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Wednesday, March 14, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bus Tunnel Is Nice Too -- Seattle Traffic, Parking Rates Wow Visiting Reporter

A RAVE review of the art and architecture in Seattle's bus tunnel by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter included an interesting bit of perspective.

Last month the newspaper took Bay Area readers on a tour of the 1.3-mile tunnel and four stations under construction beneath downtown streets. The writer loved what he saw:

``The nearly completed Seattle subway is a tony showcase of local artists and architects and a stone cutter's dream.''

He marveled at the attention to detail and the faithfulness to themes in buildings above ground at Westlake Station, University Street Station, Pioneer Square Station and International District Station.

Credit for the oohs and ahhs goes to the Seattle architectural firm of TRA, and the team of artists it brought together.

But it wasn't only the fancy design work on the $455 million bus tunnel that dazzled the visitor. He found Seattle, well, kind of quaint in an urban way.

Twice he felt compelled to note that traffic problems are modest, population pressures are slight and downtown parking rates are dirt cheap compared with back home.

Such commentary is part of the urban pecking order. A New York writer asked to describe San Francisco responded that it was ``cute.'' Portland suffers the same patronizing pats on the head from Seattle writers.

The visitor from San Francisco was right on target about Seattle's newest underground attraction: It is a stunner. Even someone from a place that immodestly calls itself The City could not hide his delight.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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