SEATTLE - Over the weekend, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels formalized an agreement to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel.
On Monday, the Seattle City Council moved forward on replacing the viaduct with public space. The council established a committee of 34 experts to plan, develop financing and design a new public waterfront. Tunnel proponents say Seattle will reclaim its waterfront when the viaduct comes down.
According to the Washington Department of Transportation Seattle will gain six acres of new waterfront public space. But, it's only 80 feet wide.
"It will be a linear park that goes along the waterfront, including a promenade and streetscape." according to Seattle City Council member Jan Drago.
Critics are concerned the skinny park will not be people friendly.
"There's going to be freight, cars and a streetcar, so that doesn't leave a lot of room for pedestrians." says tunnel opponent Elizabeth Campbell. Campbell also fears the east side of the street will end up being a wall of condos. The value of new development on the east side is estimated at $2 billion.
The council will be pressured to raise height limits on the east side of the new street and public walkway.
"We'll have to fight the pressure. It's not just giving into the highest possible zoning because it's for all of us to enjoy," said council member Sally Clark.