God Bless Seattle: Gregoire Visits the City of No Freeways to Learn How to Build Freeways

Jun 18th, 2010

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire

We seem to love depressing irony.  We enact stupid “sin taxes” on things like candy and soda while subsidizing the soy and corn that make them cheap in the first place.  Well, I can’t help but wince at Governor Gregoire’s itinerary yesterday. After an Amtrak Cascades trip north of the border, she toured Vancouver’s Canada Line – a wildly successful rapid transit line carrying more than 90,000 passengers/day – to learn how to build freeways (!) more cheaply.

Since the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, like the downtown section of the Canada Line, will be a twin-bored tunnel, I suppose that Gregoire can learn a bit about cheap tunneling and effective public-private partnerships.  But otherwise the projects couldn’t have less to do with each other, and the Vancouverites she is ostensibly “learning from” would never build a car-only, downtown freeway without a single exit.  It’s pretty embarrassing.  This investment will set back transit funding in Seattle by 5-10 years, and serve simply to subsidize those driving through downtown.  It’s a debacle of the first order.  Notably, Mike McGinn, Seattle’s clumsy mayor and opponent of the tunnel project,   was the only Seattle big-wig not to attend the hob-nob.

Someday we’ll learn, but alas not yet.  While I grant British Columbians no inherent moral superiority – outside of Vancouver they are even more attached to their cars than we are -they do know how to build transit right.

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