Video: Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel bill signed into law

May 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, West Seattle politics | 15 Comments

(looking through the aquarium’s front hall, back at the crowd gathering to watch)
ORIGINAL 2 PM REPORT: We’re at the Seattle Aquarium along with a few hundred political, business and community leaders to watch Governor Gregoire sign the Alaskan Way Viaduct deep-bored tunnel bill into law. The event’s scheduled to start in a few minutes; West Seattle-residing political leaders scheduled to be here include King County Council Chair Dow Constantine (who we’ve already seen) and Mayor Nickels; political theater outside included anti-tunnel mayoral challenger Michael McGinn talking with reporters, calling this a multibillion-dollar boondoggle and saying it’s not too late for the city to pull out. More as it happens.

2:23 PM UPDATE: The speeches are under way before the actual signing. After the mayor spoke (iPhone photo above), the governor said it took “guts” for legislators to approve this. To those who say it can’t be done, she said bluntly — “Watch us.” She opened by declaring, the era of The Viaduct “is over.” For emphasis, she repeated it: “It’s over. It’s over.” And she went on to say it would have been hard to anticipate a year ago that this history-making day would arrive. She stood at a podium next to the aquarium’s fish-filled wall, with about 20 political leaders surrounding her, and acknowledged many others, including members of the Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee who reviewed options over more than a year (though ultimately, their process ended with a recommendation different than the one proceeding now, West Seattle’s SAC reps Vlad Oustimovitch and Pete Spalding both support the deep-bored tunnel).

(WSB video of the bill-signing, added 2:46 pm)
2:31 PM UPDATE: The governor just signed SB 5768 – the tunnel bill – into law. A long round of applause followed. Everyone here has just been invited to a champagne reception – as for us, we’re catching the 3:20 King County Water Taxi back to West Seattle. Looks like more bill signings are ensuing here at the Aquarium as well. Meantime, the state hopes to start building the tunnel next year – to finish it in 2015 – and to keep The Viaduct up, as long as it’s deemed safe, until after the tunnel opens, at which time it would be torn down.

3:02 PM UPDATE: Official statement from Council Chair Constantine, just e-mailed (note he’s in our video):

“I was honored to join Governor Chris Gregoire for today’s signing of Senate Bill 5768, the legislation to fund the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel and surface roadway improvements.

“First, I think we have crafted a creative solution to a longstanding problem. A new elevated freeway would not have been an acceptable solution. I am glad we have moved beyond the antiquated practice of forcing freeways through cities. The Alaskan Way Viaduct has long been an ugly, noisy wall separating downtown from the waterfront. Its removal is a first, necessary step in reconnecting our central city.

“Secondly, I am proud to have been involved in helping to negotiate this solution. I made many trips to Olympia over the last year to meet with Governor Gregoire, former County Executive Ron Sims, Mayor Greg Nickels and legislative leaders as part of the Viaduct Oversight Committee. The deep-bore tunnel and a surface boulevard—combined with improvements to the Spokane Street Viaduct and the creation of a new stadium interchange for State Route 99—will maintain access for West Seattle and South King County residents to and through downtown Seattle. And, critically, because the tunnel will not share the alignment of the old viaduct structure, we also have the opportunity to maintain traffic on the SR 99 corridor during construction.

“I support this solution and will work to implement it.

“The challenge to Seattle and King County is to provide the other surface and transit improvements needed to make local transportation work. We now must consider how this work will be funded, how quickly it can be implemented, and how we will be able to sustain the needed transit service in the future.”

Adding one other clip from the event – the governor’s message to tunnel skeptics – may still be processing so please be patient:

One such skeptic, mayoral candidate Michael McGinn – we talked with him outside the event – will add that later.

15 Comments

  1. All this is great if you like paying tolls. Sorry poor folks you don’t get to use this roadway.

    Comment by Larry — 4:07 pm May 12, 2009 #

  2. But I am they all enjoyed their champaign reception afterward. LOL

    Comment by Larry — 4:09 pm May 12, 2009 #

  3. They didnt tell you that the residents of seattle will pay for all
    the cost over runs through increased property taxes did they?

    MG

    Comment by mike green — 4:36 pm May 12, 2009 #

  4. (Insert ridiculous selfish short sighted complaint about government making a decision about replacing dangerous infrastructure here)

    Comment by austin — 5:23 pm May 12, 2009 #

  5. I’m sick of hearing about another of the Mayor and Gov’s “white elephant”. I can’t even remember now….Did we ever get a chance to vote on it? or, is it just being stuffed down our throats? Can’t wait to get out of Seattle.

    Comment by bj — 6:52 pm May 12, 2009 #

  6. We DID vote but the Gregoire stuffed it down our throats later. The vote was for NO TUNNEL but she got into office and made ‘an executive decision’. I voted for her and will never forget this, not happy. Continue to pat yourselves on the back for something the people didn’t want and can’t pay for. GREAT job!

