Now uber wonk and Cola alum Dan Bertolet finetunes the indictment, using a key metric of congestion—"Vehicle Hours of Delay," a measure of how long people spend sitting in congestion as opposed to driving on uncongested streets—to show that, according to the EIS, congestion with tunnel would be worse than with the the surface/transit/I-5 option ("ST5").
A few things pop out. First, ST5 is the clear winner when it comes to mitigating congestion in Seattle’s city center. Note that ST5 is the very plan that the pro-tunnel “Let’s Move Forward” campaign has disparaged as “McGinn’s surface gridlock.” Also, given the numbers showing that ST5 is a better performing solution for downtown Seattle than the State’s preferred tunnel option, it’s ironic that the Downtown Seattle Association is the largest single contributor so far to Let’s Move Forward.
Second, for the four-county region, compared to the tolled tunnel ST5 would only result in about one percent more vehicle hours of delay. Is that even within the margin of error for the modeling? Nevertheless, as reported as seattlepi.com, when the FEIS was released, State officials touted preserving regional mobility as the justification of their choice of the tunnel. And apparently seattlepi.com bought it, translating that one percent difference into a hyperbolic headline that reads “Surface-transit would clog regional traffic.”
Third, in terms of vehicle hours of delay ST5 performs better—both locally and regionally—than the tolled elevated, which was one of the official alternatives analyzed in the FEIS. Yet the State decided in advance that ST5 did not merit full consideration.