Would you drive to Bainbridge Island if it only took 15 minutes? If you answered yes, you’ll soon be able to do just that. And yes, you read that right, drive, not take the ferry. The City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation have announced plans to build a tunnel under Puget Sound.
While the idea may seem impossible, it is not a new concept and it’s actually been proposed multiple times here in Seattle since the 1950s. Not only that, but Norway has a similar tunnel, the Eiksund Undersea Tunnel, as does England, a tunnel under the English Channel affectionately known as the “Chunnel.”
Now on to the big news, here’s the official statement shared with Curiocity by WSDOT.
“The Washington State Department of Transportation is excited to announce a new plan for the construction of a tunnel that will connect Seattle to Bainbridge Island, running under Puget Sound. This project is a part of the state’s long-term commitment to enhancing transportation infrastructure and connectivity in the region,” they said.
According to the department, “The new tunnel will provide a safe and reliable transportation option for commuters and visitors traveling between Seattle and Bainbridge Island, reducing travel time and improving mobility. It will also increase economic opportunities by providing greater access to businesses and services on both sides of the Sound.”
But it is still in its planning phase.
“The project is still in the planning phase, and the city is working closely with stakeholders and community members to ensure that it meets the needs of everyone involved. The city is committed to minimizing disruptions and ensuring that the construction process is as efficient and safe as possible,” stated the department.
The tunnel will run from Seattle’s Smith Cove, under Magnolia Hill, four miles under Puget Sound, and surface on Bainbridge Island.
The estimated drive time between Seattle and Bainbridge is 15 minutes whereas a ferry ride takes about 35 minutes. Not only is the ferry longer but it also costs more with a standard vehicle roundtrip costing $34.40. The new tunnel? A cost of only $1.20-$10.50 thanks to a toll system similar to the SR 99 tunnel which replaced the viaduct. $1.20+ or $34.40+, what would you rather pay?
While you’d probably rather pay less, Washingtonians love the ferry system. After all, Puget Sound is beautiful and the good news is that the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry system is here to stay for now.
The current plan aims to break ground on the tunnel sometime in early 2024, and at this time has an estimated 6-year completion timeline.
We will continue to update you as we learn more about this exciting news.
And also, happy April Fools’ Day!