I am just now reading a news story about a report that says in order to make sure drivers use the tunnel that would replace the viaduct we might need to have regional tolling. This delights me in so many ways.
The set up: People clamor for a north-south route bypassing the city connecting West Seattle and SODO to Fremont and Ballard. They insist it roughly follows the waterfront. The state says a tunnel is the only good answer so build it. Build it!
Then other people say, "What about the cost?" Well, the state has almost all the money it needs, right? The state can get the rest by charging people to use the tunnel. The people who wanted it so bad can pay for it.
Next it dawns on the state that the clamor was never for a tunnel that costs money. The clamor was for one that was free. If you charge for it they'll drive around it, and clog the city.
So instead of charging to drive the tunnel, the idea now is to charge for NOT driving it! Ha, ha! You just bought socialism, Seattle!
The government says we have to build free public schools for everybody. Great, says everybody, we like free things! Then the government says, oh wait, did we say completely free? You have to pay taxes for it to be free. So you take your kid out of the public school and put him in private school, and try telling the state you personally shouldn't have to pay the public school portion of your taxes. The state says think again. Socialism.
Don't get me wrong. I like socialism in its place. I think socialism is wonderful for things like schools, hospitals, heating, housing and grocery distribution. You know, for societal and individual necessities.
The humor here rests in the fact that I know with certainty most of the people who were planning to enjoy the tunnel are not as enamored of socialism as I am. They never dreamed that asking to be given a free treat, costing billions of dollars, might result in a socialist financing scheme. Burn!
Mind you, all of this is before cost overruns. If major cost overruns happen, we go from socialism to weird B-movie dystopia.
Everybody imagines that being "on the hook" for cost overruns means Seattle citizens will be paying through the nose in higher sales taxes or property taxes. Come on, do you really think our government is that uncreative? They're talking about regional tolls, as in, this region. They don't mean setting up tolls in Spokane.
The more expensive the tunnel, the more drivers will be charged. Charging drivers more means fewer drivers. Then those who don't use it will have to be charged for not using it.
By 2015 we could be individually metering our crosswalks. You think you can choose to avoid the tunnel by riding a bus or walking everywhere? No you don't, comrade. You pay a dime every intersection, or you stay home and wait for us to haul you and the rest of your unproductive and uncooperative kind to the state plantation for the socially defective. There you can walk for free between your new state "apartment" and your new state "job."
Paying for the tunnel's cost overruns will be a full-time job for all of us. The same report that suggests regional tolls also suggests giving loaded Orca transit passes to downtown workers. If that doesn't happen it doesn't mean we don't pay! If businesses downtown can't hire enough workers because not enough can afford parking or rides to downtown, they will fail, and there won't be a downtown, and the city's biggest tax base will dissolve.
Then, we'll all have to pay movers to get us out of this pit.