OK, I should state up front that I don’t know all the facts on the pros and cons of this one, so the argument is more of a gut thing than a rational argument. So here goes.
Seattle’s waterfront has a long viaduct running along the length of the waterfront. The viaduct is ugly and not safe. It thus needs to be replaced. For the last couple of years the politicians here have been debating whether to replace the viaduct with a new viaduct or a tunnel. I don’t know why we would consider a new viaduct. The waterfront is really not very nice right now because of the viaduct and that would not change with a new viaduct (slight improvement but still a large blocking structure right on the waterfront). There are amazing views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains that are currently blocked. It could be just an amazing place. Seattle’s location on Puget Sound makes it a stunning downtown location.
So I don’t know all the details but it seems obvious to me that the tunnel should be the preferred choice. I lived in San Francisco when they tore down the Embarcadero freeway/viaduct after the Loma Prieta earthquake (was there for that too). In that case they did not replace the freeway with anything but just went put in a surface street. However, it changed that part of the waterfront for the better in a big way.
Yes, the construction will be painful but it will yeild a new and beautiful part of Seattle. I also think public transportation should be a huge part of the answer. Add a light rail that runs along the length of the tunnel. It could move a lot of people and cut down on car use. For that matter add really nice bike lanes. People here like to bike but we need to add more bike lanes to promote biking.
Here is a link to the mayor’s site that has some data.
My vote: tunnel + public transportation + bike lanes. And a beautiful waterfront for Seattle and all the tourists.