Viaduct cost briefing: First numbers, in money and time

Next briefing: We’re at Seattle Center’s Center House, where the next sheaf of data in the search for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront solution is being released. One quick topline: The costliest in terms of time and money would be Scenario F, the “bored tunnel” — up to 9 and a half years of construction time, $3.5 billion cost. The numbers here are all described as “capital costs” — so that’s just the basic building costs for the “Highway 99 corridor” itself, not including additional components in the complete study area (which includes downtown) such as changes to I-5, changes to traffic, etc. Other “capital” dollar figures: Scenario A, “demand management/low capital,” $800 million; B, “surface boulevard,” $800 million; C, “surface couplet,” $900 million; D, “independent elevated,” $1.6 billion (shown in WSDOT rendering above); H, “lidded trench,” $1.9 billion; E, “integrated elevated,” $2.2 billion; G, “cut and cover tunnel,” $2.7 billion. The handouts here also break out the major components in terms of cost — relevant because the government leaders working on this have said that the three “finalist” options to be determined within a few weeks likely will be composites with elements of the current “scenarios,” rather than including any existing scenarios exactly as they have been considered up till now. WSDOT’s Ron Paananen stresses, these are “rough estimates.” ADDED 12:57 PM: Our previous links to briefing materials have vanished into the wireless ozone, so here they are again: For starters, all eight “scenarios” — pieces of which will be cobbled into the eventual “finalists” — have a new set of graphics that you can see by going to this Flickr collection set up by WSDOT. The handout with the full range of cost possibilities can be seen here; the handout with the full range of construction-time possibilities can be seen here. Later today, the Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee will be briefed on this information, 4 pm, Plymouth Congregational Church (downtown). The city and state officials who have been leading these briefings stressed again today, they are still on schedule for state/city/county leaders to arrive at a final recommended solution by year’s end. One interesting note from the briefing: SDOT’s Bob Powers said they’re realizing as they evaluate data that, regarding transit, “if we build it, the riders will come” – so there is a suggestion that before major construction starts, transit additions be made, including a second West Seattle RapidRide Metro bus route along Delridge (that previously was suggested as something that could be considered in the long run). ADDED THURSDAY EVENING: A downtown public forum is set for people to speak out on whatever the final options are revealed to be: 5-7:30 pm December 15, Town Hall (1119 8th, downtown). Also – all materials presented at today’s briefing, plus additional information unveiled at the Stakeholders Advisory Committee meeting later in the day, is now posted on the Viaduct website – look here, under November 20 meeting materials.

26 Replies to "Viaduct cost briefing: First numbers, in money and time"

  • Roger November 20, 2008 (12:06 pm)

    What I don’t understand is why no one ever seems to discuss the seawall which also needs to be repaired/replaced.
    My understanding is that the tunnel options both include seawall reinforcement and viaduct replacement.
    Wouldn’t that seem to make more sense (and cents) to work on both at the same time. And what about the added cost of a surface/replacement option needing to also add seawall repairs…

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (12:21 pm)

    Good point – the briefing just ended so I’m starting to put some additional information together. The “capital costs” listed above include the cost of replacing the central section of the seawall – the one that would run parallel to the section of the Viaduct that the governor has said must come down – but not the north end, for example. If you have a second, take a look at the spreadsheets linked in the post, which I uploaded from the CD that WSDOT media folks gave to all of us there – for those following this closely, it’s interesting info. But the difficult part of this is to keep in mind, these are all just pieces of a puzzle – the briefers (Ron Paananen from WSDOT and Bob Powers from SDOT; King County was not represented today but usually is) stress again and again that there are six “guiding principles” and all must be taken into account when they decide what final proposals will be considered. Also, that they are not just looking at a straight replacement of 99 — some time ago they started examining the wider region and so the various estimates and proposals include everything from transit stretching into West Seattle, to I-5 changes and improvements.

  • B-Squared November 20, 2008 (12:43 pm)

    There are graphics of the 8 options here:

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (12:55 pm)

    The option graphics are all on the WSDOT website:

    and have been published here before as well. They recently came out with a slew of other graphics showing various angles and you can see them all on a Flickr collection page kept by WSDOT:

    I uploaded the spreadsheets from today because they had not yet been posted on the state’s website or any other site while we were in the briefing room. They should be on the site under library/meeting materials – if they’re not already. I see the briefing-material links have vanished (cell connections have a nasty habit of doing that) and I will readd momentarily.

