Friday, December 15, 2006

Governor Gregoire Postpones Decision on Seattle Viaduct

Submitted by Paul Ellis

Governor Christine Gregoire said today that the residents of Seattle should decide how to replace the aging and earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Gregoire had been expected to announce her decision about what should be done on the state's largest mega-project--whether to replace it with a tunnel or rebuild an elevated structure.

Instead, she called for a referendum in which Seattle voters will decide between rebuilding the structure or replacing it with a tunnel. All other options--including tearing the viaduct down and having surface streets take the traffic--are now off the table.

The price difference between the two options is $1.8 billion. The state has already dedicated $2.2 billion to the Viaduct, almost enough to cover the $2.8 billion rebuild. Gregoire seems set on asking the City of Seattle to raise local revenues enough to cover the remainder of the $4.6 billion price tag if voters decide they want a tunnel.

Governor Gregoire did announce one firm decision today--that the state should build a new six-lane span to replace the floating bridge that carries SR-520 across Lake Washington.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community's largest transportation planning effort.

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