Governor Gregoire Outlines a Path Forward to Replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 Bridge

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2006

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today released her findings on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 replacement projects.

“We have a responsibility to keep our citizens safe and, to do that, both projects need to move forward,” said Governor Gregoire. “We also have a responsibility to be prudent with tax dollars and be accountable to the people we serve.”

Governor Gregoire’s findings on SR 520 bridge replacement conclude:

  • The replacement of the vulnerable SR 520 corridor is a matter of urgency for the safety of the traveling public and the needs of the regional transportation system;
  • The finance plan for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project as described in the environmental impact statement is not “feasible and sufficient” to complete the project;
  • The four-lane alternative does not allow for HOV lanes or public transit options;
  • An eight-lane structure creates significant operational problems and is not consistent with the environmental priorities and would require additional land and property acquisition;
  • Consistent with transportation needs to improve mobility and transit reliability, the replacement should be a structure with four general and two HOV lanes; and
  • Work must continue on funding, design, mitigation and the environmental impact statement.

Governor Gregoire’s findings on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement conclude:

  • The finance plan for the Elevated Structure Alternative project as described in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) is “feasible and sufficient” to complete the project;
  • The finance plan for the Tunnel Alternative as described in the DEIS is not “feasible and sufficient” to complete the project;
  • With either option, opponents intend to obstruct a path forward through legislative or permitting processes; and
  • To break the stalemate, we must ask the voters of Seattle to vote to select either the tunnel or elevated structure with the understanding of the fiscal responsibility for the City.

    “We are at a political stalemate and must find a path forward to replace the viaduct,” said Governor Gregoire. “I don’t believe that, without a vote, either option will move forward. We need to hear directly from the people for whom this decision has the most impact.”

    Governor Gregoire said that a vote should occur before the end of the legislative session. That will provide time for the Regional Transportation Improvement District to get information to finalize their project list and submit it to the voters for a November 2007 decision. It will also allow for legislative action.

    Governor Gregoire has directed the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to continue work on both alternatives, so we can start construction on schedule in 2008.

    She has directed WSDOT to develop options for the elevated structure that provide the highest achievable standards of urban design and architectural quality for the corridor. With both options, she directed WSDOT to develop a plan to carry out the construction work while minimizing disruption to businesses, residents and the traveling public to the greatest extent possible.

    “My thorough review of these projects has benefited from the environmental review and the input – formal and informal – from technical experts, elected and appointed officials, WSDOT staff and other citizens,” said Governor Gregoire. “Despite many strongly held beliefs, as Washingtonians we can and must move forward to replace these structures and keep the region and our state safe and prosperous.”