Anti-tunnel initiative concerns some
With the most recent plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel, it was not a surprise to tunnel supporters that an initiative has been petitioned for November's ballot as an effort to stop the city from digging a tunnel in favor of a replacing the earthquake-damaged roadway.
Magnolia resident Elizabeth Campbell, the sponsor of the anti-tunnel Initiative 99, says the viaduct is the most functional piece of roadway in Seattle. She is concerned with the potential loss in connection from south Seattle and downtown to Crown Hill, Ballard, Magnolia and certain parts of Queen Anne.
"I've always been for an elevated alternative," Campbell said. "Here, they are turning it (viaduct) into a smaller road way and eliminating the usability of that whole corridor. It affects all of us on the northwest side of Seattle, the people from West Seattle and people in general who are going north and south."
There are currently three lanes in each direction on the viaduct. The new plan does not include an exit, as currently exists from Western Avenue to access downtown, Interbay and Ballard.
Vlad Oustimovitch, a West Seattle resident and a supporter of the tunnel, said it is possible the initiative could slow down the design and construction of the tunnel. But the good news is that the work being done now is engineering planning, which the initiative won't likely hinder, he said.
"It won't significantly affect the project unless they are successful," said Oustimovitch.
Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil, opposes the tunnel but feels the initiative won't do any good.
"In all fairness, I don't believe a tunnel can solve the problem but I'm willing to listen to their answer to all the questions that have arisen ...," said Aakervik.
One concern arising from the initiative is if it comes out successful, the viaduct will be torn down and not replaced with anything.
"I hope people understand that," said Oustimovitch. "There are a number of people in the Ballard and Magnolia area who are concerned about the fact that there is no exit off the tunnel and I think that is a valid concern and something that needs to be resolved, because access from Ballard to the Alaskan Way Viaduct in whatever way it gets rebuilt is important. So, there are valid technical issues that will still need to be resolved and the team is still working on solutions."
Campbell has 180 days to collect 17,967 signatures. If successful, the city council can adopt Initiative 99 or put it to a public vote. State and city officials have said they will look more closely at measures lessen the impact of the tunnel on traffic to Ballard and other neighborhoods.
Allison Espiritu can be reached at 783-1244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.