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What should we name the new Seattle tunnel?

What should the SR 99 tunnel be named? (WSDOT)

The new Seattle tunnel is set to open this fall. But what should the tunnel be named?

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I’ve been pushing for naming it after former Governor Christine Gregoire because she pushed the tunnel through, despite the objections of many. We could call it “The Greg” for short.

I also see the ironic value of naming it Bertha, after the tunneling machine that ended up putting the project three years behind schedule.

While we debate what the tunnel should be called, there is a process that must be followed to name any public structure. Anyone can submit a proposal to name the tunnel. It can also be started by the state Legislature. The decision on naming a transportation facility rests with the Washington State Transportation Commission.

“It’s not enough just to say ‘let’s name it the “X,” I think that’s great,” commission Executive Director Reema Griffith said. “There has to be some substantiation.”

The public needs to be on board for what is being considered.

“We want to make sure that if we’re naming a prominent facility that the public has had a chance to chime in,” Griffith said. “We think that’s really important. The community is going to have to live with the name for a long time.”

The vetting, she said, must be thorough.

“It’s a collection of demonstrating that wide-spread support,” she said. “When it gets to the commission, they’re going to look for that kind of vetting to be present before they consider moving something forward to name a facility.”

If the tunnel is named after a person, that person needs to have had a positive influence.

“We really need people to take it seriously because it is such a permanent action,” Griffith said. So, “Tunnel McTunnelface” (see Boaty McBoatface) would not be considered by the commission.

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So far, no one has stepped forward with a name for the new tunnel.

“We have not heard any proposals come forward at all,” Griffith said. “We have not been made aware that there is anything out there that’s being seriously considered.”

Suggestions so far include:

  • Pacific Sounder 99
  • The Alaskan Way Waterfront Interchange
  • The Alaskan Way Underpass
  • The Elliott Bay Underground Expressway
  • The Viaduct memorial tunnel
  • Belltown Bore
  • The Sonic
  • The Dori Monson tunnel
  • The Dori-was-Wrong tunnel
  • The Salmon Run
  • Bertha’s Wormhole
  • Western Washington Wormhole
  • Lower Seattle Drive
  • JP patches tunnel
  • The Arthur Langlie Tunnel

What do you think the tunnel should be named? Comment below.

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