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Save our Soul {SOS} Seattle: Why the Seattle arts and heritage community should vote to reject the tunnel

2011 August 5
by Cheryl dos Remedios

Six years ago, when I began working as an “artist in transportation,” I was resolutely apolitical. My sole interest was to explore how the 520 Bridge Replacement Project would impact the Arboretum’s rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and living collections. I remember explaining my ideas to a prominent Seattle arts leader. He politely scoffed. “The 520 is about big cars, big money and big politics,” he said. His meaning was clear: There’s no place for an artist in this debate. I was stunned.

Since then, I’ve come to see his point. It is incredibly difficult to influence the outcome of a mega transportation project. To have any hope of doing so, you must engage politically. So I have. Over the past few years, I’ve attended so many meetings that I now consider public forums to be my studio space. I volunteer my time to do this work because transportation projects are largely exempted from percent-for-art programs, and yet they’re as much about art and history as they are about counting cars.

Or they should be. Collectively, the cultural community understands our history as manifested in historic buildings and landscapes; we can envision the impact on these spaces in all its complexity. When it comes to advocating for our city’s cultural spaces and heritage, our knowledge and expertise are critical.

In the essay that follows, I’ve done my best to explain the aspects of the tunnel project that I think the cultural community will care most about. The tunnel debate has been intensely polarizing, and up to now, I’ve tried to stay open to the idea that we could protect Seattle’s cultural resources under any plan, but the more I learn about the tunnel, the more I realize that it puts too much at risk. We need to reject the tunnel now.

Your ballot has arrived.

Please vote.

Protect Seattle’s arts and heritage future.
Reject Referendum 1.
Reject the Tunnel.

1. Restoration and Preservation
Many Seattleites initially supported the tunnel because they wanted greater mobility. The new 7,351-page Environmental Impact Statement 1 that came out last month makes clear that the tunnel does nothing to improve traffic into downtown. A recent Sightline article pointed out that “from the perspective of traffic on city streets, the tolled tunnel is only a bit better than an earthquake that closes the Viaduct for good.” 2  A more comprehensive look at the EIS, published in Crosscut, concludes that the competing Surface Street/Transit/I-5 Improvements (ST5) plan promises real improvements:

By comparison, the major elements of the ST5 plan are straightforward and workable: reconfiguring I-5 ramps and restriping the freeway to add a new northbound lane in the existing right of way; wiring I-5 with smart traffic-flow management signs; adding transit service in key corridors; opening new freight and passenger capacity by removing bottlenecks in the existing street grid, especially at the north and south ends of downtown; and upgrading the infrastructure for walking and cycling. 3

The art and design communities have embraced the vision of a restored waterfront, and this is a worthy goal, but one that doesn’t depend on either the tunnel or ST5. With either option, the waterfront design features a 4-lane road running along the waterfront (Alaskan Way), and the amount of traffic on this road is expected to be roughly the same.

Of greater concern is the fact that in pursuing the restoration of one cultural landscape, we seem to have lost sight of another. Boring the tunnel puts the Pioneer Square Historic District and all of the buildings along the tunnel route at risk, but this isn’t the only option. We don’t have to sacrifice one cultural landscape to save the other. We can choose to both restore the waterfront and preserve Seattle’s historic buildings.


2. Respecting Regulations

< The Seattle Design Commission rejected this design for a 14-lane interchange on the edge of Pioneer Square. >

In violation of federal law, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is moving forward with construction of the tunnel before addressing the local and federal regulations that protect cultural resources. The relevant regulations are the Seattle Municipal Code, Section 106 of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 4(f) of the 1966 Department of Transportation Act.

The Seattle Municipal Code created the Pioneer Square Preservation District. This special review district was established in large part to “avoid a proliferation of vehicular parking and vehicular-oriented uses . . . to encourage the use of transportation modes other than the private automobile . . . and to encourage pedestrian uses.”

