Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dammit Governor It's Not Just About the Money! As Tunnel Bashing Lite Continues

Governor Gregoire continues to dig her political grave for two. Her and Frank Chopp. He has blocked the tunnel option from the beginning. Not willing to even consider it once he went down the road of political expediency. Not many legislators are willing to take on the Speaker of the House unless they know they can win. Thus the inaction from Olympia. Key transportation committees have not even held hearings on the tunnel option.

I sense a large political backlash down the road for these two if Seattle ends up with another elevated highway. Also for several members of the council who have bungled this badly. This will happen when Seattle residents finally awake from their slumber and realize that a catastrophic mistake has been made by rebuilding a elevated highway. If Gregoire loses a close rerun election to Dino Rossi I would bet the viaduct scandal will be what puts him over the top. Sad because she has been great on nearly all the other issues. But if she loses enough votes in Seattle over her screwing up viaduct replacement it may be her demise.

As for Chopp. He's gotten a little to big for his britches on this and other issues and worked as an obstructionist. Maybe the voter next time will realize he also needs to be knocked back into political place.

Yes, the Seattle City Council is guilty of not getting their shit together on one of the most important pieces of transportation policy to happen in their or our lifetimes. Their ability to lead on this issue should be addressed squarely at the time of next election cycle.

As much as most would like to bash Mayor Nickels on this, he is been pretty much the one constant person in power calling for the tunnel from the beginning.

Gov says Seattle viaduct ballot flawed, but won't pull money yet!
Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that Seattle's upcoming vote on replacing the quake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct will be flawed and without credibility, but rejected GOP calls to shift billions of dollars in state financing to other mega-projects.

House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said the March 13 advisory vote will be largely irrelevant as Olympia moves inexorably to approve a rebuild of the elevated highway along Seattle's downtown waterfront. That would cost about $2.8 billion, most already approved by the Legislature.
Seattle leaders prefer a tunnel, with a pricetag of $3.4 billion - a scaled-backed version of a $4.6 billion, six-lane tunnel the city had promoted until recently.

Gregoire acknowledged the passion of some Seattle leaders for the tunnel, but said, "We need to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayer. I'd also prefer a Mercedes, but I can't afford that, either."

Neither she nor Senate Transportation Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, were willing to flatly declare the tunnel option dead, although many House Democrats have.

"I don't see the tunnel as an option," Clibborn said in an interview. "So the elevated proposal is all that is left. I didn't even have a hearing on the tunnel option."

Gregoire and key legislators said the revised tunnel plan hasn't been studied by experts enough to make sure the pricetag and other details are valid.

The governor was biting in her comments Monday about Seattle's handling of the vote, and said it's no wonder that some lawmakers are lusting after the billions in viaduct money to use on other projects.

"You know, I tried to warn Seattle," she told a news conference. "I tried to tell them while you're indecisive and rethinking and asking for extensions of time, the fact of the matter is that every legislator outside of Seattle is looking at that money and saying, `We're ready to spend it and not debate about it. Our projects are ready.'"

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