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C200: The Viaduct And The Vision

2011 March 23
by Sally Bagshaw

< The Alaskan Way Viaduct; photo: Dan Bertolet >

The tunnel debate which has raged for years is getting old. It should not distract us from three important objectives.

First, the viaduct needs to be replaced because it will not sustain another mega earthquake. Replacing the viaduct is the region’s #1 priority safety issue, and controlled demolition on the south part of the viaduct is already underway.

Second, after ten full years of discussion and debate, we are finally moving forward with the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall project. The State, not the city, has entered into contract with the tunneling contractor. Extra insurance and a performance bond cover the City from risk of loss. The biggest risk of loss at this point is delaying progress.

Third, moving the majority of cars and trucks off our Waterfront allows us to address multiple quality of life issues which are within our grasp: our maritime and local economy will be enhanced; a premier green promenade will stretch from our sports stadiums to the Olympic Sculpture Park and beyond; pedestrians and bicyclists will be separated from fast moving and noisy cars and trucks; our seawall will be rebuilt to keep Elliott Bay at bay, and it will be designed to provide shelter for salmonids heading out to sea. Opportunities for connecting all of us to the water abound. In other words, people, businesses, and our environment will all benefit.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Project provides us with the opportunity to multiply the value of our expended transportation funds and do much for our City and region. We’re already moving, and I am excited—at last—to move beyond the tunnel debate and focus our positive energy on what we want our Waterfront to become.


Sally Bagshaw is a Seattle City Councilmember.