For well over a year, WSDOT has been aware that the volume of traffic in Pioneer Square would not be acceptable but has offered no solutions. As noted in the Seattle Times, “Governments don’t have a coherent plan yet to reduce diversion, or to protect Pioneer Square from overflow traffic near the Sodo interchange.” 4 If the tunnel is built, WSDOT predicts widespread congestion on streets, delays for buses and trucks, and back-ups onto SR-99. Likely changes to the historic character of the neighborhood include constant streams of through-traffic on previously quiet streets, possible removal of street parking, possible elimination of street trees, and damage to buildings from traffic vibration.5

In a recent letter to the Federal Highway Administration’s Preservation Officer, advocates explained the threat: “Pioneer Square is built upon old and decaying underground infrastructure and low-quality fill from when the District was reconstructed 100 years ago. Streets and sidewalks were raised one story, and are structurally supported by an unusual and fragile system of retaining walls and underground “areaways,” 6 the now-underground former sidewalks. Can streets physically withstand the high volumes of traffic and heavy loads expected? Shouldn’t this answer be known before WSDOT is given approval to overload the streets?” 7

Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act mandates a review process for all federally-funded and permitted projects that will impact sites listed or eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Federal agencies must “seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate” any adverse effects on historic properties. A Section 106 review is a consultative process. The “consulting parties” are government officials from historic preservation agencies, representatives from preservation and neighborhood organizations, tribal leaders and property owners.

Historic Preservation leaders are concerned that WSDOT doesn’t comprehend what it means to protect the overall character of Seattle’s oldest commercial neighborhood. WSDOT views the neighborhood as a set of parcels, not as a comprehensive whole. Still, in good faith, the consulting parties have gone ahead and signed off on a Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement with WSDOT.8

There is no money set aside in the project budget for Section 106 mitigation, even though the solutions WSDOT recommends will cost millions. Already, WSDOT is scaling back their commitment to protect historic buildings. Since selecting the contractor, WSDOT has set aside previously announced plans to shore up fragile buildings; 9 only three of the 63 buildings they’re monitoring will receive preventative measures; a wider application of compensation grouting is deemed too expensive.

Section 4(f) stipulates that Parks and Historic Sites cannot be used for highway purposes unless these conditions apply:

  • The action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from use.
  • There is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of land.

WSDOT is in violation of both points. First, they are refusing to identify, negotiate and fund solutions to the problems they know exist before beginning construction.

Secondly, WSDOT refused to fully study the Streets/Transit/I-5 Option (ST5) in the Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS). The purpose of an FEIS is to examine alternatives and choose the best one; by choosing not to include ST5, WSDOT preempted the process. Fortunately, due to public request, information about ST5 was included in an Appendix. ST5 functions better than the tunnel, costs about $1B less, and is much less risky. ST5 is the “feasible and prudent alternative” WSDOT is mandated to choose.

Six months ago, I began to see parallels between the regulatory issues surrounding the 520 Bridge Replacement Project (which I’ve been tracking for the last 6 years) and the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project. When the 520 Bridge was originally built, there were no federal highway regulations in place to protect historic places and parks. As a result, a highway bisecting the Arboretum’s wetlands and Foster Island was permitted, a highway interchange was placed within the boundaries of the Arboretum, and Lake Washington Boulevard was transformed from a historic boulevard into a commuter corridor, daily funneling thousands of cars through a botanical collection of international importance.

Sadly, now that federal regulations are in place, so are these “pre-existing highway conditions,” which are exempt from the regulatory review. This is why—if the new 520 Bridge design goes forward as planned—conditions will be made worse, not better. Traffic on Lake Washington Boulevard will increase, and a 12-lane highway will cut through the Arboretum’s wetlands and Foster Island.10  Next time you’re on a freeway, count the lanes. Imagine that swath of pavement cutting through the Arboretum’s wetlands, from Montlake onto Foster Island. This is the legacy of not having regulations to protect parks and historic places in 1963.

