Members of a broad coalition of Seattle's top political, environmental, business and government groups have signed an open letter to Gov...

Share story

Members of a broad coalition of Seattle’s top political, environmental, business and government groups have signed an open letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire urging her not to back a new elevated structure to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Nowhere in the letter, which appeared in a full-page ad Monday in The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is there any mention of a tunnel. Even though that’s what at least some of the 228 people who signed the ad want.

“An elevated viaduct is a costly, inappropriate option that is wrong for many reasons,” said the full-page ad, which was sponsored by the group Not Another Elevated Viaduct.

The ad went on to say that a new elevated viaduct would be taller and wider than the existing one, would undermine the cleanup of Puget Sound, would be ugly and noisy and hurt businesses.

“Our intent was to convey to the governor that there’s an enormous concern about putting another elevated highway next to the viaduct,” said John Taylor, policy director for the Downtown Seattle Association, one of the organizations that collected names for the ad.

“We all agree we do not want an elevated structure there,” Taylor said. “It would be a tremendous mistake for the state and city to replace the viaduct with another structure.”

The governor plans to announce her decision on the viaduct by the end of the month. The governor by law makes the decision.

The Not Another Elevated Viaduct group doesn’t mention the tunnel on its Web site (, saying only, “there are many examples of cities that have successfully transformed their waterfronts by choosing alternatives to elevated structures — revitalizing their waterfronts and promoting urban renewal. There is no reason we can’t do the same here in Seattle.”

With the cost estimated at $2.8 billion, the elevated structure is a cheaper choice and would cause less disruption during construction than a tunnel; the $4.6 billion tunnel option would open up views of Elliott Bay and reconnect downtown to the waterfront.

Heather Trimm, urban-bays coordinator with the People for Puget Sound, also signed the petition.

“We have supported the tunnel,” she said. “It’s a very difficult decision for the governor.”

“I signed it because it’s what we’ve believed in for so long,” said Phil Wohlstetter, former president of Allied Arts, a big tunnel backer. “The governor is about to make a decision that will have an impact for 100 years. You have a chance to recover your waterfront and make a bold move to recapture your city. We should all be working to sell that vision.”

Kristin Jacobsen, spokeswoman for Gregoire, said she received a copy of the letter last week and it will be considered the same way as the other e-mails and letters she’s received on the viaduct.

Kelly Evans, a public-affairs consultant who helped put the ad together for the coalition, said the group wanted to get the governor’s attention and make sure she knows that many people believe a viaduct rebuild would be a bad decision.

Mayor Greg Nickels and many Seattle City Council members, who support the tunnel, signed the petition, as did former Govs. Dan Evans and Gary Locke and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.

King County Executive Ron Sims signed the petition and his name is in the ad, but he doesn’t support a tunnel because he doesn’t think there is money for it.

Carolyn Duncan, Sims’ spokeswoman, said, “His preferred option is increased transit and the surface option.”

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or