UPDATE: Was the release of this video a political ploy by the Mallahan campaign? Details after the jump.

Those of you still on the fence


WSDOT's Earthquake Video Simulation: Alaskan Way Viaduct Fall Down, Go Boom

UPDATE: Was the release of this video a political ploy by the Mallahan campaign? Details after the jump.

Those of you still on the fence about whether to get behind the deep bore tunnel (not that it matters much now that the only significant opposition wussed out), might want to take a gander at the above video.

Released yesterday, it provides a glimpse of what could result if Seattle experiences a seismic event more significant in magnitude than the 6.8 quake that hit the city back in 2001. Needless to say, in that event, those traveling on the increasingly decrepit Alaskan Way Viaduct should (ahem) expect delays.

A 2007 report Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), who is apparently in the business of predicting shifts in the planet's tectonic plates, puts Seattle's chances of being hit by an earthquake in the next decade at 10 percent. The simulation comes in conjunction with the agency's announcement that it will be replacing the manual process for closing the Viaduct with automated systems that will detect ground movement and warn drivers of emergencies.

So, happy commuting Seattle. And remember to duck and cover.

UPDATE: The Seattle Times reports that the simulation was produced two years ago by Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering firm who counts as one of its executives a member of mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan's campaign advisory committee.

That and the timing of the video's release--just nine days before the mayoral election--both strike candidate Mike McGinn as odd, reports the Times. WSDOT officials say the release comes in response to a public disclosure request from Elizabeth Campbell, failed mayoral candidate and co-founder of Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel. Odd then that a copy of the video was first given to KING-TV who aired the video Sunday night, right? Maybe.

WSDOT officials tell the Times they decided to expedite the simulation viddeo's release after receiving a request for it from a KING-TV reporter--but only after consulting with Governor Christine Gregoire, a noted Mallahan supporter.

"I am not aware of a government agency responding to a public-disclosure request by giving an exclusive to a TV station," said McGinn.

The Mallhan camp's response: Call the suspicions laughable, and point out that the original public records request came from an activist who, like McGinn, opposes the tunnel. For their part, officials at WSDOT has said the release is unrelated to the election. And if it were at all clear which candidate benefits from the release of this admittedly sensational video, this might actually be a big deal. But it isn't. We'd entertain alternate theories, though.

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