Michael and Michael Have Issues With the Tunnel, Despite Yesterday's Press Conference

Der Tunnel ist serious business, says Bruno
If you want to set the record straight on your favorite multi-billion dollar transportation proposal, you do it at Ivar's Acres of Clams. And if you're really serious, you make sure Ivar wears his bow tie. That's what the SR99 Corridor Coalition--a group of supporters of the proposed deep-bore tunnel--did yesterday, holding a press conference to respond to the campaign-trail critiques of underdog candidates Mike O'Brien and Mike McGinn. (Check out Laura Onstot's piece on McGinn's opposition this week.) Don't call it a $4 billion tunnel, the tunnel advocates say--it's a $2 billion tunnel with another $2 billion in projects like seawall replacement.

What people need to understand, said West Seattle architect Vlad Oustimivitch, who was part of the group that advised the state on the Viaduct replacement options, is that building the underground highway with no downtown exits is crucial to preventing sprawl. "Without this transportation solution, we will lose that [industrial, residential, and commercial] activity to the suburbs and encourage sprawl in our outlying region."

A curious strategy by the tunnel folks, as it gives O'Brien and McGinn another opportunity to sound off on a project that wasn't popular with Seattle voters in a less expensive version in a vote that was held when we weren't in a recession. Not surprisingly, the Ivar's affair hardly got them to clam up.

It's only 1% designed, said McGinn. It's only 2% designed, said O'Brien. And how does Seattle plan to raise its $930 million, they both asked. But the point of the press conference was to respond to their claims about the costs. The McGinn campaign's reaction: "Tunnel advocates today pointed out that the total project cost, before overruns, is $4.24 billion. The McGinn campaign has been using the number $4.2 billion. We regret the error."

This one may not have worked out as well as hoped for the tunnelers. Maybe they can go on Colbert next.

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