The Hank, The Bertha or Fast Eddie: Naming the new Seattle tunnel

Apr 6, 2017, 12:33 PM

Hooray! Bertha is done digging under downtown Seattle! We’re just a few years away from the grand opening of the new Seattle tunnel that will replace the beleaguered Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Before Bertha: The mysteries of Battery Street

But what are we going to call the new roadway?

As many people know, we’re big on naming bridges and tunnels around here, but we’re not too big on actually using those names. Interstate 90 crosses Lake Washington eastbound on the Lacey V. Murrow Bridge. The westbound lanes are carried by the Homer M. Hadley Bridge. The State Route 520 “Evergreen Point Floating Bridge” is also named for former Governor Albert Rosellini. State Route 99 crosses high above Lake Union on the George Washington Memorial Bridge (better known as the Aurora Bridge).

For the new tunnel, there are plenty of obvious choices for tongue-in-cheek namesakes. As Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times pointed out, we’ve had four Seattle mayors and three Washington governors in office since it became clear in 2001 that the viaduct had to be replaced.

Here, then, in roughly chronological order, are some less obvious choices. Just keep in mind that no matter who it’s eventually named for, we’ll all still probably just call it “the tunnel.”

If you have other suggestions, please share in the comments.

The Suquamish Tunnel or Duwamish Tunnel

Seattle’s namesake Chief Seattle was a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. The Suquamish Tribe is recognized by the federal government, while the Duwamish Tribe is still seeking recognition. Natives, of course, were here for thousands of years before settlers arrived. Washington State Ferries are already named for tribes, but maybe it’s time to think even bigger.

The Yesler Tunnel

Henry Yesler invented the Seattle waterfront as an economic and cultural force when he built his mill complex at the foot of what’s now Yesler Way, and he also served as mayor. And for a cute nickname, radio and TV traffic reporters could call it “The Hank.”

The Phelps Tunnel

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Thomas Phelps was the first person to sketch the Seattle waterfront during the “Indian War” of 1855-1856. Since the tunnel opens up the waterfront again, maybe we should honor the guy who created the original lasting image of Seattle’s maritime front porch.

The Thomson Tunnel

Reginald H. Thomson was the City Engineer for the City of Seattle for decades and is one of our most prolific designers and builders of infrastructure. He already was almost honored by an expressway (remember those “ramps to nowhere” along 520? I mean, along the Rosellini?), so maybe this engineering marvel gives us another chance to properly honor R.H. Thomson.

The Moran Tunnel

Robert Moran was one of the proprietors of the waterfront-changing Moran Brothers Shipyard and was mayor during the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. He’s credited with helping get the city quickly back on its feet.

The Okada Tunnel

Seattle author John Okada was swept up by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 and later wrote the classic novel of wartime Japanese-American incarceration, No-No Boy The Seattle waterfront was scene of some of the most heartbreaking moments of Japanese-Americans being shipped away to internment camps.

The Thiry Tunnel

Architect Paul Thiry (pronounced like “theory”) has his fingerprints all over so many great Northwest projects, including Key Arena. Also, back in the late 1940s, Thiry was way ahead of his time when he proposed scrapping plans for the viaduct and building a tunnel instead. If only we’d listened to him 70 years ago!

The Carlson Tunnel

Eddie Carlson’s role in the success of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair — arguably the single most positive event in the city’s history — has never been properly and visibly honored. The tunnel’s north portal is so close and convenient to Seattle Center, why not name if for Carlson? If the route ends up being a time-saver, it could be nicknamed the “Fast Eddie.”

The Meany Tunnel

Edmond Meany is a giant among Pacific Northwest historians and civic boosters. How cool would that be to have a huge piece of local infrastructure named for a historian? Come on, Tacoma already did it for Murray Morgan.

The Brainerd Tunnel

Seattle Chamber of Commerce marketing genius Erastus Brainerd did more than just about anybody to make the Klondike Gold Rush pay off for Seattle merchants (who sold gear to all those aspiring miners — a much surer way to strike it rich). And it all began when the S.S. Portland docked, you guessed it, along the waterfront.

The Bertha Tunnel

Long-ago Seattle Mayor Bertha Knight Landes already had the unglamorous “boring machine” named in her honor. Why not keep the “Bertha” moniker around for the tunnel, too?

More from Feliks Banel

Local News

Federal Way gun buyback...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Federal Way’s gun buyback runs out of gift cards early

Hundreds of unwanted firearms were turned in Saturday in Federal Way’s first ever gun buyback. Owners received a gift card in return.
16 hours ago
Bill Kaczaraba

Lovable radio host Frasier returns, but not to Seattle

Frasier, the lovable but loveless radio host who put Seattle on the map will not be returning to the Emerald City.
16 hours ago
Capitol Hill shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Investigation underway after man shot in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the hip in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
2 days ago
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
2 days ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
The Hank, The Bertha or Fast Eddie: Naming the new Seattle tunnel