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Michael Medved

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Plenty of dopey ideas for Seattle’s Battery Street Tunnel

Battery Street in Seattle. (Feliks Banel)

With the Alaska Way Viaduct coming down at some point in our lifetime, the question for some community activists is what to do with the Battery Street Tunnel. And because community activists are coming up with answers to that question, you can rely on consistently dopey ideas.

Clair Enlow of Crosscut.com — claiming “residents love the 60-year-old highway structure” — featured some of the ideas presented to a design competition called Recharge the Battery.

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Have an interest in mushrooms (the legal kind)? Good news. One of the ideas is to create a massive exotic mushroom farm. That seems like an awful lot of space to dedicate to fungi. I’m a pass on this one.

Another idea? It could be turned into a park that includes a thrill ride of some kind. That certainly sounds cool, but something tells me the City of Seattle isn’t capable of running a thrill ride. Can you imagine how long it would take to fix the ride if it breaks down? The Lake Union Park “footbridge to nowhere” has been closed for over three years and cost $700,000 to fix and it’s only 108-feet long. Pass.

Enlow suggests we turn it into a big pool of sewage water. Sounds so glamorous:

The Battery Street Tunnel could hold almost 13 million gallons of water. Some sewer pipes go right above the tunnel, and some go below. All of this could make it a key piece of infrastructure in an evolving eco-city, and not just a tank. Think of it as a laboratory for capturing and filtering sewage. It could be a high-tech swamp or a smart detention vault, building on local experiments like blackwater treatment tanks at the Bullitt Center. Even better, it could combine this kind of thing with other industrial uses.

Ah yes. Come to Seattle for the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and our high-tech sewage-filtering swamp.

Kidding aside, I would also like to do something with this space, but let’s not get our hopes up. The state owns the property and they’re incapable of thinking creatively; and, if they were, it would cost an arm and a leg.

Sorry to break it to you, but do you want to know what’s going to happen to the space? It’ll be filled with rubble from the viaduct and sealed off. That’s what Washington does to our dreams: fills them with rubble and seals them off from happiness.

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