Mike McGinn's Latest Anti-Tunnel Bogeyman is the Impact on Pioneer Square

Renee McMahon
The Duck may have to wade through more traffic.
In his ongoing mission to kill the tunnel, Mike McGinn is still pointing out to anyone who will listen that the city is being saddled with potentially huge cost overruns. But with City Council President Richard Conlin saying he and the council are approving the damn thing come hell or highwater, McGinn is hunting around for other allies to bolster his "no tunnel" stance. Meeting with reporters yesterday, he tried a new tactic.

"I don't know that the community or the city has taken a close look at the impacts of the south portal to the tunnel on Pioneer Square; that's going to be another significant impact there," McGinn told reporters today. He's referring to projections that the tunnel will send downtown-bound traffic from the south onto First Avenue and Alaskan Way.

But as alliances go, Pioneer Square might not be his best bet.

The state actually has been paying close attention to the neighborhood, starting a website devoted to the subject of the impacts of the tunnel on the Square, and changing the entrance from First Avenue S. to Alaskan Way at the request of neighbors last December.

Even pro-pedestrian group Feet First's Executive Director Lisa Quinn, no tunnel fan herself, gives the state credit for keeping Square residents and business (Feet First's headquarters are there) involved in the process for planning the logistics of the portal. Quinn sits on the state's South Portal Work Group, a collection of residents and business owners in the Square, West Seattle and along the Duwamish. "We provide them feedback and suggestions," she says.

It's not that Quinn doesn't have concerns. She says an onslaught of cars trying to get downtown through the Square will make it more dangerous for people who aren't in vehicles. "[The state is] not looking at bikes and walking and how do they maintain and enhance that," she says.

But even so, Quinn isn't actively fighting WSDOT on digging the tunnel in the first place. "I think we've all decided, if we're going to be moving forward with the tunnel, let's be realistic about what that means for the city," she says. "Be thoughtful on the process."

Sorry, McGinn, that's not exactly the kind of rhetoric that's going to inspire Seattleites to end the big dig before it starts.

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