Tunnel’s got to give
A four-lane tunnel could precipitate catastrophic vehicular crashes, or at least floundering in gridlock.
That’s the word from the state’s Department of Transportation, which undertook a whirlwind study of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ hybrid surface/tunnel proposal. Narrow lanes, a two-foot margin between directional lanes, could bring about what happened in a 1982 crash at an Oakland highway tunnel, where seven people were killed.
The plan is worsened, says a Feb. 13 DOT letter, by the city’s idea to turn auxiliary pullover lanes into traffic lanes during peak hours. Steep grades, sharp curves, and rush hours that last the better part of a work day all would tie the auxiliary lane into messy knots.
With the four-lane tunnel idea getting the thumbs-down from the state, the surface option — tearing down the viaduct and replacing it with an assortment of mass transit, smartly managed surface roads, and other modifications to the existing street grid — is still standing, though state officials don’t have formal plans to study it. City Council President Nick Licata is exploring canceling the upcoming rebuilt-vs.-tunnel ballot referenda.
Four-lane “hybrid,” RIP.
The Latino employment and education organization CASA Latina is realizing its dream: a place of its own.
The Seattle City Council freed up enough money for the agency to put a downpayment on a $3.5 million, 12,000 square foot lot one block west of Pratt Park in the Central District.
The move will co-locate the agency’s employment, education, and community support programs under one roof. One big plus, says Stern, is that roof itself: At the agency’s day labor pickup center on Western Ave. in Belltown, workers wait for a day job outside in the elements.
The differences between that primitive site and the new space will be “night and day,” she says — adding indoor plumbing, a telephone line, running water, and heat.
The site first came to CASA’s attention in August; one of the group’s conditions for a new place was easy access to downtown and public transport. They plan to add on to the existing building, which formerly housed an architectural firm.
CASA Latina previously eyed a Rainier Valley hardware store, but was rebuffed by neighborhood opposition. This time, that opposition is absent, says Stern; the downpayment money was released after the city recognized that the community had given its approval.
Co-locating their services means people will get a well-rounded picture of what CASA Latina does, says Stern. “If someone comes in for a women’s group, she’ll find out about our employment program.” That, and the additional space, means people will stay inside. The place will “look more like a union hiring hall,” she says.
The land’s purchase is still dependent on garnering $3.25 million from public and private sources. Stern says private donors will be asked to raise about $2 million; capital money from the governor’s budget, if it survives the legislative session, will also be a big help.
Having their own place “is obviously something we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” she says. The funding commitment “is an amazing feat, because undocumented workers have been the scapegoats of immigration reform around the country. [The money means] we’re expecting them to stay for the long term.”
CASA Latina hopes to move in by 2009.
The Seattle Displacement Coalition is working hard to see that cities get the right to limit the number of apartments converted to condos, even if only temporarily.
Senate Substitute Bill 5031, which was introduced in the legislature last week, would do just that, giving cities the ability to limit the number of conversions on a temporary basis when a city determines that it’s losing rental housing too fast.
That’s what’s happening in Seattle, where the coalition’s John Fox points out that 3,900 rental units were converted in the past two years, most in older buildings affordable to people with lower incomes. Fox says a bill introduced last week in the House by Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline) would provide even greater control than its Senate counterpart.
House Bill 2014 would “give cities the local option to control or limit these losses” at their discretion, Fox says. “This is a serious problem that’s driving up housing prices and causing widespread homelessness.”
For copy of actual issue, go to https://www.realchangenews.org/2007/02/14/feb-14-2007-entire-issue