Trucking group opposes Seattle tunnel proposal

| 3/21/2006

A plan to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct with a waterfront tunnel has drawn strong opposition from businesses and representatives of the trucking industry in the area.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that maritime industrial groups in nearby Ballard, WA, along with the Washington Trucking Association, are organizing a campaign to fight the tunnel plan and support the construction of a new viaduct instead.

While the ultimate goal of both options is the same – to replace the existing, earthquake-damaged viaduct that runs parallel to Interstate 5 between downtown Seattle and the waterfront – opponents of the tunnel say that it will put some area companies out of business and will add unnecessary time to truck trips through the area.

The Business Journal reported that business people in Ballard are concerned that trucks carrying supplies such as fuel oil for fishing fleets and solvents and toxic wastes from shipyards will not be allowed through the tunnel and will instead have to travel on surface streets.

The Washington Trucking Association officials told the Business Journal that their group opposes the tunnel because of the higher cost involved in building it, but also agrees with the position of the Ballard businesses.

“It’s certainly very likely that hazardous materials won’t be allowed to be trucked through the tunnel,” WTA Vice President Jim Tutton told the Business Journal. “And there will be a lot of container traffic coming out of the ports going north that would be prohibited from going through the tunnel.”

The state Department of Transportation’s Web site states that a new tunnel could cost as much as $4.5 billion, whereas a new viaduct would cost, at most, $2.9 million.