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Monday, April 28, 2014

The Cost of Fixing Bertha? Could Be One-and-a-Half Times What It Cost to Build Bertha. So: How Else Might We Spend That Money?

Posted by on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

This is a pretty stunning bit of tunnel news. It cost $80 million to build Bertha, the downtown tunnel-boring machine that's taking a year off for repairs. Now we learn it could cost $125 million to fix Bertha.

Since we have a whole year to ponder just how messed up this is, let’s begin by thinking about other things we could do with $125 million.

Oh, here’s something: We could fund adequate Metro bus service in King County for nearly two years (or, we could fund adequate bus service in Seattle alone for six years).

I know that in terms of byzantine state and locals budgets, we're talking about different pots of money here. (The pot of tax revenue that may go toward the still-to-be-litigated tunnel machine repairs vs. the pot of tax revenue that could have gone to Metro had Prop 1 passed vs. the pot of tax revenue that will go to Metro in Seattle if this new property tax measure is successful.)

Still, at the end of the day we're talking about tax revenue and how we prioritize its spending in this state.

So, as a continued thought experiment: What else could we get for $125 million in tax dollars?

 

Comments (40) RSS

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MacCrocodile 2
Sounds like there's a 30% savings in getting a new Bertha altogether. This new Bertha will have to be strong enough to tunnel through the drill somebody left in there previously, though.

Maybe if we keep getting new drills, they'll finally name one Boneshaker like they should have in the first place.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on April 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 3
Eli is so dope. Give him a $125 million raise.
Posted by dnt trust me on April 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Considering Bertha only has partial capacity as the other alternatives - and somebody (whistles while looking away) had them break up the original project into 5 parts so they could get a refund for a massive catastrophic failure of a doomed tunnel approach that cost the most and had the least capacity - time to get a REFUND and build one of the other alternatives that would actually work.

Unless you're still wanting to live in Magic Fairy Dust Big Bertha land, that is.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 5
The prosecution of everybody involved in creating this fiasco.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on April 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Report this
DOUG. 6
5 seasons of Robinson Cano.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Amalink 7
I don't understand why Bertha isn't under warranty. She's only gone what 8 feet? That should so be in the 100,00 miles or 2 years plan.
Posted by Amalink on April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 8
Wait.

I distinctly remember the governor pinky-promising that this project couldn't possibly go over budget.

How could this be happening? I'm shocked!
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 9
The entire budget for the tunnel is $2.8B, and we have spent about $2B already.

In February, Ben Schiendelman wrote about how the remaining $800M could be better spent. My favorite tidbit: For about $150M, we could finance three projects that meet the same capacity as the tunnel.

It's not too late. Gregoire is gone. Metro is on the ropes. It's the perfect time for Inslee to step in and do something.
Posted by kitschnsync on April 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
fletc3her 10
As long as the viaduct disappears I'm fine with whatever we do. Really, I hope they proceed with the destroying the thing rather than leaving it open during the delay. I think traffic will get worse, but let's find out for sure.
Posted by fletc3her on April 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Dougsf 11
@2 I'm holding out that the one that finally breaks through is Dirt Diggler.
Posted by Dougsf on April 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Kinison 12
Or we could re-attempt the monorail project again, spend all that money buying up property from Ballard to DT and West Seattle to DT, only to build nothing and sell it all for a loss of 124 million.
Posted by Kinison http://www.holgatehawks.com on April 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM · Report this
13
Can' they just buy a completely new TBM (with a decent warranty this time) and start tunneling from the other end of the route, then disassemble both TBMs when they meet up? Isn't this how the Chunnel was done?
Posted by SuperSteve on April 28, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
14
It's time to fill in the hole, tear down the viaduct and build a boulevard along the water front. Throw in a dedicated truck only path to get commercial traffic in and out of the port and on to I5.
Leave Bertha in the ground for 32nd century archeologists to puzzle over.
Posted by Pol Pot on April 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Abe Frohman 15
A new more aesthetically pleasing viaduct that actually moves traffic in and out of downtown.
Posted by Abe Frohman on April 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Matthew Richter 16
We could build a small army of 20 six-million-dollar-bionic-men and sill have $5m left over.
Posted by Matthew Richter http://www.xomonline.com on April 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
17
Build the super high density underground apodment condos that urbists covet into the 1/8th of a tunnel hole that's been dug so far.

Leave Bertha as a climbing gym for the suave residents.

