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Originally published Monday, February 1, 2010 at 12:00 PM

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Port will pay $300M for viaduct replacement tunnel

The Port of Seattle will contribute $300 million for a new tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, according to a memorandum of agreement released Monday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Share your opinion with the Port

THE PORT will hold two public meetings to consider the $300 million contribution to the viaduct: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Aviation High School, 615 S. 200th St., Des Moines; 1 p.m. Feb. 9, Port Headquarters, Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way.

Comments also can be mailed to: Viaduct MOA comments, attn. Christine Lee, regional transportation, PO Box 1209, Seattle, WA 98111.

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The Port of Seattle will contribute $300 million for a new tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, according to a draft memorandum of agreement released Monday.

The Port's contribution would be linked to improvements that promote freight mobility and access to port facilities. "Freight, cruise, agriculture, daily commuters and neighborhoods depend on this vital traffic corridor every day, and the corridor is essential to our regional economy," said the Port in a statement.

The Port has scheduled two meetings to gather public input on the contribution.

Last fall, the roles of the government agencies were outlined in a memorandum of agreement between the city and the state. The only reference to the Port's contribution was the statement, "the state and city shall jointly work with King County and the Port of Seattle to endeavor to fully secure the respective funding commitments of these contributing agencies."

The agreement, which has been approved by the City Council, gave detailed responsibilities for replacing the viaduct with a bored tunnel, part of a $4.2 billion viaduct-replacement project. The tunnel itself will cost about $1.9 billion.

Last January, then-Mayor Greg Nickels pledged $930 million as the city's share for the viaduct, which includes replacing the sea wall, side streets and building a waterfront promenade.

According to the agreement:

• The state will be responsible for replacement of the south end of the viaduct near the sports stadiums; the bored tunnel, including connections to the city street system; and a surface street from South King Street along Alaskan Way to Elliott and Western avenues.

• The state will pay for a new road connecting the realigned Alaskan Way to East Marginal Way South; for decommissioning the Battery Street Tunnel; demolition of the existing viaduct; and transit agreements with King County.

• The city will be responsible for utility relocation; replacement of the sea wall along the central waterfront; and a promenade along the waterfront.

• The city also will be responsible for street improvements, including the west phase of the Mercer Corridor project from Interstate 5 to Elliott Avenue, and the Spokane Street viaduct project, including a new ramp to Fourth Avenue. It also will consider a streetcar on First Avenue.

• The city will build a four-lane road from Elliott and Western Avenues, beginning at Battery Street to Pine Street.

In the new Port agreement, which doesn't allocate the funds but authorizes them, it says the city and state will seek the Port money early this year.

The Port said the money must be used to improve transportation access through the waterfront and ensure access for freight and cruise-related vehicles between Interbay, Ballard and the Duwamish industrial area, Interstate 5 and Interstate 90, as well as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It must also provide access for Port cargo, fishing and cruise facilities, minimize construction disruption and increase opportunities for the public and freight to access the shoreline and waterfront.

Included in the $300 million Port contribution is $25 million that will go toward such projects as the East Marginal Way overpass, Highway 519 construction, work on the Spokane Street viaduct, and the Mercer corridor.

The Port commission expects to make a decision on the memorandum of agreement at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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