March 24, 2007
Two for the Viaduct (I)

As previously noted, the early debate on the Viaduct election has been dominated by those who either ineptly misinterpreted the results as NO-NO, or who are exploiting the confusion to push the "surface-transit" scheme.

But recent articles in the P-I (here) and Times (here) analyzed the precinct-level returns, which only support what I wrote earlier: There's absolutely no basis to claim a "NO-NO" victory. The Viaduct has the strongest claim as the most popular choice. Those who misread the voters' statement as an endorsement of surface-gridlock do so at their own political peril.

Many thanks to the P-I's Daniel Lathrop for graciously sharing his spreadsheetized version of King County's PDF report of the nearly final returns from March 20. A simplified, just the facts ma'am version of the precinct numbers is here.

The most important conclusions from the numbers:
1) Again, the ballot was poorly structured and inconclusive. We don't know exactly how many people voted NO-NO.

2) The strongest conclusion that the numbers allow is that 21.4% of the voters voted NO-NO. (as opposed to the Viaduct, for which exactly 41.2% voted YES). It's both mathematically possible and intuitively plausible that there were somewhat more NO-NO votes than 21.4%. Other information suggests to me (but doesn't prove) that the actual number was in the mid to upper 20%s. But there's not enough information to assert with any certainty that the NO-NO number was any higher than 21.4%. (math at bottom)

3) The only scenario under which it is mathematically possible for the NO-NO votes to come close to the Viaduct YES vote is if a lot of people voted YES for both the Tunnel and the Viaduct. I mentioned this last week and admitted that the number of YES-YES votes is an open question. There is still no conclusive answer, but the patterns in the precinct-level returns suggest that there were not a significant number of YES-YES votes -- voters who cast a YES vote, on the whole, were choosing between the Viaduct and the Tunnel.

This is best illustrated by the maps in the P-I (here) and the Times (here). The parts of the city that approved the Viaduct rejected the Tunnel and vice-versa.

The detailed precinct numbers further support that voters were voting for one or the other, but not both. With only one exception, the following was true for all 984 precincts. The number of YES votes for the Viaduct was less than the number of NO votes for the Tunnel and vice-versa. i.e.

YEStunnel < NOviaduct
YESviaduct < NOtunnel

In only one precinct (SEA 34-1411) was YESviaduct > NOtunnel. (And that doesn't prove there were any YES-YES votes, most likely in this case a lot of people left the tunnel question blank).

If a significant number of voters were voting YES on both options, one would reasonably expect to see more precincts where the YES votes for one choice exceeded the NO votes for the competing choice. Also, I created a scatterplot of % YES on Tunnel v. % YES on Viaduct by precinct.

It shows a pretty clear inverse relationship between the two competing options. If a significant number of voters were voting on the two options independently, the scatterplot should be more of a directionless blob. If those who tended to favor the Viaduct also tended to favor the Tunnel, the vote percentages should be positively correlated, not negatively correlated.

In the absence of YES-YES votes, the maximum possible number of NO-NO votes is 30.1%, substantially less than the 41.2% who voted YES on the Viaduct.

The point of the whole advisory vote was to measure the sentiment of the voters, who under any reasonable intepretation strongly prefer a Viaduct (or at least some kind of high-capacity highway), but NOT a "surface option". Those who misinterpret the vote to push surface-gridlock might have short-lived momentum from the badly informed media reports. But there will certainly be pushback down the road when they attempt to move forward with an unpopular alternative.

Math Note

The provable number of NO-NO votes in any precinct can be calculated as follows:

If the total number of NO votes from both options exceeds the total number of votes cast in the precinct, then:
provable NO-NO = NOTunnel + NOViaduct - Total

If the total number of NO votes from both options does not exceed the total number of votes cast, then it is not possible to conclude that there were any NO-NO votes. i.e. provable NO-NO = 0.

Summing the total of provable NO-NO per precinct, one gets 33,760, or 21.4% of the ballots cast in the election.

The above scenario implies that (nearly) every blank vote was paired with a NO vote on the opposite question. I.e. The voter voted NO on the Tunnel and left the Viaduct question blank.

On the other hand, you can calculate the maximum NO-NO votes in any precinct under the constraint that there were no YES-YES votes, with the following formula

Max NO-NO = Total - (YESTunnel + YESViaduct)
summing over all of the precincts, one gets 47,404, or 30.1% of votes cast.

