End of Seattle Freeway and Tunnel Is a Green Opportunity

A community initiative says demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and closure of the Battery Street Tunnel offer a chance to turn a series of green infrastructure ideas into reality.
January 4, 2019, 12pm PST | Camille Fink
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M.O. Stevens

The Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle is scheduled for removal starting early this year, along with the Battery Street Tunnel. Recharge the Battery wants to see the tunnel used to create green space for the Belltown neighborhood, and representatives say what happens in the coming months will affect projects down the line, reports Natalie Bicknell:

One example is how the tunnel is filled in. Depending on how that process is completed, there may be no opportunity to plant street trees on Battery Street in the future. This is because the trees’ root systems will require soil beds. If the tunnel is entirely filled with Viaduct rubble, there will be no space to accommodate trees. 

While filling in the tunnel completely appears to be the cheaper, faster option, trees could be planted in existing vents in the sidewalk to help develop the tree canopy downtown, says the group.

Recharge the Battery is also advocating for green stormwater infrastructure on Battery Street. An urban orchard and community gardens are other ideas as well as a proposal to put in a grandstand near one of the tunnel portals. "The concept is for community members to use the grandstand seating to watch the changes unfold over Battery Street as the tunnel is decommissioned and filled in," says Bicknell.

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Published on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 in The Urbanist
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