  • cmc November 20, 2008 (1:17 pm)

    Judging the shadows in the rendering used in the post, it’s going to be built on a planet with two suns. So I don’t think it will impact us in West Seattle too much.

    I would like them to keep the viaduct here from falling over though.

  • Roger November 20, 2008 (2:39 pm)

    Another consideration point…as is illustrated in the renderings, tunnel options include ‘salvaging’ some prime real estate, as well. The sale or leasing of such land would certainly help towards payment of the costs.

    In addition to the wonderful benefit of reuniting downtown with its waterfront (a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity), the idea of ‘healing’ the Belltown area’s division should also bring enormous benefit.

  • wsfan November 20, 2008 (2:39 pm)

    CMC- that was hilarious. Thanks for the levity around the issue.

  • Meghan November 20, 2008 (4:09 pm)

    Whatever the final decision is, let’s hope to god it isn’t that double elevated structure pictured. That thing would be a nightmare aesthetically, not to mention something we’d be ridiculed for internationally (esp. since San Francisco, Portland, and Boston recently tore down similar structures and has been applauded locally, nationally, and internationally for it).

  • Joetheplumber November 20, 2008 (5:06 pm)

    And how far did Boston’s run over budget, fall apart and go to court for fraud?

  • MAS November 20, 2008 (5:50 pm)

    I love the look of the double elevated structure pictured, by the way…

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (5:55 pm)

    Take a look at the Flickr link I mentioned earlier … dozens of graphics, all quite utopian-looking.

  • Carole November 20, 2008 (8:50 pm)

    Interesting that NONE of the renderings show the railroad tracks that run along the waterfront. The city doesn’t own those tracks. Are they just going to vaporize? As for reuniting the city with the waterfront idea…there is already a wall of buildings between downtown and the waterfront… and the sale of prime land will only lead to more highrises between the city and the waterfront…

  • ivan November 20, 2008 (9:12 pm)

    Double elevated works just fine for me.

  • Roger November 20, 2008 (9:59 pm)

    Not wanting to start an argument…but…
    The city must have some control over the zoning and could easily place such restrictions on any new development.
    I think that Seattle has a one-time opportunity to develop a world-class waterfront, anything else seems like a ‘cheap’ decision made in haste.

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (10:02 pm)

    Re: the railroad tracks – The freight/Amtrak tracks are not supposed to change in all this. The existing waterfront streetcar tracks may, or may not. The “capital cost” is to include replacement of the Waterfront Streetcar, whether on a waterfront route or possibly by moving it up to First Avenue.

  • acemotel November 20, 2008 (11:21 pm)

    Double elevated FTW. Seattle has a working waterfront. That’s not going to change.

  • acemotel November 20, 2008 (11:32 pm)

    Anyone who’s downtown and wants to be united with the waterfront just needs to walk down the street, and voila: unity. There’s nothing stopping anyone from uniting.

    The mythology of leaving work to take a dip in the ocean is just hype to get people emotionally invested in vacating acres of high-priced prime real estate. And it’s not the working class who will benefit from that vacation.

    The most beautiful views in the city are now available to every citizen, unilaterally. And no, you don’t have to stop driving to look at the view. The views are also available to people on the bus, and people on the fabulous direct transit line that our public right-of-way will provide.

    Or…..we could have the moneyed class enjoying those same views from their condos in the unity park. Just be sure to route the traffic / transit elsewhere.

  • old timer November 21, 2008 (2:01 am)

    For me, a transplant over 40 years ago, the sights of Puget Sound, the ever changing city, the harbor activities, and the great smell of the sea and alder smoke from the waterfront restaurants is quintessential Seattle, and it’s there every time I drive or ride the elevated viaduct. Suspended above everything, yet immersed in it all, the troubles and worries are banished for a few brief moments by the overwhelming presence of where I am. Rain or shine, it’s a beautiful passage and it’s all there for the cost of some gasoline or a Metro ticket. I sure hope we can keep this experience. Even a tunnel will not remove the 7 story hill than now separates Pike Place Market and the waterfront, and it’s that hill that keeps the city from the water, not the viaduct.

