Anti-viaduct TV ad: Do the claims measure up?
It begins with eerie music and ominous narration: "bigger ... noisier ... uglier. " No, it's not the latest viaduct spat between Mayor Greg...
Seattle Times staff reporter
It begins with eerie music and ominous narration: "bigger ... noisier ... uglier."
No, it's not the latest viaduct spat between Mayor Greg Nickels and Gov. Christine Gregoire.
It's a 30-second TV ad from the Not Another Elevated Viaduct campaign. The ad began airing Tuesday on Seattle cable TV stations such as ESPN, CNN and Bravo.
The anti-viaduct group has spent more than $35,000 so far to air the ad, said campaign manager Kelly Evans. The group has been largely funded by downtown businesses and property owners who stand to realize increased property values from a viaduct-free waterfront. The group has received $449,501 in contributions for the election, including $35,205 in the past week.
In an all-mail advisory vote, Seattleites are being asked if they prefer replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a new viaduct or a tunnel. Ballots must be postmarked by March 13.
The anti-viaduct ad was produced by a Washington, D.C., firm, Laguens Hamburger Kully Klose, that made eye-catching commercials last year for the campaign against Initiative 933 in Washington state and for Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat who unseated a Republican incumbent to win a U.S. Senate race. While lacking the flair of the Tester ad, which focused on his flattop haircut, the anti-viaduct ad isn't short on assertions that warrant further explanation.
Here is an assessment of some of the claims in the ad:
For the city's first all-mail election, ballots must be postmarked by March 13.
If you would rather drop off your ballot, take it to the King County Elections Office, 500 Fourth Ave., Suite 553, Seattle; open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and, through the election, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Other drop-off sites (all open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 8-9 and 12-13; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 10):
• High Point Community Center, 6920 34th Ave. S.W.
• Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S.
• North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way N.
• Interbay Evangelical Covenant Church, 3233 15th Ave. W.
Claim: A new viaduct would "scar our waterfront with more noise, traffic and air pollution." Evans says a new viaduct would carry at least 10,000 more cars than the existing one and therefore would produce more noise and pollution.
Analysis: On traffic, the ad is correct. The state's environmental impact study says a new, six-lane viaduct would carry 120,000 to 135,000 vehicles per day in 2030 -- an increase over the 110,000 vehicles that now travel the viaduct daily.
The noise and pollution claims are not so clear. The state's study says a proposed new viaduct would be "loud" like the current elevated highway, but it wouldn't be noisier -- at least not in a way that's detectable to most human ears.
According to the state, added traffic would increase noise by one decibel and most people wouldn't hear that; two to five decibels would be a detectable change. .
On pollution, the ad may be incorrect, according to the state study. Although more vehicles would use a new viaduct in 2030, the state study says "emissions will likely be lower than present levels" because newer cars will emit less pollution as a result of stricter federal controls.
Claim: A new viaduct "would be twice as large as the current viaduct."
Analysis: The claim is mostly true.
A new viaduct would be twice as wide at several places, partly because the state wants to build around and over the existing structure to keep four highway lanes operating during 10 years of construction.
Even the anti-viaduct group acknowledges that at some points, such as where the viaduct passes Madison Street, the new structure would be only 34 percent larger than the existing one.
Claim: A new viaduct would cut off the waterfront from the city for generations.
Analysis: "Cut off" is a subjective term, but it doesn't seem inaccurate in this case.
The state's environmental study says a new elevated highway "would continue to obstruct views; cast shade over an extensive area; limit future development of parks, trails and sidewalks ... and give the impression that the city is separated from its waterfront."
Staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed
to this report.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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