Now, the regulations that were passed in 1966 are being pushed aside to accommodate a 14-lane highway interchange at the edge of the Pioneer Square Historic District. Currently, the Viaduct provides seven on/off ramps into downtown, so traffic disperses across the street grid. However, if the deep bore tunnel is built, cars will pass deep underground, unable to access surface level streets.

Traffic is like water: It will flow wherever it’s allowed to go. If our neighborhood roads are like garden hoses, then a highway interchange is like a fire hose. The “fire hose” effect of the planned mega interchange will rapidly disintegrate Pioneer Square’s historic character. This damage will be compounded by the fact that a high volume of drivers will avoid the tunnel altogether to avoid tolls.11

The tunnel also threatens transit. In a routine inter-agency review of the tunnel project, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) unexpectedly sent WSDOT a subtly scathing letter. “In the broadest sense FTA remains disappointed that the Project’s impacts on public transportation are, from our perspective, adverse, even with mitigation.” 12   This statement references the congestion in Pioneer Square, caused by the single mega interchange into downtown. Even buses will be stuck at this new bottleneck if the tunnel is built. Despite the ads that claim the tunnel will “invest in transit,”13 neither plan has secured funding for transit; yet it’s clear that with ST5 transit mobility is more likely to be realized, because ST5 improves the flow of traffic through the street grid.

The process WSDOT has chosen is edging us toward “pre-existing highway conditions.” Just as the historic Washington Park Arboretum has inappropriately become a primary access route for SR 520, the Pioneer Square Historic District is about to become a high capacity access route for SR 99. It’s a bitter reality that citizens must explain regulations to bureaucrats and public officials in the hope of getting them enforced. Without greater public outcry, WSDOT may indeed succeed at avoiding their legal obligations.


3: Construction Risks

< “This building has been declared unsafe by the City of Seattle,” SixNineteen Western Building, Seattle, July 20, 2011. The SixNineteen has been operated as an all-arts building in Pioneer Square for 30 years. WSDOT is providing the owner with $20M to repair the building, but there is no guarantee that the current tenants will be able to afford the rent once repairs are made. Preserving the building and the building’s use would make the most sense. >

Many are aware of what’s been happening at the SixNineteen Western Building,14 but there are historic buildings all along the tunnel route. ‎According to Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Manager, “169 buildings [are] potentially affected by the tunnel project.” 15

The construction monitoring area16 includes the Seattle Art Museum, the Showbox, the Crocodile Cafe, and all of the Pike Place Market. Special care will be taken to closely monitor a subset of 63 historic buildings, which includes the Moore Theatre, the Two Bells Tavern, the Pike Place Market Main Arcades and Sanitary Market. The 619 Western Building is the most at risk, and artists are already in the process of being evicted.

This is a risky project. This would be the largest diameter deep-bore tunnel ever. The work site is in an earthquake zone.17 In Pioneer Square, the tunnel will be dug below the water table, and the tunnel boring machine [TBM] will be facing difficult soil conditions. “As the machine grinds forward, it must simultaneously create a concrete tunnel lining behind it to hold up the earth. Those concrete slabs narrow the diameter of the hole, preventing the TBM from backing up.” If a blade breaks, the machine has to be dug out from above. 18

“Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond last year asked her consultants, what is the worst-case scenario? Their answer: the tunnel-boring machine stalls halfway, near the Pike Place Market . . . If that were to happen downtown, DOT conjectures, it would cost an extra $467 million and up to 2 ½ years to get the machine digging again. Part of that cost would be a $100 million vertical shaft dug from a downtown lot to retrieve the machine.” 19

We can all hope that the machine won’t break down. We can all hope that WSDOT will be monitoring conditions closely enough to keep buildings from being damaged. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid this situation altogether? Because there is another worst-case scenario that seems far worse to me.

In 2009, the Historical Archive of Cologne collapsed and was destroyed. While the cause has never been made official, an engineering trade magazine states that the “collapse of a subway tunnel station still under construction was to blame for the sinkhole that destroyed . . .  documents dating back to 922 A.D.” 20 Cologne’s archives are one of the only collections in Germany to have survived World War II completely intact.21 Efforts were made to “salvage whatever cultural heritage may have survived the disaster, but it is slow going, since the site of the collapse is still dangerous and rainfall threatens to cause further damage to delicate documents and artifacts. . .”

