As the City Council gets ready to sign agreements for the deep bore tunnel, I feel compelled to yet again put the outrageous cost of this project in perspective. Nicholas Arndt from Tacoma pointed out that for the cost of the deep bore tunnel ($2,000,000,000), you could buy every single Tacoma resident ten $1,000 bicycles each.
In fact, the state could buy every single resident in the state a $300 bicycle (and given the bulk discount you must get when buying 6,724,540 bicycles in one order, it would probably be an okay bike).
The only argument I have heard in support of building this tunnel that even sort of almost makes sense is that it will keep 47,000 vehicles off downtown streets (vs a plan that would not make improvements to transit or I-5, which the alternative surface/transit plan would).
Well, for the cost of the tunnel, the state could buy every single resident in King County an Orca pass for a year (in fact, considering senior citizen and youth discounts, they could buy everyone a year pass and have tons of money left over). I guarantee you that would take at least 47,000 cars off downtown streets permanently.
Instead, our city is ready to give their okay to a monumental investment in cars, buying each tunnel user a Lexus ($2 billion/47,000=$42,553 per daily tunnel user) and letting them pay it off in $4 increments (tolls).
Both the free bicycle and bus pass ideas are clearly ridiculous ideas. But what’s really ridiculous is that they make more sense than the deep bore tunnel. The City Council is proving they don’t actually care about lowering greenhouse gas emissions or improving road safety. They just like saying they do.
The tunnel will also increase injuries and death to cyclists and pedestrians downtown. Due to the increase in motor vehicles (and no money to help mitigate problems), collisions with vulnerable users will almost certainly go up. From Publicola:
According to Nelson/Nygaard’s findings, “Between 16,000 and 18,000 additional daily trips will divert onto Downtown Seattle surface streets; 14,000 to 15,000 will choose I-5; and 10,000 to 12,000 will use Seattle surface streets east of I-5.”
Additionally, the new tunnel will increase “conflicts” (AKA collisions) between cyclists and pedestrians and cars, and “increase demand for driving and increase vehicle miles traveled, and therefore, greenhouse gas emissions—even as improved fuel economy and low emission technology is widely employed.”
So the state is about to spend $300 per state resident to build a tunnel that would only help 47,000 car drivers while causing injury or death to an unknown number of people walking or bicycling in downtown Seattle. And the City Council appears to be okay with all this (or they are ignoring it).
I will reissue the challenge. Somebody please give me one good argument in support of building the deep bore tunnel.