Tunnel vs. Viaduct, Part 1: Introduction

The first in a series discussing the implications of building an underground tunnel to replace the viaduct near downtown Seattle’s waterfront.

If you’re a Seattlite, you’ve no doubt been exposed to the seemingly exaggerated controversy stirred up by the talk of tunnel vs. viaduct. 

Although the issue has been put to a vote at least once in the city, the issue remains tangled and complex.  Proponents of the tunnel make the case that the roadway will be more secure – a valid concern considering the reason Seattle is struggling with this issue in the first place is because the viaduct has been deemed structurally unsound and will not survive the next (major) earthquake.  Proponents of rebuilding the viaduct advocate for keeping the view of Seattle’s stunning waterfront from the viaduct- also a valid point, since the city’s weather can be gloomy enough without having to be underground.

The problem is that neither of these perspectives – nor many of the other common arguments on either side of the issue – take into account pedestrians and bicyclists, let alone prioritize these two “alternative” forms of traffic.  Perhaps it is “in the air” – that is, our culture has made us accustomed to motorized transportation.  Perhaps the majority of Seattle citizens own cars and thus don’t think about what life would be like without vehicles.  Either way, though, pedestrians are a large percentage of the traffic in the downtown area as it is, and Feet First would like to see that number increase.

The tunnel vs. viaduct issue is a perfect one to exemplify the much-needed broadening of perspectives Feet First advocates.  We invite you to stay tuned as we look at this major transportation issue from a viewpoint that puts feet – that is to say, people – first.

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