But this would assume that every blank vote was paired with a YES vote on the opposite question. i.e. The voter voted YES on the Tunnel and left the Viaduct question blank.

In reality, some voters probably cast a YES-blank and other cast a NO-blank, while a few others cast a blank-blank. So unless there were a lot of YES-YESs (which as explained above is implausible), the NO-NO votes is most plausibly somewhere between 21.4% and 30.1%.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at March 24, 2007 12:22 PM | Email This
1. Stefan is still assuming those who voted for the tunnel prefer the viaduct to any other option. There is no evidence that this is the case.

Posted by: Peter Carlin on March 24, 2007 12:49 PM
2. If only we could hook Stefan up to a generator to harness his furious spinning of the viaduct vote, we could power all of King County with zero carbon emissions (but, alas, plenty of hot air.)

Pretty graphs and handwaving don't obscure these facts:

* You assume, quite incorrectly, that all YES tunnel voters prefer a new viaduct to a surface road.
* You assume that nobody voted YES-YES.
* The new elevated viaduct, at 41% YES, is as popular as Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.

Sorry, dude, but you're really looking desperate here. It's starting to make me wonder if you're on someone's payroll on this issue. (Martin Selig?)

Posted by: keep spinning on March 24, 2007 01:17 PM
3. #1: Without going through each ballot, it is safe to assume that those who voted Yes on either the tunnel or elevated structure were in fact voting for a "not-at-ground-level" option.

One of those options (the tunnel) proved to be hugely unpopular, but with the city's leadership throwing so much effort into supporting it, a substantial number of votes that might otherwise been cast in favor of the elevated structure could well have been siphoned off as many people might have thought that they could only support one option on the advisory ballot.

That the city's leaders very likely wanted that particular outcome is another issue.

Stefan is truly doing some yeoman's work in using what is known about the vote tally to define the edges of the envelope for interpreting the outcome in the absence of the defining data: an effective breakdown of the ballots themselves. I would argue that it would make a heck of a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation for an enterprising political science major.

Posted by: Ironman on March 24, 2007 01:42 PM
4. Again Stefan, I agree with your use of math and statistics but your conclusion doesn't take into account how many people voted for the elevated structure just to make sure the tunnel wouldn't win. That particular yes-no vote amount should be subtracted from your elevated preference total. Assuming you are trying to use this flawed balloting as justification to not support the surface option, or to not support retrofitting the current viaduct.

You seem to be telling us that IF the voters had the option of picking their preference of: 1)tunnel, 2) new elevated viaduct), 3)retrofitting current viaduct, 4) surface option, or 5) nothing, then you are saying that the voters would pick number 2. While your math is fine, you cannot possibly infer that the voters would be picking number 2 from the list above based on this past viaduct election, there just isn't enough information in the vote.

Posted by: Doug on March 24, 2007 01:48 PM
5. What I want to know is why would a low-tax, Converservative Republican oriented web editor be so hell bent on pushing a costly, Lib-type, heavy tax Viaduct?

And second, a Surface Boulevard is not the same as No Viaduct or No Tunnel. Unless the vote has a positive choice of Surface Boulevard, the whole vote is invalid.

It's sort of like walking into a PC store and only being offered a choice of pre-installed Vista. Unless OSX and Linux are on the table, the choice is no choice, it's the choice that a Soviet citizen had circa 1954.

Posted by: John Bailo on March 24, 2007 01:51 PM
6. I voted NO-NO: No to big megalomania and no to lesser megalomania. I meant yes only to taxpayers.

Posted by: JB on March 24, 2007 01:56 PM
7. Think of this, here are two ballot options for you to vote on:

1) Yes or No, shall taxes be increased to pay for a 10% annual increase for teacher salaries?

2) Yes or No, shall taxes be increased to pay for a 5% annual increase for teacher salaries?

If the results were: 1) 25% Yes and 75% No, and 2) 40% Yes and 60% No. - Then, by your reasoning the people would want a 5% annual increase for teachers salaries as that would have won the plurality with the no-no vote falling short.

In reality, if a third question was on the ballot: Yes or No Should teachers not receive a salary increase, that question may have won 55% to 45%.

No-No may have not won the majority in the viaduct issue, but to assume that a surface option is not what the voters want really doesn't follow. If given that option they may have voted for it, it could very well be that like the examples with teacher salaries, you have voters that voted for the lesser of two evils because they didn't feel their option was on the table, which of course the surface option or retrofitting wasn't on the table.

