My goodness. We thought there were only three ways to fix the quake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct: rebuild it as an elevated highway, replace it with a conventional trench-and-cover tunnel, or replace it with a surface boulevard.
Make that three-and-a-half: For a while, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was pushing a skinnier trenched tunnel. But the state Department of Transportation didn’t like the looks of his Tunnel Lite.
Seattleites, Gov. Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and others fought each other to near-exhaustion over those options. Now – after all the shin-kicking – the DOT has just spread out a menu of 10 options. These include a bridge over Elliott Bay, a retrofit of the existing viaduct, alternative surface routes and three different species of tunnel – including one created by a Dune-sandworm-style boring machine.
Question: It’s been more than seven years since the Nisqually earthquake left the viaduct looking as doomed as New Orleans’ pre-Katrina levees. Several of these new alternatives actually look promising. Why on earth has it taken the state so long to put them on the table?
Cheap shot: Of course, the DOT may have worried that the perpetually conflicted, process-ridden city of Seattle might have succumbed to complete paralysis had it faced 10 entrees instead of three.