Gov. Chris Gregoire, who endured a months-long standoff with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and others over how the replace Seattle's weakening Alaskan Way Viaduct, told Post-Intelligencer correspondent Chris McGann yesterday that one way or another, the state will knock the central part of the viaduct down by 2012.
"That's the timeline. I'm not going to fudge on it. And if we don't have some alternative by then, boy are we going to have a mess on our hands because it's coming down."
Asked if she, as governor, could trump the state's largest city and county and unilaterally tear down a highway that carries more than 100,000 vehicles a day through the heart of Seattle, Gregoire said:
"Yeah, watch me."
The governor set a hard deadline after a tortured and unsuccessful attempt to resolve the issue last year. At that time Seattle, King County and the state fought and floundered in their attempts to produce a viable option for replacing or rebuilding the viaduct.
Gregoire told McGann that the state will stick to its commitment to pay $2.8 billion of the cost -- which is about enough to replace the existing elevated highway. Any extra for more-expensive, less-ugly options like Nickels' proposed tunnel -- rejected last year by Seattle voters -- would have to come from local taxpayers.