The problem in Cologne was blamed on the ground water and the nature of the soil, a mixture of sand and gravel. “. . .engineers, politicians and managers at KVB had kept on making assurances that the construction of the city’s north-south underground railway line was absolutely safe. . .”22 and they were following standard procedures, but that wasn’t enough to avert disaster. I am ever more concerned about the lack of planning on the part of WSDOT and their unblinking intent to move this project forward. I am also concerned about the potential for their chosen contractor to be dishonest. 23 We have a lot at stake, in terms of Seattle’s cultural heritage, but we also have a proud history of rejecting bad projects. The ghost ramps at the Arboretum give me hope. 24


4. Financial Choices

< Street signs outside the Washington Athletic Club point towards the Construction Monitoring Area. >

In January, at the Washington Athletic Club, state legislators confirmed that Seattle will be liable for any cost overruns.25 Their laughter gave me pause.26

For the cultural community, I think this discussion about project budgets and potential cost overruns is especially relevant. In good times and bad, government arts and heritage programs are at risk of being cut. If the tunnel goes over-budget, these are the programs that will be deemed discretionary. The general impression is that spending money on the tunnel has nothing to do with our cultural programs, because those programs would never see that money anyway. There is an attitude among some cultural leaders that the small amount of money they receive from government is barely worth the effort. That may be a fair assessment today—all told, the United States Government spends less than 1/100 of 1% of combined domestic budgets on the arts 27—but ironically, it’s this perennial scarcity that threatens our long-term advocacy efforts.

Arts advocates are fighting to preserve a $135M annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), while WSDOT spent around $100M to prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Viaduct Replacement Project. That tells you all you need to know about societal attitudes toward funding government projects. So why is it that big engineering projects get the bulk of the money? Economist Anne Markusen argues that scientists are higher paid than artists, not due to level of education, but rather due to our government’s willingness to invest in technology:

[Scientists] are simply more highly valued in our political system at present. . . But vis-à-vis stimulus, artists turn economic orthodoxy on its head. Compared to most other groups of workers, artists are more apt to spend what they make rapidly and on other goods and services in the local economy. . . [Artists’] creativity drives cultural industries—media, publishing, advertising, music, and tourism—that are among the most important US exporters. 28

Government budgets are siloed (meaning that we couldn’t simply request a transfer of funds from the tunnel to the NEA), but there are budgetary decisions made all along the way that we can, and should, influence. 29 Investing in cultural programs is one of the wisest investments our government can make, and we need to reinforce that idea at every opportunity.

Reviewing an Americans for the Arts study 30, the Urban Land Institute recently highlighted the fact that the arts generate nearly $30 billion in revenue for federal, state, and local governments every year. When one considers that these three levels of government spend less than $4 billion annually to support the arts, one cannot help but be impressed with the more than seven-to-one leverage. 31

Locally, a recent ArtsFund study reveals that culture in King County generates $1.75 billion in economic activity, employs more than 29,000 people, and generates nearly $80 million in local tax revenue. 32  Imagine how much more money we would be generating if local government provided the cultural community with an investment that was equitable with other sectors.

We need to encourage our local government to apply the same rigor to public works aspirations that we do to our own cultural budgets. Once we’ve convinced our local government to save $1B on the tunnel, we should be vocal about our vision for a future path. Arts and heritage programs empower our individual sense of well-being and connect us to our community. They also serve as a platform for education, provide an avenue to social justice and are a proven economic engine. In Greek, metaphor means to travel. In Seattle, we have plenty of physical roads. It’s time for the strength of our metaphors to move us forward. It’s time to make song, dance, theater, visual art, landscape and architecture our priority.


