Not a great surprise, after the tenor of things in the last couple of weeks especially: In the vote released this evening, Seattle voters decisively rejected both ballot options for fixing the Alaskan Way viaduct, the reconstructed elevated highway (no: about 55.5% in the first round of vote releases) and tunnel (no: 69.9%).
What this should, logically, suggest is a revisitation of the ground-level highway option, a proposal dismissed out of hand by almost everyone much involved (and not given a lot of credence here either, we might add). Yet it looks better the more you think about it; and we keep thinking about the recent Danny Westneat column pointing out that the downtown area underneath the viaduct is little more than wasted space at present. And how either of the two main proposals, shot down now by the voters, would remove the viaduct from use by the public for possibly a decade - that being how long the construction project might last.
The vote was a take-down of both tunnel advocates (main in city hall, including Mayor Greg Nickels) and reconstruction acolytes (including Governor Chris Gregoire and House Speaker Frank Chopp). As a comment on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's site suggests, "Gregoire would have to be crazy to try and stuff the viaduct/eyesore onto the city now. It would be political suicide." Same, for that matter, for the other office holders.
The situation is unsettled. One commenter suggests, "So the real vote is 30% tunnel, 45% viaduct, 25% surface street. I wonder which option should win?"
Still, in our view: Look for street-level to gain some traction.
FOLLOWUP One of the rebuild-the-elevated advocates, Seattle City Council President Nick Licata, this evening told the Seattle Times that the losing 45% vote was “a pretty solid base for elevated. . . . It will definitely keep it alive."
Never say die, apparently. But we suspect state Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, was closer to the mark when he told the Stranger's Slog: “A loss is a loss. Legislators who lose 55 to 45 don’t get to be legislators.”