Seattle, Wash, was struggling for years in figuring out how to replace The Alaskan Way Viaduct, a piece of aging infrastructure that stood as a barrier between Seattle’s downtown and its waterfront.
On one side you had environmental advocates that favored a solution focused on mass transit and bikes over more roadways. The business community favored access and city leaders wanted to leverage the city’s waterfront to revitalize the city. And taxpayer groups wanted something that was low cost.
As a result, a tunnel, elevated highway or retrofit of existing structures were not viable solutions. A referendum failed and still after 10+ years of dialogue and debate, a consensus could not be reached.
City leaders turned to professional facilitators to help reach a consensus. The facilitators stepped in and secured a commitment from all those involved that they would negotiate a consensus agreement. They reframed the issue, considered the region’s needs and reviewed an independent technical analysis of potential solutions. In addition, an advisory group of stakeholders was forced to provide input into the process to assist those at the negotiating table.
It is time Detroit’s regional leaders come back to the table and negotiate a consensus agreement as it relates to the DWSD and help the region move forward onto additional issues that impact the region as a whole.
Today, Seattle is a vibrant community. It is not just a city. Those in Seattle have adopted a certain lifestyle, created in part by removing the barriers linking a downtown to its waterfront and creating a bridge between vital stakeholders who had the power to act and help the city move forward.
And now that viaduct, is just "water under the bridge."