MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Bye Bye Battery Street Tunnel: Council votes to fill it in

Mar 26, 2018, 4:28 PM | Updated: 5:53 pm

battery street, battery street tunnel...

Battery Street in Seattle. (Feliks Banel)

(Feliks Banel)

Despite a considerable community effort to repurpose the Battery Street Tunnel, the Seattle City Council approved an ordinance to continue with plans to fill the tunnel with rubble.

“I wish I were in a spot where I could say, ‘Wow, there’s an excellent opportunity before us’ and I could be a champion for that,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien at the council’s Monday meeting. “But my analysis at the moment is that we should agree to this memorandum of understanding.”

RELATED: Seattle community unites to recharge aging tunnel

The council voted 7-2 to allow the mayor to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Washington State Department of Transportation. It sets up rules and responsibilities for decommissioning the tunnel. Council members Sally Bagshaw and Debora Juarez voted “no.”

State officials will decommission the Battery Street Tunnel this year. It will shut down once Seattle’s new tunnel opens in Fall 2018. The Alaskan Way Viaduct will be torn down and its rubble will be placed inside the aging tunnel.

Battery Street Tunnel

The fill-in plan has been in place for years, but a group of Seattleites have been urging city officials to change that plan. They argue that there are other uses for tunnel, ranging from growing food to acting as sewage overflow, or even some kind of tourist attraction.

But Councilmember O’Brien countered those suggestions. He argues that it would cost $40 million to seismically retrofit the tunnel. Then $30-35 million to further build infrastructure for it. He said that King County Metro also assessed the tunnel. The transit agency agrees with the Seattle Department of Transportation; that it will be too expensive to update it. O’Brien sits on the Transportation and Sustainability Committee that recommended approval of the agreement. He is also its sponsor.

“This is work that has been in the planning phase for a number of years,” he said. “In committee, we heard from the folks at the Seattle Department of Transpiration about a variety of opportunities that they have explored. And the conclusion, after their analysis, was that the cost and risks associated with doing that did not warrant it at that point.”

Councilmember Bagshaw was among the two nay votes Monday. She points to two acres that WSDOT will use as a staging area for fill-in work. Bagshaw wants the land to be used as a park with affordable housing or a community center after work is done. She also wants the city to address the condition of the surface street.

“Battery is really pretty awful right now,” Bagshaw said. “As a street, we can look at replanning, making it pedestrian, perhaps a bicycle priority. I want that to be a connection we can be proud of.”

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Seattle detectives are looking for a vehicle involved in a deadly hit-and-run that happened ...

Julia Dallas

Seattle detectives looking for vehicle involved in deadly hit-and-run

Seattle detectives are looking for a vehicle involved in a deadly hit-and-run that happened in the Denny Triangle neighborhood Friday.

7 hours ago

Image:A portrait of Officer Vancouver Police Department officer Donald Sahota is displayed as he is...

Steve Coogan

Man convicted of murder in death of Vancouver police officer shot by deputy

A Yakima man was found guilty of murder for his role in the death of a Vancouver police officer who was shot by a sheriff's deputy in error.

8 hours ago

Image:A Sultan man has filed a lawsuit after two Snohomish County deputies shot him multiple times ...

Louie Tran, KIRO 7 News

Sultan man sues two Snohomish County deputies after they shot him, dog multiple times

Sultan man sues two Snohomish County deputies after they shot him, dog multiple times

8 hours ago

Image: Hundreds gather at Seattle's Wing Luke Museum to ring in the Lunar New Year in 2023....

Steve Coogan

Wing Luke Museum closes after employees walk out in protest of ‘Hate’ exhibit

About two dozen employees of Seattle's Wing Luke Museum staged a walkout Wednesday to protest an exhibit that was set to begin.

8 hours ago

Image: In this photo provided by Iditarod rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, a bull moose stands betwe...

Steve Coogan

A moose killed a man in Alaska. Could it happen in Washington?

A 70-year-old man who was attempting to take photos of two newborn moose calves was killed by their mother, authorities said.

11 hours ago

Image: Trooper Barry Marcus has been with the Washington State Patrol since 1992....

Steve Coogan

WSP trooper ‘saved untold lives, perhaps yours’ as he made 4,000th DUI arrest

Trooper Barry Marcus, a Spokane-based Washington State Patrol veteran, made the notable DUI arrest April 30, the agency reported Friday.

14 hours ago

Bye Bye Battery Street Tunnel: Council votes to fill it in