Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct on the Agenda

At the AIA/WA Annual Meeting in November the delegates voted unanimously to support AIA Seattle’s proposal to permanently remove the viaduct. The position supported the Viaduct’s replacement with either a surface/transit corridor option or a cut-and-cover tunnel. Our press release on the issue is on the website, http://www.aiawa.org/.

In early December AIA/WA met with Governor Chris Gregoire’s chief of staff and her lead transportation aide to discuss the viaduct replacement. They were very understanding of the concerns that we raised. We were disappointed when later in December the Governor announced that rather than making a decision on the viaduct’s replacement, she would instead call for the tunnel and the elevated viaduct replacement to be put before Seattle voters in a head-to-head ballot battle.

This has caused no small amount of consternation in Seattle. The AIA/WA’s concern is the ballot measure is a Hobson’s choice for Seattle voters. It puts two bad solutions before the voters without adequate information available to voters on the choices, much less on other alternatives.

Today, the AIA/WA met with House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43). He asked for the architects’ help in visioning a better option for policymakers to consider. He strongly opposes the tunnel because of its cost and high risk for complications. He supports an elevated solution, but is open to encouraging the development of more information on a surface/transit alternative. AIA/WA will follow-up with the speaker to see how we help with the decision-making process.

Next week will meet with Senator Ed Murray (D-43) from Seattle. He is the former chair of the House Transportation Committee and is now the vice-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He has been a tunnel advocate in the past, but always has been concerned about the environmental and social impacts of both the tunnel and elevated replacement options.

In other viaduct news, Senator Ken Jacobsen (D-46) introduced a bill (SB 5022) to authorize additional for the Viaduct project and for the Lake Washington Bridges on State Route 520 and Interstate 90. The bill is a mix of new sales taxes and an extension of the stadium taxes.

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