Posted by: Doug on March 24, 2007 02:04 PM
8. keep spinning @2 - Dude, don't get all Luddite on us - dissing the math, which shows a correlation in the voting on the two ballot items, as "pretty graphs" is....well, dude, it's just dog lame.

And dude, I don't see where Stefan is assuming anything. I do see where he is arguing for a particular interpretation of the vote based on facts and data.

Perhaps, dude, you would be gracious enough to provide an example of what you refer to as Stefan's assumptions?

Posted by: ewaggin on March 24, 2007 02:39 PM
9. spinner, keep smoking your ilicit substances.

Nice work, Stefan. (I have a degree in Statistics). Stefan has made more sense from the vote than has anyone publicly. Of course, the vote results are rife with ambiguity - because it was engineered this way by the political klowns in power.

To Peter's point, voters may actually better prefer other options which were prohibited from appearing on the ballot! Like the Bay Bridge.

What's mind-boggling to me, is that an idea such as the Bridge (which IS feasible) would accomplish everything Nickell-bags says he wants (demolishing the Viaduct, paying off his waterfront cronies with instant equity at taxpayer expense) while 1) being far cheaper than any tunnel option, and 2) eliminating the whole issue of creating permanent gridlock.

Why is this not a no-brainer? No spin required..


Posted by: Jefferson Paine on March 24, 2007 03:26 PM
10. Due to the fact that two options (repaired/reinforced viaduct, and surface route) were omitted from the ballot, and that the options were presented separately, instead of having to choose one from a list, it is impossible to know what option the voters wanted.

However, it is possible to make an argument as to which of the available options the voters preferred.

Having said that, I find the notion of a significant number of Yes/Yes votes to be, in this case, implausible.

The reasoning for this was previously given in my comment at:

Posted by: ewaggin on March 24, 2007 03:29 PM
11. 58% of people do not prefer a new elevated viaduct down the waterfront. Some of those may want a tunnel and others do not want anything at all. Some, probably a quite small number, want a retrofit.

What Stefan would have us believe is the the people who voted yes on the Tunnel and no on the elevated structure actually support an elevated structure.

And the yes rebuild was not the most popular choice, it was actually no tunnel followed by no rebuild. This was two separate items not a three way choice, there is no such thing as a plurality in these cases.

Posted by: Giffy on March 24, 2007 03:45 PM
12. Giffy - We will never know will we? All options should have presented on the ballot but were not so inference of the results only adds to the confusion which was the entire intent of the vote!!!!

Posted by: me on March 24, 2007 04:21 PM
13. Ironman at #3 points out an important fallacy dealing with those who voted for the tunnel option. He basically says that those who voted for the tunnel prefer the tunnel to the ground-surface option. That is correct, but the falacy is to assume that they prefer the elevated viaduct to the surface option as Stefan so clearly does.

It is far more reasonable to assume that those who voted for the tunnel option voted for an option that means eliminating the eyesore of the elevated viaduct than to assume they voted for a thoroughfare and not gridlock.

Posted by: Doug on March 24, 2007 04:31 PM
14. Hi all,

Stefan, I can't believe you're pursuing this line of argument at all, much less so aggressively. Peter Carlin, author of the first post here, pointed out the biggest problem with your line of reasoning, and Keep Spinnin and others have pointed out more.

I'm an example of someone who is against the tunnel but hated the Rebuild so much more that I voted (and advocated for others to vote) yes on the tunnel just to dull the rebuild/tunnel ratio that I knew would favor the rebuild.

If liberals and greens had lost an election for the surface option and only garnered 43% of the vote and then tried to use graphs and charts to convince people they had won an election, you'd be furious.

As others have asked, why support a big-spending plan that is the favorite of the bureucracy?

Thanks for your time, NLC#1

Posted by: newleftconservative#1 on March 24, 2007 04:44 PM
15. I have two comments. The first comment is to remind everyone that the most overwhelming sentiment expressed by the viaduct vote was NO VOTE.

The final numbers on the total vote tally and the overvotes and undervotes will not be certified until March 28th. Wait until then to machinate on the numbers. Perhaps we could demand that the ballots be re-counted on the basis of the various choices.

My second comment relates to my "tour" of the viaduct this morning.

