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Seattle freeway ideas still alive despite vote

March 15, 2007|From the Associated Press

OLYMPIA, WASH. — A day after Seattle voters trounced both options for replacing the quake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct, Gov. Chris Gregoire and local leaders announced Wednesday a new effort to negotiate a compromise.

A tunnel option passionately sought by city leaders apparently is off the table, although the governor said it was premature to rule anything out. A surface option -- a street-level road combined with dramatically heavier use of transit -- was expected to gain new traction.

While talks are underway, time and money won't be lost, Gregoire said, because the state will press ahead with $900 million worth of work on the waterfront that any of the replacement ideas would need.

Construction should start this summer, although the main double-decker mile of freeway won't be pulled down for five more years, the governor said.

Seattle voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to rebuild the aging viaduct and were even more adamantly opposed to the tunnel option pushed by Mayor Greg Nickels.

The rebuild option, with a price tag of $2.8 billion, failed 56% to 44%, and the $3.4-billion tunnel was defeated 70% to 30%, according to vote totals released Wednesday.

Gregoire, Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims and key legislators huddled at the Capitol after the "no-no" vote -- and came out smiling and pledging to work together on a new approach.

Such a deal has eluded the city and state ever since the Nisqually earthquake damaged the viaduct in 2001.

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