Letter: UW prof’s idea for tunnel is full of holes


The UW prof’s idea for a tunnel to replace the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry is not likely to float for long March 3 South Whidbey Record). This idea is fine for an academic exercise. If Bob Ortblad wants to use it in his class at UW, that seems to be an appropriate discussion.

As a serious idea, it is full of holes.

Before I get to those holes, I have to mention the juxtaposition of articles in your latest edition. Next to the story about the prof’s idea is the biggest headline on the front page — “Scenic byway earns national designation.” You can be sure that the experience of the ferry crossing, Mukilteo lighthouse and beautiful new ferry terminal in Mukilteo played a significant role in the earning of that designation.

Now let’s return to the idea itself. My understanding of journalism practices is the important information should come early in the news article. In my opinion, these two facts should have come in the third paragraph, “ …he acknowledged that he didn’t have the geology background to understand all the logistics of drilling such a tunnel.” The hope is that the glacial till under Puget Sound is impervious, meaning it would keep the water out.”

This would have properly framed the prof’s idea as an academic exercise, not a serious proposal that merits time or consideration from our elected county commissioners. I support state Rep. Dave Paul’s response, that he would want to avoid diverting resources away from the ferry system.

I would add, “or away from any other source of funding that included tax-payer dollars.”

I have no experience in construction costs estimates in order to challenge the prof’s cost estimate of $200 million, but I can read. According to wsdot.wa.gov, the Mukilteo terminal project cost “$187.3 million dollars in federal and state funding,” and the Seattle tunnel project cost over $3 billion dollars — for two miles of tunnel.

Finally, any ultimate cost/benefit analysis would have to calculate the loss to our spirits of the experiential value of a ferry ride across the Salish Sea on a sunny spring day with Mount Baker glowing on the horizon.

Mike Clyburn


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