Tunnels or land use?

I don’t want to spend time here trying to answer that question.

But I did write this piece for Crosscut that tries to get at what I think is a central problem in Seattle: our obsession with transportation technology.

Whether it has been monorail versus light rail, or tunnels versus surface option we seem to love to argue about how we all get to work, or how we get apples to China.

Here’s two nettlesome, persistent, and wrong assumptions on the tunnel thing. First, that there is some kind of freight impact. Help me understand this. What freight (apples, computers, planes etc.) gets to market using the viaduct?

The second is that the debate about the tunnel is about the waterfront. It isn’t. It’s about land use. What is most important about resolving the Alaska Way Viaduct issue is about how we use the land that it is freed up when the viaduct goes away. We don’t need to “reweave” the city into the water. But we do need to take advantage of the additional capacity for housing and activity adjacent to the waterfront.

The tunnel debate is just one smaller tiff in a larger debate about whether we aggregate transportation demand (often called “density”) to support transit and alternatives to the car. Cars are an awesome means to an end: getting from point a to point b. But if point b is across the street or within easy reach of a ride on transit I don’t need a car or a place to store it.

Anyway, maybe more on that second topic later. But for now, back to the code. Next up, finally, we get into designations for residential, commercial, and industrial.

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