When the Alaskan Way Viaduct undergoes demolition next year, WSDOT plans to use the Battery Street Tunnel as a disposal site for the Viaduct’s debris, but a group of residents is pushing for a second life for the 65-year old tunnel.
The group Recharge the Battery says anything is better than the current plan to fill and seal the tunnel, however with only a year left before leveling of the viaduct is scheduled to begin the group is racing to rally support from the community.
The group envisions the tunnel becoming a “defining urban icon for the City of Seattle and valuable public asset for the Belltown neighborhood and surrounding communities.”
The cut-and-cover Battery Street Tunnel, which runs under Battery Street from Highway 99 to 1st Avenue, was the first tunnel designed and built by the City of Seattle Engineering Department, according to the final environmental impact statement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project.
Earlier this year Recharge the Battery made an open call for proposals reimagining, without limits, a future use for the space. Ideas ranged from building a mushroom farm or a wine cellar to constructing an underground beach or allowing drone racing. One award-winning conceptual design envisioned a publicly accessible forested ravine which could also filter stormwater before returning it to Elliot Bay. Back in April Zach discussed the idea of using the tunnel for transit.
The group says there’s a wide range of possibilities, pointing to projects such as Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon River Restoration which uncovered an ancient river while creating a public recreational space after removing a large highway. Or the city could imitate New York City, using the space for a transit museum.