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Originally published Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Special-interest groups press Gregoire on viaduct options

With Gov. Christine Gregoire expected to decide by Thursday how to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, special-interest groups are bombarding her with letters staking out their viaduct positions.

Seattle Times staff reporter

With Gov. Christine Gregoire expected to decide by Thursday how to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, special-interest groups are bombarding her with letters staking out their viaduct positions.

Earlier this week, the North Seattle Industrial Association said it supported replacing the viaduct with another elevated highway. And on Friday three members of a citizens group advising the state and city on viaduct-replacement plans sent a letter also backing an elevated structure.

"The viaduct carries one quarter of the north-south traffic through downtown Seattle, of which 70 percent is through traffic," wrote Warren Aakervik Jr., president of Ballard Oil; Gene Hoglund, from a group called Working Families for an Elevated Solution; and Mary Hurley from the Ballard/Fremont neighborhood.

"The viaduct is more than a road; it is a regional artery that networks Seattle with other local economies. Without this network, Seattle industry will become isolated and risk undue hardship and expense," the letter said.

On Dec. 11, the state, city of Seattle and King County recommended two options for viaduct replacement: a network of surface streets or an elevated highway. Many members of the citizens group have been pushing a third option: a deep-bore tunnel under the surface. The state has said that alternative is too expensive.

In their letter to the governor, the three citizens said the surface-street option is not workable because it couldn't handle the traffic volume, noting drivers would have to navigate 23 stoplights along the route. It also would be dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians, they said.

A new elevated highway would maintain existing freight and vehicle capacity, they said.

Another letter was sent to the governor, Mayor Greg Nickels and County Executive Ron Sims by a group of environmentalists and business leaders supporting the surface-street plan, with the potential for building a deep-bore tunnel later.

They said an environmental-impact statement required for viaduct replacement should also examine the option of a tunnel.

The American Institute of Architects said it agrees with this position.

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

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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