By: Sen. McDermott
The earthquake in February 2001 drew dramatic attention to the need to remove the unsafe existing Alaskan Way Viaduct. The bored tunnel hybrid alternative announced Tuesday morning will replace the unsafe structure and serve our district and the region well for years to come.
Short Term: Tunnel construction will be able to proceed without closing the existing viaduct. This will make the construction years significantly easier to bear for our communities all located west of the Duwamish that rely so heavily on the existing viaduct. Economically, construction creates in excess of 10,000 jobs for the next 10 years.
Long Term: The tunnel, along with surface and transit improvements, will allow us to get to and through downtown Seattle while providing access necessary for a 40% increase in containers at the Port of Seattle by 2020. As I have said throughout replacement discussions, this is an opportunity to be visionary and reconnect out waterfront and downtown. Working in Pioneer Square part time during the summer, I know what a concrete curtain the existing viaduct is. Delridge and West Seattle will both benefit from new and enhanced RapidRide transit and Burien will have expanded Park-and-Ride. In addition, the Spokane Street Viaduct widening is part of existing plans.
The $400 Million: The overall cost of the project is $4.24 billion, with the tunnel itself being $1.9 billion. Surface, transit, and other improvements make up the rest. The state has previously committed $2.8 billion for our share of the project, but since then $400 million was moved to preliminary work on 520. Governor Gregoire assumes that the state’s contribution will be $2.8 billion. This leaves the $400 million in question. The Legislature will have to consider our ability to come up with this sum or leave the state funding at the lower number.
My Efforts: I believe the tunnel productively moves people and freight while reconnecting our city. I will join with the City of Seattle, King County, and the Port of Seattle to help secure the local funding needed in addition to the state’s contribution to complete this vital infrastructure that our district relies on so heavily. I commend Governor Gregoire, Executive Sims, and Mayor Nickels on the hard work they have led to arrive at Tuesday’s announcement