Future of Viaduct and Seawall to be decided soon

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Tuesday, December 2, 2008 4:28pm

Time is running out for officials to push their favorite scenario for the central section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall forward to the state legislature. This month, eight options will be cut down to three by the Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee and state Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, is hopeful one will prove beneficial for the cities located north of Seattle.

“I am just really concerned that the north end will be ignored,” Kagi said. “I’m hoping councils will look at all of the impact information that’s coming out, decide on which option they prefer and make a statement.”

The legislator organized a meeting Nov. 25 between elected officials and city staff from Shoreline and Lake Forest Park to discuss a $2.2 billion four-lane option that she believes is an alternative approach to building a tunnel or elevating I-5.

The compromise, community liaison of the House Democratic Caucus Orlando Cano explained, is called the Waterfront Parkway Plan or Option E. The scenario includes four lanes on the waterfront coupled with an integrated elevated structure consisting of a single level of enclosed traffic. The roof of the structure would include an open park.

“It’s a nine-tenths of a mile park for everybody to enjoy, not just folks who are fortunate enough to afford high priced condos or nice office buildings,” Cano said.

The option also includes potential for office, retail or housing development underneath the traffic and along a waterfront promenade, according to architect Kevin Peterson of Peterson Design.

“There’s going to be a whole lot more people who are enjoying the waterfront,” he said.

Funding for the project consists largely of gas tax revenue and federal earmarked funds, according to reports release Nov. 20 by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Estimates to construct the scenarios range from $800 million to $900 million for the three surface options; $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion for the two elevated options; and $1.9 billion to $3.5 billion for the three below ground options.

Each option is analyzed against six principles and should improve public safety, provide proficient movement of people and goods now and in the future, create solutions that are fiscally responsible and improve the environment, among other criteria. By the end of the year, three scenarios will be passed onto the legislature for further consideration.

Officials in Seattle may lean toward supporting one of the surface options comprised of two-lanes in each direction north of Yesler Way or a pair or north and southbound one-way lanes, according to Kagi. Each of the surface options includes signalized intersections along Aurora, additions that could lead to slower traffic flows, Cano added.

“The two elevated options show the best, fastest times,” he said.

Cities shouldn’t remain voiceless in the process leading up to the final decision, according to Kagi. She spoke in favor of the option described by Cano and Peterson

“A waterfront parkway (plan) provides the throughput critical to the north end and it gives us back the waterfront,” she said.

City officials north of Seattle should become more involved in the Alaskan Way Viaduct project, according to Lake Forest Park councilman Don Fiene.

“I think its really is important for the north end to step up their involvement in this because it’s more than just the Seattle population who is affected,” he said.

Details about the process to date and reports made to the stakeholder group are available at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/Viaduct/.

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