The Seattle City Council stared its irrelevance to the Viaduct debate square in the face this morning during a briefing on the latest options for the decrepit highway. After hearing about the new scenarios (A-H!) and being told that Gov. Chris Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and Mayor Greg Nickels are to come to a consensus soon, council member Richard McIver wondered aloud, "Where does the council fit in? ...Just thought I'd ask."
There was no easy answer.
The Viaduct clusterfuck, though it involves leaders at all levels, is really the Seattle Process at its finest. After nearly two years of "stakeholder meetings" there's both no obvious frontrunner and no fatally flawed of the eight options still on the table. Council members were told by state and city transportation officials this that there are going to be "tradeoffs" with all of the scenarios, from the simpler surface/transit strategy to the mammoth Choppduct, and what eventually emerges will be a "hybrid" made up of "building blocks" of a handful of the ideas. Really.
The Big Three (Nickels/Gregoire/Sims) are expected to agree on said hybrid before the end of the year-- which would be a small miracle in and of itself. But it left McIver to conclude: "If nobody's going to listen to us, what's the point?" Council member Bruce Harrell added: "The last thing we want is to do all this work and have [the mayor] go the other way." The council, after all, has already voted eight times for something resembling the surface/transit option.
Council member Jan Drago assured the other members (to the chuckles of some) that Nickels is "at the table" and welcoming their input. And council members resolved, again, to put in their two cents by Dec. 15-- even if it's all for naught.