• Citizens fight to preserve Battery Street Tunnel as council members approve decommissioning plan

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Small, dingy, and 66 years old, plans are to decommission the Battery Street Tunnel, taking it out of service when the new Highway 99 opens later this year.

    The plan is to fill it with dirt and debris; some may come from the demolition of the viaduct.

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    But Recharge the Battery, a group of Belltown residents led by Jon Kiehnau, has a different vision.

    “We're in this great location between the Pike Market, the Space Needle and Amazon's campus so we have these attractions that people come to visit us with and we're not doing a great job of giving them enjoyable experience here in Belltown," said Kiehnau.

    Recharge the Battery envisions perhaps an underground swimming pool, or a maybe a mushroom farm.

    Part of the tunnel could be turned into a museum, or a wine bar featuring wines and produce from Eastern Washington.

    One estimate puts the cost at $60 million to turn the tunnel into a neighborhood attraction.

    City Council members considered that option today as they went over the current plans to decommission the viaduct, but members of the Transportation Committee voted to go ahead with the current decommissioning plan.

    Those who’d rather Recharge the Battery are asking the council to keep open the option of reusing the tunnel.

    “In 25 years, if somebody is watching this, they're going to think how could people have considered anything but a forward-looking option. Why would they spoil this 120,000 square feet of open space and turn it into nothing but a landfill?” Kiehnau said.

     

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