Governor Chris Gregoire told Seattlepi.com last week that the state may yank its $2.8 billion for the deep-bore tunnel if Seattle doesn't get on board with the project soon. She said, "it's not Seattle's money. It's the state's money." The funds come from state gas taxes.
Okay, while it's possible the state could take money away from replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and use all that money for something else, that's never going to happen. Chris Grygiel—revisting an attempt to repeal the gas tax increase—explains why the money rightly belongs in Seattle:
The vote was 991,196 against repealing the gas tax increase to 823,366 for removing the new fee.
However 26 of the state's 39 counties voted to repeal the gas tax. And most of the counties that voted to keep the 9.5-cent-a gallon increase did so by a very narrow margin. This is where Seattle and King County come in. In King County, 359,865 people voted to preserve the new gas tax versus 177,160 who opposed it. That was a whopping 67 percent to 33 percent in favor of raising the gas tax. Take King County (and Seattle) out of the picture and nobody else in the rest of the state has any of that new gas tax money for their transportation improvements.
Gregoire won't pull money that exists thanks to Seattle-area voters—money that largely comes from the Seattle tax base and from voters she needs to get reelected. Besides, the state has to replace Highway 99 one way or another. Even if their tunnel doesn't work out—like if they can't get the financing squared away, which they have yet to do—they'll have to spend gas-tax money on something. (Like tear down the viaduct.) And the state won't begin tunneling without Seattle's approval. Claims that the state will declare eminent domain and just begin is a paper tiger.
Paradoxically, the pro-tunnel crowd's threats are getting increasingly severe but less and less threatening. Not to mention: unconvincing. Voters aren't behind them. Groups are organizing to wrest this boondoggle away from them.
The governor and the council have lost control of this issue.