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May 8, 2008

Now there are 10 options for replacing the viaduct

Journal Staff Reporter

Image courtesy WSDOT [enlarge]
This option would put the roadway on top of two or three-story buildings. WSDOT officials say it would create potential for infill development below and beside the viaduct. What do you think about these alternatives?

The people who are trying to decide what should replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct have come up with some more options. Here's one of them: Put the roadway on top of buildings that are two or three stories tall.

“You build the highway first and then create potential for development to infill below it and next to it,” said project director Ron Paananen of the Washington State Department of Transportation.

There are nine other choices under consideration as well.

Here are your choices
If you want your highway up high, you can have:

• a retrofit of the existing viaduct

• a new, more simply designed viaduct with support columns every 300 feet instead of every 50 feet

• a new, more complicated viaduct that would be built atop 2- to 3-story buildings or

• a suspension bridge in Elliott Bay

If you want your highway underground, you can choose:

• a bored tunnel

• a cut-and-cover tunnel or

• a partially topless tunnel with intermittent lids that could be used as public open space.

And if you don't want a highway at all, you can pick:

• a pedestrian/bicycle/transit-friendly boulevard along Alaskan Way where vehicles could travel up to 30 miles per hour

• a slightly faster boulevard along Alaskan Way spanned by pedestrian bridges or

• two one-way boulevards, one on Alaskan Way for southbound traffic and the other on Western Avenue for vehicles heading north.
Most of these choices are variations on old ones, like the surface boulevard, the retrofit viaduct and the cut-and-cover tunnel (see box).

But the Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholder Advisory Committee is also considering something it calls a “depressed lidded roadway.” That's a partially topless tunnel with intermittent lids that could be used for public open space.

“It's below ground like a tunnel but designed so it doesn't require a ventilation system,” Paananen said.

To see all the options, click here for part one, and click here for part two.

By fall, the group plans to narrow its choices to three, and then figure out how much each choice would cost.

It has a December deadline to make its final recommendation to Governor Chris Gregoire, and will also have to come up with a funding plan if its recommendation busts the budget.

The state has $2.4 billion budgeted to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct. Of that, $915 million is already spoken for.

The advisory committee meets today from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Fidalgo Room at Seattle Center and will discuss the options. The meeting is open to the public.

The city of Seattle, King County and WSDOT lead the 30-member advisory group.


Margie Slovan can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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