It appears that Seattle Mayoral Candidate, Mike McGinn has staked his campaign on one issue, gutting the viaduct tunnel plan carefully negotiated by all the relevant players. If he wins, he has stated, he will view his victory as a mandate to undo the viaduct replacement plan. In its stead, McGinn has promised more busses, sidewalks and bike paths. As someone who regularly commutes on the viaduct it’s hard for me to see how more sidewalks and bikepaths is going to make my commute any easier. Oh, yeah, and McGinn says he wants to use light rail to replace the viaduct. Geez, I didn’t know that Sound Transit was planning a light rail leg for West Seattle and White Center. Wait, there is no light rail leg for West Seattle. So if McGinn is elected we can expect protracted delays on replacing the viaduct, procuring boatloads of money and the decade’s long process of what: extending the light rail line to West Seattle. No problema. I’ll take the tunnel. It’s clear that McGinn does not live in West Seattle nor does he use the viaduct to commute.
What is particularly disingenuous, is McGinn’s claim that the tunnel option was voted down by Seattle voters. This is simply not true. A tunnel option which would have meant tearing down the viaduct and digging up a tunnel was rejected. The deep bore tunnel that is currently planned would leave the viaduct in place while the tunnel gets built, saving West Seattleites years of aggravating surface detours. This option was negotiated because it provides the most mobility and least interference while it is getting built. What McGinn is proposing would set us back a decade and have us revisit the viaduct replacement options once again. Recall how all this useless process killed the monorail (we had to vote on it three times). And in the meantime, we have to hope that a seismic event doesn’t make the whole thing hollow by bringing down the decrepit structure. Busses, bikes and sidewalks, Oh My!
McGinn’s ill-defined plans for the viaduct are enough to nix the guy in my book. Add to that, the fact that he has never held electoral office, that most of his policy positions lack any specificity and you have a feel-good kind of guy that you might pick for your soccer team, but not a mayor for a major city. Seattle needs better. I’m not crazy about Joe Mallahan, but he at least seems considerably more grounded on policies. We have already had a couple of amateurs embarrass the City. It’s time to let the grown ups proceed with real policies grounded in reality.