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Expert Review Panel - SR 520 Bridge & Alaskan Way Viaduct Projects

The 2006 Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to form an Expert Review Panel to review the finance and implementation plans for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement and SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV projects. 

These two projects require significant investment of public dollars in our transportation system. While there is no doubt that both the SR 520 floating bridge and Alaskan Way Viaduct must be replaced, questions remain. Will there be enough funding for both of these projects? Are the cost estimates realistic? Can WSDOT manage these two projects? Are there adequate mitigation plans in place?

In Substitute House Bill 2871, the Legislature directed a group of independent experts to answer these questions for the public, Governor, and Legislators. The findings of the panel were made public in a final report (pdf 830 kb) on Aug. 31, 2006. 
In a letter (pdf 96 kb) to panel chair Jane Garvey on Sept. 1, 2006, the Governor requested that the panel continue to provide some additional advice.

Responses to the Governor were submitted by the panel in a letter to the Governor (pdf 80 kb) on Oct. 31, 2006.

On Jan. 30, 2007, Governor Gregoire sent a letter (pdf 120 kb) to then-Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald and Garvey asking WSDOT staff and their consultants to answer several questions regarding the surface/tunnel hybrid proposal. WSDOT completed its review and submitted its response on Feb. 13, 2007. The panel also responded (pdf 40 kb) to the Governor's request on Feb. 9, 2007.

Who was on the panel?
On June 8, 2006, Governor Chris Gregoire and the House and Senate Transportation Committee Chairs announced (pdf 19 kb) the appointment of the Expert Review Panel members. The panel was made up of eight experts from the planning, engineering, finance, law, emerging transportation technologies, geotechnical, and economic fields.

What information was given to the panel?
As directed by Governor and the Legislature, the panel was given the financial and implementation plans for alternatives being considered by both projects. These plans covered topics such as:

  • What are the projects’ purpose and needs?
  • What alternatives are being considered and why?
  • What are the costs for these projects?
  • What funding is available today and in the future to pay for these projects?
  • How will WSDOT manage these projects?
  • How will the projects be built?

See the materials and publications page for more information.

What information was included in the panel’s findings?
Panel members reviewed project information, resulting in a final report with information on:

  • Will there be enough funding for the project?
  • Are the cost estimates realistic?
  • Is the anticipated schedule realistic?
  • Are there adequate mitigation plans in place?

The final report is available on the materials and publications page.

How will the panel’s findings affect the projects?
The Legislature directed the formation of this panel to gather an independent review of the projects and increase public accountability. The public, Governor, and Washington State Legislature will be able to use the panel’s findings to make future decisions about the projects.