Gregoire says Spain sold her on deep-bore tunnel

Jun 20, 2011

If you question whether the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle should be replaced with a deep-bore tunnel, a trip to Madrid, Spain, could clear up some uncertainties. That’s all Governor Chris Gregoire said it took to confirm her decision.

Gregoire spoke with reporters during a stop on her trade mission to Europe after she visited a tunnel constructed by the Madrid company slated to build one in Seattle:

“It removes any doubt … about why Washington State needs to move in this direction. It was done for them to make their city more sustainable. It was done because they wanted to get rid of some of their carbon footprint.”

Gregoire arrived in Spain on Friday for a meeting with executives of Dragados. That company's U.S.-based subsidiary was selected to build the tunnel to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct. Gregoire says she wanted a first-hand look at a project Dragados recently completed in Madrid.

She said the tunnel allowed Madrid to restore a river and develop a greenbelt, indications of what could be possible for the Seattle waterfront.

Two groups opposed to the tunnel say it would likely run way over budget, leaving Seattle residents to pick up the tab. They’re asking voters to weigh in on the subject through Referendum 1. The referendum is set to appear on the ballot in August.

Initiative 101 could be up for consideration in November. If voters reject the tunnel, that vote wouldn’t completely stop it, but it could give some politicians pause about moving forward.