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Seattle voters say “yes” to tunnel

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Seattle voters say “yes” to tunnel

Waterfront Visualization WSDOT.png

Future waterfront visualization. (Photo source: WSDOT)

Though one hesitates to say something in Seattle is ever actually finished, in the land of indecision, it appears that a decision has finally been made. With nearly 60 percent in favor, Seattle voters told their elected officials on Tuesday to move forward with a tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

As The Seattle Times reports, the defeat of the effort to recall the earlier decision to build the tunnel sets into motion the final bureaucratic and regulatory approvals that will move the project forward rapidly and allow “the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to tell its tunnel contractors by Sept. 1 to move into final design and construction.”


Even though it has taken Seattle a little more than one decade to make a decision
about what to do with the aging viaduct that rests like a petrified
serpent along its waterfront, the tunnel should be ready in about half that time. The tunnel technology available today makes such a comparatively
tight timeline conceivable.

The tunnel under Seattle will be
created using advanced technology and techniques, including a “giant
tunnel-boring machine, 58 feet across,” according to The Seattle Times.
It is the type of innovation that convinced Cascadia Center–an early
and consistent advocate of replacing the viaduct with a tunnel–to
bolster its efforts in recent years to educate the region on the
feasibility of a tunnel to replace the viaduct. Cascadia’s work included
bringing experts to Seattle to participate in forums and discussions,
and sharing research with stakeholders and decision-makers.

It’s
easy enough to castigate Seattle for its propensity toward indecision.
Especially given the safety hazards posed by a damaged viaduct, it has
taken too long to bring this issue to conclusion. Nevertheless, the
region can now put its foot-dragging behind it and look forward to the
day when traffic flows under–not above–the city and Seattle has the
chance to be connected (quietly and without as much road noise) to one
of the nation’s most magnificent waterfronts.