Tunnel.jpg
[Updated Below]

If you don't have anything going on at 2 PM today, you can head down to the Seattle Aquarium's Great Hall to watch

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The $4 Billion Stroke of a Pen

Tunnel.jpg
[Updated Below]

If you don't have anything going on at 2 PM today, you can head down to the Seattle Aquarium's Great Hall to watch Christine Gregoire sign the bill approving a deep-bore tunnel to replace the viaduct.

The tunnel tunnel package (see update below), of course, will cost about $4 billion, or $1 billion a lane, with 50 MPH speed limits and without the original transit money. Now seems a good time to revisit Greg Nickels' quotes after the no-no advisory vote in March 2007:

Noting previous Seattle votes against expressways, Nickels said, "The voters have again told us loud and clear that a new freeway through the heart and soul of the city is not the answer. I couldn't agree more."

He appeared to rule out the viaduct rebuild and said he will not pursue a tunnel.

"They've sent a very clear message -- whether it is above ground or below, they don't want to build another freeway on our waterfront," the mayor said. "The three of us have heard the voters. This is the 21st Century and what the people of Seattle have said is we must put aside the 1950s mind-set about transportation and find new and better alternatives. ...

"We don't know what that solution looks like, but we do know it will include transit, light rail, street cars, buses, biking, walking."

Of course, this isn't all on Nickels--the voters may have sent a message, as he put it, but highway-happy Olympia officials and downtown business folks had the final word.

Joining Gregoire at the signing ceremony will be Nickels, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Rep. Judy Clibborn (transportation committee chairs), Sen. Ed Murray (prime sponsor of the legislation), Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton, Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond and King County Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi. Not likely to be there? Mike McGinn. Update: McGinn will be there, his Twitter page just announced.

For what it's worth, Gregoire's pen will get a workout, as she'll also be signing a wholse host of other bills, among them the one establishing a UW Human Rights Center, which we wrote about here and here.

Update: WSDOT's Kristy Van Ness writes in to note that the tunnel itself costs only $1.9 billion, and that street improvements, traffic mitigation, etc. push the cost up to $4 billion. Which is a good point, though it's also worth noting that the other packages also included many of these features, so when comparing costs we tend look at the whole.]

 
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