Call these pads The Mole Hole.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 28, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 18
@16 - You could make 27, almost 28 bionic women, assuming the cost to build one is 75% of the cost of a bionic man.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on April 28, 2014 at 1:18 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 19
Or, you know, you could not get your panties in a wad just yet and understand that the contractor claiming a $125M overrun is not the same thing as the state actually being liable to pay $125M. This contractor (Dragados) is notoriously claims-aggressive. Doesn't mean that they're actually going to get paid.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on April 28, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 20
Um... where has the state agreed to pay the $125 out of tax funds?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on April 28, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
bitchslap 21
@20 You're being logical. The Stranger hates that. Sensationalism baby!
Posted by bitchslap on April 28, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
JonnoN 22
@20, Um, where has the private contractor agreed to pay the "$125"? Or are you just being dense on purpose? (Yes, you are.)
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on April 28, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 23
@2 We're going in to get the guys that went in to get the guys that went in to get the guys that shouldn't have been there in the first place!
Posted by Sir Vic on April 28, 2014 at 2:03 PM · Report this
NotSean 24
125 overnights with Demi Moore.
Posted by NotSean on April 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 25
Refund

Refund

Refund!

When do want it?

NOW!

When do we need it?

NOW!
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
27
Anger and cynicism aside, is there actually any precedent for cancelling a project like this in the state it's currently in? Is it even legally possible for something like this to be overturned with a vote? Or getting a refund for a massive piece of equipment like this because it was defective?

Is there any serious possibility for this unmitigated disaster to be scrapped at this point?
Posted by elefunk on April 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 30
@15: we already have that, it's called I-5. no more 20th century solutions.
Posted by Max Solomon on April 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this
31
I think $125 million is a slight majority of the estimated cost of the Lander Street Overpass (would be enough if they combined that with the Mercer Street money they stole from the LSO).
Posted by ChefJoe on April 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 32
@24 - Adjusting for inflation since 1993, the cost of sleeping with Demi Moore is now more like $1.644 million. You could only afford about 76 nights with Demi today on $124 milliion
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on April 28, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
33
I hope this tunnel project goes on forever. I love the monthly (weekly?) irrational freak-outs by the Slog writers. Keep em coming, wierdos!
Posted by Keenan C on April 28, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
JonnoN 34
@33 yea who cares about a few hundred million dollars, we have unlimited money.

Seriously, troll harder or shut up
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on April 28, 2014 at 4:01 PM · Report this
seatackled 36
@24, @32

Yes, but Demi Moore is also 21 years more vintage. So depending on your buyers market, she's either more affordable or less affordable.

But if you don't want to worry about inflation, devaluation, and blackbook values, we can just spend this money on piece of mind from Dr. Evil until he concocts his 126th plan for world domination.
Posted by seatackled on April 28, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this
37
Forget the Stupid Moronrail Project, and build Seattle Subway instead. http://www.seattlesubway.org/
Posted by K on April 28, 2014 at 4:52 PM · Report this
38
Well, for starters, you could get $125 Million reduction in the amount of municipal bonds that will have to be paid off. Over 30 years, that's worth about $300 Million or so.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 28, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 39
Take every public official who voted for this debacle, hand them shovels and pickaxes, and tell them to start digging. Gotta set an example.
Posted by Dr. Z on April 28, 2014 at 7:02 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 40
"Take every public official who voted for this debacle, hand them shovels and pickaxes, and tell them to start digging."

I'm in, and I'll bring torches, pitchforks, and horsewhips.

And of course COCAINE and MALT LIQUOR. It'll be waaaay better than bite of seattle!
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on April 29, 2014 at 1:53 AM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 41
From earlier in the day in SLOG we know $125M would have bought half an Oracle designed non-functional ACA website in Oregon.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on April 29, 2014 at 2:38 AM · Report this
42
“The way I see it, we’re not going to have overruns”
State Representative Judy Clibborn, Chair of House Transportation

“There won’t be any cost overruns.”
Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond

“We don’t envision any cost overruns on this project.”
Pearse Edwards, spokesman for Governor Gregoire
Posted by delbert on April 29, 2014 at 8:33 AM · Report this
Ignatius O. 43
@24, @32, @36 Did Demi Moore work as an ultra high end escort at some point? Or were you three just at a magic age in 1993?
Posted by Ignatius O. on April 29, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
mkyorai 44
@43 they're referring to the movie Indecent Proposal.
Posted by mkyorai on April 29, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 45
@29
Good point! I wonder, how long would it take 4,000 people digging 24X7 to finfish the tunnel?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on April 30, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this

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