Inside Opinion

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Tag: Mike McGinn


The real election season shifts into high gear

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The primary ballots haven’t all been tallied yet – thanks to the requirement that they only need to be postmarked by Election Day. But some things are already clear.

Just because it’s more convenient to vote now that the election is all-mail doesn’t mean people are suddenly voting in much higher numbers. As of Thursday afternoon, turnout was a lackluster 27 percent. In the last off-year election (2009), turnout was 19.2 percent.

Turnout this year wasn’t helped by the fact that voters in some communities might not have had much to get

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Seattle viaduct replacement: Is it politically impossible?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If Seattle isn’t serious about replacing the quake-damaged Alaskan Way viaduct, how serious should the rest of Washington be about it?

Next year will bring the 10th anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake and the 10th anniversary of the engineering report that the viaduct had to be rebuilt or replaced – lest it collapse in the next big shake.

Despite nearly a decade of facing what some would consider a dire threat, Seattleites seem poised for yet another Big Dither.

Mayor Mike McGinn is doing his utmost to unravel a hard-won agreement between the governor and the city leadership to reroute state Route 99 through a tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.

He makes an easy target with his ecotopian vision of a bottlenecked surface corridor whose engineered congestion would force commuters onto bicycles and buses. But a lot of other greenish Seattleites also think that’s a spectacular idea, and some are threatening a city initiative to stop the tunnel and start the arguments all over again.
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An actual end to dithering on Alaskan Way Viaduct?

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Nearly a decade after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake rattled what little faith traffic engineers had in the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s structural integrity, a few Seattle politicians continue to debate how best to replace the 57-year-old structure.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday she’s had enough. She plans to tell the viaduct oversight committee today that time’s up.

“We may have disagreements on some subjects, but we’ve got to move forward,” Gregoire told reporters by phone from Washington, D.C., where she was testifying on, of all things, disaster readiness. “We’ve processed this to death.”

Death by process is a Seattle specialty. But in this case, it’s not just a $4.2 billion transportation project at stake – it’s lives. State highway engineers say there is a 10 percent chance in the next 10 years that parts of the viaduct will collapse in an earthquake.

Those odds are too high for any highway span, much less one that carries 110,000 vehicles a day.

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Five highways endangered by one Seattle mayor

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Every so often you read about a 2- or 3-year-old who crawls behind the wheel while the engine’s running, drives off in Mom’s car and soon winds up in the ditch.

That’s looking like a painfully apt metaphor for Mike McGinn, the new mayor at the wheel of the City of Seattle.

When elected, McGinn – an environmental activist – had neither the experience nor the expertise needed to run a large city. Now it’s becoming clear he also lacks the temperament and political savvy.

That might not be such a big deal to most Washingtonians if the damage could be contained inside the 206 area code. But five major state and federal highways run through or around Seattle, and the mayor is displaying a petulant obstructionist streak that could threaten every one of them.

Since taking office in January, McGinn has been working to undo a settled multi-city agreement for replacing the Evergreen Point floating bridge, which carries state Route 520 across Lake Washington. Time is of the essence in getting that project moving. If the decaying bridge collapsed in a storm or earthquake, as engineers say it might, Interstates 90 and 405 would wind up paralyzed with traffic.

McGinn also opposes the hard-won deal to replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way viaduct with a tunnel.

He has championed a surface boulevard that would cut the route’s existing capacity by perhaps 50,000 cars a day. In his utopian world, Earth-friendly mass transit would make up the difference. In the real world, that stretch of state Route 99 would become hell, and desperate commuters would jam downtown Seattle and Interstate 5.
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Grab your wallets: McGinn’s got plans

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

As expected, Seattle’s new mayor, Michael McGinn, is giving non-Seattleites reason to change the PINs on their debit cards.

McGinn, like many environmentalists, doesn’t much like cars. No problem there: Just about anyone might get sick of cars after living in congested Seattle long enough. But McGinn’s Seattlecentric approach to transportation keeps threatening to run up the state’s bill on the planned Alaskan Way tunnel and Highway 520 bridge.

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Seattle can’t stripe the lanes on the Highway 520 bridge

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Why is it so hard to make a big transportation plan stick in Seattle?

The city’s years of arguments over replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct seem settled – keep your fingers crossed. But Seattle officials are suddenly pushing to reopen the plan, already enacted in law, to replace the Highway 520 bridge over Lake Washington. This after more than 10 years of studies and negotiation produced the existing agreement for a six-lane bridge, with two general-purpose lanes plus one HOV lane running in each direction.

Too many cars, say Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle City Council and various greener-than-thou types. They want the Legislature to shift course and turn the two HOV lanes into mass transit-only lanes (meaning just buses, for the foreseeable future).

The state – meaning taxpayers from Tacoma to Spokane – would wind up paying billions of dollars and getting only four automobile lanes, no more than on the old Evergreen Point floating bridge.

Whatever McGinn and the others may think, this isn’t Seattle’s call to make. The bridge carries a state highway – repeat, state highway – not a city arterial. Its configuration is every bit as important to Bellevue, Redmond and other cities on the east side of the lake as it is to Seattle. Many in those communities were originally seeking an eight-lane bridge to accommodate more automobile traffic, which routinely slows to a tortoise-paced crawl during rush hour.
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