Viaduct for Dummies: Voters Surprise Themselves, Tell Mayor: 'Bore Me!'

Alaskan Way Viaduct
Seattle surprises itself with a decisive vote.

That tunnel vote has been fodder for spirited talk 'round Seattle Mag World Headquarters of late (though it's curiously quiet today). But it's less about which camp you're tunneled into (dig it or ditch it) and more about what the whole morass says about Seattleites and that over-used (but overly apt) term, "the Seattle Process."

Though it's essentially deserved, I, for one, am sick of the drubbing we Seattleites take from all corners for our inability to get anything done. I'm tired of our mire providing amusement for smug transplants (OK, and many locals); don't like what it says about our essentially over-educated, overly outdoorsy population that it doesn't have the backbone to get anything done. (CityTank's Dan Bertolet has something wonderful to say on this subject in our September issue; check back in a week to read "The Big Idea" online.) But there's no denying it's true, and I, like many Seattleites, am sick of our city's ongoing existential crisis.

So it was with astonished glee last night that I learned of the non-anemic results of the vote and, tunnel aside, I am celebrating the decisiveness of Seattle voters. I didn't think we had it in us. Now, we're going to have to dig deep (ahem) as a city to find ways to effectively cope with what we have elected to build. As Seattle mag's editor-at-large Knute Berger writes today on Crosscut:

"The tasks are huge, expensive distractions lurk (like the half-funded 520 boondoggle) and Seattle's track-record on major public re-makings is not good. Our will is weak, our visions outdated, attention spans short, and money scarce—and that's for the stuff we decide to do."

To get it done with any kind of style and grace at all, we need to move beyond the "Seattle Process" duck. Take a cue from our suddenly asserted collective will and move the ball forward, because the ball, it's not stopping. And this discussion has been too painfully devisive. Yesterday, Joe Follansbee, a Seattle mag writer and keen observer of Seattle politics and history, stopped by for a chat and wondered, “Will we need some kind of post-Viaduct healing?”  Maybe so, or maybe just a good, solid, workable plan for the coming traffic and construction nightmare that lies ahead.

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