  • Meghan November 21, 2008 (10:06 am)

    I just can’t believe how many people are in favor of the double elevated structure. It’s so incredibly short-sighted. You really favor a big, hulking 3-story waterfront elevated highway (casting huge shadows all day) to a tree-lined boulevard and park? And you’d rather have a view from your speeding car than from a new waterfront park? Wow!

  • B-Squared November 21, 2008 (11:04 am)

    Yeah! what acemotel and old timer said! Elevated viaduct all the way. this is a transportation corridor and i am all for keeping it that way – at its current capacity. there is nothing preventing a new elevated structure from being aesthetically-pleasing (thinking of that city building down on Harbor ave with all the cool native american texturing or the new pieces of I-90 with the salmon sculptures and leaf textures) .

    all this talk about tunnels and lidded troughs and surface options is about land-value grab, pure and simple. this will benefit those that live and work down there – who by the way, chose to live and work downtown fully aware that it is noisy and there isn’t much green space. i personally don’t want to subsidize land value for the moneyed few. few seattlites are going to bother going down to sit on the faux green space (that will be saturated with weed-n-feed and dog piss) and stare at puget sound. there are much better places to do that. and yes, Mehgan, i would rather see the view from my car than from a new waterfront park that i will never use.

  • Arciteuthis November 21, 2008 (12:05 pm)

    I wonder if the tourism quotient has been factored into economic indicators of building a new waterfront park and surface boulevard where the viaduct now is. Since the cruise ships have begun docking in Seattle sales tax receipts have gone up, to the magnitude of hundreds of millions of dollars. Having a better waterfront may increase the taxbase by also increasing property values throughout downtown, both in the new land developed, and rising values of existing properties now in the viaduct’s shadow. This puts a larger tax responsibility on the landowners in the immediate vicinity, and those whom don’t even live here.

    Besides, the views from a surface boulevard will allow drivers to see the waterfront on a much more human scale, in addition to the towering skyscrapers, mountains and sound. The problem now is that if you’re driving on Alaskan Way you can’t see anything BUT the viaduct.

    When you really think about it, what is an additional ten minutes in drive time going to cost you in the long run. Two commercial breaks on your favourite television program?

  • Roger November 21, 2008 (2:27 pm)

    I think it was brought up a while back that the current transportation building codes/requirements would impose such tall barriers/siderails that one would NOT HAVE ANY VIEW except skyscrapers as you careen down the newly built elevated highway! The existing barriers/sidewalls DO NOT MEET CODE!
    In this time of recession, short-sidedness is the worst way to go.
    As for the talk of a land-grab and such, the tax base would grow which would grow the city/county coffers at a time when not realizing economic benefits would be foolhardy! Renting/leasing land downtown, naming rights to the tunnel and increased visitors to see the newly expanded waterfront/downtown.
    I guess none of you visit the Market or downtown often enough to know that eliminating that eyesore of an old school highway would be a boon to everyone.
    Plus, there would be the opportunity to create a public plaza that could be used for gatherings.

  • westello November 21, 2008 (5:29 pm)

    I like Senator Chopp’s idea of a covered roadway that allows a park above that connects with Pioneer Square, Pike Place, etc. Brooklyn has the Brooklyn Promenade and it’s great. The view to Manhattan is great, thousands walk the tree-lined street and there’s shopping, dining and housing on the streets behind it. The noise is much less than the Viaduct and not really something you notice.

    I think the price tag is in-between the tunnel options and the surface. But what we get is more park (more green area), linkage to some of our top tourist sites and keeping the view we love.

  • Carole November 21, 2008 (6:18 pm)

    So I repeat: if per WSB the freight/Amtrak tracks are not supposed to change, why are they not represented in any of these scenarios? Stand at the new Sculpture Park and watch the freight trains rumble down below it. I see no freight tracks in any of these renderings, particularly the waterfront park ones. Pretty, but unrealistic.

  • WSB November 21, 2008 (6:28 pm)

    I’ll check into that next week.

  • Ian Page-Echols November 22, 2008 (2:17 pm)

    I’d love to see this as a downtown park with a capped over tunnel. I think many more people would find themselves going downtown to check out the waterfront park. I see it as potentially being something similar to Chicago’s Navy Pier and Grant Park area. This is an amazing asset to Chicago and I go there any time I am in Chicago during anything approaching the summer months, as do many other people. I love the view from the viaduct, but I would like an attractive, casual waterfront much more. This doesn’t have to go South far enough to effect the cruise ships.

Sorry, comment time is over.