For years, BNSF trains have safely traversed the bridge over Lake Pend Oreille, efficiently shuttling goods and commodities to foreign and domestic markets. Now, in an effort to further expedite shipping and modernize rail in the Pacific Northwest, BNSF is proposing a multi-million dollar upgrade in the form of a second parallel bridge that will allow rail traffic to move even safer in both directions simultaneously. The new bridge will reduce the times trains have to wait for other trains to cross the bridge. The backups created by waiting trains can sometimes extend for many miles. The second rail bridge will reduce delays in the city, improve air quality and reduce noise by cutting idle times while the trains are …
At a meeting in Seattle last week, lawmakers heard that the funding gap for replacing the storm- and seismically-vulnerable, crowded four-lane SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington can be shaved from $2.6 billion to $2.38 billion through a sales tax deferral of $220 million. They also had a look at the current menu of gap-closers. It includes more borrowing against electronic tolling revenues, plus higher toll rates on the 520 bridge, and especially, tolling of the parallel I-90 bridge. As ever, tolling’s a flash point, but it needn’t be ugly. It can equitable, and farsighted. Metro Puget Sound needs a comprehensive regional highway corridor electronic tolling plan, typically with express “HOT” lanes aside free lanes, and higher rates at peak hours.
SEATTLE-Most days it’s the marine life that causes the most stir at the Seattle Aquarium. But on this sunny afternoon, an attraction of a different sort was the center of attention. As cars and trucks drove by outside the aquarium on the earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct, inside the fate of the aging structure was being sealed. Surrounded by supporters, Washington’s Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law the bill that commits the State of Washington to tearing down the viaduct and replacing it with a deep-bored tunnel.
“This wasn’t an easy process,” said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels as he welcomed a crowd of several hundred to the bill signing ceremony, “but it is done, it is done, it is done!” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
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With good cause, many people thought it might never happen. But on Friday, after seemingly endless debate and consideration, the Washington State legislature put its final stamp of approval on the decision to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel. There’s a lot to this story, politically and logistically. Ultimately, however, the success of the deep-bored tunnel alternative (agreed to by Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and King County Executive Ron Sims), is a story of persistence, thoughtful analysis tethered to an understanding of advances in tunneling technology, and the triumph of consensus and cautious deliberation amongst a constellation of constituencies. Cascadia Center was there every step of the way — especially when Read More ›
In an op-ed in the Sunday Yakima Herald Republic, the Yakima Valley Fruit Growers-Shippers Association explains why it supports the recommendation by Governor Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 with an inland deep-bored tunnel. The state senate has already passed a bill securing $2.4 billion in funding for the project, and the state house last week passed a transportation budget bill providing some of that amount for the tunnel. A house bill specific to the tunnel must still be passed and may be voted on as soon as this week. (The tunnel itself is estimated by the Washington Department of Transportation to cost between $1.2 and $2.2 Read More ›
A committee hearing is schedule today for a bill (HB2211) introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives to effectively exclude the Interstate 90 bridge from an east-west bridge corridor tolling plan that would help fund replacement of the dangerously windstorm-prone and earthquake-prone parallel State Route 520 Bridge. The bridge replacement is estimated by the state to cost between $4.6 and $6.6 billion, as the Seattle Times has reported. Both the I-90 and SR 520 bridges connect Seattle with major Eastside job centers and will have to shoulder more traffic in coming years as population and employment grow, even if transit and vehicle trip reduction gain market share. Dropping I-90 from the corridor tolling plan is something with which the Read More ›
Earlier this month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims announced an historic accord to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct on SR 99 along the downtown Seattle waterfront with an inland deep bored tunnel. (The last page of this state summary provides details on all project components and planned funding – the tunnel is expected to cost between $1.2 and $2.2 billion). State legislative approval is required. Now, Washington State Senate Majority Caucus Chair Ed Murray, State Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (pictured, right), the committee’s Ranking Minority Member Dan Swecker, and committee member Fred Jarrett of Mercer Island have introduced Senate Bill 5768 to get the tunnel built. Read More ›
In an interview with Ross Reynolds on KUOW-FM – MP3 audio file here – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said it was “very likely” that tolling would be applied to the new deep bored tunnel planned to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in Seattle. (A state rendering of the bored tunnel’s cross-section is below, right.) At the 3:02 mark, she states: It’s very likely that we will toll. Any mega-project that we do today is having to be tolled because historically we had so much federal money coming in (but) we no longer do… Reflecting a viewpoint similar to Gregoire’s, State Senator Ed Murray told the Seattle Times about the tunnel funding mix: “There has Read More ›
An editorial tonight online at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praises the smart decision by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive to take a harder look at an inland deep bore tunnel to replace the worn out Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in downtown Seattle. Could this be the Year of the Tunnel for Seattle? An idea that seemed buried could make a decisive comeback. After being left off a list of two final possibilities for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a waterfront tunnel survived the end of 2008. On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels postponed a final decision on a long-term replacement, which they Read More ›
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire yesterday announced she’d push back by two weeks a recommendation on how to best replace the aging, earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 along Seattle’s downtown waterfront. But there’s more. A top Gregoire advisor tells the Seattle Times that the deep bored tunnel proposal – energetically advanced by Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee members plus our Cascadia Center and the general public – is “probably the most viable option.” Deep bore tunneling technology has advanced greatly in recent years and the method is considered highly suitable for an inland downtown tunnel away from Seattle’s waterfront. (A tunnel boring machine used for Madrid’s M30 roadway project is pictured below, right.) The Times: OLYMPIA – A proposed Read More ›