An Elegy for a Tunnel Ribbon Cutting

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Inslee holds the scissors and other high-level officials look on outside the SR-99 tunnel in February 2019.
Governor Jay Inslee cutting the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the SR-99 tunnel. (WSDOT)

After Ian Frazier

Greetings, friends! We’ve gathered here
to cut the ribbon, give a cheer-
it’s time to open, rise and shine
the buried tunnel ninety-nine.

Oh, the group is large and grand
but we must know who to raise our hand
with thankful gesture, sing it loud
the highway-funding political crowd?

There’s Washdot Secretary Millar,
Sam Zimbabwe, new transportation czar,
there’s noted transit booster Dow,
and Chris Gregoire who’d decided how
to build this tunnel, years ago.
There’s Peter Steinbrueck, that old pro.
Councilmember Bagshaw’s here
Wrapping up her final year.
Oh look, it’s Governor Inslee
and Ed Murray, hiding behind a tree.
Oh and you thought I’d forgot
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

The leaders. (Photos by WSDOT)

So many leaders gathered ’round
while speeches and big smiles abound
what’s left unsaid is so damn large…
I’d hoped the people put in charge
of all our futures wouldn’t trade
a highway tunnel clearly made
to keep cars moving with no delay
for the health of kids born on this day.

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Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill and has been writing for the blog since 2015. They report on multimodal transportation issues, #VisionZero, preservation, and local politics. They believe in using Seattle's history to help attain the vibrant, diverse city that we all wish to inhabit. In December 2020, Ryan started a three-month stint as editor of Seattle Bike Blog.