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March 4, 2009 4:45 PM

Senate passes bill to replace viaduct with tunnel

Posted by Andrew Garber

The state Senate passed a bill today that calls for the state to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a four-lane, deep-bore tunnel.

The measure, passed by a 43- to 6 vote, now goes to the state House, where it's expected to face resistance from Democratic leaders including House Speaker Frank Chopp.

Chopp has opposed digging a tunnel because of cost concerns. He's supported replacing the viaduct with another elevated highway.

The Senate measure would put into law much of what Gov. Chris Gregoire and city and county leaders have previously endorsed. The bill also spells out that the state will only pay $2.4 billion for the cost of digging the tunnel, plus removing the existing viaduct, and that an additional $400 million should be raised through tolling the proposed tunnel.

In addition, the measure specifies that state funding cannot be used to replace the central seawall or for waterfront promenade work, and that Seattle is responsible for all city utility relocation costs related to the project.

Both the Senate and House also passed a measure today that specifies how the state will spend $341 million in federal stimulus money for transportation projects. Seattle officials had hoped they'd get $75 million for the Mercer and Spokane street projects. But the money was not included in the bill.

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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Jennifer Sullivan
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Chantal Anderson
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Writes about the city of Seattle and local politics.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Jim Brunner
Writes about money and power from Seattle.