The structure looks very good to me. Especially since the sagging piers are to be supplied with new and stronger footings. I am a materials scientist and have done a quick evalaution of the spawled concrete chips from the last major earthquake. They were offered to attendees as tokens. The concrete is of extremely high quality. The few places where re-bar is exposed revealed that the vertical elements of the re-bar is 6" in diameter. The viaduct WILL NOT pancake in an earthquake, unless Seattle pancakes. If I were downtown during the four minute mega-quake, I would run to the viaduct for protection.

I would bet my house that the viaduct will stand longer than the Smith Tower.

Posted by: Bart Cannon on March 24, 2007 05:49 PM
16. All the folks who make assumptions about my assumptions crack me up. I'm assuming nothing about people's second or third choices. I'm only trying to give the most accurate reasonable interpretation of the actual returns.

And as I've stated many times, I would prefer a retrofit to a rebuild. Unfortunately that wasn't an option on the flawed ballot.

The idea that somebody (Martin Selig?) is paying me to spin this? What a joke.

I guess certain people are freaking out because their fantasy that this was a "NO-NO victory" was debunked.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on March 24, 2007 06:41 PM
17. "I am a materials scientist and have done a quick evalaution of the spawled concrete chips..."

If you had spelled "spalled" correctly I'd give more credence to your claim of profession.

"The few places where re-bar is exposed revealed that the vertical elements of the re-bar is 6" in diameter."

I doubt that too.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on March 24, 2007 06:57 PM
18. Thats some pretty big re-bar.

Stefan, would you disagree with the statement "voters in the 8th CD said No to George Bush and no to Dave Ross". My hunch is that the number of "no no" votes in that race was pretty small too.

Posted by: Giffy on March 24, 2007 07:30 PM
19. To Hank,

Spawl and spall are both accepted spellings for the process I described. Check your own credibility.

And take your calipers to pier 91 and measure the diameter of the vertical "re-bar". I could perhaps more accurately describe it as a vertical steel element.

Posted by: Bart Cannon on March 24, 2007 07:31 PM
20. Hank at 17 - per Bart at 19:


A splinter or fragment, as of wood or stone. See Spall.

So what was the point of your post?

Posted by: me on March 24, 2007 07:39 PM
21. "18. Thats some pretty big re-bar.

Stefan, would you disagree with the statement "voters in the 8th CD said No to George Bush and no to Dave Ross". My hunch is that the number of "no no" votes in that race was pretty small too.
Posted by Giffy at March 24, 2007 07:30 PM "

Giffy - so what is your point? The discussion is not about voters in the 8th CD voting about Dave Ross or George Bush but about the viaduct or tunnel election with the choices being totally and poltically mis-represented on the ballot.

Please keep on topic.

Posted by: me on March 24, 2007 07:48 PM
22. To "Me"

I'm not sure about which post you are asking what my point was.

I own a couple of spawled or spalled fragments from the 1953 viaduct pour.

They both show fracture planes which cut directly across the stone aggregate in the concrete.

That defines "high quality" concrete.

Posted by: Bart Cannon on March 24, 2007 07:56 PM
23. Bart - I was agreeing with your post at 19 that Hank was incorrect by giving a definition of Spawl.

20. Hank at 17 - per Bart at 19:


A splinter or fragment, as of wood or stone. See Spall.

So what was the point of your post?
Posted by me at March 24, 2007 07:39 PM

Posted by: me on March 24, 2007 08:10 PM
24. The most accurate reasonable interpretation of the actual returns is that a majority of those who voted would prefer the current situation compared with paying for a tunnel and that a majority of those who voted would prefer the current situation compared with paying for a new elevated viaduct.

If any politician chooses to immediately shove either of those two options down the throats of those voters they will upset a majority of those voters. Assuming they won't do that, they will now look at the options of retrofitting and even a surface street option or putting the replacement viaduct option back on the ballot in an effort to try to build consensus - which they will think hard and long about only to realize they won't get a majority - again. Clearly those who backed the no/no option did in fact win.

Posted by: Doug on March 24, 2007 08:14 PM
25. My point is that describing it as Seattle voting no no is accurate. Seattle voters voted no to the elevated and no to the tunnel. While certainly a majority of voters likely did not vote no no, as an aggregate that was the outcome. Just as voters in the 8th rejected both Ross and Bush so to did Seattle reject a tunnel and a rebuild. They were separate elections not a three way race.

