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Thursday, January 9, 2014

State House Transportation Chair: "Seattle Is Not on the Hook for Cost Overruns on the Tunnel"

Posted by on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

This morning's annual Associated Press pre-legislative session forum in Olympia didn't start out too well for Seattle taxpayers. When the question came up of who would pay for the cost overruns on the troubled viaduct tunnel, the two Democrats on the first panel—House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson—were noncommittal.

"I don't know," Representative Chopp (D-43) said when asked if his Seattle constituents or the state would pick up the inevitable tab from Bertha's woes. "We need to determine what occurred before determining who should pay for cost overruns," insisted Senator Nelson.

Hey... way to defend Seattle taxpayers.

The Republicans on the panel were much more sure of themselves. "That is the law," Senator Mark Schoesler (R-9) said about the original agreement that supposedly made Seattle responsible for all cost overruns on the tunnel, regardless of who was at fault. "Right now the law is the law."

Even if it's unenforceable? No, House Transportation chair Judy Clibborn (D-41) definitively (and thankfully) pronounced when the question was posed to the next panel. "Seattle is not on the hook for cost overruns on the tunnel," proclaimed Clibborn, explaining that since it is impossible to assess who actually benefits from the tunnel ("everybody" she says), the language of the existing law is unenforceable. And as an extra measure of comfort, Governor Jay Inslee later added that he suspects taxpayers won't pick up the tab at all for Bertha's problems. “Information I have is strongly suggestive that the contractor probably has responsibility for this," explained Inslee.

More on today's forum later.


Comments (6) RSS

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Clibborn is too clever by half. She was part of the movement that inserted that language, and I think it is about the most cynical way to have passed the measure that I've ever seen done in Olympia.

Whether the language is enforceable or not is beside the point; you need to get legislators outside of Seattle to agree to pay for this thing, and their vote on the original language already indicates that it doesn't look good for Seattle either way.

Finally, even if cost overruns are borne by the State, let's remember that Seattle is a huge part of the tax base of said State; we pay either way.
Posted by Timothy on January 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Look, it's exactly as I was saying - we don't have the funds to pay for the over budget 520 bridge and the over budget stuck Big Bertha Tunnel.

Choose one

You can't pay for both

Never could
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 9, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
It's like the state gets its revenue from a magic fairy. It sure isn't getting money from the hillbillies.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 9, 2014 at 2:16 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 4
Ah, Chopp, always messing with the heads of anyone who asks for it.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on January 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Remember that Chopp was the driving force that put the cost overrun provision in in the first place. Sour grapes over not getting his way on the design.
Posted by efbrazil on January 9, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 6
Inslee's information is wrong. The pipe that prevented the TBM from moving forward was left behind by another consultant/contractor years before Dragados ever came on board. Encountering "unanticipated subsurface conditions" that cause delay is not a risk that the contractor can our should assume.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on January 9, 2014 at 11:00 PM · Report this

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