I published the following op-ed in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
For nearly two years, our community has been working steadily toward a consensus solution that would replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with something that will serve all our needs. Having come so far, it's critical that we not lose our footing now.
The Municipal League is pleased with the sound process set up by Gov. Chris Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels after voters turned down both a tunnel and a new viaduct in early 2007. A group of stakeholders representing broad interests was set up to develop and analyze a series of options. They used a framework of principles designed to produce a recommendation that everyone could agree with.
Now, after months of work and increasing media scrutiny, it's natural that some participants feel weary. Yet overall, this process has been open-minded, transparent and genuinely inviting of public input.
Such an analysis represents a dramatic and forward-looking shift from simply considering the vehicle capacity of the viaduct. The assumption that cars and every other mode of transportation are in opposition is outdated. It's critical that consideration be given to all modes of travel and mobility for people and freight.
We must integrate the highways through downtown with city streets and our investments in transit infrastructure. While this new approach raises many questions about how to adapt our silo-like transportation-funding system, it is time to address that policy barrier.
Despite the budget crisis in Olympia, it would be unacceptable to make cost the only factor for choosing an option. It is welcome news that we don't have to opt for the most expensive solutions.
One of the best and most innovative things about the process so far is that it has produced potential scenarios with mix-and-match components. Instead of either-or decision-making, our community is moving toward an agreed-upon set of best elements to improve the transportation network and develop a more vibrant and economically strong city. We must not let one proposal, special interest or specific element of a proposal distract us from the goal of achieving a comprehensive solution.
The existing viaduct remains an enormous safety hazard. It could come down any day in a catastrophic event. Stalling is not an option. We've come a long way. Let's get this right by building upon the excellent community process to date and identifying the solution that reflects the best overall value to the public.