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Ruston Tunnel’s last day coming

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on June 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm with No Comments »
June 30, 2011 5:07 pm

I know we’ve said this before, but the quaint, historic but deteriorating Ruston Tunnel will be closed permanently soon and filled with soil from construction projects on the old Asarco copper smelter site.

The frequently postponed permanent shutdown is now set for July 13 at 7 a.m. The tunnel has been closed temporarily in the past to construction of new utilities on the old smelter site, but it has reopened again repeatedly despite warnings that its ultimate demise was at hand.

This time Point Ruston developer Mike Cohen says the tunnel will close for good. He did leave himself a way out, however, in his press release. That release says the tunnel access will be cut off on July 13 or “on a date soon thereafter.”

The tunnel carries Ruston Way traffic under a portion of the old smelter near where the industrial facility’s 500-foot-tall smokestack once stood.

Point Ruston is the billion-dollar mixed use development Cohen and his partners are building on the old smelter site. Ultimately, the site will include numerous apartments, single family homes and condominiums as well as a commercial center containing hotels, a multiplex movie theater, offices, retail shops and restaurants.

Construction on the development’s utilities has been progressing slowly during the recession, but Cohen announced last week he will resume construction on an incomplete apartment building in the development.

Until a new arterial opens across Point Ruston, traffic will be detoured via North 49th, Ferdinand, North 46th and Pearl streets between the waterfront and the Ruston business district.

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