engineer with experience in designing and inspecting bridge structures.

Yes, I too think that a street level option is the best solution. It makes more sense in terms of cost and safety. I think the tunnel option is way too expensive, and will be more so after the politicians get through gold plating it.

I also think the elevated option is the wrong way to go. Who wants to be dangling 30 feet up in the air when the Big One hits?

Also, if I had my way I would remove all the politicans from the decision making process. They will only screw it up.

I also think that a toll system should be used to help finance whatever replacement is selected.

Finally, I would immediately reduce the speed to 35 mph on the existing structure. I am dumbfounded that the “experts” have failed to realize how impact loads on this old and dangerous structure can be reduced by simply lowering the speed limit.

A. T Rack

Vashon Island

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