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Extra Fizz: Viaduct Stakeholders Respond to Video

By Erica C. Barnett October 26, 2009

... Although perhaps not in the way the state transportation department might have hoped. Today, in response to a scary video released by the Washington State Department of Transportation showing the destruction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in an earthquake, five members of the 30-member Viaduct Stakeholders Group released a statement calling for the state to begin taking down the viaduct as soon as possible.

Noting that the state estimates that there is a 10 percent probability that an earthquake large enough to take down the viaduct will strike in the next ten years, the five stakeholders—People's Waterfront Coalition founder Cary Moon, former Sierra Club chair Mike O'Brien, Cascade Bicycle Club director Chuck Ayres, Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johnson, and FutureWise board president Mary McCumber—called it imperative to tear the viaduct down by 2012, a deadline originally set by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

More pointedly, they noted that the deep-bore tunnel is the only viaduct replacement option that would keep the dangerous structure open past 2012. "After watching the video, we are even more convinced that taking down the viaduct by 2012 should be a non-negotiable public safety priority of all parties involved,” McCumber said in the statement.

The stakeholders also expressed dismay at not being shown the video, which was prepared by WSDOT consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff in 2007.

Full statement below the jump.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SEATTLE, WA — Oct. 26, 2009

Yesterday the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) released a dramatization showing the potential damage to the viaduct in the case of an earthquake.  The probability of an earthquake strong enough to close the viaduct happening was stated as a 10% chance in the next ten years.

As citizens who served for a year in 2008 on the Viaduct Stakeholder Advisory Committee, we are disturbed that WSDOT did not share this video with us during the stakeholder process, even though it appears that they had paid Parsons Brinkerhoff to prepare it in 2007.

“From the beginning of the process, we had always operated under the assumption that the Governor meant what she said when she insisted that the Viaduct was coming down in 2012,” said Mike O’Brien.

“The deep bore tunnel was the only scenario that did not meet this strict deadline of removal of the viaduct by 2012,” commented Chuck Ayres.  “All of the other scenarios we studied, including the two recommendations made by WSDOT, would have allowed for removal by 2012.”

“After watching the video, we are even more convinced that taking down the viaduct by 2012 should be a non-negotiable public safety priority of all parties involved,” said Mary McCumber.

“Would you sign a ten year lease on a building if you knew there was a 10% chance of it collapsing on you in those ten years?” asked Cary Moon. “By delaying the closure of the viaduct, that is in essence what we are asking the citizens of Seattle to do.”

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