Seattle voters have turned down options to either replace the 52-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct with a mile-long tunnel or rebuild the elevated structure.
Nearly 100,000 ballots were counted March 13, more than half the total number expected to be returned in the all-mail election. Results showed more than 55 percent rejecting building a new viaduct and 70 percent opposing the tunnel.
It¹s been six years since the Nisqually Earthquake rocked Seattle, damaging the viaduct. State, city and transportation officials have been debating how to repair the structure since December 2004. Last month, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) and state lawmakers declared the tunnel option dead because the city lacked a plan to finance the $3.4 billion project. Gregoire stated the only path forward was to proceed with the $2.2 billion replacement of the double-deck freeway.
It's unclear if the advisory vote will persuade Gregoire to consider other options such as a surface street design similar to San Francisco's Embarcadero Boulevard. The Seattle City Council is expected to shift $8 million previously earmarked for the tunnel option to drafting a surface street design. In the past, Gregoire and lawmakers refused to consider the boulevard design because it would only carry a maximum of 70,000 vehicles daily, which is below the viaduct¹s current traffic rate of 110,000 vehicle trips per day.