Setting the record straight about the tunnel project; The promised $290 million is not budgeted
We apologize for emailing you today, but we feel compelled to correct the record and urge you to vote Reject on Referendum 1.
As participants in the City's waterfront planning effort and the Protect Seattle Now campaign, we are writing to assure you that we share your vision for a beautiful waterfront and that vision can be achieved without the tunnel. Planning and design work for our future waterfront is not tied to the tunnel. In fact, the projects are completely separate; WSDOT is not involved in planning either the seawall or new waterfront.
A couple facts to set the record straight:
There is no state funding to rebuild the waterfront street in the current funding plan for the tunnel project. While the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement for the tunnel promised $290 million to build Alaskan Way, this funding is not budgeted in the current tunnel project plan.
The state only has $2.4 billion for the tunnel project; that revenue is insufficient to cover the full program cost. Other possible funding sources – tolling revenue, Port gift, federal funds – are not secured and may not materialize. WSDOT’s funding plan admits this, and says they may need to raise more money from local sources to cover the full cost of what they promised Seattle. A yes vote for the referendum would not make this $290 million magically appear.
Other solutions can deliver exactly the same waterfront design as the tunnel: the same four-lane Alaskan Way, the same parks and bike paths, the same reintegration of city and bay, and – above all – the same eradication of the elevated highway that blights our shoreline.
The pro-tunnel campaign obtained your email address – along with 3,000 others on the City of Seattle’s waterfront list -- through a public records request and sent an email last weekend that may have appeared to come from the City’s waterfront planning process and had misleading information about the project. We thank you for this opportunity to correct the record.
The waterfront planning committee agreed from the start that our work needed a firewall from the volatile tunnel debate. There are people on both sides of the tunnel question working hard on waterfront planning. We are thrilled at the robust engagement – and everyone profoundly appreciates your participation.
The risky tunnel plan spends billions of dollars but pushes thousands more cars onto city streets - without enough money to provide the street fixes, transit, and safe bike facilities citizens want. Unless we invest in more transit options and safe bike and pedestrian facilities, this project would make Seattle streets worse.
The City of Seattle is on track to build a beautiful new waterfront for Seattle. We can achieve this vision, and the same waterfront street, without spending $3.1 billion or more on a bypass highway that only does 1/3 of the job it was supposed to do.
Seattle, we can do better. We look forward to continue working with you on the waterfront design process and invite you to join us in voting Reject on Referendum 1.
Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Councilmember
Cary Moon, Director, People’s Waterfront Coalition