By Aug. 1, King County voters will receive their Aug. 16 ballot by mail. We urge you to Reject the Tunnel. We also urge you to attend the Mon., Aug. 1 city hall march and rally. We gather at 4 p.m. beneath the viaduct at Alaskan Way South and South King Street and proceed to city hall for the rally at 5:30 p.m. A strong turnout will help send the right message at a time when it matters most.
Since Real Change first partnered a year ago with Sierra Club and others to stop the tunnel, some have questioned why this is our fight. Friends have been upset. Some have withdrawn their support. We've crossed labor, the governor, the county executive and the majority of city council to question the political "consensus." It's no small wonder that most organizations have chosen to sit this ugly and divisive fight out.
And yet, as we near the time to vote, I remain convinced that this fight is both within our mission and well worth the short-term pain.
Poor people ride buses
When people speak of the $3.2 billion it will take to build the tunnel, the interest on that debt and the $2 to 3 billion that will be needed later to mitigate a fundamentally flawed design typically go unmentioned. Pouring dollars down this bottomless hole will starve funding for public transit, which is presently facing cuts, and how most poor people get around. We need viaduct replacement options that support, rather than undermine, transit.
Reject two-tiered transportation
While tolls are a good way to discourage driving and manage peak-hours traffic, the use of this strategy to fill project funding gaps is all wrong. A $9 round-trip toll at peak hours will allow rapid passage through downtown to those who can afford it, while diverting the rest of us to I-5 and city streets. The state's own studies show that a tolled tunnel will create downtown congestion. The same studies reveal that tearing down the viaduct and not replacing it will cause similar congestion. We need to spend our limited resources on transportation solutions that help us all.
Environmental issues are poverty issues
Remember Katrina? How about Joplin, Mo.? Extreme weather related to climate change is decimating communities and the poor are typically last in line for relief. Hunger related to desertification and the spread of disease from flooding are killing the poor in the global south while we, the culprits in the industrialized north, have been more insulated from the effects. Reduction of carbon emissions is a moral imperative for anyone who cares about social justice. Building new state-of-the-art highways is a commitment to a transportation model better left behind.
No developer giveaways at public expense
Cui bono? Who benefits? If you look at who's funding Let's Move Forward, the pro-tunnel movement, you have your answer. More than $20K from the Downtown Seattle Association. Another $20K+ from the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. The list of contributors is a Who's Who of downtown developers and the lawyers, bankers and politicians who love them. Are these your friends? Are these your priorities? They're definitely not ours.
Vote to Reject the Tunnel, and join us on Aug. 1 to make a strong statement of support for better alternatives. The time to act on this is now.