The Seattle City Council will pay consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard, which also analyzed options for rebuilding the 520 Bridge for the city last summer, $2,000 to explain the impacts that a building a deep-bore tunnel will have on city streets.
"One part will be the traffic-diversion issue, because some people are in denial about it, and then what we can do about it," says Council Member Mike O'Brien, who secured financing from the council's consultant budget for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project.
One source of information will be the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the state, which found that most of the vehicles that currently use the Alaskan Way Viaduct will divert to city streets. (The tunnel lacks downtown exits and will need to charge tolls up to $4 to pay for construction costs.) For instance, just on the southern end of the tunnel, 40,000 additional vehicle trips a day are projected use eight streets that cross South King Street in downtown. Officials say the state and city currently lack a plan (Council Member Tom Rasmussen argues that the city has five year to make a plan)—nor do they have any money—to manage the flood of new traffic.
"Some might say we can figure it out in three or four years," says O'Brien. "But my problem is that before you begin a project, you should figure out where you are in the end before you put a shovel in the ground."
The principal of Nelson/Nygaard's Seattle office, Tim Payne, will present the information at a brown bag with council members slated for the last week of January (the council hasn't set an exact date). Payne didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment this afternoon.