State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) proposed viaduct legislation late yesterday that's intended to create momentum behind the $2.8 billion (including $400 million in tolling) deep bore tunnel option.
Says Murray's bill:
The state shall take the necessary steps to expedite the environmental review and design processes to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct with a deep bore tunnel ... the ... finance plan must include state funding ... not to exceed two billion four hundred million dollars and must also include at least four hundred million dollars in toll revenue.
Supporters of the tunnel like Sen. Murray and the bill's co-sponsors, including senate transportation chair Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10, Stanwood, La Conner, Oak Harbor), are sending a message to the House of Chopp that the tunnel is fo' shizzle and House Speaker Chopp better get in line.
It's not clear, however, if the coalition that already backs the tunnel plan is going to stay in line. Especially if Sen. Murray's bill is a sign of where things are headed. A key piece of the tunnel plan was missing from Murray's bill: The $120 million a year from a 1 percent motor vehicle excise tax. Those new dollars were to be earmarked for King County Metro service on the Viaduct corridor and expanded transit service countywide. The MVET piece—that T is for tax—is making legislators nervous. But members of the tenuous tunnel coalition may balk at the plan if that transit money disappears.
King County spokeswoman Natasha Jones says the County isn't worried at the moment out about Sen. Murray's omission."There are still plenty of moving parts, and we didn't expect that [the 1 percent MVET] to be in this iteration of the bill," she says.
Sen. Murray has not yet returned my call. UPDATE: He returned my call. Transit fans aren't going to be happy with what he said.