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Council News Release

9/22/2006  2:59:00 PM
Krista Bunch, Drago office, (206) 684-8801

Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally Clark
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Richard McIver
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck

The Council reaffirms that a cut-and-cover tunnel is the City's preferred alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

SEATTLE- Seven members of the Council today reaffirmed their decision of January 2005 that the best alternative for replacement of the dangerously damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct is a cut-and-cover tunnel. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realize a 21st Century waterfront. The tunnel is a means to that end," said Councilmember Jan Drago, Chair of the Transportation Committee. The City's recommendation will now directly go to Governor Christine Gregoire as she considers her decision on what to do about the crumbling elevated structure.

Councilmember Richard Conlin said, "We want to create a waterfront that works for all our people, that is ecologically sustainable, and that is consistent with the values that our city embodies of open access and environmental stewardship. A cut-and-cover tunnel along the waterfront is the best way forward at this time." Councilmember Jean Godden said, "The Viaduct is an unsafe, substandard, noxious polluting structure that has blighted the city for two generations-fifty years. Too often in the past, we have been foolishly cheap and shortsighted. We must restore the City's portal to Puget Sound with a cut-and-cover tunnel."

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said, "The Viaduct was planned and built when freeways were seen as the solution to our transportation needs. Like many other cities, we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. This Council has its eyes fixed on the future."

Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck said, "The state gave Seattle only two options, an even larger elevated freeway or a tunnel, so I am supporting 'a tunnel option.' My heart is more with a sustainable future, such as a surface option as a back-up plan, with more funds for rapid transit."

Earlier this week, the Governor's Expert Review Panel affirmed that the tunnel's finances were sound and reasonable despite rising costs. Councilmember Richard McIver said, "I am pleased that a review panel made up of national experts on public finance and construction has expressed confidence in the identified funding for this project. I love the tunnel."

The Washington State Legislature asked the Council to express its preference for a Viaduct replacement either through Council action or an advisory ballot for Seattle's voters. Councilmember Drago said Council action was the only reasonable course. "The Council has been elected to make the difficult, complicated decisions as the representatives of Seattle's voters. Since the Viaduct planning is still in very early stages, it doesn't make sense to ask the public to vote on a project where construction figures are not secure," said Councilmember Drago. Added Councilmember Conlin, "There is a time to go to the voters: when you are asking them to raise money for a project that is solid. That time will come, but it hasn't yet."

Councilmember Sally Clark reminded everyone that today's decision is not the last one on the Viaduct replacement. "This is not the end. It is just one point along a very long journey. We are smarter today then we were 50 years ago. We can do better than an elevated freeway along the waterfront. I support the tunnel."


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