Tunnel Option Is Top Choice for Seattle’s Viaduct Replacement
The nearly decade-long fight over whether to raze or rebuild the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront is nearing a final decision. On Jan. 13, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced that she favors replacing the 55-year-old highway with a $4.25 billion deep-bored tunnel. King County Executive Ron Sims, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Port of Seattle Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani also support the plan. Elected officials have been debating whether to rebuild or replace the viaduct since 2001, when the double-deck freeway was damaged in an earthquake. A month ago, an advisory committee created to study design options for replacing the structure proposed building a six-lane boulevard or a reconfigured elevated highway. But business leaders and environmentalists opposed those choices and pushed for the tunnel. The two-mile, four-lane tunnel is the most expensive of the various design options. The current project budget is $430 million short. Lawmakers are evaluating several methods to help pay for the tunnel, including charging tolls.