Posted by: Giffy on March 24, 2007 08:36 PM
26. Maybe this is a stupid question, but...

I haven't done the math, but I know there is a finite number of possible combinations based on the the number of options listed on the ballot, with choices of "Yes," "No," or no vote on each.

Couldn't this all be cleared up by the Elections office publishing the count of ballots cast for each possible combination of votes? It's all read by computer, right? Should be a simple matter to determine the actual combinations that were cast, and provide a count for each.

Posted by: Patrick on March 24, 2007 11:49 PM
27. "The advisory ballot asked voters whether they preferred replacing the viaduct with a $3.4 billion tunnel or with a new $2.8 billion viaduct." That is from the Seattle Times article Stefan links to. It is quite apparant that even they thought of the ballot as an either/or, or at least advertised it that way to an extent. I still believe it's highly likely that a large portion of the pro-new elevated viaduct vote was only a 'yes' vote because those voters saw it has needing to vote either/or (mostly to keep their least favorite option of a tunnel, from winning).

I believe it is a mistake to encourage the political leaders to believe that a new viaduct was the winner of the advisory vote by plurality, the math maybe there but there are too many variables that aren't accounted for to determine which option to move forward on.

Posted by: Doug on March 25, 2007 12:09 AM
28. I can't believe they didn't just take a poll. Can't taxpayers sue the city for wasting their money on a vote that: a) could lead to inaccurate interpretation and b) is not binding? Give me a few grand and a telephione bank, and I'll settle this once and for all.

Posted by: Scott Kennedy on March 25, 2007 01:43 AM
29. retrofit is the new mantra, and an acceptable solution.
I voted against the tunnel, nice idea but no money to make it happen.

Voted yes to the rebuild, the state is paying. BUT a retrofit is just fine with me.

The surface option should be called the mary jane haze option.

Ride you bike from west seattle to redmond to work every day.....oh sure.

Ordinary folks are smart about clogged roads, quite expert in fact from their own experience. No one can deceive them that the surface options will not create massive gridlock.

Of course in the haze folks minds, that forces them to bikes and skates, and walking - and out of cars.

Posted by: George on March 25, 2007 02:07 AM
30. First, I owe Bart Cannon #15 a sincere apology for my excess grumpitude. Second, I owe Stefan an apology for getting wholly off topic from the subject of votes for/against/undermining/disingenuously interpreted, concerning the tunnel/elevated/damn-your-mobility options.

Coda de trivia: I haven't seen 'spawl' in decades of work with stone and concrete. It's not in the American Heritage Dictionary, nor Britannica Online. OED online turns up 'no results' for spawl. Not hard to accuse it of elbowing its way into some lesser dictionaries via creeping carelessness, like aint. Even the uber-tolerant Wikipedia warns of rusting reinforcing bars causing spalling. Oh, environmental activists issue calls to 'Put A Stop To Commercial Spawl In Our Forests'. That's all right then.

And 6-inch diameter rebar? Ever hear of over-reinforcing? There's no point in manufacturing that size - the biggest in the ASTM standards is #18, or 2-1/4" diameter. Sure that wasn't a piece of pipe?

Posted by: Hank Bradley on March 25, 2007 08:21 AM
31. Hank - i think the point is that now the delusions of grandeur are slaked, ie. tunnel - no many billions of new money for mega projects...

Can we do a real good study based on sound engineering about the retrofit. Less panic, more science, more facts.

Bet that concept wins. Spend less, no traffic disruption, and punt the eventual rebuild or what else problem into the future decades. Good political solution. Good fiscal solution. OK for safety.

I bet it is a pipe -

Posted by: earl on March 25, 2007 09:05 AM
32. How about randomly review say 1,000 ballots and see how many YES-YES votes were there???
Hell, review all of them and remove all doubt.
My guess is less than 5% YES-YES.
Wouldn't this give the debate a bit more clarity??

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on March 25, 2007 09:22 AM
33. A Retrofit is the best answer at this point....economically and environmentally.
Can you imagine the pollution caused by crumbling that existing structure?
Can you image the devastating impact to small businesses if the Tunnel, new elevated structure or surface street option are pursued?

It seemed previously like the pro-Tunnel KLOWNS were creating an image of the imminent doom of the existing structure. Seems like it is still standing and quite functional.

