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March 13, 2007

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 Seattle has a big waterfront elevated freeway known as The Viaduct.
It was built in the 1950s and is now falling apart; in the words of one
road inspector, "The only thing keeping it up is force of habit." In the
last big earthquake, little chunks fell off and the whole thing tilted a
couple of degrees. So everyone is in agreement that it is beyond repair
and needs to come down. What isn't decided is what will replace it.
The mayor dreams of a Boston-style tunnel, a fairly ludicrous idea.
Others favor a bigger elevated roadway to replace the old, arguing
that even though it itself would be an eyesore, the views from it would
be great. No doubt these are the people who drive with their knees,
coffee in one hand, phone in the other. The third, best, and cheapest
option is to make do with surface streets and emplace mass transit.



(This kind of permanent road removal was a big hit in Seoul, Korea.)
In an effort to gauge the public's preference, an advisory ballot (a
fancy name for a taxpayer-funded opinion poll) put the first two
options before voters. In an uncommon show of common sense, the
results show a strong preference for the 3rd, unwritten option:
Voters rejected the surface-tunnel hybrid option 70% to 30%.
Voters rejected the viaduct rebuild option 55% to 45%.

But because this was only an advisory ballot, the result is not
binding and so the above sticker retains a certain currency.
The battle rages on. You can order stickers via