Seattle votes to go ahead with tunnel

$2B bored tunnel will replace Alaskan Way Viaduct

Transportation Management News Seattle Times August 22, 2011
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After more than a decade of arguing, Seattle voted last week to go ahead with boring a $2 billion tunnel to replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Seattle Times reported.

The referendum vote was a defeat for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who opposed the tunnel. Only 40% of the city’s voters sided with McGinn.

“The public said move ahead with the tunnel, and that's what we're going to do,” McGinn said in a brief statement.

At a pro-tunnel gathering that turned into a party, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said, “I think people really wanted to move on. They wanted to be done with this debate.”

The tunnel is the largest part of the state’s $3.1 billion project to replace Seattle's double-deck waterfront Alaskan Way highway, which was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is a supporter of the tunnel replacement option, and the state has already awarded contracts for its construction. Groundbreaking is schedule for early next month. Completion is scheduled for December 2015.

Tunnel opponents raised more than $95,000 for their campaign, with the Sierra Club as the biggest donor, and 29,000 petition signatures. Pro-tunnel organizers raised more than $447,000.

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