Big day ahead for Seattle tunnel

Dec 9, 2010

Thursday is a big day for the proposed deep-bore tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.  An underground highway is supposed to replace the elevated freeway along the waterfront. 

At 1 pm, Governor Chris Gregoire will unseal the dollar amounts attached to two bids submitted earlier this fall.  Then, Washington Department of Transportation staff will add up a total score, based on price and engineering details, and announce an apparent winner of the final construction contract. 

But before all that happens, a group of environmentalists and other activists, calling themselves "Move Seattle Smarter,"  are filing a city initiative that could have Seattle residents voting on the tunnel. 

The initiative doesn’t ask voters to reject the tunnel, but it does attempt to limit how much city agencies and taxpayers can spend on it.  It’s pitched as a way to protect the city from cost over-runs.  Backers would need 20,000 signatures to take it to the city council.

Seattle civic, labor and business leaders have called  the initiative irresponsible, since it could cause further delays on the project.