The P-I is reporting that Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Governor Christine Gregoire and King County Exec Ron Sims have come to an agreement that the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be replaced with the tunnel option:
The tunnel would be paid for with roughly $2.8 billion that the state set aside for the project. The surface street elements, including a waterfront park would be paid for by the city. The capital and operating investments in transit would be covered by King County.
Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis confirmed that a consensus had been reached.
It’s good that an agreement has been reached, and the surface option did have at least one draw-back: pedestrian access. My biggest complaint is that the difference in cost between the surface options and the tunnel options is around $2~2.5 billion, which could buy a lot of light rail, possibly elevated rail from West Seattle to at least Uptown if not Ballard. I’d prefer that to a great big freeway underground. Plus, the more tunnels you put down there, the harder it is to get even more tunnels, and more tunnels will likely be needed if light rail from Ballard or West Seattle is going to be submerged downtown.
Update: The Times has more info and a graphic. Apparently the total cost for this option is $4.25 bn, though it’s not obvious from the Times piece that whether that includes the already underway projects for strengthening the sections of SR-99 north and south of the viaduct.
Update 2: This tunnel is very far from being funded. That Times piece mentions $2.8 bn in state funding for the viaduct. Gregoire has put only $2.4 billion in her budget through 2017. Unless the state legistlature comes back with more funding than the $2.4 billion, there’s a significant gap in funding. This on top of $1 billion in city funding that hasn’t been raised, and some King County money for transit. And we all know how much money King County has…