Look it, the Seattle Borgeois Bohemians, Developers & Labor ought to just admit it...
this is about:
1) Beautifying the Seattle Waterfront---which SEATTLE ought to pay for 100% AND
2) Money grab for certain developers AND
3) Make work for Labor

The idea that this Viaduct MUST be replaced because it is imminently dangerous is BULLSH*T!!

Let's have an honest discussion based on the above 3 points. But this constant fear-mongering drumbeat of the LEFTIST PINHEADED KLOWNS and their new found big money allies is getting mighty old.

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on March 25, 2007 09:31 AM
34. Hank - You are correct that there are not many mainline references to Spawl. One entry I found was from the Webster 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, edited by Noah Porter, published by G & C. Merriam Co., 1913 The public-domain Webster's 1913 Dictionary, edited for online use by Patrick J. Cassidy.

Another hit I found at Those definitions are:
pawl \Spawl\, n.
A splinter or fragment, as of wood or stone. See Spall.

Spawl \Spawl\, n. [Cf. AS. sp[=a]tl, fr. sp[=ae]tan to spit;
probably akin to sp[=i]wan, E. spew. Cf. Spew.]
Scattered or ejected spittle.

Spawl \Spawl\, v. i. & t. [imp. & p. p. Spawled; p. pr. & vb.
n. Spawling.] [Cf. AS. sp[=a]tlian.]
To scatter spittle from the mouth; to spit, as saliva.

Why must he sputter, spawl, and slaver it In vain, against the people's favorite. --Swift.

The last entry was interesting as it does describe many replies in many blogs (but certainly not Sound Politics). I wonder if there is a similar word describing the same event from different body orifices - that definition would fit the majority of responses from one particular Seattle Blog. The author of that blog does use the word 'spew'

Thanks for your reply!!

Posted by: me on March 25, 2007 10:03 AM
35. me--
Sprawl has become the "Progressive" term of the Century. I have no problem with folks creating high density Urban Centers where they can live. I think it is great. I do have a probelm with the Social Engineering aspect of attempting to "force" Folks to like in high density.

The Marxist KLOWNS using Smart Growth concepts to combat sprawl would be more believable if:
1) They focus on making Urban High Density living more appealing & desirable to more people.
2) Didn't use "Sprawl" as some weapon against folks who prefer more suburban or rural living.
3) Anti-Sprawl promoters actually walked their talk. Follow the money me. The anti-sprawl $$ come from various environmental groups funded by the Seattle Elite.

The Seattle Elite love Europe....particularly the Netherlands. They are trying to impose the Amsterdam model on us. The Workerbees must live in a rat maze of a City. The Elite have a "flat" in the City....but only they can afford to have a "Villa" in the country.
Understand the elitist game being played here me??
Are you an elitist...or a sucker???

Think ahead a generation or so....this is precisely where we are being socially engineered to go.

It is EVIL to live in the Rural or Suburbs!!
While the Elite gobble up their huge retreats in the country.
Interesting, huh???
Think about it me....where is the big money coming from to support the anti-sprawl movement???

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on March 25, 2007 10:34 AM
36. Warning: Off topic a bit, but ultimately returns to relevance.

"Sprawl has become the "Progressive" term of the Century." (huh? just because it sounds like spall?)

We are just lucky that the Sierra Club didn't succeed in 1969 when they went on their first linguistic crusade to establish "SLURB" as the noun of choice for demonization of building that offended their tender sensibilities. It was all over their literature for a year or so, then fizzled out. Obviously it was some genius's synthesis of SLOB with SUBURB, pointing to the SC's opinion of not only the land use, but of the folks who lived there. [Dang, some folks still use it, solidly pejorative, solidly princess-and-the-pea sensitivity. And slob is now disguised as slum, but nudge nudge, wink wink, we know.]

Now the SC and the urban imperialists are hoping passionately for the NO-NO interpretation and the massive traffic jam resulting from a surface option. Again, their distaste for the slobs who drive from point A to point B is paramount.

Freedom of choice is fine for gay marriage and abortions, but apparently not for car selection by individuals.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on March 25, 2007 11:19 AM
37. I am not a construction engineer, and did not represent myself to be one.

I will use the spelling "spall" in the future.

The vertical steel element I observed displayed herringbone ribbing on its surface. It was re-bar, but it was not fully exposed. I made an error by suggesting its diameter was 6" since I could not actually measure its full diameter.

So let's get on with the discussion of whether the viaduct might actually be safe enough following a "retro-fit" for many more years of service.

