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Council News Release

1/28/2011  3:20:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Council President Pro Tem Tim Burgess
Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Seattle City Council takes next step toward
replacement of Alaskan Way Viaduct

SEATTLE Eight members of the Seattle City Council announced today they are sponsoring legislation that, when approved, will accept the state's offer and create legally binding agreements between the City and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the Alaskan Way Viaduct (AWV) bored tunnel project.

"These agreements, negotiated last summer by the City's transportation and utility departments with WSDOT, are structured to protect the City's interests, safe-guarding both public and private interests, as the tunnel project moves forward," stated Councilmember and AWV co-chair Tom Rasmussen. "Through this legislative action, Council confirms the City of Seattle's commitment to our regional partners, King County, Port of Seattle, and the state of Washington, solidifying 10 years of hard work to achieve the safest and most viable solution."

The agreements ensure that the Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light are active partners on the project while the tunnel contractor finalizes designs and refines their construction approach. The legislation accepting the agreements will be formally introduced on Monday, Jan. 31 and voted upon the following Monday, Feb. 7.

The City Council approved the agreements in principle last August, but withheld final approval until WSDOT selected a contractor for the tunnel. The Council staff and outside engineering and legal experts have reviewed the contract between WSDOT and the design-build contractor. The City-State negotiated agreements protect the City by defining legal responsibilities, logistics coordination, scheduling, cost allocation, and other details related to the state's replacement of the SR 99 Viaduct with a bored tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.

The second Council action finalizing agreements with the state, will occur once the final Environmental Impact Statement is released which is expected to be next summer. This pending action will authorize work beyond the preliminary design phase.

The Council will hold its 29th special meeting on the AWV replacement efforts Monday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. In addition to hearing from the public on this legislation, the Council will speak with the City's tunnel engineering expert, John Newby of CDM. Newby has recently completed a review of the state's contract with the tunnel contractor and will report his findings.

"The Council has been vigilant throughout this entire process to make certain that the City's interests are protected and ensure that we have confidence in WSDOT's management of this critical project," said Councilmember and AWV committee co-chair Sally J. Clark. "Preliminary work on the tunnel is rolling and we believe the City should remain actively engaged to guard the City's interests and minimize construction disruptions."

"We worked closely with the City Attorney's office on how to best protect the public's interests. We believe accepting the agreements offered by WSDOT is within the legislative authority of the Council," stated Councilmember and AWV committee co-chair Sally Bagshaw. "We determined that this course of action will ensure regional safety and financial safeguards. The Mayor retains authority to approve or veto this legislation."

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