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March 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM

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New poll: No majority for any viaduct replacement plan

Posted by Joni Balter

One of the biggest selling points of a referendum campaign on Seattle's deep bore tunnel is that a public vote will settle once and for all which plan Seattle like to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. That is the idea anyway.
But what if we have a public vote on the downtown tunnel and no workable option for replacing the viaduct wins a majority?
That is what a new Elway Poll shows. Voters are heavily divided, but do want the right to vote.
Elway asked Seattleites if they could vote, would they pick a new or repaired viaduct, a deep bore tunnel or a new, improved surface-transit plan.
Thirty-eight percent of 405 registered Seattle voters preferred a new or repaired viaduct; 35 percent percent support the tunnel. Only 21 percent favored the new, improved surface-transit approach.

As to whether voters want to participate, they do. In the Elway Poll conducted between March 22-25, 55 percent of registered voters want to put tunnel agreements between the city and state on the ballot. Forty percent said, no, just go ahead and build the tunnel.
The signature gatherers pushing a referendum are getting ready to turn in the signatures. The most likely scenario, depending on legal advice, is for the City Council to put the referendum on the August ballot.
But there is a chance that the vote might not be legal. See my column from last Thursday and Sunday's front page story in the Times.
The tunnel is the issue that won't go away. Voters want a say but their answer may compound the confusion.
In my view, the city leaders and the state have to make a decision and move forward. I personally prefer the elevated rebuild as well, but there is no plan or money for that. The tunnel is practical solution.

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