We seem to have a construction engineer in our group. Hank Bradley. He should have been on the tour yesterday, but he could still provide an opinion just by a street level inspection of his own.

I insist that the concrete from the small spalled samples I was given are are high quality. I was assured by our engineer-guide that they were from the viaduct "spallings".

It is said that the concrete from egyptian times is still hardening. There is continuous in-situ crystallization of the phases formed during a pour. Crystals are growing and interfingering and adding strength to the concrete mix.

The viaduct has 53 years of crystallization under its belt.

I will analyze the phases present in our viaduct and their crystal texture using an electron microprobe. If my spalls are miraculously representative of the quality of concrete throughout the structure I will be adding a footnote to our discussion on this matter.

Meanwhile, someone should obtain and comment on the original engineering specifications for the steel skeleton of the viaduct. And other any aspects of its structural integrity, or lack thereof.


Posted by: Bart Cannon on March 25, 2007 03:18 PM
38. Um, I'm not sure what concrete remains from Egyptian times, but the Romans (who get the credit for inventing at least the pozzolanic type) made the Pantheon dome of it and it still succeeds as a roof.

I'm not a structural engineer, and it would take me months to attempt to analyze the viaduct structure based on its plans and specs (and that might be a wild goose chase anyway, considering that what gets built isn't always reflective of what was designed). Better to analyze as WSDOT does, by direct inspections and testing of the materials in place in the existing structure. That would include the soils that bear its static and dynamic loads.

The hydration reaction does continue slowly more or less forever, but most concrete strength is achieved in the first year following emplacement. Also weathering and wear immediately commence irreversably weakening certain parts (for instance, say water finds its way into the rebar and produces rust which expands the rebar, cracks the concrete, allows entry of more water etc etc).

In sum, if the viaduct is to continue in use, inspect it directly, evaluate its remaining strength, then install repairs and reinforcements which, together with the useful parts that still exist, will withstand the estimated 'design' loads, seismic included, which 21st century wisdom prescribes. These will almost certainly exceed those for which it was originally constructed.

Where I depart severely from conventional Seattle wisdom is in recognizing far more social value in the continued flow of voluntary traffic along this public roadway than the 'urban aesthetes' do - in fact by City Council standards that traffic flow seems a social debit rather than a credit, and visions of a fashionable people's plaza along the waterfront (with autos carelessly banished to traffic jams in some other area out of sight) justifies to them vast expenditures and the sacrifice of mobility without second thoughts.

Voluntary mobility, that is - where individuals make their own choices of routing and scheduling. The urbanists are more than delighted to impose regimented mobility on 'the masses'. Brave new world I guess, where the enlightened make the choices for the rest of us. One can't help but notice that the public is not presented with ballots that invite a direct choice between funding roads and funding 'public transit' - it seems the results might upset some schemes of government too abruptly.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on March 26, 2007 07:25 AM
39. I never met the "retired" engineers, but whenever I have heard their names spoken by others, it is with awe and reverence.

We should sit back and take these gentlemen, one a structural engineer and the other a soils engineer, a little more seriously.

They say a retrofit is the best solution, is cheap and easy to accomplish. They don't have a dog in the hunt as Ross Perot used to say.

When they talk, I listen. Politicos should too.

Posted by: swatter on March 26, 2007 09:58 AM
40. Just to note:
The real reason the cyress structure failed during the loma prieta quake (a similar structure to the viaduct that pancaked during a 7.1 quake thus giving rise to the hysteria over the Vi-a-duck) was probably liquifaction of the underlying soil, not the structure itself (which had just undergone a seismic retrofit, BTW). The question of surface vs retrofit is whether the soil of the seattle waterfront is sturdy enough to hold the structure up if its shaken well.

Posted by: Bfr on March 26, 2007 11:20 AM
41. Still flogging the corpse and flies are rising everywhere. The misreading here is the constant false chant of car haters, gridlock, mean europhiles, and the overwhelming NoNo on a mega build somehow is deluded into support for another elevated solution. Welcome to fantasy freeway!

Posted by: Peoples Asphalt Coalition on March 26, 2007 11:22 AM
42. Desperate times call for desperate math, eh?

Posted by: Missmynxie on March 26, 2007 11:42 AM

This article really shows how different each part of Seattle voted. It is almost like the Bush-Kerry map.

Posted by: swatter on March 26, 2007 03:48 PM
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