5. Politics
In December 2008, at the conclusion of the Waterfront Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the Surface Street/Transit/I-5 Improvement Option (ST5) was selected by all three Departments of Transportation. Days later, behind closed doors, Governor Christine Gregoire, then-County Executive Ron Sims, and then-Mayor Greg Nickels chose the bored tunnel option instead. Ever since, the state has insisted that it is “too late” to do anything except the tunnel.

It’s not too late.

In May 2011, Judge Laura Gene Middaugh stated in her ruling on the tunnel referendum that “the overriding goal is to make sure that the voices of the people are heard when a policy decision is made.” She added, “The people of the city of Seattle have the right to be involved in that process.”

Please find your ballot, stick a stamp on it, and vote.

Vote to Protect Seattle’s Cultural Resources.

Vote to Reject Referendum 1.  Vote to Reject the Tunnel.

Ask your friends to vote. This is a grass roots campaign. 33

Your help getting the word out is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions or comments, I hope you’ll email me.

Thank you,
Cheryl dos Remedios


Cheryl dos Remedios is an artist, activist and public art administrator. She currently serves on the Great City Board, the Arboretum Foundation Board, the Rainier Beach Neighborhood Advisory Committee and the Port of Seattle Art Oversight Committee. She is also organizing aLIVe: a Low Impact Vehicle exploration and Save Our Soul {SOS} Seattle.



1. Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Library – Environmental Documents, Washington State Department of Transportation, July 2011

2. The Tolled Tunnel: Almost an Earthquake, Clark Williams-Derry, Sightine Daily, July 8, 2011

3. The Environmental Case Against the Waterfront Tunnel for Seattle, Alan During, K.C. Golden, Denis Hayes, Cary Moon, David Roberts and Jabe Blumenthal, Crosscut, July 19, 2011

4. Tunnels, Tolls and Traffic: The Environmental Statement is Out, Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times, July 7, 2011

5. The tunnel will more than double traffic in Pioneer Square because there are no exits into downtown. The traffic numbers are expected to be 50,000 a day at the southern interchange without tolling, with an additional 20,000 autos and trucks once tolls kick in. Currently, autos, trucks and buses can access and/or exit the viaduct at Seneca, Columbia, Elliott and Western. But once the tunnel is built, Pioneer Square becomes host to the single interchange for all trips in and out of downtown, including drivers who are avoiding tolls.

What deserves more research is how the tunnel would impact the Chinatown/International District. In the wake of internment, this historic neighborhood  was bisected by I-5. Vancouver, BC, is one of the few cities in North America that doesn’t have a freeway, and this is because of freeway protests led by the Asian community:  Vancouver 1960s Freeway Protest.

Both Pioneer Square and the Chinatown/International District have been negatively impacted by the placement of the sports stadiums. The massive scale of stadium events overwhelms the historic character of these neighborhoods. Adding a mega interchange would continue the pattern of using these neighborhoods as pass-through for other purposes.

6. “Records of the original construction of [areaway] street walls are often missing, and the location of a previously unknown street wall will occasionally be discovered in the process of new development or renovation of buildings in the downtown area. . . The areaway street walls that are rated in good condition are the six (6) that have been restored. All remaining areaway street walls [199] require rehabilitation or replacement.” SDOT

7. Letter from Bill Speidel Enterprises, Inc, the family-owned company that operates the Underground Tour, and the citizen’s group Protect Seattle Now. Sent to Mary Ann Naber, Federal Preservation Officer, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC; Stephanie Toothman, Ph.D., Associate Director of Cultural Resources, National Park Service, Washington, DC; and Rory D. Westberg, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific West Region, National Park Service, Seattle. June 14, 2011

8. “Whereas the MOA is not intended to impair or waive any obligations or rights of any party to the agreement under applicable state or federal laws . . . and . . . Whereas, this Project is controversial and as such this Agreement as a concurring party indicates . . . the desire of such parties to remain involved in implementation of the terms of this Agreement.” [page 203.]

The Honorable Cecile Hansen, Chair of the Duwamish Tribe, is not a signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement. The Duwamish Tribe is not recognized by the federal government.

