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Gov. Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Nickels sign agreement to replace Alaskan Way Viaduct with bored tunnel

For Immediate Release: October 24, 2009

SEATTLE – Governor Chris Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels signed an agreement today that ends eight years of debate about how to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Last week, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to authorize the state and the city to sign today’s agreement, which lays out a clear path for progress. The agreement details investments in the SR 99 corridor, city streets, a new Alaskan Way, Mercer and Spokane streets, the waterfront promenade, and central seawall. It includes accountability for projects, implementation roles, and funding responsibilities.

“The time for moving forward is now,” Gregoire said. “This agreement means we will work with the City of Seattle to take down the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct and replace it with a bored tunnel that provides capacity for the future.”

Gov. Gregoire, Mayor Nickels and former King County Executive Ron Sims announced their decision in January to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a bored tunnel. The Washington State Legislature endorsed the bored tunnel during its last session.

“This is an historic day for Seattle,” Nickels said. “We finally connect our city to Puget Sound and ensure that people and freight move swiftly and safely. Generations to come will reap the benefits of this agreement.”

“I am pleased that there is agreement between state and local entities to move forward with the bored tunnel option that was agreed to by the Legislature,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, House Transportation Committee Chair. “This partnership will help to ensure our investment is made wisely and efficiently.”

“The viaduct replacement will provide safe, effective transportation solutions that our region desperately needs,” said Council President Richard Conlin. “By opening up our waterfront, Seattle will also create new opportunities for local businesses and tourism, enhancing the attraction of Seattle and Elliot Bay as a signature destination for residents and tourists.”

Construction of the new south mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct near the sports stadiums will begin in March. Design of this project is complete and an advertisement will be issued to interested contractors on Monday, Oct. 26, with an expected contract value of over $200 million.

The next step for the central section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is a continuation of the ongoing environmental process. A second supplemental draft environmental impact statement, which analyzes the bored tunnel alternative and builds upon the previous review of the other alternatives, will be published for public review in early 2010.