Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 11:55 pm by Darryl
Letâ€™s face it. The Alaska Way Viaduct (AWV) is ugly and noisy. It seriously detracts from the aesthetics of the Seattle waterfront. A stroll from the upper city streets down to the waterfront includes traversing the unsightly bit under the viaduct. Iâ€™ve never liked it.
Now we have a chance to do something about it—we can stuff the whole thing underground. It is a brilliant idea; and, an idea that should pay off many times over again by making downtown Seattle more attractive to tourists and natives alike.
We have to replace the AWV anyway; it is no longer cost effective to keep patching it up. That there is any debate at all about replacing it with a tunnel simply floors me. It is incredibly short sighted to go cheap on this one.
There are other arguments for replacing the AWV by a tunnel. I argue on aesthetics, but Andrew at Northwest Progressive Institute discusses the safety advantages of the tunnel option.
The big question is how to pay for the tunnel option. It is expected to cost $3.7 billion to $4.1 billion.
About $2 billion dollars will come from State highway funds (thanks to the 2005 Transportation Package and the failure of I-912). Additionally, $220 million comes from the National Highway Bill passed this summer. Additional funding includes $200 million offered by the Port of Seattle. The City of Seattle may be able to provide up to $300 million for the relocation of utility lines and up to $200 million from the city’s transportation fund. Additionally the Army Corps of Engineers will provide up to $250 million for replacing the seawall. Those amounts bring us to $3.17 billion, leaving the project in need of less than one billion dollars.
How will we raise the rest of the money? Goldy at HorsesAss.org suggests a special taxing district for the downtown waterfront businesses whose property values will increase drastically by the tunnel option. That is an interesting idea, but we can be pretty sure there will be a Seattle or King County tax package put to the voters in a future election.
The State has already ruled out a toll solution. There are just too many alternative routes to make a toll road feasible for SR 99. No sweatâ€¦I hate toll roads.