9. Keeping Buildings Safe During Tunnel Construction, Washington State Department of Transportation

10. Lake Washington Boulevard (LWB) was designed to accommodate 4,000 cars per day. Currently, 7,000 cars travel through the Arboretum on LWB to get across town. An additional 11,000 cars use the Arboretum to access the 520 Bridge. Technically, these highway ramps are being “moved out” of the Arboretum in the new bridge design, but WSDOT estimates that an additional 4,000 cars per day will travel on LWB after the bridge is rebuilt. Furthermore, WSDOT is planning a 12-lane highway through the Arboretum’s wetlands (3 lanes traffic, 2 lanes ramps, 1 lane shoulder x 2). Four lanes of ramps are necessary because I-5 doesn’t have the capacity for a 6-lane bridge. Rather than allow back-ups into the Montlake Neighborhood, WSDOT’s plan is to store idling vehicles in the Arboretum’s wetlands.

Sightline Video: Your Way on the Highway

11. Tunnel Debate Spills into the Streets, Mike Lindbloom, Seattle Times, July 25, 2011

12. FTA Disappointed with DBT, Has “Adverse” Impact on Transit , Adam Bejan Parast, Seattle Transit Blog, August 2, 2011

13. That’s a Lie, Adam Bejan Parast, Seattle Transit Blog, June 28, 2011

14. Killing the Colony: meet the hundred artists the tunnel bureaucrats don’t care about displacing, Jen Graves, The Stranger, January 11, 2011

15. WSDOT on Eviction Letters Sent to 619 Western Tenants: It Has Nothing to Do with the Tunnel, Curtis Cartier, July 21, 2011

16. The Memorandum of Agreement for Section 106 is the final Attachment on this webpage. Scroll to the bottom of page and then inch back up to view Appendix B – a chart that details how individual buildings are being monitored.

17. “Seattle’s worst-case scenario is a magnitude 7+ on the Seattle Fault, the biggest of the two faults geologists had penciled in on their maps 10 years ago. Extending from Bainbridge Island to Bellevue, it passes under Safeco Field. . . ‘We don’t have to wait until the big earthquake occurs to know where the bad places are,’ [USGS scientist Art Frankel said.] The modeling hasn’t been factored into building codes — but Frankel hopes it will be. . .  Several modern high-rises in Chile built to stringent codes were hammered in last year’s magnitude-8.8 quake on an offshore fault very similar to Cascadia.” Dangerous Ground: Hard Lessons Learned Since the 2001 Nisqually Quake, Sandy Doughton, Seattle Times, February 26, 2011

18. What Could Possibly Go Wrong, Dominic Holden, The Stranger, July 7, 2011

19.  Hidden Challenges of Highway 99 Tunnel, Mike Lindbloom, Seattle Times, July 12, 2010

20. Subway Tunnel Collapse in Cologne Germany, Randy Post,, March 10, 2009

21. History in Ruins: Archive Collapse Disaster for Historians, Andrew Curry, Spiegel Online, March 4, 2009

22. Cologne Archive Catastrophe: Were Subway Builders Cautious Enough?, Spiegel Online Staff, March 9, 2009

23. Tunnel Bidder has History of Overruns, Lawsuits, Erica C. Barnett, Publicola, December 13, 2010

24. Seattle Voters Scrap Proposed Bay Freeway and R. H. Thomson Expressway on February 8, 1972,

25. Cost Overruns for Seattle-Area Tunnel Projects, Eric de Place, Sightline, October 2009 (no update available at this time)

Report Cites Costs, Risks of Big Dig Leaks,  Sean P. Murphy and Scott Allen, Globe Staff, July 24, 2011

Two Remaining Bid Teams are Offered $230M in Tunnel Sweeteners, Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times, October 19, 2010

26. Legislators Laugh at Bankrupting Seattle, YouTube

27. Author’s conversation with Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts Conference, San Diego, June 2011

28. The Economics of Arts, Artists and Culture: Making a Better Case, Ann Markusen, Grantmakers in the Arts, GIA Reader, Fall 2009

29. Should We Invest in People or Asphalt? Seattle Councilmember O’Brien, YouTube, April 22, 2011

Obama Budget Cuts Visualization, 10,000 Pennies, YouTube, April 24, 2009

If we’re ever going to understand government budgets, maybe we need to start including the zeros in our publications and write things out long-script: $4,200,000,000.00 (Four billion, two-hundred million, untold hundred thousands, untold hundreds, and untold cents), rather than $4.2B (which doesn’t account for the $1.9B in interest.)

30. Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences, Americans for the Arts, May 22, 2007

31. Investing in Arts Development, David Malmuth, Urban Land, February 2, 2011

32. Economic Impact Studies: 2009, ArtsFund, January 14, 2011

33. Pro-Tunnel Campaign Announces $50,000 in Donations from the Very Same Companies with 1.1B State Contract to Build Tunnel, Dominic Holden, The Stranger, July 25, 2011

Additional Reading
What Carmageddon Taught Us About Behavioral Economics, Chris Turner, Kansas City Star, July 25, 2011

Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.66.100
Creation of district, legislative findings and purpose.

A. During The City of Seattle’s relatively brief history, it has had little time in which to develop areas of consistent historical or architectural character. It is recognized that the Pioneer Square area of Seattle contains many of these rare attributes and consequently is an area of great historical and cultural significance. Further, the King County domed stadium (Kingdome), constructed in the Pioneer Square area, and the traffic and activities which it generates has resulted in adverse impacts upon the social, cultural, historic and ethnic values of the Pioneer Square area. To preserve, protect, and enhance the historic character of the Pioneer Square area and the buildings therein; to return unproductive structures to useful purposes; to attract visitors to the City; to avoid a proliferation of vehicular parking and vehicular-oriented uses; to provide regulations for existing on-street and off-street parking; to stabilize existing, and encourage a variety of new and rehabilitated housing types for all income groups; to encourage the use of transportation modes other than the private automobile; to protect existing commercial vehicle access; to improve visual and urban relationships between existing and future buildings and structures, parking spaces and public improvements within the area; and to encourage pedestrian uses, there is established as a special review district, the Pioneer Square Preservation District. The boundaries of the District are shown on Map A and on the Official Land Use Map. . . .

C. Reasons for Designating the Pioneer Square Preservation District.

1.  Historic Significance. The Pioneer Square Preservation District is unique because it is the site of the beginning of The City of Seattle. The area also retains much of the original architecture and artifacts of its early history. The District has played a significant role in the development of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and The State of Washington.  It was the first location of industry, business and homes in early Seattle and the focus of commerce and transportation for more than a half century.

2.  Architectural Significance. As a collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century buildings of similar materials, construction techniques and architectural style, the District is unique, not only to the City but to the country as well. Most of the buildings within the District embody the distinctive characteristics of the Late Victorian style. Many buildings are the

work of one architect, Elmer H. Fisher. For these and other reasons, the buildings combine to create an outstanding example of an area that is distinguishably in style, form, character and construction representative of its era.

3.  Social Diversity. The District represents an area of unique social diversity where people from many income levels and social strata live, shop and work. It is an area in which social services, including missions, low-income housing and service agencies exist. . .  Continue Reading
Still Not Digging the Tunnel by Dan Bertolet includes links to all of the blog posts he’s written about the tunnel

Related articles by Knute Berger
Highway Clunkers: the State’s Design Ideas, Knute Berger, Crosscut, April 22, 2011

Seattle’s History of Slaying Concrete Dragons,Knute Berger, Crosscut, March 30, 2011

Pioneer Square: Some Great Signs, but Still at Risk, Knute Berger, March 2, 2011

Seven Steps for Saving Pioneer Square, Knute Berger, Crosscut, December 21, 2009

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Image credits:
{SOS} Seattle photograph, logo and online design by Liz Martini. All other photos by Cheryl dos Remedios.