TWO-and-a-half months ago, leaders of Seattle, King County and Washington state reached a breakthrough agreement for our region: a plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel and key improvements to north-south surface roads.
Now, in the oddest of years, the dreariest of economies, the Legislature should get this project off high center and move forward with this workable replacement. The House should vote without much fuss to endorse the tunnel project.
The project has momentum because key parties finally stopped fighting. This proposal does not disrupt downtown Seattle for nearly as long as other options.
The state Senate passed a viaduct-replacement bill a few weeks ago by an impressive 43-6 vote. Then concern shifted to powerful House Speaker Frank Chopp, who has not been a tunnel fan. The Times' Andrew Garber reports Chopp is more open to a tunnel than before. (Chopp mentioned support for another tunnel project connected to Highway 520 improvements but those arguments are for another day.)
For now, the state has most of the money in hand, $2.4 billion of an estimated $2.8 billion cost. The viaduct bill ought to be considered jobs legislation. The roadway remains dangerous and in need of replacement.
The tunnel along with improvements on surface streets satisfy capacity and access concerns.
Legitimate concerns remain about potential cost overruns.
The fight over the Alaskan Way Viaduct has dragged on too long. Amid all the budget troubles and other woes facing Olympia,. the House has the legislative momentum to proceed. It's time.