By Neal McNamara

There’s an almost ghoulish fate in store for the Battery Street Tunnel, the 1950s-era SR 99 corridor underneath Belltown. The Seattle City Council voted Monday to fill in the old tunnel, sealing it forever.

But in a sick twist, the tunnel will be filled in with debris from the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The tunnel will essentially be stuffed with the bones of the highway that it fed cars to for more than 60 years.

Partners in countless traffic jams, resting in peace together for eternity.

But the City Council isn’t trying to punish the memory of the tunnel, just trying to save some money.

A group called Recharge the Battery was advocating for the tunnel to be turned into a local attraction – a pool, driving range, or even an underground park. An “urban icon” on par with New York City’s High Line, the group members said.

Those ambitious projects were estimated to cost up to $100 million, however. Others had suggested making the tunnel a bypass for Belltown-area traffic, or making it a bus layover spot. Those ideas were also deemed too expensive.

Councilmembers Deborah Juarez and Sally Bagshaw were the only two who voted against the fill-in plan.

The new SR 99 tunnel under Seattle could open as early as this fall. Demolition of the old viaduct will likely begin in 2019, according to WSDOT.

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