Seattle Tunnel Plan's Price Tag Causes Concern

Plans to replace Seattle's aging inner-city freeway with a $4.2 billion tunnel and expanded bus service have many lawmakers concerned about being able to raise enough money to make it happen.
February 11, 2009, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"The proposal, announced with much fanfare in mid-January, offers several advantages: It can be built without interrupting traffic on the viaduct, and work on connections to state Route 99 would be done at the end and with much less disruption. Also, it eliminates the elevated 1953-vintage viaduct from the waterfront."

"Perhaps as important to politicians, it represents some agreement among the state, city and county, something that has eluded officials in the past."

"But some lawmakers are chafing at the cost of the tunnel, the highest of any alternative considered and not the first choice of three transportation agencies that studied the replacement in 2008. Some agonize over the proposed car-license tax increase proposed to help finance the project in an economic downturn when other programs face severe cuts and the state has an estimated $6 billion budget shortfall. Others want better access for neighborhoods served by the highway."

"A key part of the proposal -- a 1 percent increase in vehicle-license fees to finance expanded transit -- is in trouble as lawmakers weigh the prospect of increasing an unpopular tax."

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Published on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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