Inside Opinion

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Tag: tunnel


Seattle viaduct replacement: Is it politically impossible?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If Seattle isn’t serious about replacing the quake-damaged Alaskan Way viaduct, how serious should the rest of Washington be about it?

Next year will bring the 10th anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake and the 10th anniversary of the engineering report that the viaduct had to be rebuilt or replaced – lest it collapse in the next big shake.

Despite nearly a decade of facing what some would consider a dire threat, Seattleites seem poised for yet another Big Dither.

Mayor Mike McGinn is doing his utmost to unravel a hard-won agreement between the governor and the city leadership to reroute state Route 99 through a tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.

He makes an easy target with his ecotopian vision of a bottlenecked surface corridor whose engineered congestion would force commuters onto bicycles and buses. But a lot of other greenish Seattleites also think that’s a spectacular idea, and some are threatening a city initiative to stop the tunnel and start the arguments all over again.
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Tunnel risks in Seattle should stay in Seattle

This editorial will appear in tomorrow print edition.

Bank on it: Seattle politicians will shortly be pushing to cancel the state’s cost-overrun insurance on a tunnel project that may well overrun its $4.2 billion price tag. One state lawmaker outside the 206 area code – Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup – is ready for them.

Transportation money is scarce, and every extra penny of state funding sucked into the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be siphoned from another important highway project elsewhere in the state. That’s why lawmakers insisted on overrun protection when Seattle-area politicians and Gov. Chris Gregoire picked the Cadillac replacement option – a deep-bore tunnel under downtown Seattle instead of a much less expensive new elevated viaduct.

The deal, crafted in the Legislature last spring, promised $2.8 billion in state funding for the tunnel project. But that was a ceiling, not a floor. Any unanticipated expenses were to come out of the pockets of the Seattle property owners who would benefit from the project.

And countless property owners stand to benefit quite handsomely from the tunnel. By opening up the city’s waterfront, it promises to greatly enhance downtown real estate values. It’s hardly unreasonable for the beneficiaries to pledge some of the windfall against any unexpected costs. Pocket the gain, share the risk.
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