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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: Deep bored tunnel

Deep boring and big money…

This is more of a Seattle topic, but since everybody’s going to be paying for it:

After years of chin-pulling and line-in-the-sand drawing, the governor, King County executive, Seattle’s mayor and the CEO of the Port of Seattle have agreed to replace Seattle’s aging Alaskan Way Viaduct with a “deep bored tunnel” under Seattle’s downtown. The $4.2 billion plan also includes more bus service, improvements to side streets, an upgraded waterfront and a new seawall.

“There are privotal moments when great cities make history,” said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. The plan, he said, improves public transit, while “reclaim(ing) our destiny as a true waterfront city, tearing down an elevated highway and re-connecting Seattle to Elliott Bay.” (The decades-old viaduct is a raised concrete double-decker highway running along downtown Seattle’s waterfront.)

The state has pledged $2.8 billion toward the project, which it hoes will pay for the two-mile-long, four-lane tunnel and restoring the land under the soon-to-be-demolished Viaduct to a four-lane street.

House Speaker Frank Chopp had a lukewarm reaction, saying he’s worried about the potential for cost overruns.

“This plan already requires at least $1.8 billion in additional taxes from Seattle and King County residents,” he said in a statement (which I’ve posted in its entirety below). “Will they also be on the hook for the overruns? Boston’s `Big Dig’ was estimated to cost $4 billion. It ended up costing many billions more.”

UPDATE: Look for some unease in the Senate with this plan, seeing as how the Senate thought only $2.4 billion in state money was set aside for this project. (The other $400 million was shifted into a “risk pool” that would include cost overruns on the SR 520 floating bridge replacement project.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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