I remember the first day I came to Seattle, 13 years ago. My friends took me down to the Market, to introduce me to my new city, and to gaze out upon the glories of the waterfront. But as soon as I looked down from Victor Steinbrueck Park at the Viaduct, I was hollering like a madman. "What the EFF is that?! That's the ugliest goddamn thing I've ever seen in my freakin' life!!! You people put a highway on the WATERFRONT?!"
Yeah, we did put a highway on the waterfront. In 1953. It's bulky, ugly, and despite what any warped modernist romantic says about it being classified as an historic object, it cuts off the rest of downtown from the waterfront. It might have made sense in the 50's when the car was cool, and all oil was from Texas…but now? A dinosaur. A throwback. A Saudi oil princes' wet-dream. We'd never make that mistake again, right?
Don't be so sure.
If you are a City of Seattle resident, you are receiving a ballot in your mail RIGHT NOW for a March 13th Special Election. The only two items on that ballot? Measures 1 & 2. Here's a summary:
- Do you want to pay $3.6 Billion for a 4-lane cut and cover tunnel with surface streets: YES or NO
- Do you want to pay $2.8 Billion for a 6-lane elevated (with one exit lane per level (read: 8-lane) viaduct: YES or NO
Well gosh. That's easy. Only two questions, and "yes or no" on both. You just pick which one you like, right? WRONG!!!
My dear friends – please hear my prayer – for the love of all that is holy and good, vote NO on BOTH of these abominations. It is not rejectionist, or a screw the establishment vote. It is the only thing you can do to save Seattle from the convoluted political posturing that got us to this place.
These are both bad ideas, and they are NOT the only solutions available to us. There is a word for forcing citizens to pick among false choices while doing whatever you want in the end, and it sure as hell is not "Democracy".
Voting NO on BOTH is like taking a money-loaded gun out of the hands of politicians who are behaving like children. It will force them to sit down and consider a solution that makes much more sense – the People's Waterfront Coalition's "Streets + Transit" plan. The Streets + Transit plan isn't a one-word thing, like "Tunnel" or "Elevated" – it's a whole enchilada deal: a nice boulevard where the Viaduct is now, plus a package of improvements to the street grid to make the whole of downtown easy to get in and out of (or through). Plus it allocates money to transit, opens the waterfront, and makes us think about all of downtown transportation capacity holistically – for about $1.7 Billion.
Do you see what I am saying here? We get all of the benefit of a well-thought out transportation plan, more transit, open waterfront, environmental benefits, and it costs AT LEAST ONE BILLION DOLLARS less than the "cheapest" of our two false choices.
I could list out the many and compelling arguments, but The Stranger's Erica C. Barnett has already done a fantastic job in this week's cover story: No and Hell No: Just Say No to Both Viaduct Measures.
Once you've assimilated that healthy chunk of enlightened thinking – become a friend of the NoAndHellNo.org campaign on our MySpace page. Then invite YOUR friends to come join us. You can also print out yard signs to let other people know that it's AOK to vote NO and HELL NO.
And, finally, when your ballot arrives in the mail, firmly and with courage vote NO on Measure 1, and NO on Measure 2, and mail it back in by March 13th. Future generations of Seattleites will thank you.