The Seattle Times has an interesting story regarding the all-too-cozy dealings between Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and The Sierra Club, who are united in their opposition to the deep bore tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct. While addressing the questionable relationship between the Mayor and the organization he once worked for, the story goes on to point out that environmental groups don't necessarily agree with Hizzoner's claims about the tunnel's negative environmental impact. Far from it, actually. From the Times:
Not all environmental groups in the region share the Sierra Club's view that the tunnel is the worst environmental option to replace the viaduct.
Several point out that tearing down the viaduct allows the city to create an appealing green space along the waterfront, reduces surface-water runoff into Puget Sound, eliminates a huge source of noise pollution, and combats sprawl by making the city a more desirable place to live.
"If we are going to preserve wild places like forests and farms, urban living has to be inspirational," said Peter Goldman, director of the Forest Law Center and a board member of the Washington Conservation Voters.
Goldman said that the mayor's alternative to the tunnel — improving surface streets, transit and Interstate 5 — takes all the cars that would use the tunnel and dumps them onto existing roads.
"I stand side-by-side with him in wanting to get people out of cars, but traffic jams in front of Ivar's [on the waterfront] is not a great urban vision," Goldman said.
Precisely. It's great to see environmental leaders like Peter Goldman stand up to McGinn and the Sierra Club and point out the logical fallacies in their opposition to the tunnel and present a more balanced picture of the tunnel's environmental impact.
If the mayor were serious about changing the car-centric culture of Seattle, he'd spend less time opposing the tunnel and more time working on developing mass transit options that go beyond busses. But the "hair shirt" option of forcing commuters from their cars by making it too painful to drive without first offering viable alternatives is simply foolish.