    Comment by that is why — 7:23 pm May 12, 2009 #

  7. Yeah sure let’s have another 15 votes just like the monorail. Thank God at least something is being done.

    Comment by Dave — 7:44 pm May 12, 2009 #

  8. Aren’t we still paying for the Kingdome?

    Comment by DrewWestSeattle — 9:44 pm May 12, 2009 #

  9. Well said, Dave and austin!!! I am way with you on this one. Gregoire spent months and months mulling this over, and she made the informed, right decision. Now, it seems some think that, like with the monorail debacle, the thing shoulda been decided by the vote, not facts. You see, Washington has an awful habit of doing that — using ballots, executed by uninformedm voters in a hasty fashion, to craft and kill laws, rather than just let our elected officials do their jobs and make the laws. Think about it: when our elected lawmakers make laws, they do so after spending time reading the proposed law, thinking about the proposed law, holding hearings about the laws, having debates about then laws, and learning about the pros and cons of the laws. But look at what happens when we give issues to the voters — the monorail, for example. There, we debated and debated and debated and debated –cfor FORTY years (40!) — then just kicked it to the voters — and the result? Forty wasted years. Hundreds of millions of dollars wasted. Why? Ballots reduced to soundbite arguments. Voters who didn’t or couldn’t comprehend the facts. Go ahead — take a poll of voters leaving a booth, and ask them who they all voted for, or what they voted for. How many can articlaute it intelligently? OK, half intelligently? Less than ten percent. Less than that have any ability to articulate the facts. And why? well, I’m just not sure. The best I can figure, it arose because of a singular wave of bizzare populism in the early 1900s when the Washington constituion was amended by the uber lefties to include the referendum and initiative provision. That is the truth — and it is pathetic. That stupid system should be erased so we can move forward. Voters are no longer educated, knowledgable, or worthy of the franchise. And now we want our esteemed felons to rejoin the process. Nice. When we leave some of our most important issues to uninformed knee-jerk reactionary short-sighted voters (like “why”) we end up with inaction, poor planning, and waste. Debating a monorail for forty years? Dumb. Endless wringing of hands about our transportation problems, only to see “lawmakers” literally punt such issues back to the uninformed voters? Dumb. So todayy, let’s finally appreciate a really great lader in Gregoire who made the right and bs choice to lead. When Washington lets elected lawmakers make laws, great things get done and progress happens. This tunnel is one such great feat. I applaud Gregoire here. Join me on this.

    Comment by Big Al (No, Not THAT One) — 10:00 pm May 12, 2009 #

  10. Umm, you forgot “consult lobbyists for who will give me the most contributions if I support them, to hell with those cheapskate, educated, college degree taxpayers”. The only thing that came of this is a decision was made. Regardless right or wrong, they had a 50% chance of being right. Or wrong. To hell with the voters, eh? Do you like that democracy thing?

    If you think the smartest people in the state are politicians…..oh god, help, I can’t stop laughing hysterically!!!!!

    Yes, thats some great lader.

    Comment by billy bob — 10:43 pm May 12, 2009 #

  11. Tim Eineman Where Are You???? Why vote anymore? I know I’m done.

    Comment by bj — 11:37 pm May 12, 2009 #

  12. How can anyone complain about a VERY DANGEROUS, raised highway being removed??? How about that bridge that collapsed in Minnesota – do we want that to happen here?

    I have my opinions like everyone else, but the fact is it needs to be replaced and now we are doing it.

    Comment by ZS — 1:06 am May 13, 2009 #

  13. I agree…it is dangerous and something has to be done. However, do we have to do a fix that costs a zillion dollars so that the home owners in the condos downtown have a better view? This is pure politics and we will be paying and paying and paying. I’m sick to death of the sales tax that we have right now, and the motorhome taxes, and the car taxes. I’m glad the monorail went away! Now we will have this to replace our forced contribution to the mayor’s spendy ideas! Why not go with the least expensive fix and forget about the rich who want a view?

    Comment by bj — 2:01 am May 13, 2009 #

  14. hey bj, if all these separate taxes are driving you mad, maybe you’d like an income tax implemented? your complaints about paying taxes sound ridiculous when we don’t even have an income tax in this city. talk about poor folks getting the raw end of the deal. the fact that supposedly progessive washington doesn’t have an income tax is freaking pathetic. but all taxes are bad, right? get over it. you get what you pay for. if you truly wanted the cheapest fix possible you’d support just knocking the damn thing down and being done with it. but I’m sure you don’t. you’ve got your own agenda as well – namely the status quo.

    Comment by villagegreen — 10:19 am May 13, 2009 #

  15. just follow the money trail !!

    MG

    Comment by mike green — 12:25 pm May 13, 2009 #

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