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Council News Release

9/20/2006  4:54:00 PM
Krista Bunch, Drago Office, (206) 684-8801

Councilmember Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally Clark
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Richard McIver

In light of new costs for replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the tunnel remains the best option.

SEATTLE- Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago today expressed confidence in moving forward with a cut-and-cover tunnel replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. “The good news is that a tunnel can still be built,” says Councilmember Drago, Chair of the Transportation Committee. This afternoon, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) released new cost estimates for a tunnel replacement project in response to the findings of the Expert Review Panel (ERP) convened by Governor Christine Gregoire. Both WSDOT and the ERP members said that while cost estimates have increased, a tunnel can still be built with the funding that the state and city have identified. “It’s good to have information confirming that our financing plan is reasonable and achievable,” says Councilmember Jean Godden. “I am committed to restoring the waterfront without repeating past mistakes.”

Councilmember Drago believes that the sudden release of the new numbers has muddied the public debate and the decision on the city’s preferred alternative is now best made by the Councilmembers themselves. “We have listened carefully to the public. We have studied the issues for four years. We have deliberated thoroughly. At the final hour, complex and confusing new estimates have been released. In these circumstances, the voters elected us to make the tough decisions,” says Councilmember Drago.

The Governor’s Expert Review Panel is made up of construction and finance experts from around the country who spent months reviewing the financing plans for the viaduct replacement project. “I respect the work that the Expert Review Panel has done. They are the experts, and I am pleased that they express confidence in the tunnel’s financing,” says Councilmember Richard McIver.

Because cost estimates will rise and fall throughout the course of the project, Councilmember Sally Clark advises keeping the end goal in mind. “We are faced with an incredible opportunity to reconnect the city with its waterfront. The Council should not let this opportunity slip away,” says Councilmember Sally Clark.

Councilmember Richard Conlin agrees, “The Council takes the financing issue quite seriously, but we can clearly see what the right decision is: a waterfront for all, that is ecologically sustainable, and that puts people before cars. We are continuing to move this vision closer to reality.”


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