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Big day ahead for Seattle tunnel

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, Plans for a replacement tunnel continue to draw concerns over potential cost-overruns.

Thursday is a big day for the proposed deep-bore tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.  An underground highway is supposed to replace the elevated freeway along the waterfront. 

At 1 pm, Governor Chris Gregoire will unseal the dollar amounts attached to two bids submitted earlier this fall.  Then, Washington Department of Transportation staff will add up a total score, based on price and engineering details, and announce an apparent winner of the final construction contract. 

But before all that happens, a group of environmentalists and other activists, calling themselves "Move Seattle Smarter,"  are filing a city initiative that could have Seattle residents voting on the tunnel. 

The initiative doesn’t ask voters to reject the tunnel, but it does attempt to limit how much city agencies and taxpayers can spend on it. It’s pitched as a way to protect the city from cost over-runs. Backers would need 20,000 signatures to take it to the city council.

Seattle civic, labor and business leaders have called  the initiative irresponsible, since it could cause further delays on the project. 

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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