SDOT Head: Still Significant Disagreements With State Over Tunnel Document

By Erica C. Barnett June 21, 2011

Although he did ultimately sign off on the final environmental impact statement on the deep-bore tunnel yesterday, Seattle Department of Transportation director Peter Hahn did express some serious, even defiant, reservations in the cover letter transmitting his signature.

In the letter, addressed to viaduct replacement project manager Ron Paananen, Hahn writes,
The City's participation in the final stages of preparation of the final EIS has been less than what we expected based on our communications at the end of 2010 and the beginning of this year. Based on our abbreviated review of the final document---particularly, a significant part of which was not delivered to us until the end of the day on June 17, over a week after what was to be our mutually agreed "final review" deadline---there are important characterizations that I do not agree with.

Overall, I believe the EIS document has been crafted primarily to support and defend the selection of the Deep Bored Tunnel as the preferred alternative, rather than to provide an unbiased account of the impacts of the tolled deep bore tunnel compared to other reasonable alternatives. The draft EIS tended to downplay the negative impacts of the tolled deep bored tunnel and lacked specificity as to the measures needed to mitigate those impacts. For that reason we commissioned an independent review of the modeled tolling diversion on city streets (the Nelson/Nygaard Report).

The most recently submitted materials from WSDOT now criticize the Nelson/Nygaard Report for its discussion of the I-5, Surface, Transit option, but I note that this option was considered viable and reasonable by the Stakeholders Committee that met in 2008.

Read the whole letter for yourself here.
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